Is your garden bee-friendly? – City gardens promote bee parasites

Parasites are threatening pollinator populations worldwide, raising concerns for the future of our food security. How we manage our gardens in cities could impact parasite transmission among pollinators, especially bees. Researchers found that bee parasites decrease when we plant plenty of flowers to promote diverse pollinators. We also reduce parasites when we refrain from mulching our gardens, as mulch covers nests for ground-nesting bees. As spring approaches, will your garden be friendlier to bees or their parasites?

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Decoding the Waggle Dance: The Importance of Flowers in Urban Landscapes for Honey Bees

Bee populations are threatened due to habitat loss and fragmentation, partly due to the expansion and intensification of agriculture worldwide. By videotaping and analyzing the “waggle dances” of honey bees near London, scientists compared the distance that bees need to travel to reach nectar in urban and agricultural landscapes. Bees needed to travel less far to reach nectar and pollen in urban areas vs. agricultural areas, underscoring the importance of urban planted areas, like gardens, in supporting honey bee populations. Establishing flowering plants in agricultural landscapes could help support honey bee populations.

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For birds, drab is in fashion in our cities

Color has the power to affect our feelings and emotions. For many animals, color signals status or condition. Factors such as food quality, stress, and pollution can cause changes in animal coloration. The color of the background can also have significant effects on how animals perceive color. Cities introduce drab, grey buildings and pavement, pollutants, and reduced plant complexity. A recent study shows that city birds produce darker, duller feathers with less complex patterns. Click to find out how cities may be hindering the color and diversity of wildlife.

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How Air Pollution Regulation Can Affect Bird Populations

Although we have strong evidence that air pollution poses significant health risks to humans, how air pollutants affect plants and animals is not well studied. Birds are especially susceptible to air pollution because they have a unique way of breathing and interacting with air. Therefore, a group of scientists conducted a study on how air pollution affects North American birds and how air quality regulations, which were initially created to benefit humans, can also benefit these bird species.

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Combine Crickets and Lockdowns and get an Unlikely Experiment

In the spring of 2020, we all dealt with lockdowns in a different way. In urban parks, animals were suddenly exposed to a world without humans, and this disrupted ongoing urban ecology experiments. But resourceful ecologists used the sudden silence near businesses and the uptick of outdoor recreation to understand how shifting human behaviors change timing and duration of chirping urban crickets.

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Celebrating Community Science Month – How you can get involved

If you are a science enthusiast looking for ways to become more involved, community science is the perfect activity for you and your friends and family. Community scientists are people interested in science who volunteer to make observations, collect data, and report findings. Recently, community scientists in Ohio worked with experts to track declining native ladybugs in their backyards. April is global community science month and the perfect time to get involved with projects like these!

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