What does the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration mean for you?

The Decade of Ecological Restoration is nearly here! The process of helping ecosystems regain function and biodiversity is a new and complex field. It requires collaboration across academic disciplines and requires connecting the needs of humans and ecosystems. So, what can restoration ecologists learn from sociologists to bridge the gap between humans and nature and help make the coming decade a success?

Read more

New GIS-based Methods Allow More Accurate Estimation of Conservation Costs

The total costs of land conservation includes costs of acquisition, maintenance, preservation, logistics, and sometimes litigation. Many time, these costs have been far above what was budgeted for them, partly due to flawed methods of estimating those costs in the first place. New mapping techniques show first, the flaws in these methods, and second, the potential to estimate the actual costs far more accurately. This will allow for more efficient planning, and a lower likelihood of conservation projects encountering unexpected costs.

Read more

Can a meme save a species?

Memes are everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; the world of social media is bursting with amusing images embellished with a witty caption. Memes stay on the pulse of changing cultures and reflect social ideas and current events. But can they also help encourage the protection of species that don’t commonly garner media headlines?

Read more

Blue Carbon and Green Kelp: Kelp forests could reduce carbon emissions

Blue carbon is the carbon that is stored within marine ecosystems. It is being used more frequently within global carbon budgets, which are calculated to help us reduce climate change. Historically, only tidal marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds have been used in calculating stored carbon for carbon budgets. A team of researchers from Norway wanted to see if kelp forests could significantly contribute to carbon storage. They studied the kelp forests along Australia’s southern coast and found their storage potential to be similar to that of the other historically used ecosystems. Conserving and restoring kelp forests could therefore increase carbon storage and help reduce climate change.

Read more

Some Soil Microbes Don’t Mind Our Camping Trips

Have you ever thought about the microorganisms living under your tent while you’re camping? It may seem like setting up the tent and trampling all over the campsite may harm the organisms that live in the soil but new study in the Arizona savanna turns that idea on its head. Read on to learn about camping resistant plants, microbes, and resiliency of this awesome ecosystem.

Read more

From Food Waste to Roadways: Using Compost to Improve Soil Conditions and Tree Success Along Highways

Planting trees along highway roadsides is a good way to increase tree coverage in cities, but getting trees to grow here and maintaining these plantings over time can be difficult. Reducing soil compaction and adding organic material, such as compost, can improve roadside soils and support tree growth in these areas. A 5-year study in Ontario recently found that loosening up the soil and mixing in 10-25% food waste compost relative to soil can help improve tree growth along roadsides, possibly reducing the need to follow up and maintain these trees over time.

Read more

Life in the City – Humans alter city habitats for plants and animals

Cites are ecosystems, just like a forest, desert, and prairie are ecosystems. As human populations grow and move to urban areas, cities expand into other ecosystems. Plants and animals must adjust to the rapid changes that result. Humans are the biggest threat to organisms, but why are cities challenging environments for plants and animals? Let’s learn more about one of the largest and growing ecosystems on land… cities!

Read more

In otter news: Disappearing otters and climate change spell double trouble for reefs

As many people know, sea otters are great at being adorable. But do sea otters also play an important role in combating the impacts of climate change? In this study, scientists looked at how the loss of sea otters might be making reefs more susceptible to climate change.

Read more

When Fire and Water Collide: Looking to Lakes to Understand Fire’s Deep Past

As I woke up this morning, I learned that a wildfire raging in our local forest had grown to nearly 70,000 acres. A mixture of emotions subsequently flooded in, combining thoughts of concern with questions about how climate change is altering wildfire patterns. In order for scientists and land managers to better predict wildfire outbreaks and to understand the role that climate plays in their behavior, they must first examine the fire history of an area over a long period of time—longer than recorded history. Charcoal and pollen deposits in lake sediments may be able to provide answers to the mysteries of fire’s deep past. Read on to hear about this interesting approach and how one study of lake sediments mapped out 1.5 million years of fire history in China.

Read more