Will Sponges Bulldoze Coral Reefs Faster in an Acidic Ocean?

Coral reefs provide benefits for marine life and humans alike. In this delicate ecosystem, humans may be tipping the scales in an unhealthy direction due to ocean acidification. Sponges naturally erode corals to create homes for themselves, but an acidic ocean might mean sponges may not have to work as hard and could erode corals faster than they build. Scientists have confirmed that as ocean acidification increase, so will the rates of erosion by sponges – leaving many concerned with the fate of our ocean’s coral reefs and the services they provide.

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Let’s Paint the Town Green!

Many places around the world are searching for ways to balance a growing population while also caring for the environment. Developers, policymakers, and citizens everywhere are concerned with maintaining biodiversity while developing economies and building homes and businesses for humans. New research from the European Union aims to balance the use of ecosystem services and conservation efforts by introducing green infrastructure. This new way to look at land use can have important implications for the future of development and policy-making in the European Union, and throughout the world.

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Are Eastern USA Temperate Forests Regenerating?

How can we assess the adaptive capacity of forest ecosystems to deal with human stressors? A key indicator is the extent to which forests are regenerating today, that is, producing seedlings and saplings that one day will take the place of mature trees as they age and die. In a recent study, Kathryn Miller and Brian McGill found relatively reassuring levels of regeneration in the northeast and Southeast USA, but low levels in the central mid-Atlantic portion, which could lead to declines in forest cover in this region.

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The biodiversity emergency: what can we all do?

There is a biodiversity crisis. The repercussions of species and habitat loss are everywhere: Animals (giant pandas or bees), and places (coral reefs), are experiencing negative human-related impacts. This means more than just loss of physical beauty; all habitats and species are interconnected, so a loss of something as seemingly small as a bee population will reduce pollination of plants that we eat. There is hope of recovery, but it begins by motivating people to help. As the world is becoming more urbanized and disconnected from nature, where does motivation for environmental conservation and stewardship come from?

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Do Red Snapper Call Decommissioned Oil Rigs Home?

As natural reefs are becoming more and more scarce in the muddy bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, scientists have looked towards decommissioned oil rigs as replacements. Because red snapper are an important reef fish in the Gulf, they are used as a focal species to determine if artificial structures are as capable as natural reefs to support the reproductive potential of reef fish.

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Trees, Tempests, and Time: What trees can tell us about weather in the past

For storms along the Gulf Coast, first-person recordings are only reliable for the past 150 years. But knowing more about when storms happened in the past helps us understand how the climate is changing and how to reduce storm risks for coastal communities. To do that, we have to use even more unusual records: tree rings.

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Cover Crops: Good for Water Quality?

Cover crops have been a popular management strategy to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture. However, evidence suggests that some cover crops may in fact release nutrients, instead of keeping them out of the water. One study explores whether five types of cover crops release phosphorus, and how that may impact water quality in the important Great Lakes region.

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It’s Not Just About Fish: How Understanding Ecosystem Services Can Lead to Marine Conservation

What is the value of a fish? It’s role in the ecosystem, or the community that relies on the species? A team of scientists from the UK explores these interactions in their recent paper, which details the use of ecosystem services in marine conservation.

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