Hot tree summer: Measuring the effects of the 2017 heat wave on Europe’s forests

Plants are always just trying to live their best life, but sometimes high temperatures and a lack of water get in the way of that. In this study, scientists studied a heat wave that occurred in southern Europe in summer 2017 to see how different plants fared across the region.

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Friend or foe? Invasive earthworms can benefit agriculture but harm forests

Earthworms are welcome guests in the garden, but it’s a different story in the forest. By consuming and removing leaf litter too fast they set in motion complex cascades of ecological changes, with long-term negative effects on soil fertility and biodiversity.

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Be quiet, please – I’m listening for bees

Sounds are everywhere in nature, and are important communication tools for many organisms. Plants may not be the first organisms you’d think of that would rely on sound to assess their environment, but new research shows that flowers can respond to the sound of a nearby buzzing bee by producing sweetened nectar, likely an adaptation that lets them avoid “wasting” resources on nectar production in the absence of hungry pollinators.

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Which Wetland? National Dataset Helps Reduce Flood Risk

Flooding is an expensive and dangerous problem across the globe. Freshwater wetlands can help reduce flood risk and damage. During large storm events, wetlands hold extra water allowing it more time to flow downstream or into the soil. In order to help communities understand where to spend their time and resources to utilize these important landscape features, researchers created a national dataset that identifies the wetlands that would be best for mitigating flood risk.

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‘Otter’ Ways of Assessing Species Vulnerability to Climate Change

How do scientists figure out how a species will be impacted by climate change? They usually look at how their habitat will change with a changing climate – but that may not be the whole story. Other factors, such as a species environmental needs, how they tolerate change, and how their habitat will change (i.e. size, fragmentation, proximity to human disturbances) also need to be considered! Otters are among the most vulnerable mammals in the world, and determining where their specific threats from climate change come from will be key for conservationist to save them from extinction.

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Not so blue anymore: how dead mangroves burden coastal carbon sinks

Mangrove forests have been feeling the pressure of climate change. With heat waves and low rainfall, many mangroves along a 1000 km stretch of coastline in northern Australia have been wiped out. However, the dead trees are living on by contributing large methane emissions which has consequences to global mangrove carbon stores and climate change. Read on to find out how the living dead remain active methane emitters.

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Glimmer of Hope: Seagrasses Starting to Recover in Europe

Seagrasses provide vital habitat and resources for marine ecosystems. Water pollution, disease, and coastal modification have led to a decrease in 30% of seagrasses across Europe. Researchers analyzed over 1,000 studies to understand the trends of seagrasses over nearly 150 years. While overall losses have been great, the last few decades have shown seagrasses are starting to recover – likely due to strategies to decrease water pollution and protect vital habitats.

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What goes around, comes around: Accumulation of PFAS in Marine Critters

PFAS are a family of chemical pollutants of emerging concern. They are extremely useful in processing and manufacturing non-stick and stain-resistant consumer products, as well as foams used in firefighting, but they are also particularly persistent in the environment, and in humans! Efforts are being made to control the spread of these chemicals, and it’s important to understand both where they are coming from and how they move through the environment. In a recent study, researchers show how snails and crabs might be better informants about PFAS contamination sources than fish.

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Pesticides and Fertilizers: A toxic relationship that is stressful for frogs

Large-scale agriculture utilizes a myriad of chemicals to increase crop yields and profits. The effects of these chemical mixtures can be unpredictable once they are introduced into the environment, especially when interacting with vulnerable animal groups like amphibians.

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