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.

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Leaving aquaculture ponds ‘out-to-dry’ has implications for nitrous oxide budgets

Researchers from China and the UK have demonstrated that the dormant period of shrimp farming, when aquaculture ponds are drained and left ‘out-to-dry’ for half a year, is associated with increased nitrous oxide emissions. The global aquaculture industry is currently growing at a rate that surpasses most other food sectors, yet the potential climatic impacts from increased greenhouse gas production has implications for the sustainability of this farming system. Through an extended field campaign of nitrous oxide measurements, emissions from the dry-period of aquaculture ponds made up the vast majority of total nitrous oxide emissions. As a previously unaccounted for part of the pond farm greenhouse gas budget, this dry phase of the aquaculture period is too large to be ignored.

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Identifying the Urban Populations in Africa at Risk for Malaria from a New Vector

Malaria continues to ravage many parts of the world, particularly in rural sub-Saharan Africa. A recently detected outbreak of malaria in urban areas has now been traced to an invasive species of mosquito from Asia. This species, A. stephensi, thrives in urban settings and its presence in Africa considerably increases the populations that are now at risk of contracting malaria.

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Fear the dead: Animal carcasses attract life and death for the wider food web

On the 26th August 2016, as storm clouds gather above the alpine plateau of Hardangervidda in southcentral Norway, a herd of wild tundra reindeer grouped together for protection. A split second later, in a moment of miserable luck, the herd fell to the ground dead, having been struck by a bolt of lightning. Norwegian ecologists took this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study how the mass die-off of 323 reindeer has since impacted the local ecology and food web.

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Moving into the Hyporheic Zone

Climate change is causing some alpine streams to change from always flowing to flowing only part of the time. This is a challenge that the bugs in those streams have not had to face, but the might have a way out: hunkering down in the hyporheic zone, a subsurface component of the stream. By waiting out drought in this new environment, the bugs might be able to come back and resume life as normal when conditions are more favorable.

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Sharks on Camera: Can Drones Be Used to Prevent Shark Attacks?

Sharks are an important part of marine ecosystems, but they often have a bad reputation because of an increasing frequency of shark attacks. Traditional methods of deterring sharks are harmful to sharks and other marine animals, so environmental managers are starting to use methods of shark detection to keep beachgoers safe. A team of researchers studied the effectiveness of using drones to detect sharks in an effort to decrease shark attacks.

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Let the games begin! Having fun and playing games can improve the lives of people and wildlife.

With environmental conditions deteriorating across the globe, there’s no time to stop and play games. Except for when the solutions to these problems can be found by playing games. Find out how researchers, conservationists, and farmers in France all played a game to improve land management in a wet grassland.

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How to Study Invasive Species from Space

There are certain things on earth, like oceans and even the Great Wall of China, that can be seen in space by the human eye. Did you know that satellites can also take pictures of the Earth and can be potentially useful for real ecological restoration efforts? Researchers at the University of Cincinnati tested it out in their own backyard and found that they could identify a well spread invasive species. Early detection may be key to saving habitats from harmful, non-native organisms.

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