Dead plants breathe new life into botanical research

I’ll never forget the first time that I stepped into a herbarium. Picture a room full of towering metal cabinets. Inside, there are thousands of pressed plants carefully glued onto special paper upon which thoughtfully recorded field notes describe the plant’s habitat, location, life stage, and more. At a moment’s notice I can still recall the unique smell of preserved plants, reminiscent of the comforting scent that lofts when ruffling the pages of an old book. In those days, as a budding botanist, I never questioned the immense value of these collections. Then, when I learned that one herbarium in seven has closed in the last twenty-five years (Deng 2015), I realized that we simply aren’t talking enough about all the unique ways that old plants can fuel modern science.

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Cat-agorizing Cat Owners to Reduce Environmental Harm caused by Domestic House Cats

According to conservationists, domestic cats belong indoors for their safety and the safety of other animals. But, some cat owners disagree, causing rifts between pro-outdoor and pro-indoor cat parents. In a new study, researchers interviewed cat owners across the United Kingdom and cat-agorized cat owners into six distinct groups. Depending on the cat owner’s views , conservationists may have a larger impact if they target their message towards the emotional connection owners have with their feline friends.

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Where Categorizing Hurricanes Falls Short

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in history, leading to over 1800 fatalities and tying Hurricane Harvey as the costliest hurricane on record. But at the time Katrina made landfall, it was “only” ranked as Category 3 by the Saffir-Simpson scale, which goes up to Category 5. So why did Katrina, at only Category 3, cause so much more destruction than most Category 5 storms? And what does that tell us about what the Saffir-Simpson scale is missing?

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What All the Buzz is About: Comparing Citizen Scientist and Professional Data Quality in Mosquito Monitoring

Executive summary: Citizen science efforts are on the rise for monitoring mosquitoes, but are these methods as good as professional data collection by scientists? Nadja Pernat and her colleagues evaluate data collected by scientists and citizens in Germany and find that both types of data collection have their strengths and weaknesses, but they complement each other well. Together, data collected by scientists and citizens create a strong mosquito monitoring program.

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Will climate change bring cultural change?

Sometimes science isn’t enough to protect a species. Sometimes, culture is necessary. People are likely to care most about protecting species they find culturally important. But are these culturally important species the most threatened due to climate change? A case study from Costa Rica offers some insights into this question.

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