Penguins and Conservation: How penguins can help us conserve an entire ecosystem

Marine protected areas (MPAs) can be a good way to protect species threatened by human activities and climate change. Antarctica has two MPAs right now, but there are plans for several more in the future. To help decide where these MPAs would be most effective, a group of researchers studied different penguin species. The presence and health of a penguin population shows that the ecosystem has good habitat and food sources, which indicates a healthy ecosystem. Protecting healthy ecosystems within the future MPAs will offer protection for all of the species that live within it.

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The “Heartbreaking” Effect of Algal Blooms – Heart disease and the Southern Sea Otter

Our favorite hand-holding marine mammals, sea otters, are threatened by environmental toxins. Chemicals produced by algae blooms move up the food chain and cause a multitude of diseases in top predators. A new study documented how algae blooms cause heart disease in sea otters, what this means for our own seafood consumption, and proposes solutions to our pollution.

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Tackling Tradeoffs: Tree Functional Groups and Ecosystem Services in Tree Planting

Deciding which trees to replant in cities stressed by climate change and pests can be daunting, but considering the traits of trees and the “functional groups” they belong to can help. In Québec City, computer simulations showed that a “stratified” approach to replanting that aims to evenly represent species of different functional groups did not increase ecosystem services as much as a “conifer-focused” strategy, suggesting a tradeoff between representation of functional groups and ecosystem services provided. Even so, the stratified strategy increased ecosystem services more than “business as usual” and produced the canopy least vulnerable to pests and disease.

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Cats and Dogs: Canine Distemper Virus and the Endangered Amur Tiger

Canine Distemper Virus, commonly found in domesticated dogs, in increasingly common in Amur tigers, which are the least numerous of the major tiger subspecies. Recent research challenges long-held ideas about CDV transmission, and present new strategies to counteract CDVs deadly effects on endangered Amur tigers.

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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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