Melting Moves Marine Mammals

As glaciers melt, the species who live there are faced with a dilemma – retreat into the little remaining habitat or find some way to adapt. Movement data from populations of ringed seals and white whales before and after a major sea-ice decline provides insight on how each species has responded to habitat loss. One of these species has chosen retreat, while the other has learned to adapt.

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Can we increase agricultural production without threatening biodiversity?

The world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. This increase in population will put pressure on agriculture to produce more food. Many studies have reported that land-use changes, such as cutting down forest to make new farmland, can lead to a loss in the number of species living in an area, known as the biodiversity. It is important to maintain biodiversity because it supports healthy ecosystems and ultimately a healthy planet. A recent analysis of previously published scientific articles suggests that when farming efforts are intensified, agricultural production increases but the number of species supported by the farm decrease. This means that increasing agricultural production comes at a cost.

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Are we accidentally treating fish with anti-depressants? Pharmaceuticals in our surface waters

The ever-growing and expanding pharmaceutical industry is overwhelming wastewater treatment plants, making the release of pharmaceuticals into the environment a big problem. A recent study illustrates that the presence of anti-depressants in streams can change the behavior of mosquitofish. The potential effects of pharmaceutical pollution on wildlife should make us think carefully about how we dispose of our leftover medicines.

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The after-party balloon effect: disastrous consequences of balloon releases

The balloons we have all seen at birthday parties, fairs, weddings, and other festivities do not make a great after-party-guest. Coastal cleanups in over 150 countries over the past 25 years have recorded over 1.2 million balloons that have washed up on shores. Plastic pollution in the ocean is a global concern and seabirds are particularly vulnerable to this pollution which can mistake the floating trash for food. The shocking and worrisome prediction is that by 2050, 99% of all seabird species will ingest marine debris of some sort. How can we prevent this?

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Improvements in Water Quality Offset Climate Debt in UK Rivers

By analyzing over 20,000 samples of aquatic macroinvertebrates, researchers were able to show that shifts in macroinvertebrate communities corresponded to improvements in water quality from 1991 to 2011. The improvements in water quality have created a “credit” that could have offset the climate debt created by rising temperatures. Local improvements can potentially offset global climate impacts, but for how long can this trend continue?

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Microplastics: Smells like dinner

Microplastic pollution is a trending concern as these tiny plastic pieces can end up dinner for small ocean critters such as copepods. Copepods are tiny, cosmopolitan marine creatures that are a vital food source for fish, birds, and many more. In the vast ocean, many copepods find their food, algae, by scent, as some algae give off a sulfur smell from the compound dimethyl sulfide. This study set out to test if copepods would be more likely to eat microplastics that were infused with this sulfur-scented compound.

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