Emerging Environmental Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Good and Bad

As the COVID-19 pandemic scourges the planet, research and other efforts have focused on the human toll of the virus. Recent research has begun shedding light on the effects of COVID-19 on the environment. At first glance, these effects seem beneficial. However, many negative consequences also loom, particularly in the long-term.

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The invasive Kentucky bluegrass

The grass species known as Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) – contrary to its name – is not native to Kentucky nor is it blue (spoiler: it’s green). It is originally from Europe and northern Asia and is the most popular lawn grass in the Unites States. Unfortunately, it has also become a huge invasive problem in natural grassland environments.

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How to strike harmony between clean energy and nature-based tourism

Iceland is a beautiful country and my vacation there was one of my favorites! However, there is some tension in the country balancing clean energy development and maintaining the pristine natural areas that draw tourists annually. Authors of this paper explore how these two conflicting interests can work together and help to promote renewable energy production.

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Sending ripples through environments: a new type of keystone species

Keystone species have ripple effects on the other organisms in their environments, but do any species have similar effects on the environment itself? The idea of a biogeomorphic keystone species captures this idea and, like that of keystone species, requires piecing together a complex web of interactions to understand the big picture. Two researchers in Kentucky present how two tree species have strong effects on their local stream environments, qualifying them as potential biogeomorphic keystone species.

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Space Invaders? Exotic Bees in the Urban Landscape

One up and coming target for bee conservation has been the urban landscape, as some recent findings have indicated that cities can maintain diverse bee communities. Though on the surface these findings seem promising for bee conservation, many of these studies do not actually address whether this is a positive thing for native bees. One group of scientists decided to delve further into this topic by looking at the effects of urbanization on bee species. Specifically, they wanted to find out whether exotic bees, including the European honeybee, were found more abundantly in cities and other urban areas than in rural communities and how their presence affected native bees.

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From Cropland to Cities: Aerial Transport of Fungi

How connected are our farms to our cities? If you are a flying fungus, they may be very connected! In a new study, researchers from De Paul University found fungi from the soil on the rooftops of Chicago and wondered why. It turns out, small fungal spores can travel from agricultural fields through the air into the cities and form friendships with the city-dwelling plants. Understanding how these spores move from agriculture to cities could help researchers develop new insight of the urban ecosystem.

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Using genetics to reveal how coffee agriculture affects a forest dwelling rodent

Strong conservation plans are enriched by data that show which features of the habitat are important for wildlife. DNA analyses can reveal how landscape features join or separate populations without necessarily needing the observational data collected from studying animals moving in the wild. These methods can be helpful for conservation policies for elusive or understudied species. Read on to find out how coffee plantations affect an elusive forest dwelling rodent.

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Unequal Access to Urban Tree Benefits in the Bronx

Urban trees provide many ecosystem services to residents, but tree cover can be unequally distributed, resulting in fewer benefits for disadvantaged neighborhoods. This is true in the Bronx, where a recent study demonstrates that the distribution of services provided by trees is related to median income as well as population density. Analyzing the inequity of ecosystem services in our cities is the first step towards developing solutions to improve access to ecosystem services and make the distribution of these resources more just.

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