Using mangrove genes to protect where the land meets the sea

When two of Earth’s forces meet, we often get monumental products. Where the land meets the sea, the mighty mangrove forest protects the coastline and all its inhabitants. Deforestation has led to rapid declines of mangroves, threatening the diversity of life that they support. Analyzing the genetic variation in a forest is a promising tool for protective measures and restoration. Saving mangrove forests might be in the genes.

Read more

Radioactive exclusion zone or restoration at work? Insights from the re-wilding of Chernobyl

In 1986 a nuclear disaster rocked Belarus and forced thousands of people to abandon their homes for fear of radiation exposure. Now, removed from the impacts of human settlements, wildlife are returning to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ). In a new study, researchers studied the raptors in the CEZ to test re-wilding and ask the question: can removing humans from a landscape help restore the natural environments? And like all things in ecology, the answer is more complicated than it seems but offers a glimmer of hope for re-wilding endeavors in this Decade on Ecological Restoration.

Read more

Marvelous Mold: The Untold Story of Your Incredible Occasional Refrigerator Fungal Guest

As industrialization continues to increase, so does pollution and contamination of our environment. In this article, learn about a surprising source of potential help. Penicillium polonicum, a mold, can reduce the concentration of toxic lead ions in solution. This might be an avenue humans can pursue to help clean our earth.

Read more

What does the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration mean for you?

The Decade of Ecological Restoration is nearly here! The process of helping ecosystems regain function and biodiversity is a new and complex field. It requires collaboration across academic disciplines and requires connecting the needs of humans and ecosystems. So, what can restoration ecologists learn from sociologists to bridge the gap between humans and nature and help make the coming decade a success?

Read more

From Food Waste to Roadways: Using Compost to Improve Soil Conditions and Tree Success Along Highways

Planting trees along highway roadsides is a good way to increase tree coverage in cities, but getting trees to grow here and maintaining these plantings over time can be difficult. Reducing soil compaction and adding organic material, such as compost, can improve roadside soils and support tree growth in these areas. A 5-year study in Ontario recently found that loosening up the soil and mixing in 10-25% food waste compost relative to soil can help improve tree growth along roadsides, possibly reducing the need to follow up and maintain these trees over time.

Read more

Leaving a Legacy: Plants leave “memories” in the soil that can affect future generations

It’s easy to drive by grasslands, forests, and deserts without thinking too deeply about how and why they have developed to be unique from one another. Still, most of us have an intuition of how community drivers work, such as recognizing that sandy soils and very hot climates encourage the growth of cacti instead of oaks. As an ecologist that has done a lot of work with restoration projects, I am particularly interested in thinking about all of the environmental “ingredients” that go into the recipe for each unique plant community. The day that I found out that plants can leave “memories” in soil which change communities long term, I immediately began thinking about how we could harness this knowledge for good and whether or not humans play a role in the development of these legacies.

Read more