Is it a Bird? Is it Batman? Filtering and Extracting DNA from the Air Can Provide a Clue

Environmental DNA or eDNA is DNA that has been released by organisms into their surroundings. This article presents a fascinating discovery: sampling air for eDNA can ultimately show what terrestrial vertebrates are nearby. Long-range monitoring of vertebrate biodiversity is explored as well.

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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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Could We “Dilute” Disease by Protecting Biodiversity?

So you are a passionate conservation activist distracted in the time of global pandemic- perhaps you haven’t had the mental space to prioritize biodiversity protection in your ever growing laundry list of pressing societal issues. What if I told you that the preservation of biodiversity could have the potential to check off a few items on that list- including disease impact? Read on to hear how science has worked tirelessly to determine if diversity can actually “dilute” disease in a variety of organisms, ending with a new comprehensive study that looks at this effect in plants.

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The use of albatrosses as a conservation tool

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses an imminent threat to biodiversity in our oceans. Notoriously difficult to track, fishing vessels are able to elude traditional tracking measures. Authors H. Weimerskirch et. al. introduce the concept of the “ocean sentinel”, where sea birds that are naturally attracted to fishing vessels are equipped with bio-loggers. Data from these loggers help locate where, when, and how frequently IUU is occuring.

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