Gardeners for Biodiversity: How Surveys can Help Quantify Diversity in Urban Areas

Backyard gardens can boast surprising levels of biodiversity. Quantifying the diversity of many small gardens spread out across an urban area, however, can be difficult for scientists. In this study, researchers proposed a survey in which garden-owners were asked to give basic information about their gardens. From the responses, a statistical model was designed to determine the actual number of species present.

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Dead trees and utility poles partially offset the impacts of deforestation on birds

Mature trees serve as important habitats for a variety of species including insects and birds. Birds use trees for many purposes including nesting, perching, and foraging. Conservationists are exploring strategies to maintain bird populations in areas where mature trees are being lost due to agricultural expansion, wood production, and increased urbanization. In a recent study, scientists in Australia measured how utility poles and erected dead trees impacted the number and abundance of bird species in urbanized regions. The results suggest that artificial structures can offset some, but not all, of the bird loss due to deforestation.

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Backyard Biodiversity: Urban Schoolyards Can Play an Important Role in Conservation

Biodiversity matters. Not just in the Amazon, but in your backyard, too. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) took the world by storm; the biodiversity crisis is here, and plants and animals across the globe are facing extinction, ultimately transforming ecosystems as we know it. Since the report, there has been a public outcry about what we can do to slow the impending biodiversity crisis, covered everywhere from scientific journals to media outlets worldwide.

While there are many pathways to address the crisis, a paper from a team of African researchers published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening points to the importance of addressing a big problem on a small scale, suggesting urban schoolyards can positively impact local biodiversity for both native and exotic species.

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Can We Save Our Corals? Using Investment Planning to Conserve Coral Reefs

By now, most of us have heard the news that climate change is threatening our oceans. Rising carbon dioxide levels due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere are warming our oceans and causing a multitude of other adverse effects on our planet. In particular, these changing environmental conditions are wreaking havoc on the world’s coral reefs. Meanwhile, conservationists around the world have been working to mitigate coral reef degradation, with little overall success. However, a recent study describes a new approach taken from investment theory that could shed a hopeful light on coral conservation efforts.

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Tweet tweet: Using social media to help bird conservation

Conservation areas are vital to maintaining biodiversity, and as a result, it’s important to know which conversation areas humans are most likely to visit. Looking at publicly available social media data, researchers analyzed how many people posted on Twitter and Flickr in over 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas across the globe. Understanding how many people visit what areas is important for funding, and eco-tourism, but also to see which areas may have higher threats with so many visitors.

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In a climate crisis no one is safe, but marine species are getting hit twice as hard

Our world is undergoing a climate crisis, which threatens every living thing on the planet. A study by Pinsky et al. (2019) has found that marine species are more vulnerable to warming than terrestrial species which may change the course of conservation management and deployment of conservation resources.

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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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