Where have all the flowers gone? Climate change is driving the loss of forbs and diversity in Californian grasslands

Science predicts that climate change will disrupt many natural processes and cycles and there is ever increasing media coverage regarding expectations for Earth’s future under these pressures. Yet there is little popular discussion about how plant communities will be impacted by these changes despite the fact that they represent the first level of the food web, support entire ecosystems of species, and contain one of the only organisms that can capture free energy to produce life. Understanding the ways that these communities are changing and will change in the future is crucially important to seeing the full picture of how climate change will re-shape life as we know it.

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Hot tree summer: Measuring the effects of the 2017 heat wave on Europe’s forests

Plants are always just trying to live their best life, but sometimes high temperatures and a lack of water get in the way of that. In this study, scientists studied a heat wave that occurred in southern Europe in summer 2017 to see how different plants fared across the region.

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Who are we going to call when rainforests are suffering from droughts? Termites!

Tropical rainforests are already showing signs that climate change is leading to higher tree mortality. However, Dr. Louise A. Ashton and collaborators investigated if termites could help turn the game on climate change and help tropical biodiversity and survival. This fascinating study shows that high termite abundance can lead to greater soil moisture and nutrient levels during drought conditions, which ultimately favors plant establishment. This suggests termites can potentially be major allies of tropical forests against climate change.

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Green spaces that are more than just green

Many urban ecologists are looking to shift the perception of what the “green” in green space should actually signify. New avenues within lawn research and development can help communities embrace wildness over uniformity in urban ecosystems, and push for the creation of urban green spaces that are more resilient to climate change.

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Climate change can make it harder to help your neighbors – increased insect damage in diverse forest stands during drought

if you’re a tree trying to avoid being eaten by insects, it matters who you’ve got next to you: is it your own species, or another one? Often you’re better off with another species as a neighbor, but a new study shows that climate change can turn this upside down.

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Drought! What is it good for? Native plants

Climate change predictions show that extreme events, including extreme droughts, will be more common in the future. From 2012-2015, California experienced the most extreme drought in over 1,200 years. Scientists from the University of California examined seeds in the soil and plants growing in grassland communities at the beginning of the drought and two years into the drought. They found that the seeds of native plants increased in the soil during the drought, while seeds of non-native grass species that generally dominate the landscape decreased significantly. Their findings suggest that brief, periodic droughts may benefit native plants that produce drought-resistant seeds.

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Snow: More Than Just the Backdrop for your Favorite Winter Olympic Sport

Even if you don’t live anywhere near mountains, it is very possible that the water that comes out of your tap originated as snow in the mountains. Many places rely on melting snow from the mountains to supply water downstream for cities, agriculture, and ecosystems. However, melting is not the only thing that can happen to mountain snowpack and scientists are trying to figure out where else it goes and how that could change in the future.

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