Islands and Alleles: How genetics can help protect endangered species

When talking about diversity in the natural world, we often think of the bright colors and bold patterns of fish gliding among a reef, or the variety of flying, creeping, and crawling critters found in the layers of a rainforest canopy. However, diversity even within a single species is an important indicator of a population’s health and stability. This type of diversity can be invisible to us when contained in the form of genes that control which traits organisms possess. In this study, scientists helped us to see the invisible diversity of an endangered skink and learn how to more effectively conserve this diversity.

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Dung Beetles and Soil Bacteria Promote Food Safety.

Having a diverse farm benefits everyone Not only will the soils be richer and the number of different crops grow higher but also diversity may also potentially be safer. By limiting the use of pesticides and maintaining various landscapes throughout a farmland, organic farming increases the number of insects, namely beetles, and bacteria that help break down potential pathogens before they infiltrate the growing crops. Jones and colleagues examined 70 vegetable fields throughout California and conducted several laboratory experiments to find that organic farms had richer, more diverse communities of beetles and soil bacteria that help breakdown foodborne pathogens.

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It’s Not Just About Fish: How Understanding Ecosystem Services Can Lead to Marine Conservation

What is the value of a fish? It’s role in the ecosystem, or the community that relies on the species? A team of scientists from the UK explores these interactions in their recent paper, which details the use of ecosystem services in marine conservation.

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Preserving Culturally-Important Xochimilco Wetlands Requires Policy and Personal Change

Created by the Aztecs in 500 CE for agriculture, Xochimilco is an area of culturally important wetlands in southern Mexico City. Despite its cultural and economic importance, this area is experiencing wetland degradation and loss due to urban development and water quality issues. Even with a high level of local concern about wetland degradation, little effort will be made toward conservation without a change in public policies regarding local infrastructure and development.

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Building Barriers to Stop Sea Level Rise, What’s at Stake?

Anticipated growth of coastal communities is expected in the ensuing future. As these communities expand so will the issue of coastal protection. Currently 14% of the continental US has armored shorelines to protect infrastructure and people from storm surges and consequent flooding. However, the biological impact of these barriers is under scrutiny. Research conducted by Gehman and colleagues at the University of Georgia investigated how armored coastlines impact both biotic and abiotic features of coastal-upland boundaries along coastal Georgia compared unarmored and forested locations.

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Can New Jersey Marshes just “Fuhgettabout” Superstorm Sandy?

After a storm that left 149 people dead and thousands without homes, how could New Jersey coastal wetlands have possibly survived Hurricane Sandy basically unscathed? To find out how these protective ecosystems made it through the storm, we may need to look a little bit below the surface. Most of us know about “Jersey Tough”, but how many knew that applied to the salt marshes, too?

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Mismatches between biodiversity research and policy needs – how can anyone compete with climate change?

If you would conduct a quick poll among the next twenty people you meet and ask them what they think the most important cause of global biodiversity loss is, there’s a good chance you would get a lot of the same two-word answer: climate change. In the English-speaking world today, there are few anthropogenic threats that appear in the news as often as often as climate change. While climate change is undeniably an important driver of biodiversity changes worldwide, there’s a risk that other equally important drivers have ended up too far from the scientific spotlight.

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Invader vs. Predator: Invasive species benefit from control of apex predators

Humans have laid claim to almost every habitable place on the globe, and in doing so, have brought with them many species causing introductions of foreign species to lands they would have otherwise never seen. “Invasive species” are an ecological hot topic these days. What is an invasive species? According to the NISIC (National Invasive Species Information Center) an invasive species is “non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm.” Many conservation groups, governments and activists have spent much time and money in efforts to get rid of these species and in order to control the effects they might have on their “native” counterparts. However, another group of animals has longer been threatened by man, the predator. The loss of predator species has not only led to changes in the way the regions they belonged to operate, but has also allowed for foreign species to flourish.

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Beefore It’s Too Late: A Study of Diminishing Bee Populations and Why We Must Act Now!

There has been a major decline in bee populations over the past 50 years, although demand for insect pollination has tripled. In their article, Dave Goulson and colleagues touch on problems such as habitat loss, intensification of agriculture, and increasing reliance on pesticides, which can mean pollinators are chronically exposed to harmful chemicals faster due to climate change. About 75% of our crop species benefit from insect pollinators, which provide a global service worth $ 215 billion in food production. If we enter the pollination crisis, crop yields may begin to fall which is concerning for the future generations.

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