How newts transformed our understanding of space travel

How did the Iberian ribbed newt become the world’s favorite amphibious astronaut? In this story from the 1990s, a team of three scientists from Russia and Germany set out to better understand how space affects the process of regenerating tissue in humans and other animals. With their ability to regenerate virtually every part of their body, Iberian ribbed newts were the perfect model organism.

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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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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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