Homeward Bound: Salmon Straying in the Pacific Northwest

For salmon to complete their life cycle, juveniles must migrate out to the ocean and return as adults to spawn in the river where they were born. Adult salmon find their way back to their natal river after years at sea through a process called “homing”, a phenomenon that scientists still don’t fully understand. Some salmon never make it home at all, which can have lasting effects on populations. Read on to learn more!

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River Streams Benefit from Fallen Trees

Rivers have suffered the most from human urbanization. Damming, river straightening and removal of large woody debris have disrupted many natural processes essential for healthy habitats of fish, insects and algae. Many land managers have returned fallen trees back into rivers in hopes to improve habitat quality. It wasn’t until this research by Thompson and colleagues that there was clear evidence that this management strategy was successful.

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More than just a coincidence? What the co-occurrence of species can teach us about how they interact

Different kinds of plants, animals, and fungi interact with each other in a myriad of ways.  Recently, researchers have been trying to infer the nature of these interactions just by looking at whether you can find these species in the same place!  In a 2018 study, Mara Freilich of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her co-authors examined the reliability of this co-occurrence approach.

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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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Reviving Our Rivers

Most rivers in the developed world are mere artifacts of what they once were – wild dynamic beasts that wiggled across the landscape recycling old land and creating new surfaces. With human development came the desire to manage water movement, and now most rivers flow through static channels held in place by levees and controlled by dams. But recently some regions are making efforts to give rivers a bit more freedom and restore their associated floodplains.

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Coming out of a fire, are our forests doing just fine?: Impacts of climate change on forest recovery after wildfires

Climate change is predicted to change the frequency and severity of forest fires, but can it also impact what happens to forests after the fire? This study tries to answer that question by studying how recovery of forests after fires across the Rocky Mountains has changed with our changing climate.

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Are we headed for a sixth mass extinction?

A mass extinction is an event in which the world very rapidly loses a large number of its living species. You’ve probably heard of the mass extinction that occurred sixty-five million years ago, when an asteroid crashed near Mexico and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. There have been four other mass extinctions in the last 500 million years, and each has resulted in the loss of at least 60% of living species. In a recent study, Professor Daniel Rothman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues that human activities – specifically our inundating the atmosphere with carbon – may result in a sixth mass extinction.

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Reputation (of Conservation Planning): Challenges in the Face of Climate Change

We could make a whole list of habitats to conserve, but which are in red, underlined? Scientists recently tested a number of models incorporating the impacts of climate change to find out what method we should be using for predicting high value conservation areas in the future.

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