Could We “Dilute” Disease by Protecting Biodiversity?

So you are a passionate conservation activist distracted in the time of global pandemic- perhaps you haven’t had the mental space to prioritize biodiversity protection in your ever growing laundry list of pressing societal issues. What if I told you that the preservation of biodiversity could have the potential to check off a few items on that list- including disease impact? Read on to hear how science has worked tirelessly to determine if diversity can actually “dilute” disease in a variety of organisms, ending with a new comprehensive study that looks at this effect in plants.

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Macadamia Farmers Going Nuts Over Birds and Bats

Removing natural vegetation around farms may keep crop predators such as monkeys off farms, but it also can keep away beneficial species of birds and bats that eat common insect pests. Do the services provided by birds and bats outweigh the disservices from monkeys? Researchers ventured into macadamia orchards to try and crack open the answer.

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Glimmer of Hope: Seagrasses Starting to Recover in Europe

Seagrasses provide vital habitat and resources for marine ecosystems. Water pollution, disease, and coastal modification have led to a decrease in 30% of seagrasses across Europe. Researchers analyzed over 1,000 studies to understand the trends of seagrasses over nearly 150 years. While overall losses have been great, the last few decades have shown seagrasses are starting to recover – likely due to strategies to decrease water pollution and protect vital habitats.

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Cover Crops: Good for Water Quality?

Cover crops have been a popular management strategy to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture. However, evidence suggests that some cover crops may in fact release nutrients, instead of keeping them out of the water. One study explores whether five types of cover crops release phosphorus, and how that may impact water quality in the important Great Lakes region.

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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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Making Amends with Wetland Soils

Wetlands provide ecosystem services, which are services that are free to humans and extremely valuable to the environment. In particular, wetlands can improve water quality through denitrification. Denitrification eliminates nitrate, a nitrogenous compound often found in pollutants, by converting it into gaseous forms of nitrogen and emitting these gases into the atmosphere. Because of the wetland losses happening largely due to human activity, efforts are being made to restore wetlands in an attempt to recapture the ecosystem services they provide. Recent research has investigated the capacity of restored wetland soils to perform denitrification compared to that of natural wetland soils.

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Near-death experiences: sublethal effects of pesticides on pollinating insects

Negative impacts of pesticides on pollinators can take different forms: direct kills on contact (called lethal effects) or indirect effects, through the pollinators’ abilities to reproduce (called sublethal effects). These sublethal effects are generally not spotted by regulatory bodies through traditional ecotoxicological tests, but have severe impacts on pollinator health.

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Last call for African forest elephants

African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are in trouble; this may not be news to you. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as well as poaching for the ivory trade. Rather than beat this information over everyone’s heads, scientists are trying to get us to understand why we will miss the elephants when they are gone.

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