182 Years in the Making: Invertebrate Communities of Narragansett Bay

Benthic invertebrates support various ecosystem functions and services such as shellfish production and biogeochemical cycling. Historical data spanning 182 years permitted Hale and colleagues to determine the trends and current conditions of invertebrate communities in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. From the 104 studies, the authors detected over 1,000 different taxa that have been observed within the esturary and suggest human influence has greatly impacted the overall biodiversity of the invertebrate community.

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Endangered Species Act: Headed for Extinction?

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a law designed to protect and recover endangered species of plants, animals, and ecosystems, and in turn, preserve our nation’s ecological history and functionality. However, there has been a recent push to overhaul the ESA in favor of economic opportunities. This would relieve the burden carried by landowners and industries who have been hampered by ESA restrictions, but would strip protections on species already listed on the ESA and make it more difficult to add species to the list. Left unprotected, those endangered species would be left to go extinct, and the ecological functions they serve within their ecosystem could collapse or irreversibly shift their biomes. With human activity responsible for current accelerated extinction rates, this is the time for urgent action on conservation, not a time to overhaul the law designed to protect our nation’s species and ecosystems.

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The hidden value of coral reefs

Coral reefs act as natural breakwaters reducing wave energy along coasts and, thus, can mitigate flooding. Reef structures currently avert more than $4 billion of flood damage annually. The viability of coral reefs is threatened by rising ocean temperatures, changing seawater chemistry, and physical anthropogenic disturbances. The expected damages to coastal infrastructure from flooding would at least double if reef height is reduced by only one meter. The reduction in flood protection services underscores the importance of investments in reef management, protection, and restoration.

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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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Warding Against Wildfires: How Well Does it Work?

You would have to be living under a rock not to know about the wildfires that seem to almost constantly be devastating the forests in western states like Colorado and Arizona. It seems like every couple of years, there is another new huge fire ravaging this portion of the United States of America. But, why are these wildfires so common and what can we do to stop them?

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Reversing the loss of biological diversity: Money talks

The planet is losing biological diversity at alarmingly high rates. As a result, ecosystems are compromised, and so is their ability to support humans. Scientists, environmentalists and other concerned groups have been pointing out the urgent need to stop or reverse the loss of biodiversity. That action often requires substantial investments, which raises the question of whether the benefits we obtain from nature can outweigh the cost of conservation. In this study, a group of scientists and representatives of international NGOs make a case that the benefits of reversing biodiversity loss outweigh the costs.

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Microbes, marshes, and mangroves: Implications for coastal carbon storage

Salt marshes and mangroves are coastal ecosystems known to store excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to reduce negative consequences of climate change. Despite their importance, the relative distribution of marshes and mangroves is changing due to increasing temperatures and sea level rise. It is unclear, though, what these shifts mean for carbon storage. Since microorganisms are crucial in soil carbon cycling, we need to better understand how they function in response to whether marshes or mangroves dominate. A research team in Florida set out to address this question, finding significant changes to the microbial community.

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