Leaving a Legacy: Plants leave “memories” in the soil that can affect future generations

It’s easy to drive by grasslands, forests, and deserts without thinking too deeply about how and why they have developed to be unique from one another. Still, most of us have an intuition of how community drivers work, such as recognizing that sandy soils and very hot climates encourage the growth of cacti instead of oaks. As an ecologist that has done a lot of work with restoration projects, I am particularly interested in thinking about all of the environmental “ingredients” that go into the recipe for each unique plant community. The day that I found out that plants can leave “memories” in soil which change communities long term, I immediately began thinking about how we could harness this knowledge for good and whether or not humans play a role in the development of these legacies.

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How Does Wildfire Smoke Impact Mortality in Washington State?

Wildfire smoke contains harmful compounds known to negatively impact human health. New research suggests wildfire smoke exposure could contribute to an increased number of deaths in Washington State, and raises interesting questions about public health as climate change threatens to increase the size, frequency, intensity, and duration of wildfires in the state.

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Microplastics take flight—how mosquitoes move microscopic pollutants from water to land

Discarded plastics aren’t only disrupting the ocean, they accumulate in freshwaters too. And the impacts may not end there. Aquatic insects eat microplastics and, when they become adults, carry the polluting particles from water onto land and potentially into the stomachs of their predators.

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Oil Spills are a Black Mark on Health

The thought of oil spills conjures up images of marine disasters–wildlife smothered in slick sludge and thick black smoke. But what are the human health consequences to the brave men and women who respond and work to clean up these messes? New research examines the potential impact of oil spill response work on risk of heart attack in those who clean up after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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Assessing the impact of pollutants on kidney health

Do PFASs affect human health? What even are PFASs? Researchers at Duke University conducted a comprehensive review of the published literature to summarize what we know about how a class of pollutants called PFASs may impact human kidney health.

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