Microbes for Disappearing Dunes

A major challenge our coastal ecosystems face is rapid loss of sand dunes due to coastal erosion. Plants play an important role in sand dune restoration. However, without the right microbes these plants may not be able to establish themselves in the dunes.

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Listen for a Change: Bioacoustics in Restored Habitat Combats the Bird Decline

Excerpt: A recent study has revealed that 3 billion birds have disappeared since 1970 in North America. Restoring habitat can help reverse this loss, and technology in listening for birds can be a vital tool to see if this approach to restoring bird habitat is working.

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In Winter: Where the Cold-Blooded Wild Things Go

When days become shorter and the temperature outside begins to drop, our home interiors become warm, welcoming refuges from the rain and snow outside. We see the trees enter dormancy as they drop their leaves, and wildlife become busy preparing for winter: Many birds migrate, some mammals prepare to hibernate, but where do the smooth and scaly things go? The frogs? The snakes? The turtles? And without a fur coat and thick layer of blubber, it makes one wonder how they survive in prolonged freezing temperatures. As it turns out, behavioral and physiological adaptations – such as brumation and supercooling – allow many amphibians and reptiles to withstand some of our planet’s most extreme winter conditions.

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Friend or foe? Invasive earthworms can benefit agriculture but harm forests

Earthworms are welcome guests in the garden, but it’s a different story in the forest. By consuming and removing leaf litter too fast they set in motion complex cascades of ecological changes, with long-term negative effects on soil fertility and biodiversity.

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Habitats are a work of art: habitat mosaics and fish production

Biodiversity is continually being threatened by human activities, and it is vital that we protect it. Conserving biodiversity means conserving species and the habitats they live in. We know that habitats vary through space and time, but does this variation impact fish production in the long term? Brennen et al. explores this question using Pacific salmon species in an Alaskan watershed.

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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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