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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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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Soybean Soybetter

By 2050, the demand for staple food crops, such as potatoes and wheat, is expected to nearly double from what it is today. We could farm all the land in the world, but scientists and others believe this could be detrimental for a multitude of reasons. How can we increase our crop yields without expanding our already limited fields? The answer may lie in cutting out leaves. Taking this approach, Srinivasan and colleagues increased soybean production by up to 8%, that’s approximately 6.5 metric tons per year.

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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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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree. How Christmas tree farms affect bird communities.

Grasslands, such as hay meadows, have been increasingly replaced with Christmas tree farms across Europe as the Christmas tree industry expands. A recent study documented higher bird abundance and more bird species in Christmas tree farms than in grasslands that had low shrub and bush (i.e. hedges) abundance. Grasslands with a large amount of hedges had similar amounts of birds compared to Christmas tree farms. As Christmas tree farms take up more and more grasslands, there is a need for more research to determine the quality of bird habitats within Christmas tree farms.

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