What Smokey the Bear didn’t know about invasive species

Fires are increasing across the United States and researchers are looking to weed out the one of the culprits — invasive grasses. Using information from fires and non-native grass invasion across the country, researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst set out to determine if invasive grasses increase the number of fires across the United States. Of the twelve grass species analyzed, 66% increased fire frequency, adding another layer to the complexity of managing wildfires. As individuals we can help halt this “grass-fire cycle” by reducing the spread of invasive grasses and human-caused sparks.

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Spotting the Shy Guy – Why Collaboration With Local Indigenous People Can Be An Asset to Conservation Management

A recent Australian study highlights the importance of including local and indigenous people in conservation research. While examining mitigation of lizard population declines, scientists stumbled upon a surprising finding about how researchers’ cultural differences can affect fieldwork and experimental outcomes.

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It’s all in the genes: how water pollution keeps silver carp at bay.

Silver carp are a notorious invasive fish that are spreading throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Despite their rapid-fire range expansion, silver carp have yet to make it to the Great Lakes. A recent study explores the possibility that polluted Chicago-area waters may be preventing the spread of silver carp into Lake Michigan and beyond.

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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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Native milkweed supports healthy monarch communities

“Monarch butterflies do really well on the exotic milkweed species that’s being widely sold and planted under current environmental conditions. But under warmer conditions, the exotic plant becomes too toxic and monarchs become less healthy.”

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Dumpster diving diet: city rats have higher protein diet distinct from other rural mammals

Rats have shared our cities for a long time. Because of this they can be used a model to learn more about how animals colonized cities and what features of cities can be advantageous for some species. A new study focuses their attention on whether 19th century city mice had an advantage over their rural neighbors. Read on to find out more!

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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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