Excavating Extinction Histories

Extinct organisms may seem like grim study subjects, but their bones can teach us a lot about their role in the environment and what led to their extinction. By knowing how these animals contributed to their environment, we can better understand how ecosystems have changed over time. Studying their bones can also give us insight into why the organisms went extinct so that we can help prevent similar extinctions of modern species.

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A Three-Thousand-Year Glimpse into Climate and Human-Influenced Animal Extinction in China

How long of a time period needs to be studied before conclusions about human activity, population, and rising temperatures’ effect on animal extinction can be drawn? A recent paper focusing on three thousand years of historical animal population data shows that these things have led to significantly lower number of animals throughout recorded history – and the trend is still continuing.

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Where will the tall trees grow?

What will the landscape look like when the world is four degrees warmer? Seven degrees warmer? Will you see the same trees and shrubs? Will the same birds visit your bird feeder? If you live in a forest now, will you then live in a desert? The implications have wide consequences not least for the production of food and the provision of water for your future self.

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“Pollen-ology”: what microfossils can tell us about sea level rise

Ever wonder how scientists reconstruct environments from the earth’s history? For those studying mangroves in South Florida, the answer is a little smaller than you would think. Palynology, or the study of fossilized pollen, can tell researchers about what plants were present in an area in the past, aiding in understanding how things have changed in the last few thousand years. With the help of this reconstruction, pollen fossils can also help us predict how mangrove systems will change in the future.

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