A Matter of Mulch: Restoring Post-Fire Pine Forests in the Western United States

Following severe fires, forest soils can erode, depositing sediment into nearby waterways after it rains and threatening local water quality as a result. Mulch is often used to reduce soil erosion in forests following wildfire. Following the High Park Fire in Colorado, scientists tested several types of mulch to determine which was most effective. Thanks to this study, we now know that wood mulch is better than wheat-straw mulch at promoting the return of pine trees and excluding non-native species from taking over, while also stabilizing the soil, probably because wood mulch persists longer and holds more moisture.

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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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Glimmer of Hope: Seagrasses Starting to Recover in Europe

Seagrasses provide vital habitat and resources for marine ecosystems. Water pollution, disease, and coastal modification have led to a decrease in 30% of seagrasses across Europe. Researchers analyzed over 1,000 studies to understand the trends of seagrasses over nearly 150 years. While overall losses have been great, the last few decades have shown seagrasses are starting to recover – likely due to strategies to decrease water pollution and protect vital habitats.

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Using Genetics to Inform Conservation: Spring-Run Chinook Salmon in the Klamath-Trinity River Basin

The same species of Chinook salmon in the Klamath-Trinity basin return to the river each year in two groups: the fall-run and the spring-run. Spring-run Chinook in the Klamath River have drastically declined from historical levels, and are at much lower abundances than fall-run Chinook there. A key genetic difference between these two runs may determine how they are protected (and hopefully restored) under the Endangered Species Act. Read on to learn more!

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The global buzz: A call to restore insect biodiversity

Insects are in decline worldwide. Without a rethinking of current agricultural practices and a bucking of trends in urbanization, biodiversity of insects is threatened globally. Insects are the structural and functional base – the linchpin – of all ecosystems. We are part of those ecosystems. Unlike the vastness of climate change and its many aspects, the solutions to the problem of insect declines are readily available. With proper perspective, appreciation, and respect for the roles insects play in ecosystem integrity, human health, and economic markets, we can reverse course.

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