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  • The collapse of Northern California kelp forests will be hard to reverse
    on March 5, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Satellite imagery shows that the area covered by kelp forests off the coast of Northern California has dropped by more than 95 percent, with just a few small, isolated patches of bull kelp remaining. Species-rich kelp forests have been replaced by 'urchin barrens,' where purple sea urchins cover a seafloor devoid of kelp and other algae. A new study documents this dramatic shift in the coastal ecosystem and analyzes the events that caused it.

  • Newly discovered millipede, Nannaria hokie, lives at Virginia Tech
    on March 4, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Hearing the words "new species discovered" may conjure images of deep caves, uncharted rainforests, or hidden oases in the desert. But the reality is that thousands of new species are discovered each year by enterprising scientists all over the world. Many of these new species do come from exotic locations, but more surprisingly, many come from just down the road, including the newest member of the Hokie Nation, the millipede Nannaria hokie. The newest Hokie -- which has about 60 more legs than the HokieBird ­ -- was discovered living under rocks by the Duck Pond behind the Grove on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. Since then, the critter has been found at the area commonly referred to as stadium woods and in town in Blacksburg as well.

  • Limiting invasive species may be a better goal than eliminating them
    on March 4, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Managing invasive species -- not eliminating them altogether -- is a better use of time and conservation resources in many cases, according to a biologist.

  • A silver swining: 'Destructive' pigs help build rainforests
    on March 3, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Wild pigs are often maligned as ecosystem destroyers, but a new study has found they also cultivate biodiverse rainforests in their native habitats.

  • Detection dogs help generate important data for research and conservation
    on March 2, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    It is often difficult to find out exactly where the individual species can be found and how their populations are developing. According to a new overview, specially trained detection dogs can be indispensable in such cases. With the help of these dogs, the species sought can usually be found faster and more effectively than with other methods.

  • Low-level thinning can help restore redwood forests without affecting stream temperatures
    on March 1, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Selectively cutting trees in riparian zones to aid forest restoration can be done without adversely affecting streams' water temperature as long as the thinning isn't too intensive, new research shows.

  • Rare bee found after 100 years
    on February 25, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    A widespread field search for a rare Australian native bee not recorded for almost a century has found it's been there all along - but is probably under increasing pressure to survive.

  • Forests' long-term capacity to store carbon is dropping in regions with extreme annual fires
    on February 25, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Researchers have analysed decades' worth of data on the impact of repeated fires on ecosystems across the world. Their results show that repeated fires are driving long-term changes to tree communities and reducing their population sizes.

  • Using landscape connectivity to control deadly mosquito-borne viruses
    on February 24, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    A research team has developed a new method for tracking how the deadly yellow fever mosquito moves through the environment, a potentially critical tool for controlling the insect and the diseases it spreads.

  • Parasitic plants conspire to keep hosts alive
    on February 23, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    The plant that encourages kissing at Christmas is in fact a parasite, and new research reveals mistletoe has an unusual feeding strategy. When two mistletoes invade the same tree, they increase photosynthesis to get the nutrients they need, essentially sharing the tree and causing it less harm.

  • Don't focus on genetic diversity to save our species
    on February 23, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Scientists have challenged the common assumption that genetic diversity of a species is a key indicator of extinction risk. The scientists demonstrate that there is no simple relationship between genetic diversity and species survival. But researchers conclude the focus shouldn't be on genetic diversity anyway; it should be on habitat protection.

  • Climate impacts drive east-west divide in forest seed production
    on February 23, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Younger, smaller trees that comprise much of North America's eastern forests have increased their seed production under climate change. But older, larger trees that dominate western forests have been less responsive, a new study warns. This continental divide could limit western forests' ability to regenerate following large-scale diebacks linked to rising temperatures and intensifying droughts. Over time this might dramatically alter the composition and structure of 21st century North American forests.

  • Scientists use machine-learning approach to track disease-carrying mosquitoes
    on February 22, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    Researchers are using a machine-learning approach to map landscape connectivity of the species Aedes aegypti, the so-called Yellow Fever mosquito, which is a primary vector for transmission of viruses causing dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.

  • Rapid evolution may help species adapt to climate change and competition
    on February 22, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    A study shows that a fruit fly species can adapt rapidly to an invader and this evolutionary change can affect how they deal with a stressful climate. Over a few months, the naturalized species adapted to the invasive species' presence. This affected how the flies adapted to cold weather. The flies exposed to invasive species evolved in the fall to be larger, lay fewer eggs and develop faster than flies that hadn't been exposed.

  • New piece of the puzzle increases understanding of speciation
    on February 18, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    Speciation is important because it increases biodiversity. A new thesis examines the speciation process in multiple marine species where different populations of the same species might evolve into two completely new species.

  • New study examines leeches for role in major disease of sea turtles in Florida
    on February 18, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    Researchers are homing in on the cause of a major disease of sea turtles, with some of their latest findings implicating saltwater leeches as a possible factor. The results present the first evidence of a significant association between leeches and the disease in sea turtles, according to the researchers.

  • Invasive flies prefer untouched territory when laying eggs
    on February 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    A recent study finds that the invasive spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) prefers to lay its eggs in places that no other spotted wing flies have visited. The finding raises questions about how the flies can tell whether a piece of fruit is virgin territory - and what that might mean for pest control.

  • Biodiversity protects bee communities from disease
    on February 12, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    A new analysis of thousands of native and nonnative Michigan bees shows that the most diverse bee communities have the lowest levels of three common viral pathogens.

  • New insights to past ecosystems are now available based on pollen and plant traits
    on February 11, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    Researchers have mined and combined information from two databases to link pollen and key plant traits to generate confidence in the ability to reconstruct past ecosystem services. The approach can help understand how plants performed different benefits useful for humans over the past 21,000 years, and how these services responded to human and climate disturbances.

  • Study finds even the common house sparrow is declining
    on February 11, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    A new study aims to clarify the status of the non-native European House Sparrow, using 21 years of citizen science data.

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