Iowa State’s Schulte Moore named 2021 MacArthur Fellow

Lisa Schulte Moore, a professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University, has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow for her groundbreaking research as a landscape ecologist building more sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. The prestigious awards, sometimes called “genius grants,” identify scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and others who have demonstrated exceptional creativity and who show promise for important future advances.

Genotyping Reveals Significance of Mesophotic Reefs for Florida Keys’ Coral Recovery

Researchers are the first to compare the genetic structure and genomic diversity of paired shallow and upper mesophotic coral sites in the Northern and Southern Dry Tortugas and the Lower and Upper Florida Keys. Results suggest that while vertical connectivity between paired shallow and mesophotic populations can vary, certain mesophotic coral populations are important for maintaining the long-term survival of this ecologically important coral species throughout the Florida Keys and should be considered in future management strategies.

Behold the humble water flea, locked in a battle of mythological proportions

In Greek mythology, Hydra was a monstrous water serpent that lived in a swamp and terrorized nearby residents. When intrepid Hercules sliced off one of Hydra’s multiple heads, two more heads grew back in its place. This counterintuitive result — when an action taken to reduce a problem actually multiplies it — is known as a hydra effect.

Food claiming to have ‘wild mushrooms’ rarely does

Harvesting wild mushrooms requires an expert eye, making products containing wild fungi expensive. Due to minimal food regulations, it’s nearly impossible to know what species are actually contained within. Sequencing revealed food products labeled with wild mushrooms mostly contained cultivated fungi and some mushrooms poisonous to humans.

Low-cost 3D Method Rapidly Measures Disease Impacts on Florida’s Coral Reefs

A low-cost and rapid 3D technique is helping scientists to gain insight into the colony- and community-level dynamics of the poorly understood stony coral tissue loss disease responsible for widespread coral death throughout the Tropical Western Atlantic. They adapted Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry to generate 3D models for tracking lesion progression and impacts on diseased coral colonies. They combined traditional diver surveys with 3D colony fate-tracking to determine the impacts of disease on coral colonies throughout Southeast Florida.

Low-cost 3D Method Rapidly Measures Disease Impacts on Florida’s Coral Reefs

A low-cost and rapid 3D technique is helping scientists to gain insight into the colony- and community-level dynamics of the poorly understood stony coral tissue loss disease responsible for widespread coral death throughout the Tropical Western Atlantic. They adapted Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry to generate 3D models for tracking lesion progression and impacts on diseased coral colonies. They combined traditional diver surveys with 3D colony fate-tracking to determine the impacts of disease on coral colonies throughout Southeast Florida.

Bio-based coating for wood outperforms traditional synthetic options

Researchers have used lignin, a natural polymer abundant in wood and other plant sources, to create a safe, low-cost and high-performing coating for use in construction. The coating is non-toxic, hydrofobic, it retains wood’s breathability and natural roughness while being resistant to colour changes and abrasion.

Male dragonflies lose their ‘bling’ in hotter climates

A study led by Michael Moore at Washington University in St. Louis finds that dragonfly males have consistently evolved less breeding coloration in regions with hotter climates. The work reveals that mating-related traits can be just as important to how organisms adapt to their climates as survival-related traits.

Hunting, hidden deaths led to estimated 30% reduction in Wisconsin’s wolf population

About 100 additional wolves died over the winter in Wisconsin as a result of the delisting of grey wolves under the Endangered Species Act, alongside the 218 wolves killed by licensed hunters during Wisconsin’s first public wolf hunt, according to new research. A majority of these additional, uncounted deaths are due to “cryptic poaching,” where poachers hide evidence of illegal killings.

Are zebra mussels eating or helping toxic algae?

While invasive zebra mussels consume small plant-like organisms called phytoplankton, Michigan State University researchers discovered during a long-term study that zebra mussels can actually increase Microcystis, a type of phytoplankton known as “blue-green algae” or cyanobacteria, that forms harmful floating blooms.

Climate change is driving plant die-offs in Southern California, UCI study finds

Irvine, Calif., June 21, 2021 – A shift is happening in Southern California, and this time it has nothing to do with earthquakes. According to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, climate change is altering the number of plants populating the region’s deserts and mountains. Using data from the Landsat satellite mission and focusing on an area of nearly 5,000 square miles surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the research team found that between 1984 and 2017, vegetation cover in desert ecosystems decreased overall by about 35 percent, with mountains seeing a 13 percent vegetation decline.

‘An unexplored world right beneath our feet:’ Cave ecologist on the importance of caves in discussions on conservation, caves on other planets

Jut Wynne, director of NAU’s Cave Ecology Lab, talks about cave health all the time. But during 2021, the International Year of Caves and Karst, he and other researchers are inviting the rest of us to consider all the ways these ecosystems contribute to society without us even knowing it.

Seabirds face dire threats from climate change, human activity — especially in Northern Hemisphere

Many seabirds in the Northern Hemisphere are struggling to breed — and in the Southern Hemisphere, they may not be far behind. These are the conclusions of a study, published May 28 in Science, analyzing more than 50 years of breeding records for 67 seabird species worldwide.

Trillions of cicadas are beginning to emerge across the U.S. and one Bowling Green State University expert is available to add insight, context to your reporting

Trillions of cicadas are beginning to emerge in parts of the U.S., and Dr. Daniel Pavuk with Bowling Green State University knows all about the bugs and can add helpful information and context about them to your reporting. Labeled as…

Orangutan Finding Highlights Need to Protect Habitat

Wild orangutans are known for their ability to survive food shortages, but scientists have made a surprising finding that highlights the need to protect the habitat of these critically endangered primates, which face rapid habitat destruction and threats linked to climate change. Scientists found that the muscle mass of orangutans on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia was significantly lower when less fruit was available. That’s remarkable because orangutans are thought to be especially good at storing and using fat for energy, according a Rutgers-led study in the journal Scientific Reports.

Iconic bird makes its home on campus

With its tree-laden campus and adjacent protected natural reserves, UCI enjoys being home to a great variety of bird species. One particular raptor continues to capture the attention of the many avid birders in Orange County: the white-tailed kite. This iconic bird of Orange County – named for its ability to hover in the air while hunting –nearly went extinct throughout California in the early 1900s due to human-related threats.

8 Things Argonne is Doing to Save the Earth

Stepping into their superhero gear, Argonne scientists are using science and the world’s best technology to combat some of Earth’s toughest foes, from pollution to climate change.

How Did 500 Species of a Fish Form in a Lake? Dramatically Different Body Clocks

Despite the dramatic difference between day and nightlife, how fish exploit different times of day has not been studied systematically. Scientists explored alterations in the circadian timing of activity and the duration of rest-wake cycles in Lake Malawi’s cichlids and identified the first single nocturnal species. Timing and duration of rest and activity varies dramatically, and continuously, between populations of Lake Malawi cichlids, providing a system for exploring the molecular and neural basis underlying variation in nocturnal activity.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss How to Build a Native Plant Garden

New Brunswick, N.J. (March 18, 2021) – With spring on the horizon, Rutgers master gardener coordinator Angela Monaghan is available for interviews on how to build a native plant garden. “Everyone can encourage native plant communities in their backyards and…

“Ghost Forests” Expanding Along Northeast U.S. Coast

Why are “ghost forests” filled with dead trees expanding along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coast? Higher groundwater levels linked to sea-level rise and increased flooding from storm surges and very high tides are likely the most important factors, according to a Rutgers study on the impacts of climate change that suggests how to enhance land-use planning.

Argonne innovations and technology to help drive circular economy

In a collaborative effort to “recover, recycle and reuse,” Argonne strengthens research that addresses pollution, greenhouse gases and climate change and aligns with new policies for carbon emission reduction.

Rutgers Wildlife Experts Can Discuss Coyotes in New Jersey

New Brunswick, N.J. (March 2, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick wildlife experts Kathleen Kerwin and Chris Crosby are available for interviews on coyote ecology and behavior, how and when coyotes got to New Jersey and how to avoid human-coyote conflict. “The…

Drifter or Homebody? Study First to Show Where Whitespotted Eagle Rays Roam

It’s made for long-distance travel, yet movement patterns of the whitespotted eagle ray remain a mystery. Between 2016 and 2018, scientists fitted 54 rays with acoustic transmitters and tracked them along both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts of Florida, which differ in environmental characteristics. Results of the study reveal striking differences in travel patterns on the Atlantic coast compared to the Gulf coast. Findings have significant conservation and adaptive management implications for this protected species.