New Critical Period of Embryonic Sex Determination in Sea Turtles Identified

A study shows that the temperature of the incubation environment could influence the sexualization of the gonads (reproductive organs) in sea turtles earlier than what is currently recognized. Researchers developed a new way to integrate the effect of thermal fluctuations on embryonic sex determination and predict sex ratios with much better accuracy than prior models. By measuring the strength of masculinization or feminization of temperatures using novel parameters, they have uncovered how temperature-sensitive sex determination works. These findings could be similar for other reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination because similar molecular determinants and enzymatic mechanisms are at play.

Climate Change Double Whammy Causes Unexpected Effects in Pacific Mussels

Comparative physiologists studied how two aspects of climate change—warming temperatures and increasingly acidic waters—may affect the ecologically important Pacific blue mussel (Mytilus trossulus), a foundational species in the intertidal environments of the northern Pacific Ocean.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity: Water Loss Hurts Bees Most in the Desert

Digger bees lose large amounts of water during flight, which compromises their activity period and survival in the desert heat. Researchers from Arizona State University will present their work this week at the American Physiological Society (APS) Intersociety Meeting in Comparative Physiology: From Organism to Omics in an Uncertain World conference in San Diego.

The bolder bird gets (and keeps) the girl

. In a paper published today in Royal Society Biology Letters, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) demonstrate a clear connection between personality in wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) and the likelihood of divorce. Though the link between personality and relationship outcomes in humans is well-established, this is the first study to do so with animals.

Scientists issue plan for rewilding the American West

As the effects of climate change mount, ecosystem restoration in the US West has garnered significant public attention, bolstered by President Joe Biden’s America the Beautiful plan to conserve 30% of US land and water by 2030. Writing in BioScience, William J. Ripple and 19 colleagues follow up on the Biden plan with a proposal for a “Western Rewilding Network,” comprising 11 large reserve areas already owned by the federal government.

Nitrogen Footprint: Heavy Pollution and Resource Losses Due to Liquid Manure

Factory farming for meat production is harmful to the environment. In addition to its direct emissions of methane, its use of liquid manure releases climate-damaging nitrogen compounds such as ammonia and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and pollutes the groundwater with nitrates. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have analyzed how the liquid manure produced by livestock farming, which is often used as fertilizer, affects its nitrogen footprint. They showed that the nitrogen pollution caused by liquid manure from the production of beef is three times higher than that for pork and eight times higher than that for poultry

The space between us

Tree beta diversity — a measure of site-to-site variation in the composition of species present within a given area — matters more for ecosystem functioning than other components of biodiversity at larger scales. The finding has implications for conservation planning.

These stunning 3D models of coral reefs are a crucial research tool

Martínez Quintana has created stunning 3D digital models that visualize the surface of coral reefs in painstaking detail. The artful re-creations aren’t just beautiful: They’re also filled with data on the distribution of young corals, known as recruits, that scientists are analyzing.

Lowering the temperature on a hot topic: a climate change primer

Earth Day presents a good opportunity to help clear up some essential questions about climate change; what it is, what is responsible and how we know it’s real.

Matt Ajemian, Ph.D., Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Matt Ajemian, Ph.D., has received a $1,103,081 NSF CAREER grant for a project that will build fundamental knowledge on where and when large shell-crushing predators feed in order to ensure a sustainable future for shellfish species. Further, the work can provide guidance to shellfish restoration programs that are currently “flying blind” with respect to predation risk.

A midge fly can be a source of currently used pesticides for birds, bats

Researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology have observed that non-biting midge larvae accumulate contemporary pesticides from polluted water and retain the substances into adulthood. As a result, animals that eat the adult flies could consume small amounts of pesticides daily.

Evolution in Chicago’s clover: DePaul University researchers help chart global human impact on nature

Jalene LaMontagne, associate professor of ecology, and Windsor Aguirre, associate professor of evolutionary biology, are among hundreds of researchers who collected clover in 160 cities all over the world. The research, published this week in the journal “Science,” offers insight into how urbanization is transforming the genetic properties of plants and animals around us.

After California’s 3rd-largest wildfire, deer returned home while trees were ‘still smoldering’

While many animals have adapted to live with wildfires of the past — which were smaller, more frequent and kept ecosystems in balance across the West — it’s unclear to scientists how animals are coping with today’s unprecedented megafires. A team of researchers tracked a population of black-tailed deer before, during and after the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire and found that most of the deer returned home within hours of the fire, while trees were still smoldering.

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.