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.

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.