Microorganisms, plants, and animals accomplish great feats every day. For example, by decomposing material, producing plant biomass, or pollinating flowers, they keep nature ‘up and running,’ thereby securing the livelihood of humans.
Fish can drown. While it may not seem like it, fish do require oxygen to breathe; it’s just that they get what they need from the oxygen dissolved in water rather than in the air.
Global warming is likely to cause abrupt changes to important algal communities because of shifting biodiversity ‘break point’ boundaries in the oceans – according to research from the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute.
Irvine, Calif., July 22, 2021 – To meet an ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, California’s policymakers are relying in part on forests and shrublands to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but researchers at the University of California, Irvine warn that future climate change may limit the ecosystem’s ability to perform this service.
Scientists from the U.S. and South Africa are launching a campaign to map marine, freshwater, and terrestrial species and ecosystems in one of Earth’s biodiversity hotspots: the Greater Cape Floristic Region at the southwestern edge of South Africa.
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.
A study of woodland ecosystems that provide habitat for rare and endangered species along streams and rivers throughout California reveals that some of these ecologically important areas are inadvertently benefitting from water that humans are diverting for their own needs. Though it seems a short-term boon to these ecosystems, the artificial supply creates an unintended dependence on its bounty, threatens the long-term survival of natural communities and spotlights the need for changes in the way water is managed across the state.
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.
The study, led by Ecoss director Bruce Hungate and co-authored by many other NAU researchers, found that these predatory bacteria, which eat other bacteria, play an outsized role in how elements are stored in or released from soil.
New Brunswick, N.J. (April 6, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick microbial oceanographer Kay D. Bidle is available for interviews on the persistent and profound impact of viral infections on algae in the oceans. These infections influence the Earth’s carbon cycle, which helps…
Overfishing likely did not cause the Atlantic cod, an iconic species, to evolve genetically and mature earlier, according to a study led by Rutgers University and the University of Oslo – the first of its kind – with major implications for ocean conservation.
Elevated carbon dioxide emissions from human activities increase the uptake of carbon by plants but may decrease storage in soil. An international team led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists synthesized 108 elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) experiments in various ecosystems to find out how much carbon is absorbed by plants and soil.
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.
Rutgers scientists for the first time have pinpointed the sizes of microplastics from a highly urbanized estuarine and coastal system with numerous sources of fresh water, including the Hudson River and Raritan River. Their study of tiny pieces of plastic in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary in New Jersey and New York indicates that stormwater could be an important source of the plastic pollution that plagues oceans, bays, rivers and other waters and threatens aquatic and other life.
Human health and ecosystems could be affected by microbes including cyanobacteria and algae that hitch rides in clouds and enter soil, lakes, oceans and other environments when it rains, according to a Rutgers co-authored study.
City living appears to improve reproductive success for migratory tree swallows compared to breeding in more environmentally protected areas, a new five-year study suggests. But urban life comes with a big trade-off – health hazards linked to poorer water quality.
According to an international team of researchers, a ‘safety net’ made up of multiple, interlinked and ambitious goals is needed to tackle nature’s alarming decline.
New Brunswick, N.J. (Oct. 20, 2020) – Evan Drake, a bat researcher and doctoral student at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, is available for interviews on iconic Halloween animals and misunderstood wildlife, as well as bats and COVID-19. Halloween is known for…
Restoration efforts can potentially be 13 times more cost-effective when it takes place in the highest priority locations, according to a new landmark study.
To mitigate heat in light of climate change, city planners are replacing artificial surfaces with vegetation cover. In water-limited regions, they have to balance the benefit of cooler temperatures with conserving water. A University of Utah study found that mixed landscapes are the best way to mitigate the heat island effect in semi-arid regions.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to reset the global economy and reverse decades of ecosystem and species losses, but most countries are failing to invest in nature-related economic reforms or investments, according to a Rutgers-led paper.
An international consortium of scientists has conducted a global review of area-based conservation efforts, including both protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
Ecology is traditionally a data-poor discipline, but tiny microbial worlds offer the quantity of data needed to solve universal questions about abundance and diversity. New research in Nature Communications reveals the fundamental relationship between the environment and the species present in a microbial community and can be used as a starting point for investigating bigger systems.
How much carbon dioxide, a pivotal greenhouse gas behind global warming, is absorbed by plants on land? It’s a deceptively complicated question, so a Rutgers-led group of scientists recommends combining two cutting-edge tools to help answer the crucial climate change-related question.
Scientists have long believed that ocean viruses always quickly kill algae, but Rutgers-led research shows they live in harmony with algae and viruses provide a “coup de grace” only when blooms of algae are already stressed and dying. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, will likely change how scientists view viral infections of algae, also known as phytoplankton – especially the impact of viruses on ecosystem processes like algal bloom formation (and decline) and the cycling of carbon and other chemicals on Earth.
New Brunswick, N.J. (Sept. 10, 2020) – A Rutgers-led project will buy 76,000 oysters from New Jersey oyster farmers who are struggling to sell the shellfish following the shutdown of restaurants and indoor dining as a result of the COVID-19…
Land development in New Jersey has slowed dramatically since the 2008 Great Recession, but it’s unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to fight societal and housing inequality will affect future trends, according to a Rutgers co-authored report. Between 2012 and 2015, 10,392 acres in the Garden State became urban land. That’s 3,464 acres a year – far lower than the 16,852 acres per year in the late 1990s and continuing the trend of decreasing urban development that began in the 2008 Great Recession.
The University of New Hampshire is one of 14 universities from around the globe that have collectively been awarded $12.5 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch a new Biology Integration Institute (BII), called EMERGE, which will focus on better understanding ecosystem and climate interactions—like the thawing of the Arctic permafrost—and how they can alter everything from the landscape to greenhouse gases.
New research shows that safeguarding species and ecosystems and the benefits they provide for society against future climatic change requires effective solutions which can only be formulated from reliable forecasts.
An international team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and University of Copenhagen, has identified and examined past warming events similar to those anticipated in the coming decades, to better understand how species and ecosystems will cope.
Scientists at the University of Adelaide have found growing evidence that marine ecosystems will not cope well with rising sea temperatures caused by climate change.
Grassroots knowledge from indigenous people can help to map and monitor ecological changes and improve scientific studies, according to Rutgers-led research. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows the importance of indigenous and local knowledge for monitoring ecosystem changes and managing ecosystems. The team collected more than 300 indicators developed by indigenous people to monitor ecosystem change, and most revealed negative trends, such as increased invasive species or changes in the health of wild animals. Such local knowledge influences decisions about where and how to hunt, benefits ecosystem management and is important for scientific monitoring at a global scale.
How can some of world’s biggest problems – climate change, food security and land degradation – be tackled simultaneously? Some lesser-known options, such as integrated water management and increasing the organic content of soil, have fewer trade-offs than many well-known options, such as planting trees, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Global Change Biology.
A new study published in the journal New Phytologist from a research team led by environmental scientist Bala Chaudhary at DePaul University uncovered previously undiscovered patterns in the dispersal of mycorrhizal fungi that could help ecologists understand how these beneficial fungi travel.
Mangrove trees – valuable coastal ecosystems found in Florida and other warm climates – won’t survive sea-level rise by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced, according to a Rutgers co-authored study in the journal Science. Mangrove forests store large amounts of carbon, help protect coastlines and provide habitat for fish and other species. Using sediment data from the last 10,000 years, an international team led by Macquarie University in Australia estimated the chances of mangrove survival based on rates of sea-level rise.
More than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins live in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon year-round. Although extensively studied, what they do at nighttime is still a mystery. Using satellite telemetry, scientists provide the first documentation that these dolphins have a larger range that encompasses more habitats than previously thought. They regularly leave the brackish waters of the estuarine system and, not only travel into the ocean, but swim substantial distances – up to 20 kilometers – up freshwater rivers, creeks, and canals.
A new study explored the most important organizing principles that control vegetation behavior and how they can be used to improve vegetation models.
New Brunswick, N.J. (May 6, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick experts are available for interviews on inquiries about the invasive Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia). While media reports have triggered concern over the large pest, there are no reports of…
New Brunswick, N.J. (April 20, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick professors Robert E. Kopp and Karen M. O’Neill are available for interviews on the legacy of Earth Day and what the future may hold for humanity and the environment on our fragile planet. Kopp…
In the kelp forests of Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America, the relative abundance of kelp, sea urchins, and sea stars has not changed significantly since 1973.
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist and international collaborators have developed a framework for testing nutrient limitations and a benchmark of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation for models to be used for predictions of the terrestrial carbon sink.
Imagine a device that could swiftly analyze microbes in oceans and other aquatic environments, revealing the health of these organisms – too tiny to be seen by the naked eye – and their response to threats to their ecosystems. Rutgers researchers have created just such a tool, a portable device that could be used to assess microbes, screen for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and analyze algae that live in coral reefs. Their work is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 6, 2020) – By combining a range of biological data with the first successful genome editing experiments in corals, scientists are poised for rapid advancements in understanding how coral genes function, according to a paper in…
A research team led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York has uncovered evidence that the transition toward forests as we know them today began earlier than typically believed.
New Brunswick, N.J. (Dec. 4, 2019) – With sea-level rise threatening hundreds of millions of people, researchers must do a better job engaging communities and other stakeholders so they can make the best-informed decisions on how to adapt in the…
New Brunswick, N.J. (Sept. 25, 2019) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Malin Pinsky and Rutgers coastal expert Lisa Auermuller are available to comment on a new United Nations report on climate change and ocean, coastal, polar and mountain ecosystems. More than…