Land Development in New Jersey Continues to Slow

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.

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Hots Dogs, Chicken Wings and City Living Helped Wetland Wood Storks Thrive

Using the Wood Stork, researchers compared city storks with natural wetland storks to gauge their success in urban environments based on their diet and food opportunities. Results provide evidence of how a wetland species persists and even thrives in an urban environment by switching to human foods like chicken wings and hots dogs when natural marshes are in bad shape. These findings indicate that urban areas can buffer a species from the unpredictability of natural food sources.

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New Device Can Measure Toxic Lead Within Minutes

Rutgers researchers have created a miniature device for measuring trace levels of toxic lead in sediments at the bottom of harbors, rivers and other waterways within minutes – far faster than currently available laboratory-based tests, which take days. The affordable lab-on-a-chip device could also allow municipalities, water companies, universities, K-12 schools, daycares and homeowners to easily and swiftly test their water supplies. The research is published in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

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Understanding how birds respond to extreme weather can inform conservation efforts

How do different bird species respond to extreme weather events that occur for different amounts of time, ranging from weekly events like heat waves to seasonal events like drought? And how do traits unique to different species — for example, how far they migrate or how commonly they occur — predict their vulnerability to extreme weather?

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Zebra stripes and their role in dazzling flies

The mystery of why zebras have their characteristic stripes has perplexed researchers for over a century.

Over the last decade, Professor Tim Caro at the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences has examined and discredited many popular theories such as their use as camouflage from predators, a cooling mechanism through the formation of convection currents and a role in social interactions.

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Indigenous People Vital for Understanding Environmental 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.

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Where Did the Asian Longhorned Ticks in the U.S. Come From?

The invasive population of Asian longhorned ticks in the United States likely began with three or more self-cloning females from northeastern Asia, according to a Rutgers-led study. Asian longhorned ticks outside the U.S. can carry debilitating diseases. In the United States and elsewhere they can threaten livestock and pets. The new study, published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health, sheds new light on the origin of these exotic ticks and how they are spreading across the United States.

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