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Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Protecting half the planet could help solve climate change and save species

Protecting half the planet could help solve climate change and save...

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Earth faces two interrelated crises: accelerating loss of biodiversity and climate change. Both are worsened by human development of natural lands that would otherwise allow species to flourish and would store atmosphere-warming carbon, stabilizing the climate. A new study argues that nations can help avert the biodiversity and climate crises by preserving the roughly 50…
To save Appalachia’s endangered mussels, scientists hatched a bold plan

To save Appalachia’s endangered mussels, scientists hatched a bold plan

The emergency surgery took place in the back of a modified pickup truck in a McDonald’s parking lot in Pikeville, Ky. This scrappy plan to rescue a species of mussel on the edge of extinction made perfect sense: Meet somewhere between Indian Creek in Virginia, where the last known wild golden riffleshells lived, and Kentucky’s…
Bringing sea otters back to the Pacific coast pays off, but not for everyone

Bringing sea otters back to the Pacific coast pays off, but...

Sea otters are staging a comeback along Canada’s North Pacific coast, but not everyone is happy about it. The disappearance of otters, once trapped for their fur, allowed their food supplies — sea urchins, crabs and clams — to flourish. Now, otters threaten to deplete these profitable invertebrate fisheries, which have sustained coastal indigenous communities.…
Tapirs may be key to reviving the Amazon. All they need to do is poop

Tapirs may be key to reviving the Amazon. All they need...

Beneath the viridescent understory of the Brazilian Amazon, ecologist Lucas Paolucci has been honing his skills for hunting tapir dung. In this region’s degraded rain forests, he sees the piglike mammal’s enormous piles of poop as a treasure. Chock full of seeds, the dung from trunk-nosed lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) may be key in regenerating…
Warming water can create a tropical ecosystem, but a fragile one

Warming water can create a tropical ecosystem, but a fragile one

A decade ago, the waters off the Otomi Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, were a tepid haven. Schools of sapphire damselfish flitted above herds of long-spined urchins. The site was a hot spot of tropical biodiversity far from the equator, thanks to warm water exhaust from a nearby nuclear power plant. But when the…
Will Australia’s forests bounce back after devastating fires?

Will Australia’s forests bounce back after devastating fires?

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Some of the world’s most ancient rainforests lie in the north of the Australian state of New South Wales. Continually wet since the time of the dinosaurs, these forests once covered the supercontinent Gondwana. Today, vestiges harbor many endemic and evolutionarily unique plants and animals. “Normally vibrant, green and lustrous,” these forests “feed your soul,”…
Fewer worms live in mud littered with lots of microplastics

Fewer worms live in mud littered with lots of microplastics

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Despite growing concerns over tiny bits of plastic filling the world’s waterways, the long-term environmental effects of that debris remain murky. Now an experiment on freshwater sediment communities exposed to microplastics for over a year helps clarify how harmful this pollution can be.  Researchers embedded trays of sediment littered with different amounts of polystyrene particles…
A newly found Atacama Desert soil community survives on sips of fog

A newly found Atacama Desert soil community survives on sips of...

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Perhaps the hardiest assemblage of lichens and other fungi and algae yet found has been hiding in plain sight in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. This newly discovered “grit-crust,” as ecologists have named it, coats tiny stones and draws moisture from daily pulses of coastal fog that roll across the world’s driest nonpolar desert. These communities…
Can forensics assist keep threatened rosewood off the black market?

Can forensics assist keep threatened rosewood off the black market?

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Jian Zhong Wang’s home in the southern Chinese city of Nanning is an inviting place. Light spills in through large bay windows, which offer a stunning view of the garden of thick-stemmed banana plants and chest-high cacti. The room is packed with intricately carved furniture: a dining table flanked by eight straight-backed chairs, a coffee…
Burrowing birds produce pockets of abundant plant life in a desert landscape

Burrowing birds produce pockets of abundant plant life in a desert...

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In the rain-starved deserts of coastal Peru, tiny patches surprisingly rich in plant life dot the landscape. Burrowing birds may be responsible, scientists say. Mounds of sand shoveled out by nest-digging burrowing owls and miner birds harbor more seedlings and exclusive plant varieties compared with surrounding undisturbed soils, researchers from the National University of San…

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