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A superbloom of wildflowers overtakes California's southeastern deserts in March 2017

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:22:00 EST

After five years of exceptional drought, desert landscapes across southern California exploded with “superblooms” of wildflowers this March following ample winter precipitation. According to local news reports, it’s the most spectacular display some locations have seen in more than two decades.(image)



USGS and Partners Team Up to Track Down Nonnative and Invasive Fishes in South Florida

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:22:00 EST

U.S. Geological Survey scientists teamed up with government, nonprofit, and university partners in South Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve to hold a scientific scavenger hunt for nonnative and invasive freshwater fish species.(image)



Tackling resilience: Finding order in chaos to help buffer against climate change

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:16:00 EST

"Resilience" is a buzzword often used in scientific literature to describe how animals, plants and landscapes can persist under climate change. It’s typically considered a good quality, suggesting that those with resilience can withstand or adapt as the climate continues to change.But when it comes to actually figuring out what makes a species or an entire ecosystem resilient ― and how to promote that through restoration or management ― there is a lack of consensus in the scientific community.(image)



Forests fight global warming in ways more important than previously understood

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:32:00 EST

Forests play a complex role in keeping the planet cool, one that goes far beyond the absorption of carbon dioxide, new research has found.Trees also impact climate by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere, an important influence that should be considered as policymakers contemplate efforts to conserve forested land, said the authors of an international study that appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.(image)



Dust contributes valuable nutrients to Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:00:00 EST

Collecting dust isn't usually considered a good thing.But dust from as close as California's Central Valley and as far away as Asia's Gobi Desert provides nutrients, especially phosphorus, to vegetation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a team of scientists has found. Their study, published in the journal Nature Communications, highlights the importance of dust and the phosphorus it carries in sustaining plant life.(image)



Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:00:00 EST

William Blake may have seen a world in a grain of sand, but for scientists at MIT the smallest of all photosynthetic bacteria holds clues to the evolution of entire ecosystems, and perhaps even the whole biosphere.(image)



Litter is present throughout the world's oceans: 1,220 species affected

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:06:00 EST

Where is marine litter concentrated, and which species and ecosystems does it affect? Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute have for the first time compiled all scientific data published on marine litter in a single, comprehensive database, now accessible from the online portal AWI Litterbase (www.litterbase.org). Here, both the distribution of litter and its interactions with organisms are presented in global maps. In addition, the regularly updated datasets are fed into graphic analyses, which show e.g. that seabirds and fish are particularly affected by litter. The latest interaction analysis shows that 34 per cent of the species monitored ingest litter, 31 per cent colonise it, and 30 per cent get entangled or otherwise trapped in it (for all figures: valid as of 23 March 2017). The total number of affected species is rising steadily and is currently at 1,220 – more than twice the number reported in the last review article. These numbers will change as the database is being updated regularly.(image)