Citizen Scientists Invited to Identify Plants Botany Citizen Science 

Citizen Scientists Invited to Identify Plants

By Kate Stone @GotScienceOrg Pl@ntNet is a citizen science project and an app that helps you identify plants, thanks to the camera of your smartphone. The app recognizes more than 13,000 species around the world. We recently spoke with Rémi Knaff, community manager for the project, about plant identification and citizen science. GotScience: Who can use this plant identification tool? Knaff: The app can be used by anyone who is interested in plants or wants to be part of a citizen science project. The app uses crowdsourced data to give…

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Chemicals Used on Almond Trees Linked to Bee Deaths Animals Botany Environment 

Chemicals Used on Almond Trees Linked to Bee Deaths

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Americans have a serious obsession with almonds. In 2016, 1.2 million metric tons were grown worldwide, and 80% of that was grown in California alone. As our taste grows for the protein-packed nut, a looming crisis threatens not only the almond crop, but the global food industry as a whole. Over the last decade, honeybee populations, which are necessary for sustaining a healthy almond industry, have been steadily declining. The reasons for the decrease are not fully clear. What if our rabid consumption of this tasty…

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Urban Life of Bees: A Pollination-Parasite Trade-Off Animals Biology Botany Environment 

Urban Life of Bees: A Pollination-Parasite Trade-Off

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic   Few people would consider cities the ideal home for bees, but what if these dense population centers could provide the means for healthy cohabitation? Scientists from Europe recently examined how bumblebees visit and pollinate flowers across urban and agricultural regions and found that urban areas can have a surprisingly beneficial effect on pollination rates. The reasons behind these results not only provide insight into how cities could be designed to better care for bees but also signal yet another danger of farming monocultures. Urban sanctuary…

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Bee Friendly Garden Animals Botany Environment 

Tips for a Bee-Friendly Garden

By Steven Spence @TheStevenSpence More Diverse Than Honeybees When we hear about bees most of us think of honeybees (Apis mellifera) but there are many more bees around us. In fact, there are approximately 4000 native bee species in North America. Some of the most familiar types are bumblebees, mason bees, carpenter bees, and leaf cutter bees. These bee species also are important as pollinators. Fortunately, there are many ways we can help bees flourish whether we have farms, garden plots, backyards, or live in an urban environment with a…

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Gardening Alternatives to Pesticides Animals Botany Environment 

Gardening Alternatives to Pesticides

By Steven Spence @TheStevenSpence Gardens are a delight Sadly, it’s not just gardeners, bees, butterflies, and birds that enjoy gardens. Gardens inevitably also attract insect pests, as I know firsthand from working on my little plot with flowers and fruit trees. In my first year of gardening, I didn’t know what to do to get rid of an aphid infestation, so I went to a local garden supply store and was advised to buy some spray-on pesticides, which I reluctantly used. After that experience, I began to talk with other…

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Plant Bacteria Thrive in Wet Weather Biology Botany 

Plant Bacteria Thrive in Wet Weather

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Plants need water to grow. But too much water isn’t good for them either. Scientists have found that excessive rain and high humidity levels allow disease-causing bacteria to attack plants by creating a moist environment that makes them more susceptible to bacterial infections. When conditions are right, plants can be infected with bacteria, viruses, and fungi. While scientists and farmers have long known that wet weather and long periods of high humidity can increase the risk of crops getting diseases, the exact mechanisms have so far…

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Flower Power: The Physics of Pollination Biology Botany 

Flower Power: The Physics of Pollination

By Marie Davey @biophilesblog Pollination. The word brings to mind the droning buzz of fat yellow and black bumblebees bouncing from blossom to blossom in flower-decked meadows. But up close and in person, pollination is often anything but idyllic. The physical forces involved in pollination can be impressive, and both plants and insects must be well adapted to withstand them. The flowers of bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) generate impressive physical forces, acting as tiny pollen catapults. Bunchberry flower buds have petals that are fused to one another and completely enclose the…

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Lupine Invasions Biology Botany Environment 

Lupine Invasions

By Marie Davey @biophilesblog Roadsides, ditches, and railway lines in Norway are awash with colour every June.  The lupines bloom, and dense swathes of purple, pink, and white blossoms stacked into perfect pillars brighten the countryside. I love the vibrant colours, but I have to stop to remind myself that these are not the friendly wildflowers of my Canadian childhood. Lupinus polyphyllus, the big-leaved lupine, is native to the western United States and Canada, from British Columbia and Alberta south to California and east to Montana, Idaho, and Nevada—but in…

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Water Weeds May Clean Up Oil Spills Biology Botany Environment Technology 

Water Weeds May Clean Up Oil Spills

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Oil—we use it every day, whether to power our cars or to heat our homes. Our appetite for crude oil continues to grow. This year the world is forecast to consume around 94 million barrels of oil per day (1 barrel = 159 liters or 42 gallons). Most of this oil is transported by sea, and with so much oil being transported, spillage is more likely. Not only are oil spills harmful to marine life, they are also expensive and difficult to clean up—sometimes taking years….

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