Biology Environment Health 

Why Plastics Are Dangerous to Our Health

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) It is almost impossible to avoid plastics today. They’re used to package our food, hold the water we drink, and even print our receipts at the grocery store. Though plastics have made life more convenient than ever before, could there be a downside to their prevalence in our world? Scientists are trying to find out. One area of research focuses on how regular contact with plastic might harm the human body, especially because people unknowingly ingest plastic practically every day. To quote the Graduate, “I just…

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Deforestation Environment Science Policy 

Commodity-Driven Deforestation Threatens Forests

By Megan Nichols (@nicholsrmegan) The global economy is at the mercy of its consumers, whose needs often have a negative impact on the environment. A recently published study explores the impact of commodity-driven deforestation on forests around the world. What is the difference between deforestation and temporary forest loss? What sort of impact is this commodity-driven deforestation having on global ecosystems? Zero-deforestation agreements The commodity-driven economy is contributing to the decimation of forests across the globe. Projections by the NASA Earth Observatory estimate that if it continues at its current…

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Environment 

When Aquatic Invasive Species Take Over

By Natasha Parkinson @schrodicatsci The weather is hot, and everyone is trying to cool off any way they can. Everyone with a boat is out on the water, tubing, waterskiing, fishing, or cruising around. Anyone that has been around boats knows about boat safety: wear a life jacket, and don’t operate watercraft under the influence. But one aspect that is less discussed is preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species while you are on the water. Aquatic invasive species So what is an aquatic invasive species? Well, it is either a…

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Fortune Favors Bold Lizards Animals Environment 

Fortune Favors Bold Lizards

By Kate Stone It has been said that the brave don’t live as long, but the timid don’t live at all, so this one is for the brave. Bold lizards, regardless of size or sex, have the most success finding mates. Ecologists have found a valuable life lesson to be learned from lizards: a bold personality—not body size or sex—correlates with the mating success of yellow-spotted monitor lizards roaming the remote Oombulgurri floodplains of tropical Western Australia. But boldness has a cost: bold individuals expose themselves to a much higher…

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How Do People Interact with Closed Nature Trails? Citizen Science Education Environment 

How Do People Interact with Closed Nature Trails?

by Maggie Gaddis In the first quarter of 2018, I worked with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) staff to identify trails of monitoring interest. We reflected on the feedback received in 2017. The Citizen Science Program concept was received well at the end of 2017,  and we agreed to expand the Program by including more trails. All trails are in the Garden of the Gods in 2018. The potential for additional sites is there, but we agreed it was best to focus our attention on the Garden. A question…

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Students Explore Oceans, Wetlands with Interactive Games Biology Education Environment 

Students Explore Oceans, Wetlands with Interactive Games

By Shayna Keyles @shaynakeyles One of the best ways for students to learn about biodiversity is through hands-on experience. Of course, teachers can take their kids to the local pond to learn how different aquatic species interact, but what if students could learn about any aquatic environment, such as the oceans, or even the Everglades? That’s where iBiome, an interactive app by our friends at Springbay Studio, comes in handy. The series of downloadable games helps students develop scientific skills by creating observable, virtual biodomes in a variety of environments.…

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Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet Biology Environment Health 

Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Tiny plastic particles that can barely be seen by the human eye have made their way from our soil into everyday items we know—from earthworms to honey to the beer that we drink—bringing toxic chemicals with them wherever they go. The saying goes that what we can’t see can’t hurt us. Yet, what if these unseen particles are not only hurting us but also changing the entire course of biological evolution? Researchers in Germany have issued a new warning that these human-generated “microplastics” could potentially be…

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Fire Management in California's Chaparal: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District conducted a controlled burn of central marine chaparral at Fort Ord, Calif., Oct. 15, to expose unexploded ordnance at the formerly utilized defense site. The burn, carefully coordinated with local agencies, lasted less than two hours and was timed so that prevailing winds would help blow the smoke away from population centers. The controlled burns are part of a comprehensive ordnance removal program at Fort Ord, which closed in 1994 under recommendation from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. (U.S. Army photo/Released) Animals Biology Environment 

Fire Management in California’s Chaparral Harms Birds

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore California suffered its largest and most destructive wildfires in 2017. Victims included hundreds of wild animals. When the blazing fires were finally extinguished, the surviving animals—including birds—were forced to find new homes. Now, for the first time, researchers investigating the effect of fire management practices on birds in California’s chaparral have found that one practice known as mastication, which consists of mechanically crushing vegetation to remove fuel, threatens bird communities. “The best available science tells us that managing chaparral imperils wildlife and increases fire risk,” says…

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Honeybees Are Attracted to Fungicides and Herbicides Animals Environment 

Honeybees Are Attracted to Fungicides and Herbicides

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Whenever you eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts, take a moment to thank honeybees for their pollination services that contribute $17 billion to the US economy each year. In fact, almonds are almost solely dependent on honeybees for pollination. Populations of these much-needed pollinators have mysteriously plunged over the past decade, and many studies suggest a link to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides among other factors such as climate change and disease. Recently, scientists found that honeybees prefer sugar water laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil and the…

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California’s Urban Forests Have Lowest Tree Cover per Resident Botany Environment 

California’s Urban Forests Have Lowest Tree Cover per Resident

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore California’s urban forests are not just a pretty sight; they are an asset valued at a whopping $181 billion, finds a new study. But, according to the study, the state’s urban tree cover at 90.8 square meters (109 square yards) per city resident is the lowest among all US states. The good news is that there are 236 million spots available for more trees to be planted. The study finds that urban forests cover 15 percent of the urban area in California, consisting of 173 million…

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