Ecosystems

The light-sensing molecules in plants came from ancient algae
July 28, 2015 06:40 AM - Duke University

The light-sensing molecules that tell plants whether to germinate, when to flower and which direction to grow were inherited millions of years ago from ancient algae, finds a new study from Duke University.

The findings are some of the strongest evidence yet refuting the prevailing idea that the ancestors of early plants got the red light sensors that helped them move from water to land by engulfing light-sensing bacteria, the researchers say.
 

Arctic ice growth doesn't disprove climate change
July 27, 2015 08:52 AM - Steve Williams, Care2

New data shows that in 2013 Arctic ice actually grew rather than retreating as climate change models had predicted. Far from proving climate change is a myth or that ice retreat has ended, as skeptics are now claiming, this reveals something much more interesting about our warming climate.

New MIT study on the historical climate of the American West
July 27, 2015 06:56 AM - MIT News

All around the deserts of Utah, Nevada, southern Oregon, and eastern California, ancient shorelines line the hillsides above dry valley floors, like bathtub rings — remnants of the lakes once found throughout the region. Even as the ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago, the region remained much wetter than it is today. The earliest settlers of the region are likely to have encountered a verdant landscape of springs and wetlands.

So just when and why did today’s desert West dry out?

Lake Tahoe's deep blue color explained
July 24, 2015 07:10 AM - UC Davis via NASA

Lake Tahoe's iconic blueness is more strongly related to the lake's algal concentration than to its clarity, according to research in "Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2015," released today by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) of the University of California, Davis. The lower the algal concentration, the bluer the lake. 

Data from a research buoy in the lake, owned and operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, enabled Shohei Watanabe, a postdoctoral researcher at TERC, to create a Blueness Index that quantified Lake Tahoe's color for the first time.

The assumption that lake clarity is tied to blueness has driven advocacy and management efforts in the Lake Tahoe Basin for decades. But Watanabe's research showed that at times of the year when the lake's clarity increases, its blueness decreases, and vice versa. 

Mangroves help protect against sea level rise
July 23, 2015 02:28 PM - University of Southampton

Mangrove forests could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change, according to new research involving the University of Southampton.

Seed study reveals future risks to nature
July 23, 2015 09:00 AM - ClickGreen Staff

The first worldwide study of animals and the seeds they eat has overturned a long-held assumption - that large animals mainly eat large seeds. The finding by UNSW Australia scientists has implications for conservation showing that a wider variety of plants than is often thought could be at risk if large animals go extinct and do not disperse their seeds.

Disaster displacement on the rise
July 22, 2015 08:54 AM - ClickGreen Staff

In the last seven years, an estimated one person every second has been forced to flee their home by a natural disaster, with 19.3 million people forced to flee their homes in 2014 alone, according to a new report. The research suggests disaster displacement is on the rise, and as policy leaders worldwide advance towards the adoption of a post-2015 global agenda, the time has never been better to address it.

Controlled burns and invasive grass
July 21, 2015 12:54 PM - College of ACES, University of Illinois

Controlled burning is widely used to maintain biodiversity and enhance regeneration of important deciduous tree species such as oak and hickory, but a recent University of Illinois study found that this practice also increases the growth of an aggressive species of invasive grass.

Where does water from rain and snow melt actually go?
July 20, 2015 09:00 AM - University of Utah

More than a quarter of the rain and snow that falls on continents reaches the oceans as runoff. Now a new study helps show where the rest goes: two-thirds of the remaining water is released by plants, more than a quarter lands on leaves and evaporates and what’s left evaporates from soil and from lakes, rivers and streams.

Warming impacting bird populations in Hawai'i
July 20, 2015 07:07 AM - USGS Newsroom

Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.

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