Category Archives: Ecosystems

0213001849

Some Plants Grow So Slowly They Require More Than One Botanist’s Lifetime For Proper Study

In 1974, a graduate student named David Inouye marked a small plant in an alpine meadow in Colorado with an aluminum tag. Forty-three years later, Inouye, now a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, is still waiting for it to flower. “I’m hoping I live long enough,” he says. (Click on title for full story.)

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What Happens After Invasive Plants Are Eradicated? It Will Never Be The Same

By the end of the three years of the study, the plant community in the plots where stiltgrass had been removed had diverged even further from the community present in the plots that had never been invaded at all (and from the ones were stiltgrass was allowed to remain). In other words, when the invaders left, the place changed even more than before. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

The Greening Of Antarctica

Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent’s northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet. Amid the warming of the last 50 years, the scientists found two different species of mosses undergoing the equivalent of growth spurts, with mosses that once grew less than a millimeter per year now growing over 3 millimeters per year on average. (Click on title for full stroy.)

0213001849

Healthy Native Soils Less Favorable To Invasive Plants

We found that background levels of soil N and an intact native soil microbial community are essential to the performance of two native prairie plant species, a grass and a forb, while an invasive forb is most successful under conditions of elevated soil nitrogen and when the native soil microbial community has been disrupted. While other studies have considered either the role of the soil microbial community or the effect of changes in soil fertility on the performance of native and exotic plants, our study is one of the few to evaluate the performance of natives and exotics in relation to both factors and under competitive conditions. This integrated approach allows us to more realistically assess the importance of biotic and abiotic soil factors and their interactions to plant performance and the success of exotic invaders. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

That Dingo Saved My Landscape

The plots on the dingo side of the fence showed no real differences in vegetation. But on the other side of the fence, the kangaroo-exclusion areas had about 12% more vegetation cover, implying that high numbers of the herbivores reduce the plant cover in a landscape. Fenced-off plots on the kangaroo side of the fence also had more soil carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen, suggesting that intense grazing outside the plots was changing the soil chemistry of the area. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Urban Vacant Lots Provide More Ecosystem Services Than Nice Yards

Vacant lots contained three times more trees and twice the leaf biomass found in other settings. They were also more diverse. Most of that richness came from non-native species—but while much has been said about the negative impacts of exotic trees, the researchers noted, “there has been less focus on ecological benefits they might provide.” (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Climate Change Pushes Tough Decisions For Commercial Forestry Plantings

The interest for alternatives to be used in forest conversion has grown immensely with the change in climate. Naturally the desire for higher yields in growth, accompanied by a good suitability to a warmer and dryer climate, also play an important role. A search for alternate species in order to transform the forest to better face climate change has been underway for a long time. It is now imperative to examine the alternatives based on clear principles, in an emotionless manner and without stereotypes. (Click on title for full story.)

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Fire Reveals New Plant Species

“The extraordinary thing is, the vegetation that was burnt in 2015 hadn’t been burnt for something like 70 or 80 years,” Professor Hopper said. He was astonished the new species had gone undetected for hundreds of years. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

You Don’t Look A Day Under 100: Managing Forests To Act Old Has Benefits

The “old growth” engineering technique succeeded in creating diverse habitats. But the kicker, Keeton says, is that it has also allowed the forest to store a significant amount of carbon, much more than several other conventional tree selection harvesting techniques. That’s key to fighting climate change. Now, forests that are left alone — with no trees harvested — store the most carbon. But Keeton’s study is finding that it is possible to manage the forest to maximize carbon capture, and still keep it a working forest. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Did Humans Make The Sahara A Desert?

The story that emerged suggests that as communities of people spread, they changed the landscape to accommodate crops and livestock, causing an exchange in plant species that covered the ground for specimens that exposed the soil. As sunlight bounced from the brighter soil, it warmed the air, building a feedback loop that shifted the atmospheric conditions enough to reduce the frequent monsoon rains and benefit scrub vegetation over grasslands until rainfall virtually vanished, leaving only a scattering of hardy desert plants. (Click on title for full story.)