Category Archives: Ecosystems

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Coastal Wetlands Uniquely Valuable To Slow Climate Change

All told, coastal wetlands may capture and store more than 200 metric tons of carbon per year globally. Importantly, these ecosystems store 50-90 percent of this carbon in soils, where it can stay for thousands of years if left undisturbed. “When we destroy coastal wetlands, for coastal development or aquaculture, we turn these impressive natural carbon sinks into additional, significant human-caused greenhouse gas sources,” (Click on title for full story.)

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Discovering A Huge Carbon Sink Hidden Under Our Very Feet

Peat is usually associated with cold places, not the middle of the hot, humid, Congo Basin. It’s an organic wetland soil made of partially-decomposed plant debris. In waterlogged places those plants can’t entirely decompose, and are not respired as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The peat thus builds up slowly, locking up ever-more carbon. The amounts involved are huge: peat covers just 3% of Earth’s land surface, but stores one-third of soil carbon. We knew that peat can be formed under some tropical swamp forests. Might the world’s second largest tropical wetland, known as the Cuvette Centrale, overlie peat? (Click on title for full story.)

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Longest-lived Tree Species Defends Itself Against Deadly Pine Beetle

Great Basin bristlecone pine has the longest lifespan of any non-clonal organism worldwide. We found that mountain pine beetle, a native insect which has killed millions of pine trees in the past decade, is not attracted to Great Basin bristlecone pine. (Click on title for full story.)

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Good Intentions Gone Bad: Pollinator Seed Mixes Spread Invasive Weeds

We don’t have any issues at all with the concept behind the pollinator habitat program; it’s a good program. But as a result of this program, we’ve now introduced Palmer amaranth to potentially thousands of acres of land, and we need to know what we are going to be allowed to do to try to stem the spread of it. And we need to do that quickly. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Local Forest Die-Offs Have Far Reaching Effects (All Forests Are Global)

The new study describes how major forest losses can alter global climate by shifting the path of large-scale atmospheric waves or changing the amount of sunlight absorbed in the Northern versus the Southern hemispheres. Such changes can shift tropical rain bands and other climate features. (Click on title for full story.)

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Unfair! Invasive Plants Succeed By Inhibiting The Competition

Allelochemicals, released from the roots, leaves, and/or other parts of a plant, can negatively impact neighboring species. The “novel weapons hypothesis” suggests that allelochemicals from invasive plants may have a negative effect on native plants because they have not yet been able to evolve tolerance or resistance to the chemicals . The effects of allelochemicals can be direct or indirect. For example, germination and/or growth may be directly affected. Indirect effects can also occur when allelochemicals modify interactions in the soil, including mycorrhizal associations. (Click on title for full story.)

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Preserving Forests Makes Farms Better

The literature review showed that trees on farms and in agricultural landscapes in most cases result in improved food security via, e.g., reduced pest problems, improved soil fertility and water regulation. The positive effects were most consistent in semi-arid areas. In general, trees in the agricultural landscape were positive, but in some cases a decline in production of particular crops was noted as a trade-off. Very few of the available studies had investigated the production of wood, medicinal products, fruits and nuts, and no studies had looked at cultural ecosystem services such as recreation and spiritual values. This makes it difficult to establish all the synergies and trade-offs associated with trees in the landscape. (Click on title for full story.)

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How Did African Forests Become Savannas? The Acacias Blame The Antelope

A study that includes a group of South African scientists has found that the arrival of browsing medium sized antelopes was probably what turned Africa’s ancient forests into the open savannas. (Click on title for full story.)

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How Millennia Of Human Habitation Left An Ecosystem Healthier Than Before

Human occupation is usually associated with degraded landscapes but 13,000 years of repeated occupation by British Columbia’s coastal First Nations has had the opposite effect, enhancing temperate rainforest productivity. )Click on title for full story)

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Irrigation Kills? Landscaping For Drought Can Make Some Regions More Livable

At night, the modeling projected a cooling effect from the changing landscapes that would be exceed the daytime warming effect. Across L.A., nighttime lows were projected to fall by an average of nearly 6°F if irrigation suddenly ended. (Click on title for full story.)