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Moth Uses Plant Toxin To Protect Mate And Off-Spring

Once he has ingested the toxin from the plant, the male is no longer tasty to his common predators, particularly spiders and bats. After gathering the poison, the moth goes in search of a female. When he finds his insect bride, they mate for nine hours. But, just before mating, the moth releases the toxin like a cloud of miniature confetti that sticks to the female. The toxin protects her while she is mating and while she lays her eggs. The female moth then passes the toxin to her eggs. The toxin deters egg-eating insects like ants and ladybugs from devouring her young. (Click on title for full story.)

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Removing Exotic Plants From Natural Landscapes Benefits Native Wildlife

“Our results show that vegetation restoration can improve pollination, suggesting that the degradation of ecosystem functions is at least partially reversible. ” (Click on title for full story.)

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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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When Herbivores Attack, Plants Emit Odors Specific To The Attackers’ Predators

When they are chewed by insects or other small animals, many plants react by releasing odours to attract the insects’ enemies. A new study published in the scientific journal New Phytologist reveals that the odour bouquet changes depending on the type of herbivore that eats the plant. This helps the plant to specifically attract natural enemies that feed on the herbivores eating them. To the surprise of the researchers involved, native plants can even recognise when they are eaten by exotic herbivores. In this case, they emit a specific odour bouquet. (Click on title for full story.)

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Life On Earth Had To Wait 2 Billion Years For Plants To Colonize Dry Land

This time in Earth’s history was a bit of a catch-22 situation. It wasn’t possible to evolve complex life forms because there was not enough oxygen in the atmosphere, and there wasn’t enough oxygen because complex plants hadn’t evolved – It was only when land plants came about did we see a more significant rise in atmospheric oxygen. The history of life on Earth is closely intertwined with the physical and chemical mechanisms of our planet. It is clear that life has had a profound role in creating the world we are used to, and the planet has similarly affected the trajectory of life. I think it’s important people acknowledge the miracle of their own existence and recognise what an amazing planet this is. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Elusive Superstar Plant of Fiji

For now, the tagimoucia continues to inspire Fijians. On a ferry that sails from Taveuni to Suva, I held a tagimoucia clipping given to me by the village chief of Tavuki. The flower turned heads. A young boy whispered “tagimoucia” as he walked past. A woman pointed and mouthed the flower’s name before breaking into a smile. (Click on title for full story.)

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Towards Food Security: This Tree Provides Fruit and Timber In Parched Saline Environments

Economically, socially and environmentally, Dobera glabra is a very valuable tree. One of its many attributes is that its fruit ripens during the drought period, providing food when food is scarce. The tree’s timber is used in heavy construction, for agricultural implements, fuelwood, watering troughs and other domestic items. The leaves can be used as fodder for livestock, and its roots and leaves are used for traditional medicines. In many villages the tree is also planted to provide shade. By domesticating Dobera glabra for on-farm cultivation, we can go a long way towards tackling food insecurity in southern and north eastern Ethiopia and similar environments. (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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The Re-Invention Of Tasty Tomatoes

In the tasting panels, there were noticeable differences in preferences: between men and women, between foodies and nonfoodies, and, perhaps most interesting, between older people and younger people. He recalled one of the students working in his laboratory picking out the supermarket tomato as her favorite in one of the taste tests. “That bothers me a lot,” Dr. Klee said. “Have we trained a whole generation that doesn’t know what a good tomato is?” (Click on title for full story.)

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Native People Have Redesigned Arctic Ecosystems For Millenia

While the prevailing vision of the Arctic tends to be that of a vast and primordial wilderness, Dr. Oberndorfer says a more accurate picture is that of an intricate web of connections that have formed between the land and those that have inhabited it for many centuries. (Click on title for full story.)