Will Kelp Farming Slow Climate Change?

These marine plants and algae are sometimes called “sea vegetables”—but there are reasons beyond gastronomy to appreciate them. Kelp, in particular, has the potential to greatly reduce ocean acidification. Naturally occurring in cold, coastal marine waters, kelp grows quickly without the need for fertilizer, and it takes up carbon dioxide—which can exacerbate climate change—as well as excess nitrogen and phosphorus. The problem, though, is that there’s not enough of it. (Click on title for full story.)

The Very First Trees Were Unlike Anything Alive Today

This growth strategy has not been seen in any other tree in Earth’s history. It’s crazy that the oldest trees also had the most complex growth strategy, (Click on title for full story.)

Fruit-Eating Animals Increase Biodiversity. And They Are Disappearing

Our study shows that interactions among species, such as those between animal seed dispersers and their food plants, are crucial for biodiversity and the benefits that nature provides to human societies’, explains Daniel Kissling. ‘We therefore should not only protect single species or enough space and habitats for animals to live. We also need to focus more efforts on restoring important interactions among species in places where they have been lost’. Without this, the future of biodiversity will look like a supermarket with empty shelves.(Click ontitle for full story.)

Can Iceland Restore Forests Destroyed By Viking Ancestors?

The country lost most of its trees more than a thousand years ago, when Viking settlers took their axes to the forests that covered one-quarter of the countryside. Now Icelanders would like to get some of those forests back, to improve and stabilize the country’s harsh soils, help agriculture and fight climate change. But restoring even a portion of Iceland’s once-vast forests is a slow and seemingly endless task. Despite the planting of three million or more trees in recent years, the amount of land that is covered in forest — estimated at about 1 percent at the turn of the 20th century, when reforestation was made a priority — has barely increased. (Click on title for full story.)

In Space, Humans Will Need Plants To Maintain Mental Health

While these anecdotes do not provide direct experimental evidence in support of the psychological benefits of growing plants in space, they do show the affective responses and high level of interest by the astronauts associated with having greenery on board space vessels. (Click on title for full story.)

The Secret Colors Flowers Create: But How? And Why?

Only a few flowers, like cornflowers and Himalayan blue poppies, have achieved true blue, and all by using special chemical tricks like adding metals to their pigments, or making their petals more alkaline. “All of this is chemically quite difficult and not many species have evolved the enzymes to do it,” says Beverley Glover from the University of Cambridge. “Even with genetic modification, people have managed to make purple, bluish roses, but true blue isn’t happening.” So imagine her surprise when she found that many flowers have secret blue halos in their flowers. (Click on title for full story.)

Large Herbivores Essential To Spread Soil Nutrients

Despite the quirks, there are two important insights to this study. First, today we are rapidly losing our few remaining large animals (forest elephants have decreased by 60% in the last 10 years alone). Losing these animals will critically impair our future ecosystems as we lose their nutrient distribution capacity. Next there is an observed ecological rule called Cope’s rule that has shown that animals tend to get bigger over time. Basically, it is a good evolutionary strategy to get big because then it is harder for predators to eat you. Combining this rule, with what I have found in this study, that large animals are disproportionately important for the distribution of nutrients, indicates that the planet may have an intrinsic mechanism of increasing fertility over time. (Click on title for full story.)

New Study Underscores Value Of Nature In Controlling Climate Change

There’s a growing recognition that to get to below 2°C, we need to actively drawdown carbon from the atmosphere,” Adams says. “And while there’s lots of interest and investment in new technology solutions to capture and store carbon, this is new, experimental technology. Trees and other plants, meanwhile have already perfected this process over hundreds of millions of years of evolution—we’re unlikely to see a better carbon capture and storage technology than that which nature provides.” (Click on title for full story.)

Brown Fields + Plants = Long Term Carbon Sequestration

Although photosynthesis removes a significant amount of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, plant and soil respiration return most of the photosynthesised CO2 into the atmosphere, marking organic CO2 removal as an unstable sink. In contrast, SUCCESS (Sustainable Urban Carbon Capture through Engineering the Soil System) has shown that photosynthesised carbon can be fixed in soils as natural carbonate minerals. (CLick on title for full story.)

Some Plants Respond Aggressively To Being Clipped

Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these “overcompensators,” as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry – think plant venom – when they are clipped. (Click on title for full story.)