Arctic’s big carbon sink could shift to a source

Scientists have known for some time now that the land and seas in the Arctic act as a sink for atmospheric carbon. In a new review paper in the journal Ecological Monographs, ecologists now have a sense of just how much carbon the Arctic has historically handled – up to a whopping 25 percent of the world’s carbon flux. David McGuire of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the USGS is the lead author on the paper, which...

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Pet snakes could be next big eco-menace

Scientists at USGS released a 300-page report today detailing the vulnerability of U.S. lands to invasion by large snakes from other continents. The report finds that Burmese pythons, northern and southern African pythons, boa constrictors and yellow anacondas are a high-risk animal for invasion. The report echoes the unfortunate situation on the America territory of Guam, where introduced brown tree snakes have extirpated most forest...

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Monogamous alligators in Louisiana

Photo by Phillip ‘Scooter’ Trosclair. Birds are often touted as the monogamists of the animal kingdom, with most bird species mating with the same individual and displaying biparental care, sometimes for many years. Their cousins, the reptiles, are no match for their faithfulness: most reptiles show no mate fidelity, let alone parental care. But a new study in the journal Molecular Ecology has shown that some alligators actually do...

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Optimistic economists weigh in on climate change

A group called Economics for Equity and the Environment released a report today detailing their predicted costs for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  According to this article in the Washington Post, the cost could be as low as between one and three percent of the country’s GDP each year to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm) from the current 387. The groups...

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Plant hormone helps metabolize pesticides

A new study out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests a natural remedy to the negative effects of pesticides to plants.  A group of plant hormones called brassinosteroids have been shown to reduce the toxicity of crops, if they’re doused with it before pesticide application. Jing Quan Yu of Zhejiang University and his colleagues treated cucumber plants with one type of brassinosteroid, then sprayed them with...

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