It takes more than climate change to cause amphibian decline

This post contributed by Monica Kanojia, Administrative Assistant/Governance for ESA. Amphibians have been around for hundreds of millions of years. They have survived numerous extinction events and yet somehow, in the past two decades, their numbers have been in severe decline. The population changes have been linked to many factors, including climate change and disease, habitat destruction and water pollution. Studies indicate that...

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Fungus has been invading carpenter ants for 48 million years

Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates the ant’s behavior, influencing it to bite the underside of the leaf at the veins. Once the ant hits an optimal location, the fungus grows rapidly, killing the ant and preparing it to release a new spore.

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Incorporating science into home gardening

Blanketing a home garden in pesticides poses a clear risk to the humans and animals who dine on it. But when the garden is compared to a human immune system, another problem becomes apparent: Just like antibiotics, pesticides wipe out the “good bugs” with the bad. These helpful predators and parasitoids are called natural enemies and they help to naturally control pests like aphids and caterpillars. Certain plants attract natural enemies and/or deter pests all together and can be used in place of harmful chemicals.

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From the Community: forming a biodiversity body and taxing tomatoes

Representatives from around 90 countries approved the formation of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Nature and Scientific American collaborated on a survey to analyze the public’s interest in science and the history of the tomato’s taxonomy in the United States is reviewed. Here are some stories in ecology from the second week in June.

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Nutrient enrichment linked to diseases in humans and wildlife

Scientists have provided a rather grim prognosis for global health: the recent increase in nutrient enrichment due to human activities, such as nitrogen pollution through fossil fuel combustion, is likely contributing to several varieties of infectious diseases in humans and wildlife.

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The silent force in the food web

Addition of parasites (red spheres) visibly increases connectivity of species in this representation of an Arctic food web. Studies of food webs fascinate community ecologists. There seems to be a never-ending supply of interactions to observe, analyze and use in predictions. From the largest apex predators, feeding once a week, to the smallest alga, constantly converting sunlight to energy, there’s a kind of wonder in the idea...

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