From radioactive rain to hitchhiking tardigrades, particulates in precipitation have big implications for ecosystems

by Heather Noel, University of North Texas
June 7, 2021

DENTON (UNT), Texas — A single raindrop may seem insignificant to the human eye, but a closer look will reveal a diverse community of organisms and non-living materials that could have major implications for understanding how ecosystems work, according to a new research paper from University of North Texas ecosystem geographer Alexandra Ponette-González.

“Every little rain or fog droplet is a world of its own containing potentially beneficial or harmful things for ecosystems,” said Ponette-González, an associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department of Geography and the Environment. “The nature and composition of that droplet changes as it moves through the plant canopy.”

Ponette-González, along with research collaborators at Georgia Southern University and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, shines a magnifying glass on the microscopic materials that land on and flow through plants with water in a paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the Ecological Society of America’s flagship journal.


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