Ecology

08/21/2014 - 12:00

Algae might seem easy to ignore, but they are the ultimate source of all organic matter that marine animals depend upon. Humans are increasingly dependent on algae, too, to suck up climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sink it to the bottom of the ocean. Now, by using a combination of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, researchers have evidence showing that viruses infecting those algae are driving the life-and-death dynamics of the algae’s blooms, even when all else stays essentially the same, and this has important implications for our climate.

08/18/2014 - 14:01

Compromise solutions must be found when it comes to roads built through sensitive tropical and subtropical areas, say experts writing in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on August 18. While developing nations need to deploy adequate transportation infrastructure to develop mineral and energy resources, the researchers write, governments too often put development ahead of wildlife without thinking about the long-term consequences.

 

08/01/2014 - 09:12

The selective logging of trees in otherwise intact tropical forests can take a serious toll on the number of animal species living there. Mammals and amphibians are particularly sensitive to the effects of high-intensity logging, according to researchers in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 31 who conducted a meta-analysis of almost 50 previously published studies from around the world.

 

07/28/2014 - 10:52

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution — specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops.

 

07/09/2014 - 05:36

The future health of the world’s coral reefs and the animals that depend on them relies in part on the ability of one tiny symbiotic sea creature to get fat—and to be flexible about the type of algae it cooperates with. In the first study of its kind, scientists at The Ohio State University discovered that corals—tiny reef-forming animals that live symbiotically with algae—are better able to recover from yearly bouts of heat stress, called “bleaching,” when they keep large energy reserves—mostly as fat—socked away in their cells.

 

06/17/2014 - 20:12

The Antarctic shore is a place of huge contrasts, as quiet, dark, and frozen winters give way to bright, clear waters, thick with algae and peppered with drifting icebergs in summer. But as the planet has warmed in the last two decades, massive losses of sea ice in winter have left icebergs free to roam for most of the year. As a result, say researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on June 16, boulders on the shallow seabed—once encrusted with a rich assemblage of species in intense competition for limited space—now mostly support a single species. The climate-linked increase in iceberg activity has left all other species so rare as to be almost irrelevant.