Eastern forests shaped by Native Americans’ land management

Native Americans’ use of fire to manage vegetation in what is now the Eastern United States was more profound than previously believed, according to a Penn State researcher who determined that forest composition change in the region was caused more by land use than climate change. “I believe Native Americans were excellent vegetation managers and…

Climate change impact on species adaptability

Historic climate change events can have a lasting impact on the genetic diversity of a species, reveals a new study published in Current Biology. This unexpected finding emerged from an analysis of the alpine marmot’s genome. An iconic animal known to tourists and mountaineers, the alpine marmot is a large rodent exquisitely adapted to cold…

Helping forest stakeholders fight tree disease

When a new, more aggressive strain of the pathogen that causes sudden oak death turned up in Oregon, scientists and stakeholders banded together to try to protect susceptible trees and the region’s valuable timber industry. Sudden oak death is a serious threat. Since 1994, the disease has killed millions of trees in California and Oregon….

Pathways in forest recovery

Tropical forests are being deforested at an alarming rate to make way for agriculture and pastureland; the good news is that they can regrow naturally when the fields are abandoned. An international research team including participation from the University of Göttingen has found that regenerating wet and dry forests actually show opposite pathways. This implies…

Asian summer monsoon weakening

Rainfall from the Asian summer monsoon has been decreasing over the past 80 years, a decline unprecedented in the last 448 years, according to a new study. The new research used tree ring records to reconstruct the Asian summer monsoon back to 1566. The study, published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters, found the…

Recycling phosphorus for fertilizer

We all know plants need nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus. To give crops a boost, they are often put on fields as fertilizer. But we never talk about where the nutrients themselves come from. Phosphorus, for example, is taken from the Earth, and in just 100-250 years, we could be facing a terrible shortage. That…

Trade-offs between food security and climate mitigation

In a study published today in Nature Sustainability, an international research group that included researchers from IIASA, Kyoto University, Ritsumeikan University, and the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan, for the first time estimated how food security could be negatively affected by the climate mitigation policies implemented by multi-Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and the…

Native plants regenerate on their own

Invasive shrubs have become increasingly prevalent in the deciduous forests of eastern North America – often creating a dense understory that outcompetes native plants. Many land managers would like to remove the invaders, but worry about what happens afterwards. Will they need to launch a costly remediation program to reestablish native plant communities? A study…

Can fluorescent microalgae lead to super-efficient solar cells?

Tiny light-emitting microalgae, found in the ocean, could hold the secret to the next generation of organic solar cells, according to new research carried out at the Universities of Birmingham and Utrecht. Microalgae are probably the oldest surviving living organisms on the planet. They have evolved over billions of years to possess light harvesting systems…