Category Archives: Ecology

Pesticides are killing the world’s soils

Nathan Donley and Tari Gunstone write: Scoop up a shovelful of healthy soil, and you’ll likely be holding more living organisms than there are people on the planet Earth. Like citizens of an underground city that never sleeps, tens of thousands of subterranean species of invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi are constantly filtering our water,… Read More »

Microbes are a missing piece in the biodiversity puzzle

Ian Morse writes: Scientists are clear: the number of plant and animal species on Earth is declining. The climate crisis, habitat loss, pollution and the illegal wildlife trade are all pushing species toward extinction. Researchers especially worry that losing too much biodiversity could push the earth past a tipping point into irreversible change, and on… Read More »

A critically endangered bird is losing its song

Brisbane Times reports: When Michael Alfa was setting up to photograph wildlife at Woolgoolga’s sewage works near the northern NSW town of Coffs Harbour last year, the avid birdwatcher could hardly believe his senses. There, among the warbling wattlebirds hanging off a coastal banksia tree, was a lone, critically endangered regent honeyeater, distinctive in its… Read More »

How bacteria and archaea influence one of Earth’s largest carbon stores as it begins to thaw

Monique Brouillette writes: For most of human history, permafrost has been Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon sink, trapping plant and animal material in its frozen layers for centuries. It currently stores about 1,600 billion tonnes of carbon — more than twice the amount in the atmosphere today. But thanks to rising temperatures, permafrost is fracturing and… Read More »

Nature knows how to avoid network collapse

Ruth DeFries writes: Sometime in the first billion years of the planet’s 4.5-billion-year history, a cell emerged in a primordial stew of chemicals brewing in liquid water. At that moment, the predictable chemistry and physics of the early Earth gave way to seething, roiling complexity. Primitive life thrived in the deep sea, where underwater volcanoes… Read More »

The unified cosmic vision of Alexander von Humboldt

Algis Valiunas writes: The presiding scientific genius of the Romantic age, when science had not yet been dispersed into specialties that rarely connect with one another, Alexander von Humboldt wanted to know everything, and came closer than any of his contemporaries to doing so. Except for Aristotle, no scientist before or since this German polymath… Read More »