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ecology

How AI and Sentinel-1 Exposed 75% of Global Fishing Vessels

Map reveals fishing activity not publicly tracked around Portugal and Morocco. The map shows individual vessels detected by Sentinel-1 during 2017–2021, matched (blue) to known vessel positions from AIS broadcasts and unmatched vessels (orange). The vessels were classified as fishing or non-fishing with a deep-learning model. The national exclusive economic zones are overlaid. Credit: ESA (data source: Paolo et al., 2024/Global Fishing Watch)A groundbreaking study reveals that 75% of the world’s industrial fishing vessels…

Toxic Pesticide Found in 80% of People Tested

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group found chlormequat, a pesticide linked to health risks in animals, in 80% of participants, indicating widespread exposure through oat consumption and raising questions about its impact on human health.A study by the Environmental Working Group found chlormequat, a pesticide associated with health risks in animals, in 80% of participants, highlighting the need for regulatory oversight and further research on its impact on human health.A new Environmental Working Group…

An Alien Invasion That Could Trigger Catastrophic Changes Is Underway Across North America

A new study highlights the invasion of at least 70 imported earthworm species across North America, posing significant threats to native ecosystems and biodiversity. Researchers emphasize the urgent need for better understanding and management of these alien earthworms to protect native species and ecosystem processes.An alien invasion capable of triggering catastrophic changes is underway across North America. At least 70 imported earthworm species have colonized the continent, and represent a largely overlooked threat…

Ocean Temperatures Keep Shattering Records—and Stunning Scientists

So what’s going on here? For one, the oceans have been steadily warming over the decades, absorbing something like 90 percent of the extra heat that humans have added to the atmosphere. “The oceans are our saviors, in a way,” says biological oceanographer Francisco Chavez of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. “Things might be a lot worse in terms of climate impacts, because a lot of that heat is not only kept at the surface, it’s taken to depths.”A major concern with such warm surface temperatures…

Unraveling Climate Impact on Wetlands

A Tulane University study published in Nature Communications reveals the potential long-term effects of climate change on coastal wetlands, using a real-world experiment along the Gulf Coast. By leveraging a network of nearly 400 monitoring sites and novel satellite data techniques, the study found that nearly 90% of sites were unable to keep pace with the rapid sea-level rise, simulating conditions expected around 2070. The research underscores the urgency of adhering to the Paris Agreement to mitigate future wetland…

Catalyst for Microbial Mayhem Below the Surface

Researchers diving on a coral reef in Mo’orea, French Polynesia during the 2019 bleaching event. Credit: Milou Arts of NIOZNew findings show that coral bleaching prompts the release of compounds that encourage harmful bacterial growth, suggesting these changes could serve as early indicators of reef stress and aid in conservation efforts.On healthy reefs around the world, corals, algae, fishes and microbes live interconnected and in balance—exchanging nutrients, resources, and chemical signals. New research led by the…

A New Force of Nature Is Reshaping the Planet

Scientists Erle Ellis has synthesized interdisciplinary research to illustrate how human cultural practices have historically enabled the transformation of ecosystems, advancing from the use of fire to the development of global supply chains. Highlighting the Anthropocene’s environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, Ellis argues for leveraging human society’s social and cultural capabilities towards sustainable coexistence with nature, emphasizing cooperation and the reimagining of our…

A Paradigm Shift in Ecosystem Dynamics

An elephant, Loxodonta africana, throws dirt into the air in the tall grass of the savanna. Credit: Jeffrey T. KerbyA new meta-analysis across six continents establishes that large wild herbivores affect ecosystems in numerous important ways, from soils to vegetation to smaller animals, and promote ecosystem variability.For millions of years, a variety of large herbivores, or megafauna, influenced terrestrial ecosystems. Among many others, these included elephants in Europe, giant wombats in Australia, and ground sloths…

Surprising New Insights on the Forest-Cloud-Climate Feedback Loop

Scientists have discovered how forest emissions affect cloud formation and climate, emphasizing the need for better climate models and the role of forests in combating global warming. Credit: SciTechDaily.comForests, which cover a third of Earth’s land surface, are pivotal in carbon storage and the water cycle, though the full scope of their impact remains to be fully understood. In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers from Stockholm University and international colleagues provide new insights into…

How Sea Otters Are Saving California’s Coasts

Researchers have documented a dramatic decrease in creekbank and marsh edge erosion, up to 90%, in the Elkhorn Slough of Monterey County, attributable to the restored sea otter population. A sea otter in the estuarine water of Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay, California, USA. Credit: Killiii YuyanThe reintroduction of sea otters in Central California significantly slows erosion, offering a promising, low-cost approach to coastal ecosystem conservation.In a groundbreaking study published today in Nature, scientists reveal…