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Genomic evidence of rapid adaptation of invasive Burmese pythons in Florida

Fri, 19 Oct 2018 19:19:38 EDT ~ New researchers set out to determine whether pythons could have adapted to an extreme Florida freeze event in 2010. They generated data for dozens of samples before and after the freeze event. By scanning regions of the Burmese python genome, they identified parts of the genome that changed significantly between the two time periods, providing clear evidence of evolution occurring over a very short time scale in this population. Find out more...

Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

Fri, 19 Oct 2018 10:06:01 EDT ~ Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species' inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding could lead to more successful hybrid poplar varieties for increased biofuels and forestry production and protect native trees against infection. Find out more...

Biodiversity can also destabilize ecosystems

Thu, 18 Oct 2018 08:26:47 EDT ~ According to the prevailing opinion, species-rich ecosystems are more stable against environmental disruptions such as drought, hot spells or pesticides. The situation is not as simple as it seems, however, as ecologists have now discovered. Under certain environmental conditions, increased biodiversity can also lead to an ecosystem becoming more unstable. Find out more...

Sex or food? Decision-making in single-cell organisms

Tue, 16 Oct 2018 15:42:41 EDT ~ Unicellular diatoms are able to adapt their behavior to different external stimuli based on an evaluation of their own needs. In experiments, Seminavis robusta diatoms directed their orientation either towards nutrient sources or mating partners, depending on the degree of starvation and the need to mate. Find out more...

Forest carbon stocks have been overestimated for 50 years

Tue, 16 Oct 2018 11:01:00 EDT ~ A formula used to calculate basic wood density has recently been corrected. Basic density is widely used to compute carbon storage by trees. Researchers estimate that the error in the initial formula resulted in an overestimation of forest carbon stocks, to the tune of almost 5 percent. Find out more...

Why tropical forests are so ecologically diverse

Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:42:20 EDT ~ The population of a tropical tree increases mostly in places where it is rare, a new study found. Find out more...

Arctic sea ice decline driving ocean phytoplankton farther north

Mon, 15 Oct 2018 14:15:14 EDT ~ A new study reveals phytoplankton spring blooms in the Arctic Ocean, which were previously nonexistent, are expanding northward at a rate of one degree of latitude per decade. Although blooms did not previously occur in this area, phytoplankton were present in the Arctic's central basin at low biomass. The study also found the primary productivity of the phytoplankton, or the rate at which phytoplankton convert sunlight into chemical energy, is increasing during the spring blooms. Find out more...

Tropical moths in the mountains are larger

Fri, 12 Oct 2018 11:01:47 EDT ~ Researchers have measured more than 19,000 tropical moths from 1,100 species to find out whether their size varies with elevation. The researchers found clear patterns: moths increase in size significantly at higher elevations. Find out more...

New study helps explain recent scarcity of Bay nettles

Wed, 10 Oct 2018 16:47:00 EDT ~ A new, long-term study of how environmental conditions affect the abundance and distribution of jellyfish in the nation's largest estuary helps explain the widely reported scarcity of sea nettles within Chesapeake Bay during the past few months and raises concerns about how a long-term continuation of this trend might harm Bay fisheries as climate continues to warm. Find out more...

Indigenous fire practice protecting the Gibson Desert's biodiversity

Wed, 10 Oct 2018 10:55:53 EDT ~ Traditional indigenous burning practices are protecting plant biodiversity in Australia's Gibson Desert, according to new research. The study analyzed how environments dominated by flammable spinifex grasses and fire-sensitive desert myrtle shrubs reacted to wildfires, and to the low-intensity burning practices of the Pintupi people. Find out more...