Canada mining push puts major carbon sink and Indigenous lands in the crosshairs

Since the last ice age, wide rivers have meandered toward the southern shores of Hudson Bay in Canada, to join its salty waters. On their way, they’ve created swaths of wetlands, filled with carbon-packed peat bog. The Cree Indigenous people who have lived here for millennia call these peatlands Yehewin Aski, or “the Breathing Lands,” for they believe these wetlands act as the lungs of Mother Earth. “It’s such a watery landscape,” says Lorna Harris, a peatland ecosystem scientist at the Wildlif
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How Air-Conditioning Creates a Climate Conundrum

Summer is here in North America, which means in many places it’s too hot for comfort. To escape the sweltering heat, birds pant, take a dip in the water, and hide from the sun. Humans have an additional edge over biology: air-conditioning. With access to electricity, we are able to alter the air temperature itself. Air-conditioning is expensive: It costs U.S. homeowners a whopping $29 billion each year. But it saves lives. In summer 2021, a heatwave sent the mercury soaring to record temperatur
Read More →

Farms With Natural Habitat Gain More Benefits From Birds

Birds can be a mixed blessing for farmers. Sometimes birds increase yields by gobbling crop-eating insects and rodents. But they may also devour crops, ingest beneficial bugs, or harbor pathogens that pose a risk to human health when they show up in food. “We really have to think of [birds] as a package deal, with all of the different ways that each species interacts with the farm,” says Elissa Olimpi, a conservation biologist at Virginia Tech. For two years, Olimpi spent her spring and summer
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Indigenous oyster fisheries were ‘fundamentally different’: Q&A with researcher Marco Hatch

In the 18th century, when European ships sailed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Northwest coast of the Atlantic Ocean, they raved about the “wilderness” of the coast. The enormous natural wealth they saw—the wood from forests and the fur on animals—lured them into setting up a flourishing trade that would last centuries and script a new chapter in history. The visitors thought the coast as pristine and untouched by humans. However, it was home to many Indigenous peoples, including the Nu
Read More →

Lessons from panda conservation could help Asia’s other, overlooked, bears

Serving as the mascot of a world-renowned conservation organization, building diplomatic relationships between China and the world, playing protagonists in blockbuster movies — giant pandas have done it all. The public attention and adulation these animals garner make them star attractions at zoos and have helped pump billions into tailor-made conservation programs that have successfully brought the species back from the verge of extinction. “They hit the lottery,” says Willam J. McShea, a wild
Read More →

Climate change set to upend global fishery agreements, study warns

Unlike boundaries on the land, the ocean is contiguous — fish move and transcend international waters as they please, without bothering about jurisdictions. As long as ocean temperatures remain generally stable, the fish remain in their known habitats and all is well. But as climate change heats up oceans rapidly, fish are on the move, upsetting fishing treaties between nations that stipulate who can catch how much fish in shared waters. “Many of the fisheries management agreements made to regu
Read More →

Lead Bullets Are Stunting the Bald Eagle's Recovery

The Bald Eagle’s comeback is one of America’s most famous conservation success stories. From an all-time low of 417 pairs throughout the United States in 1963, the species numbers 71,467 pairs as of 2021. The primary reason for the bird’s turnaround was the crucial 1972 ban of the pesticide DDT. The birds have bounced back so strongly that the government is even considering upping the amount of Bald Eagles that industry can accidentally kill without penalty. But despite the boom in their number
Read More →

Translators’ Roundtable: Bringing Science to New Audiences

Today, most breakthrough science is published in English. But in many parts of the world, English is not a native language, making translations essential to bring news, information, and perspectives to diverse audiences. Moving science-focused content across language boundaries requires more than running articles through Google Translate or flipping through a multilingual dictionary in search of a word-for-word translation. Translations have to be both accurate and culturally sensitive—a tough t
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When bee dance inspires robot design

Honeybees are incredible in many ways. Swooshing at over twenty kilometres per hour, they fly a whopping 90,000 kilometres—a distance equal to going around the world 2.2 times—to make half a kilogram of honey. There’s a strategy behind the success: instead of all the workers aimlessly wandering in search of pollen and nectar, a forager bee first ventures out in pursuit of food. When she finds a bounty, she returns to the hive and recruits an army of her kin to bring it all. But there’s a catch—

Authorities and Yobin communities clash as deforestation spikes in Indian national park

In the sprawling Himalayas, amidst snow-peaked mountains, is a vast swathe of evergreen forest home to majestic tigers, elusive clouded leopards, charismatic hornbills, mystical giant squirrels, enchanting butterflies and bizarre orchids. Comprising some 1,900 square kilometers (734 square miles) in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India, Namdapha National Park is India’s third-largest national park and is considered one of Asia’s last large wildernesses as well as a biodiversity hots

How Air-Conditioning Creates a Climate Conundrum

Summer is here in North America, which means in many places it’s too hot for comfort. To escape the sweltering heat, birds pant, take a dip in the water, and hide from the sun. Humans have an additional edge over biology: air-conditioning. With access to electricity, we are able to alter the air temperature itself. Air-conditioning is expensive: It costs U.S. homeowners a whopping $29 billion each year. But it saves lives. In summer 2021, a heatwave sent the mercury soaring to record temperatur

When famine turns deadly for elephants

As a natural phenomenon, droughts are remarkable; they shape landscapes and civilisations and etch their mark on our societies. Studies show that megadroughts in Africa, which occurred between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago, forced humans to spread out of the continent to other parts of the world. In the Arabian peninsula, droughts in the sixth century paved the way for the formation of Islam as a religion. While humans can cope with drought to some extent, the worst affected are animals in the w

Canada mining push puts major carbon sink and Indigenous lands in the crosshairs

Since the last ice age, wide rivers have meandered toward the southern shores of Hudson Bay in Canada, to join its salty waters. On their way, they’ve created swaths of wetlands, filled with carbon-packed peat bog. The Cree Indigenous people who have lived here for millennia call these peatlands Yehewin Aski, or “the Breathing Lands,” for they believe these wetlands act as the lungs of Mother Earth. “It’s such a watery landscape,” says Lorna Harris, a peatland ecosystem scientist at the Wildlif

Indigenous oyster fisheries were ‘fundamentally different’: Q&A with researcher Marco Hatch

In the 18th century, when European ships sailed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Northwest coast of the Atlantic Ocean, they raved about the “wilderness” of the coast. The enormous natural wealth they saw—the wood from forests and the fur on animals—lured them into setting up a flourishing trade that would last centuries and script a new chapter in history. The visitors thought the coast as pristine and untouched by humans. However, it was home to many Indigenous peoples, including the Nu

The backstory of a bird paradise in Andaman and Nicobar

Cyclones, floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes and massive tsunamis— the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have endured it all for millennia. However, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which originated in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, stands out as one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the archipelago in recent times. The tremor shook the land for a good ten minutes. About 50 metres deep inside the ocean, the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate broke apart, rupturing the ground for about 1,

Lessons from panda conservation could help Asia’s other, overlooked, bears

Serving as the mascot of a world-renowned conservation organization, building diplomatic relationships between China and the world, playing protagonists in blockbuster movies — giant pandas have done it all. The public attention and adulation these animals garner make them star attractions at zoos and have helped pump billions into tailor-made conservation programs that have successfully brought the species back from the verge of extinction. “They hit the lottery,” says Willam J. McShea, a wild

Climate crisis forecasts a fragile future for wildflowers and pollinators

Think of climate change, and you’ll probably picture devastating floods, raging wildfires, or parched earth. For the environmentally savvy, coral bleaching or masses of refugees may also make it to the list. Not many of us would think of the vibrant wildflowers in nearby meadows as victims of climate change. But the future of these pretty blooms could be gloomy in the face of a warming planet, suggests a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. This first-of-its-kind st

Farms With Natural Habitat Gain More Benefits From Birds

Birds can be a mixed blessing for farmers. Sometimes birds increase yields by gobbling crop-eating insects and rodents. But they may also devour crops, ingest beneficial bugs, or harbor pathogens that pose a risk to human health when they show up in food. “We really have to think of [birds] as a package deal, with all of the different ways that each species interacts with the farm,” says Elissa Olimpi, a conservation biologist at Virginia Tech. For two years, Olimpi spent her spring and summer

Climate change set to upend global fishery agreements, study warns

Unlike boundaries on the land, the ocean is contiguous — fish move and transcend international waters as they please, without bothering about jurisdictions. As long as ocean temperatures remain generally stable, the fish remain in their known habitats and all is well. But as climate change heats up oceans rapidly, fish are on the move, upsetting fishing treaties between nations that stipulate who can catch how much fish in shared waters. “Many of the fisheries management agreements made to regu

New assessment finds dragonflies and damselflies in trouble worldwide

Dragonflies, as depicted in this haiku, have held a special place in Japanese culture for millennia; so much so that among the country’s names is Akitsushmi, or Dragonfly Island. As well as being deemed a harbinger of autumn, these insects symbolize happiness, strength, courage and success in Japan, while the island nation’s art has often portrayed them frolicking around ponds, cheerful and lively. Other cultures variously hold up dragonflies as symbols of good or evil. But no matter the cultur

The journey of rainforest trees

The rainforests of Southeast Asia are home to iconic animals like the orangutans, rhinoceros, tigers and elephants. The canopy of gigantic trees provides a safe refuge for several plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. These rainforests have four of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots, and constitute 15% of the world’s tropical rainforests. In over 400 species of plants in these forests, the dipterocarp family of trees dominate the landscape.

Lead Bullets Are Stunting the Bald Eagle's Recovery

The Bald Eagle’s comeback is one of America’s most famous conservation success stories. From an all-time low of 417 pairs throughout the United States in 1963, the species numbers 71,467 pairs as of 2021. The primary reason for the bird’s turnaround was the crucial 1972 ban of the pesticide DDT. The birds have bounced back so strongly that the government is even considering upping the amount of Bald Eagles that industry can accidentally kill without penalty. But despite the boom in their number

Climate Change or Habitat Loss? New Study Weighs Which Influences Birds More

In 1900, on Christmas Day, 27 birders in 25 locations across the United States donned winter gear and binoculars, then stepped outside to list all the birds they could see in 24 hours. They didn’t know it then, but they were launching what would become the world's longest-running community science project on birds. Much has changed since that first count: Global temperatures have risen by 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the U.S. population has more than quadrupled, and 64 percent o

Translators’ Roundtable: Bringing Science to New Audiences

Today, most breakthrough science is published in English. But in many parts of the world, English is not a native language, making translations essential to bring news, information, and perspectives to diverse audiences. Moving science-focused content across language boundaries requires more than running articles through Google Translate or flipping through a multilingual dictionary in search of a word-for-word translation. Translations have to be both accurate and culturally sensitive—a tough t

Secrets of Ultrarare Black Tigers Revealed

Tigers can indeed change their stripes—and in the Similipal Tiger Reserve in India, many have done just that. So-called black tigers, genetic mutants that sport unusually wide and merged stripes, were extremely rare even when tigers were plentiful centuries ago. But in Similipal today, one in three are black. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA pinpoints the peculiar pattern’s genetic cause and reveals evolution at work among these endangered cats. After seque

Trials and tribulations of scientific research

In the past few weeks, news of scientific malpractice at one of India’s premier research institutes, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, has stirred up a storm in academic circles. Social media is awash with reports of malpractice, forgery, academic bullying, harassment and toxic work cultures in institutes and labs across the country. For many researchers, this incident has brought back memories of their own struggles, either as witnesses or victims of such practices.
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