In a recent study published in Landscape Ecology, University of Illinois researchers and others found that a common cattle forage grass, tall fescue, is associated with nest failure in dickcissels, small grassland birds similar to sparrows.
A University of Colorado Denver-led research team for the first time developed reliable genetic markers known as nuclear microsatellites for the whitebark pine, a discovery that could improve the tree's prospects for survival. Whitebark pine, which is declining rapidly nearly range-wide, is currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
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 at the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) have now discovered. Under certain environmental conditions, increased biodiversity can also lead to an ecosystem becoming more unstable.
To be able to reproduce and become effective disease carriers, mosquitoes must first attain optimal body size and nutritional status. A pair of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have succeeded in using CRISPR-Cas9, a powerful tool for altering DNA sequences and modifying gene function, to decrease mosquito body size, moving the research one step closer to eliminating mosquitoes that carry dengue fever and Zika virus.
Adding to evidence that pesticide use may be abetting the decline of bumblebee, a new study reveals that daily consumption of even small doses of neonicotinoids reduces the survival of queen and male bees, which are critical to the viability of wild populations. The study also found that exposure to neonicotinoids alters the expression of many bee genes, suggesting that the chemicals may be having a greater impact on wild bee populations than previously thought.
In an extensive and rigorous study of animal life on the Central Arctic Ocean floor, researchers have shown that water depth and food availability influence the species composition, density, and biomass of benthic communities, according to a study published Oct. 17, 2018, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
Aerial insectivores -- birds that hunt for insect prey on the wing -- are declining across North America. Conserving these vulnerable species requires a good understanding of the factors impacting them at every stage of life. Two new studies take a deep dive into the demographic factors behind declining populations of tree swallows and show that although specifics may vary between locations, action is needed to address environmental changes affecting these birds across their geographic range.
Since the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, the park's ecosystem has become a deeply complex and heterogeneous system, aided by a strategy of minimal human intervention. The new study is a synthesis of 40 years of research on large mammals in Yellowstone National Park, conducted by University of Alberta ecologist Mark Boyce.
House mice carrying a specific selfish supergene move from one population to another much more frequently than their peers. This finding of a University of Zurich study shows for the first time that a gene of this type can influence animal migratory behavior. It could help in dealing with invasive plagues of mice.
Using a combination of computational modeling and experimental techniques, a research team has developed new information about how intercellular communication affects the differentiation of an embryonic stem cell colony over time.