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  • News

    Many of the world’s rivers are flush with dangerous levels of antibiotics

    In a massive survey of rivers across 72 countries, researchers found antibiotics at 66 percent of 711 sites sampled. Many of the most drug-polluted waterways were in Asia and Africa, where there hadn’t been much data until now.

    Environmental pollution from antibiotics is one driver of microbial drug resistance, which threatens public health. People should be as concerned about resistance...

    06/14/2019 - 09:00 Ecosystems, Pollution, Sustainability
  • News in Brief

    Some Canadian lakes still store DDT in their mud

    Five decades after DDT was last sprayed across Canadian forests, this harmful pesticide can still be found at the bottom of several lakes.

    Researchers analyzed sediment from five lakes in New Brunswick, Canada, where airplanes spewed DDT to combat spruce budworm outbreaks before the insecticide was phased out circa 1970. Millions of kilograms of DDT were sprayed across the province,...

    06/13/2019 - 06:01 Pollution, Ecosystems
  • Reviews & Previews

    Carbon plays a starring role in the new book ‘Symphony in C’

    Symphony in CRobert M. HazenW.W. Norton & Co., $26.95

    Carbon is by no means the most abundant element in the cosmos, but it is undoubtedly the most important to life as we know it. For every 1,000 hydrogen atoms in the universe, there are only five or so carbon atoms. But every cell in the human body — indeed, every living cell on Earth — relies on carbon as the chemical...

    06/10/2019 - 06:00 Chemistry, Evolution, Cosmology, Ecosystems
  • News

    Chemicals in biodegradable food containers can leach into compost

    Composting biodegradable food containers cuts the amount of trash that gets sent to a landfill. But the practice may serve up some unintended consequences for human health.

    That’s because the items often contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to help repel water and oil. These persistent chemicals can leach out of the packaging and end up in compost, researchers...

    06/04/2019 - 14:00 Sustainability, Toxicology, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    How one fern hoards toxic arsenic in its fronds and doesn’t die

    The Chinese brake fern looks unassuming. But Pteris vittata has a superpower: It sucks up arsenic, tucks the toxic metal away in its fronds and lives to tell the tale.

    No other plants or animals are known to match its ability to hoard the heavy metal. Now researchers have identified three genes essential to how the fern accumulates arsenic, according to a study in the May 20 Current...

    06/04/2019 - 09:00 Pollution, Ecosystems, Plants
  • News

    Endangered green sea turtles may be making a comeback in the U.S. Pacific

    Beleaguered populations of green sea turtles living in and around Hawaii and American Pacific island territories are increasing in number. 

    From 2002 to 2015, scuba diving researchers circumnavigated 53 islands, atolls and coral reefs throughout the U.S. Pacific, conducting the first comprehensive survey in that region of the turtles’ ocean habitats. Over the 13 years, the divers counted...

    04/26/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Ecosystems, Oceans
  • Feature

    Climate change made the Arctic greener. Now parts of it are turning brown.

    The Chugach people of southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula have picked berries for generations. Tart blueberries and sweet, raspberry-like salmonberries — an Alaska favorite — are baked into pies and boiled into jams. But in the summer of 2009, the bushes stayed brown and the berries never came. 

    For three more years, harvests failed. “It hit the communities very hard,” says Nathan Lojewski...

    04/11/2019 - 07:00 Climate, Ecosystems, Plants
  • News

    Chytrid’s frog-killing toll has been tallied — and it’s bad

    A skin fungus that has plagued frogs and toads worldwide now holds the title of being the world’s worst invasive killer, displacing cats and rodents. 

    The first global tally of the toll caused by a chytrid infection shows that it’s responsible for population declines in at least 500 amphibian species, including 90 presumed extinctions. And that’s a conservative estimate, scientists say....

    03/28/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Ecosystems
  • Feature

    What happens when the Bering Sea’s ice disappears?

    Peggy’s data were a bit of a shock.

    From an anchored vantage point in an expanse of the southeastern Bering Sea west of Alaska, Peggy, or mooring M2, had monitored conditions in the water for 25 years. A line of sensors extended down more than 70 meters to where Peggy was tethered to the seafloor, collecting information on temperature, salinity and other properties of the water.

    ...

    03/14/2019 - 06:45 Climate, Oceans, Ecosystems
  • News

    Poison toilet paper reveals how termites help rainforests resist drought

    It took hundreds of teabags and thousands of rolls of toilet paper for tropical ecologist Kate Parr and her colleagues to demonstrate that termites help tropical rainforests resist drought. Forests with more termites show more soil moisture, leaf litter decomposition and seedling survival during a drought than forests with fewer termites, the scientists report January 10 in Science.

    The...

    01/10/2019 - 14:00 Animals, Ecosystems