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  • News

    Some fungi trade phosphorus with plants like savvy stockbrokers

    Some stringy fungi are tough negotiators, trading nutrients shrewdly with plants.

    An advance in tracking the nutrient phosphorus has revealed new details of ancient trading networks between fungi and plants. Some fungal species grow what are called arbuscular mycorrhizal connections underground, reaching intimately into plant roots. These fungi pull phosphorus from the soil and trade it...

    06/10/2019 - 10:00 Fungi, Plants, Ecology
  • News

    Worms lure two new species of hopping rats out of obscurity

    Two newfound species of shrew-rat have joined a lengthy list of endemic mammals on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago and a hotbed of biodiversity. Researchers made their discovery thanks to wriggling worms and a stroke of luck, and hope the finding might help sway legislators to protect the vulnerable ecosystem before it’s too late (SN: 6/8/19, p. 5).     

    The new...

    06/06/2019 - 10:00 Animals, Conservation, Ecology
  • News

    Shy fish no bigger than a pinkie provide much of the food in coral reefs

    Nervous little fishes that divers rarely notice could be unexpectedly important to coral reefs. A new study finds that nearly 60 percent of the fish flesh that feeds bigger fishes and other predators on a reef comes from tiny fishes that stick close to crevices and other hiding places.

    These tiny species, called cryptobenthic fishes, may not look as if they amount to much among all the...

    05/24/2019 - 13:46 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Some plants use hairy roots and acid to access nutrients in rock

    No soil? No problem. Some herbaceous shrubs living on rocky mountains in Brazil use roots equipped with fine hairs and acids to dissolve rocks and extract the key nutrient phosphorus. The discovery, published in the May Functional Ecology, helps explain how a variety of plants can survive in impoverished environments.

    “While most people tend to view nutrient-poor environments as less...

    05/22/2019 - 07:00 Plants, Ecology
  • Wild Things

    Tiger sharks feast on migratory birds that fall out of the sky

    It all started when a small tiger shark barfed up a bunch of feathers.

    Marcus Drymon, a fisheries ecologist at Mississippi State University in Biloxi, had been catching sharks as part of a long-term shark monitoring program in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Typically, a shark spent only about 90 seconds out of the water, enough time for scientists to weigh and tag it before releasing...

    05/21/2019 - 12:00 Animals, Ecology
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers were curious about green icebergs, aliens and more

    Going green

    Researchers found iron oxides trapped in a sample of green Antarctic ice. The compounds may explain why typically blue-hued icebergs can sometimes appear green, Jeremy Rehm reported in “Tiny bits of iron may explain why some icebergs are green” (SN: 3/30/19, p. 12).

    “Since icebergs can drift for thousands of miles, and because iron is a limiting nutrient for algae, I...

    05/11/2019 - 07:00 Ecology, Astronomy, Health
  • News

    A belly full of wriggling worms makes wood beetles better recyclers

    Having hundreds of roundworms living inside your abdomen may seem like a bad thing. But for horned passalus beetles, hosting wriggly nematode larvae may benefit them and the eastern U.S. forests they live in.

    Beetles that harbor Chondronema passali larvae eat more rotting wood than beetles without the larvae, researchers report May 1 in Biology Letters. That increased decomposition could...

    05/07/2019 - 07:00 Earth, Ecology, Animals
  • News

    War wrecked an African ecosystem. Ecologists are trying to restore it

    The national park at the southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley was once considered a wildlife paradise. Hippopotamuses lolled in the lush waters of Mozambique’s Lake Urema, and thousands of antelope bounded across the park’s savannas and floodplains. Elephant herds and prides of lions drew international tourists.

    Then civil war erupted in the southeast African nation in 1977,...

    05/05/2019 - 08:00 Ecology, Conservation, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Hippo poop cycles silicon through the East African environment

    Hippos keep the nutrient silicon on the move through the East African environment.

    Each day, the giant grazers transport nearly half a metric ton of silicon, an important nutrient for both plants and animals, from land to water, scientists report online May 1 in Science Advances. The hippos forage for silicon-bearing grass on land and then excrete it into the waters where they lounge....

    05/01/2019 - 14:06 Animals, Ecology
  • News

    A global survey finds that the Arctic Ocean is a hot spot for viruses

    Arctic waters turn out to be teeming with some of the world’s smallest entities — viruses.

    Water samples taken during a three-year expedition around the world’s oceans identified around 200,000 virus species, roughly 12 times the number found in a previous smaller survey. And 42 percent of those viruses were found exclusively in the Arctic, researchers report April 25 in Cell.

    The...

    04/25/2019 - 11:00 Microbes, Oceans, Ecology