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  • Reviews & Previews

    Invasive species, climate change threaten Great Lakes

    The Death and Life of the Great LakesDan EganW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Every summer, people flock to the Great Lakes to swim and fish in the seemingly infinite waters and hike along the idyllic shores. But an ominous undercurrent flows just out of sight. Below the water’s surface rages an environmental catastrophe 200 years in the making.

    In The Death and Life of the Great...

    03/07/2017 - 08:00 Ecosystems, Climate, Science & Society
  • News

    Seagrasses boost ecosystem health by fighting bad bacteria

    BOSTON — For a lawn that helps the environment — and doesn’t need to be mowed — look to the ocean. Meadows of underwater seagrass plants might lower levels of harmful bacteria in nearby ocean waters, researchers reported February 16 during a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That could make the whole ecosystem — from corals to...

    02/16/2017 - 14:00 Ecosystems, Oceans
  • News

    Fleeting dead zones can muck with seafloor life for decades

    Short bouts of suffocating conditions can desolate swaths of seafloor for decades, new research suggests. That devastation could spread in the future, as rising temperatures and agricultural runoff enlarge oxygen-poor dead zones in the world’s oceans.

    Monitoring sections of the Black Sea, researchers discovered that even days-long periods of low oxygen drove out animals and altered...

    02/10/2017 - 15:06 Oceans, Ecosystems, Chemistry
  • News

    Young penguins follow false food cues

    African penguins have used biological cues in the ocean for centuries to find their favorite fish. Now these cues are trapping juvenile penguins in areas with hardly any food, scientists report February 9 in Current Biology.

    It’s the first known ocean “ecological trap,” which occurs when a once-reliable environmental cue instead, often because of human interference, prompts an animal to...

    02/09/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecosystems
  • News

    Oyster deaths linked to ‘atmospheric rivers’

    Narrow channels of moisture snaking through the atmosphere can bring storms that wreck beachfront bungalows — and leave oyster beds bare. Several of these channels, called atmospheric rivers (SN: 2/26/11, p. 20), dumped particularly heavy storms on California in early 2011. The resulting freshwater influx probably left part of the San Francisco Bay without enough salt for oysters to survive,...

    12/13/2016 - 19:05 Ecosystems, Climate
  • News

    Natural ally against global warming not as strong as thought

    A natural ally against global warming may provide far less aid than previously hoped.

    Researchers estimate that the planet’s soils will soak up about 40 percent less carbon by the end of the century than environmental simulations have predicted. That means the atmosphere in 2100 would hold an extra 4 ½ years’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning at current rates,...

    09/22/2016 - 14:09 Earth, Climate, Ecosystems
  • Feature

    Fish escapes from marine farms raise concerns about wildlife

    On the dock in Buenaventura, Colombia, the fisherman needed help identifying his catch. “I don’t have any clue what this is,” he said, holding a roughly 50-centimeter-long, grayish-brown fish. Gustavo Castellanos-Galindo, a fish ecologist, recalls the conversation from last October. “I said, ‘Well, this is a cobia, and it shouldn’t be here.’ ”

    The juvenile cobia had probably escaped from...

    09/07/2016 - 16:12 Oceans, Ecosystems, Agriculture
  • News

    Deep-sea hydrothermal vents more abundant than thought

    The deep, dark ocean bottom teems with far more oases of life than once thought.

    Searching along the sunless seafloor where tectonic plates pull apart, regions known as spreading ridges, researchers discovered that heat-spewing hydrothermal vents are at least three to six times as abundant as previously assumed. The finding also significantly boosts the likely number of marine ecosystems...

    06/20/2016 - 07:00 Oceans, Earth, Ecosystems
  • Science Ticker

    Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused months-long ‘dirty blizzard’

    A “dirty blizzard” bombarded the Gulf of Mexico seafloor with pollution from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for months after workers sealed the leak, new research shows.

    Marine snow, an organic material that floats down from the ocean’s upper layers, carried the pollution to the seafloor, researchers report the week of May 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...

    05/30/2016 - 15:00 Pollution, Oceans, Ecosystems
  • Science Ticker

    White-nose bat disease jumps the Rockies to Washington state

    A sick bat caught by hikers not far from Seattle has now been confirmed to have the first case west of the Rockies of the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome.

    First noticed in North America in the winter of 2006-2007, the disease exterminated some whole colonies of hibernating bats on the East Coast, though some species have proved less susceptible.  White-nose syndrome has now swept...

    03/31/2016 - 19:09 Animals, Conservation, Ecosystems