Effects of Plant Colonization on Moss-Dominated Alpine Soils

moss

Credit: Marilylle Soveran CC BY-NC 2.0Moss and lichen make up a large portion of biomass in alpine and arctic ecosystems. With rising global temperatures, vascular plants have begun to colonize these moss-dominated ecosystems, potentially  altering the soil composition and ecosystem function of these unique environments. Researchers with the Niwot Ridge LTER investigated how bacterial composition,… Read more »

Foraging Flexibility of Two Shark Species

Sharks are top predators in marine ecosystems, so small changes in shark populations can ripple down and affect entire marine communities. Understanding how sharks adapt to ecosystem changes may help scientists predict how other marine life could react to a changing ocean. Researchers from the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) LTER investigated how juveniles of two similar… Read more »

A “Landscape of Fear” May Offer Alternative Pest Control

Credit: Jim, the photographer. CC Y 2.0To reduce the risk of being eaten, prey animals may change their behavior (by staying hidden during certain hours, for example) and adapt physiologically. Although these responses help prey survive in the short-term, they also suppress their ability to move and reproduce. By studying insect responses to the risk… Read more »

Fire-driven Changes to Gap Regeneration

Arctic wildfire

Interior Alaska: black spruce and mosses as far as the eye can see. New research suggests that image may change dramatically over the next century. As the intensity of fires in interior Alaska increases, forest regrowth is shifting from spruce to deciduous species such as trembling aspen and Alaska paper birch. But intense fires also… Read more »

The landscaping culture behind ecological change

suburban neighborhood

Credit: Henk Sijgers. CC BY-NC 2.0The American residential landscape is a product of culture, reflecting social practices through its managed plant composition. As a result of urbanization and globalization, residential ecosystems are increasingly homogeneous, with the potential to impact ecological dynamics at ever-expanding scales over the next 50 to 100 years. Despite this trend, researchers… Read more »

Species shrinkage in America’s national suburban ecosystem

Mown Lawn

Although the modern “American Dream” is no longer defined by white picket fences, this perception of the “ideal” homestead still holds some influence on cultural norms: cookie-cutter houses lining a cul-de-sac, each with a pristinely manicured green lawn. A collaborative study of residential lawns near several LTER sites found that the quest for this suburban… Read more »

Tracking the king of the swamp

Alligator, close-up

Credit: Alexander Montuschi. CC BY-NC 2.0.Radio transmitters have moved beyond the days of talking to your friends through walkie talkies. They are now being used to track alligators, the rulers of the swamp, to learn more about their movements between freshwater and marine environments. Once attached, the GPS and radio transmission devices can track the… Read more »

A bigger role for light in dryland decomposition

decomposing leaf

Credit: CC BY-NC 2.0 Alison Hurt https://flic.kr/p/5ZuUYIt’s kind of amazing what you can learn by taking a fresh look at old data. A re-analysis of data from a large and influential decomposition experiment suggests that—at least in arid lands—the degradation of organic matter by light plays a much bigger role than previously understood. Back in… Read more »

Shaping the Alaskan Forest. Canopy-down or forest-floor-up?

white spruce forest in Alaska

While Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico recover from a devastating hurricane season, another natural disaster rages on the other side the continent. Following a record-hot summer and dry conditions, the northwestern United States and Canada have experienced one of the most intense fire seasons on record. As global temperatures rise, scientists will need a better… Read more »