Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Ecology

Journal Club: Maya altered their environment significantly, for better or worse

The ancient Maya once had a civilization in the Americas that stretched over an area the size of Texas. Now scientists detail a number of key ways the Maya left behind a lasting impact on the environment during the so-called … Continue reading

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Climate-change-induced pink salmon stock growth upsets ecosystems

Climate change in the last century is apparently linked with the extraordinary growth of many wild Pacific salmon populations in the subarctic North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. Now scientists find the fact that pink salmon became so numerous … Continue reading

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Varying land use could increase biodiversity

The way farming changes the land is a major threat to biodiversity. Now researchers suggest varying human land use over time could actually increase biodiversity, especially of rarer species. The findings are detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy … Continue reading

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Plants’ hydraulic lifts alter soil microbes

In the vast steppes of northern Utah, where shrubs of sagebrush stretch as far as the eye can see in every direction, water is scarce during most of the summer. From the surface, the ground looks cracked and dry. But … Continue reading

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Cheaters always prosper, to a point

Is it better to cooperate or cheat? To work for the good of others, or focus on yourself? This classic self vs. group conflict is a common musing of game theorists and experimental economics known as the “public goods dilemma.” … Continue reading

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Plant toxins help fight pest insects

Forests regularly get devastated by outbreaks of pest insects, whose numbers can go from virtually undetectable to extraordinarily high. Plants can release toxins as protection, but these were largely believed to play little role in fighting such outbreaks, since the … Continue reading

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Top predators can restore the health of an ecosystem

Seagrass beds are key homes for fish and many other ocean species, help protect coasts from storms and waves, and soak up carbon dioxide from seawater and the atmosphere. However, seagrass meadows are declining worldwide, often due to algae smothering … Continue reading

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Amoeba that cultivate an ecosystem of edible and inedible bacteria

The smallest farmer discovered yet is the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, which cultivates edible bacteria that it harvests like crops. Now scientists reveal this amoeba also raises bacteria that pump out chemical weapons that protect the farmers, report findings detailed this … Continue reading

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Refocusing needed for conservation efforts for many species

A new map of the global biodiversity of terrestrial vertebrates that is 100 times more detailed than earlier projects is now revealing where conservation efforts for mammals, amphibians, and birds might best be focused, findings detailed this week in the … Continue reading

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Reconstructing the effects of fishing on the ecology of petrels

Reconstructing long-term ecological records is always a challenge, but for the open ocean the problem can be especially vexing because animal remains don’t last, and even if they did they’d be so deep as to be very difficult to access. … Continue reading

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