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Ecology

The most common wombat is also the least understood

Australia’s iconic marsupial has been viewed as a food source, pest, mascot and, now, a conservation concern. Scientists are breaking down myths — using genetics, robots and citizen science — and finding new ways to protect the animals.

A scientific mission to save the sharks

Despite increasing protection measures, these fish are among the world’s most endangered animals. New tests to detect species being traded, as well as population studies, aim to help save them.

A lifetime of love for the charismatic narwhal

An independent scientist working with the Inuit has unraveled many mysteries of the one-tusked ‘unicorn of the sea’

Invasive species are transforming the Everglades

From Burmese pythons and Asian swamp eels to Old World climbing ferns, South Florida hosts hordes of non-native animals and plants. What can be done about the ecological havoc they are wreaking?

Spots, stripes and more: Working out the logic of animal patterns

More than 70 years ago, mathematician Alan Turing proposed a mechanism that explained how patterns could emerge from bland uniformity. Scientists are still using his model — and adding new twists — to gain a deeper understanding of animal markings.

The hornet has landed: Scientists combat new honeybee killer in US

An invasive yellow-legged wasp has been decimating beehives in Europe — and bedeviling Georgia since last summer. Researchers are working nest by nest to limit the threat while developing better eradication methods.

The wasps that tamed viruses

To protect and rear their young, some insects have transformed wild viruses into tiny biological weapons

They swim and they spin: Meet the aquatic spiders

Some make nests inside seashells, others tote bubbles of air on their backs. The spiders that went back to water evolved lots of slick survival strategies.

Why are there so many beetle species?

Diet played a key role in the evolution of the vast beetle family tree

Inching toward a global treaty on plastic pollution

Delegates from 175 nations are working on an international agreement that would tackle the vast amounts of plastic waste in the environment. A marine scientist specializing in plastic pollution discusses the problem and her hopes for the proceedings.

Hunting sky islands for genetic clues to climate resilience

OPINION: Isolated mountaintops are hotbeds of evolutionary adaptation and great places to study how climate change affects ecosystems

Moving trees north to save the forests

As the world warms, trees in forests such as those in Minnesota will no longer be adapted to their local climates. That’s where assisted migration comes in.

Toward truly compostable plastic

Materials scientists are cooking up environmentally friendly polymers from natural sources like silk, plant fibers and whole algae. Economics and acceptance remain hurdles.

Losing the connection between the Andes and the Amazon: A price of peace in Colombia

The South American country, where the biodiversity of the Andes meets that of the Amazon, is losing the great natural wealth of some 1,500 square kilometers of forest each year, mainly in areas formerly under guerrilla control

Getting rid of bed bugs: Trickier than ever

The blood-sucking insects now show up in two varieties and are resistant to many pesticides. New eradication strategies include fungal spores and nasty human odors.

Indigenous languages are founts of environmental knowledge

Peoples who live close to nature have a rich lore of plants, animals and landscapes embedded in their mother tongues — which may hold vital clues to protecting biodiversity

Forests are under attack from invasive species

OPINION: International commerce and travel bring ecological destruction to the world’s most cherished natural places. We need to do more to stop the assault.

In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, new marine ecosystems are flourishing

Sea life, stuck to plastic bottles and other human trash, has journeyed far from coastal habitats — and may threaten local species

How wind turbines could coexist peacefully with bats and birds

As wind power grows around the world, so does the threat the turbines pose to wildlife. From simple fixes to high-tech solutions, new approaches can help.

As the climate changes, plants must shift their ranges. But can they?

Lots of them depend on fruit-eating birds and mammals to spread their seeds. But it’s debatable whether the animals — many in trouble themselves — can disperse seeds far and fast enough to keep pace with a warming world.

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