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Ecology

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.

Everyone should start counting spiders

Our collective arachnid aversion could be causing us to overlook something even scarier: Spiders may be disappearing.

Leaning into Indigenous knowledge on climate change

Native peoples attuned to the natural world have long collected detailed environmental information. Now scientists are cataloging these observations and learning how they’re affecting Indigenous communities globally.

Does it work to pay people not to cut the forest?

Evidence that the approach helps to save trees, preserve ecosystems and reduce carbon emissions is often hard to come by. But it can succeed if it’s done right, says an economist.

To help birds and insects, cultivate native gardens

Entomologist Doug Tallamy explains how filling our yards with local plants can provide our feathered friends with a caterpillar buffet

The underappreciated benefits of wild bees

Native pollinators are key to both ecology and agriculture, but have yet to get their due

The fight against an invasive fish in California’s Clear Lake

VIDEO: Can removing carp help the lake’s native fish and keep toxic algal blooms in check?  

Reviving a famously polluted California lake

Clear Lake, the state’s largest freshwater body of water, is fouled each year by algal blooms, one of many assaults endured by the battered ecosystem. Can a multipronged plan help it recover?

Abandon the idea of ‘great green walls’

OPINION: The notion of planting miles of trees to hold back encroaching deserts is misguided and damaging; we should promote programs that secure livelihoods and respect dryland ecologies instead

Conservation paleobiology: Eyeing the past to restore today’s ecosystems

Researchers use historic remnants like antlers, shells, teeth and pollen to learn how natural communities once worked. The clues serve as guides for restoration.

Why one deforestation solution has yet to stop massive tree loss

OPINION: Zero-deforestation supply-chain commitments aren’t protecting tropical forests as much as hoped. But they might, if the same standards were applied to domestic and export markets.

Natural pest control: Plants enlist their enemies’ enemies

These stealthy survival tactics could teach us how to curb the widespread use of chemical pesticides in agriculture. But first, researchers must learn how seemingly helpless flora deploy this masterful strategy.

Dealing with rats, and their health, in America’s ‘rattiest’ city

OPINION: A study in Chicago found that rodents surviving poisoning are more likely to carry disease. Good pest control needs to take such things into account.

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