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ecology

Q&A

She Finds Clues to Future Sustainability in Old Food Webs

By reconstructing prehistoric food webs and analyzing the diverse interactions of humans with other species, the ecologist Jennifer Dunne is developing a new understanding of sustainability through network science.

Photo of the female penis structure of the cave insect Neotrogla aurora.
Abstractions blog

Why Evolution Reversed These Insects’ Sex Organs

Among these cave insects, the females evolved to have penises — twice. The reasons challenge common assumptions about sex.

Art for "Forests Emerge as a Major Overlooked Climate Factor"
climate science

Forests Emerge as a Major Overlooked Climate Factor

New work at the intersection of atmospheric science and ecology is finding that forests can influence rainfall and climate from across a continent.

Art for "How Nature Defies Math in Keeping Ecosystems Stable"
ecology

How Nature Defies Math in Keeping Ecosystems Stable

Paradoxically, the abundance of tight interactions among living species usually leads to disasters in ecological models. New analyses hint at how nature seemingly defies the math.

Q&A

On Waste Plastics at Sea, She Finds Unique Microbial Multitudes

Maria-Luiza Pedrotti is illuminating the unseen worlds of plastic-eating bacteria that teem in massive ocean garbage patches.

Abstractions blog

Why Nature Prefers Couples, Even for Yeast

Some species have the equivalent of many more than two sexes, but most do not. A new model suggests the reason depends on how often they mate.

ecology

Cores From Coral Reefs Hold Secrets of the Seas’ Past and Future

Layered deposits of coral skeletons hold vast stores of environmental data from thousands of years ago, including annual records of ocean temperatures, water pollution and storm activity.

Art for "A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate"
ecology

A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate

New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy.

Abstractions blog

Complex Animals Led to More Oxygen, Says Maverick Theory

For decades, researchers have commonly assumed that higher oxygen levels led to the sudden diversification of animal life 540 million years ago. But one iconoclast argues the opposite: that new animal behaviors raised oxygen levels and remade the environment.