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Various images of different types of neuston
Neuston: Living Among Plastic Debris in the Open Ocean
With plastic recovery operations now underway in the world’s marine garbage patches, scientists must contend with how little was known about the organisms living at the surface.
Neuston: Living Among Plastic Debris in the Open Ocean
Neuston: Living Among Plastic Debris in the Open Ocean

With plastic recovery operations now underway in the world’s marine garbage patches, scientists must contend with how little was known about the organisms living at the surface.

With plastic recovery operations now underway in the world’s marine garbage patches, scientists must contend with how little was known about the organisms living at the surface.

ecology & environment
A wooded ecosystem with mammoths alongside modern species such as arctic hares
2.4 Million-Year-Old DNA Is Oldest Ever Recovered
Katherine Irving | Dec 7, 2022 | 2 min read
The DNA fragments collected from permafrost in northern Greenland unlock insights into an ancient ecosystem.
a round water flea is illustrated in black and white on a striated background
Environmental RNA Reveals Heat Stress in Water Fleas
Katherine Irving | Dec 2, 2022 | 5 min read
The eRNA detection method could one day be used to catch early warning signs of distress in wild ecosystems. 
Photo of floppy disks and motherboards
Inside the Project Trying to Save Datasets from Extinction
Ian Rose | Dec 1, 2022 | 5 min read
Researchers race to find ecological data kept on outdated media or in dusty backroom boxes—before they’re lost forever.
a black wolf and a gray wolf follow a third gray wolf, whose head is tilted back to watch, as they trot through a snowy background, with light colored, barren trees in the background.
Black and Gray Wolf Pairings Stem Disease, Stabilize Population: Study
Katherine Irving | Oct 20, 2022 | 4 min read
The black fur allele has fitness costs but also confers higher immunity against canine distemper virus, making mix-and-match mating key to population survival.
a fuzzy black and tan beetle chews on the bark of a pine tree sapling, whose needles can be seen in the background
Pine Trees’ Fragrances Help Neighbors Battle Bark Beetles
Katherine Irving | Sep 30, 2022 | 5 min read
Polluted air impedes the trees’ ability to read one another’s signals, a study finds.
Green fish with boat behind
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill’s Hidden Impacts on Mahi-Mahi      
Natalia Mesa, PhD | Sep 28, 2022 | 5 min read
Mahi-mahi were more likely to be eaten and less likely to spawn after being exposed to sublethal concentrations of oil, raising concerns about the risks oceanic drilling pose to life in the ocean.
A white deer mouse on sand surrounded by plants
Are We In the Midst of a Silent Mass Extinction?
Andy Carstens | Sep 22, 2022 | 7 min read
A new modeling technique aims to help scientists and policymakers detect declines in genetic diversity based on habitat loss.
An orange toad perched on a leaf
Past Malaria Surges Linked to Amphibian Die-off
Andy Carstens | Sep 21, 2022 | 2 min read
A study suggests that pathogens affecting other species can indirectly harm human health.
group of people standing on rock outcropping with ocean in distance
Repeated El Niño Events Could Spark Big Ecological Shifts
Margaret Osborne | Sep 19, 2022 | 5 min read
Five major El Niño events per century could lead to fewer fishes that thrive in cold water and more terrestrial birds in eastern coastal ecosystems.
Green frog in trees with green leaves
For Frogs, Bigger Brains Mean Worse Camouflage
Natalia Mesa, PhD | Aug 23, 2022 | 3 min read
Frogs invest in cognitive capacity to avoid predators—up until there are too many hungry snakes around for the evolutionary strategy to pay off.
Oysters’ shells were made into concrete and other materials used in construction during the Industrial Revolution.
Scientists Use Sound to Attract Baby Oysters Back to the Reef
Ian Rose | Aug 15, 2022 | 5 min read
Meet the team trying to restore mollusk populations with the help of underwater speakers.
Countless bats swarming in the evening dusk
Bat Coronaviruses May Infect Tens of Thousands of People Yearly
Andy Carstens | Aug 10, 2022 | 2 min read
Parts of Southeast Asia where human and bat population densities are highest could be infection hotspots, a study finds.
Calm lake reflecting sky with boat in foreground
Plastic Pollution Boosts Bacterial Growth in Lake Water
Patience Asanga | Jul 26, 2022 | 3 min read
A study finds that not only did aquatic bacteria thrive when chemicals washed from degrading plastic were introduced into lake water, they also broke down organic matter more efficiently.
Vicu&ntilde;as <em>(Lama vicugna)</em> run across the plains in San Guillermo National Park, Argentina.
How Mange Remade an Ecosystem
Shawna Williams | Jul 5, 2022 | 5 min read
A study traces the effects of a mite outbreak from the earth to the heavens.
teabag with green tag on a white background
Spilling the Tea: Insect DNA Shows Up in World’s Top Beverage
Shawna Williams | Jun 14, 2022 | 5 min read
The Scientist speaks with Trier University’s Henrik Krehenwinkel, whose group recently detected traces of hundreds of arthropod species from a sample of dried plants—in this case, the contents of a tea bag.
caged panels submerged underwater
How Rising Temperatures Affect Ocean Predation
Andy Carstens | Jun 9, 2022 | 3 min read
A study yields insights into how predator-prey dynamics may shift with climate change, but many questions remain.
Ribbon weed meadow in Shark Bay, Western Australia
World’s Largest Organism Discovered Underwater
Andy Carstens | Jun 2, 2022 | 2 min read
Off the western Australian coast, in Shark Bay, a field of seagrass big enough to cover Washington, DC, has flourished for more than four millennia, a new study finds.
spikes of white coral underwater
Great Barrier Reef Suffers Sixth Mass Bleaching in Two Decades
Bianca Nogrady | May 14, 2022 | 2 min read
A survey showed that 91 percent of the reef experienced bleaching despite this year’s cooler, wetter conditions associated with the La Niña weather pattern.
Image of sperm hooks (<em>Peromyscus maniculatus</em>)
The Mystery of the Mouse Sperm Hook
Natalia Mesa, PhD | May 2, 2022 | 5 min read
Nearly all mouse sperm have hooks on their heads. But new research suggests the structures slow them down—so what exactly is their purpose?
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