spikes of white coral under water
Great Barrier Reef Suffers Sixth Mass Bleaching in Two Decades
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.
ABOVE: © Commonwealth of Australia (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) 2016, photographer: C. Jones.
Great Barrier Reef Suffers Sixth Mass Bleaching in Two Decades
Great Barrier Reef Suffers Sixth Mass Bleaching in Two Decades

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.

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.

ABOVE: © Commonwealth of Australia (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) 2016, photographer: C. Jones.

ecology & environment

Image of sperm hooks (<em>Peromyscus maniculatus</em>)
The Mystery of the Mouse Sperm Hook
Natalia Mesa | May 2, 2022
Nearly all mouse sperm have hooks on their heads. But new research suggests the structures slow them down—so what exactly is their purpose?
leatherback sea turtle making its way across a beach
Fifteen-Year Project Quantifies Threat to Reptiles
Shawna Williams | Apr 28, 2022
The study estimates that one-fifth of reptile species worldwide are at risk of extinction.
Close-up of a fiber with brightly colored pathogens beside it
Microplastics in Seawater May Harbor Parasites
Christie Wilcox | Apr 26, 2022
Laboratory experiments find that Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia can congregate on microplastic beads and fibers, suggesting they might make their way into and around the world’s oceans by hitching rides on tiny bits of trash.
bat flying in front of tan building
Fruit Bats Echolocate During the Day Despite Having Great Vision
Natalia Mesa | Apr 20, 2022
Contrary to what researchers had assumed, Egyptian fruit bats don’t rely solely on sight to orient themselves as they drink and forage for food in daylight. 
Gasteranthus extinctus, a plant with bright orange flowers and deep green leaves
Science Snapshot: Not “Extinctus” After All
Lisa Winter | Apr 19, 2022
Assumed to have gone extinct more than 30 years ago, Gasteranthus extinctus has been rediscovered by scientists working in Ecuador.
Older woman with grey hair staring at the camera
Adriana Hoffmann, Botanist and Environmentalist, Dies at Age 82
Natalia Mesa | Apr 18, 2022
Hoffmann traveled through Chile cataloging its rare flora. Later, she fought to defend the country’s forests from commercial deforestation.
Brown bird in nest surrounded by pink flowers
Earlier Nesting in Chicago-Area Birds Linked to Warming
Natalia Mesa | Apr 4, 2022
A study finds that dozens of bird species are nesting up to 25 days sooner each year than they were a century ago, likely due to climate change.
Steam rises from a blue-gray hot spring, visible beyond a patch of reddish, rocky soil.
Soil Microbes Sacrifice Ribosomes in Response to Warming
Sophie Fessl | Mar 29, 2022
When soil heats up, microbes scale back protein synthesis machinery by making use of higher reaction rates that occur at higher temperatures, a study finds.
edge of the amazon showing deforestation
Amazon Rainforest Nearing Savannah “Tipping Point”
Christie Wilcox | Mar 8, 2022
Half or more of the world’s largest forest is in danger of transitioning into grassland, researchers say.
a man collects water using a fishing pole and can
World’s Rivers Rife with Drugs: Study
Christie Wilcox | Feb 15, 2022
Levels of pharmaceuticals considered unsafe for aquatic organisms were found at more than one-quarter of sampling sites.
Conceptual illustration of coral
Environmental Memory: How Corals Are Adjusting to Warmer Waters
Amanda Heidt | Feb 14, 2022
Corals that previously experienced heat stress respond better the next time around. Researchers are trying to figure out how, and hope to one day take advantage of the phenomenon to improve coral restoration efforts. 
Vector drawing of a tropical rainforest with diverse trees
More Than 9,000 Tree Species Await Scientific Description
Christie Wilcox | Feb 1, 2022
A new study of tree biodiversity estimates that Earth boasts 14 percent more tree species than previous efforts have identified.
Photo of Roxanne Beltran
Roxanne Beltran Dives into Seal Research
Lisa Winter | Jan 17, 2022
This University of California, Santa Cruz, biologist is dedicated to her marine mammal research, as well as to making the field more diverse and equitable.
Thomas Lovejoy wearing glasses and smiling at camera
“Godfather of Biodiversity” Thomas Lovejoy Dies at 80
Lisa Winter | Jan 12, 2022
The famous ecologist was a lifelong champion for conservation.
man sitting outdoors
E.O. Wilson, Renowned Ant Researcher, Dies at 92
Chloe Tenn | Dec 27, 2021
The naturalist was recognized for his work on social behavior and pheromones in ants and as a champion of wildlife conservation.
snake eating another snake
Male Snakes Cannibalizing Females Present Evolutionary Puzzle
Chloe Tenn | Nov 15, 2021
The Scientist speaks with organismal biologist Xavier Glaudas about possible reasons for his recent finding that male Montpellier snakes cannibalize female conspecifics.
Illustration showing how seagull chicks know when predators are lurking
Infographic: Animal Embryos Coopt Sound to Survive and Thrive
Amanda Heidt | Nov 1, 2021
Across the tree of life, animals use sound and other vibrations to glean valuable sensory information about their environments even before they are born.
Conceptual image of an embryo with sound waves
Embryonic Eavesdropping: How Animals Hear and Respond to Sound
Amanda Heidt | Nov 1, 2021
Recent findings buck the traditional idea that embryos are passive agents and instead suggest that by tuning into vibrations, organisms can better prepare to enter the outside world.
A smiling Black man leans against a colorful wall
Shane Campbell-Staton Dissects the Anthropocene
Lisa Winter | Sep 1, 2021
The Princeton University evolutionary biologist studies how animals are changing due to human activity.