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Can you imagine living in a bubble for two years? Well, these people did it. Back in the 90s, Jane Poynter wanted to understand the delicate balance of the Earth’s ecosystem. So she and seven others moved into a sealed biosphere for 2 years and 20 minutes. (That last twenty minutes matters when you’re stuck in a giant bubble.) The challenges they faced — from spending 4 months making a single pizza to being short on oxygen — make for a pretty incredible story.

Hear her tell the story »

Diverse Ecosystems Get Organized for Stability

Ecological networks that are highly organized are more stable, a new study reports, meaning that changes to these networks don’t cause them to fall apart. The study found that the species living in highly ordered networks can experience very different growth rates, one to the next, without threatening the overall network structure. In less ordered, or nested, networks, by contrast, disproportionate growth rates may cause a species to be knocked out — even rendered extinct. Using data on the network structures of 23 plant-pollinator communities in the United Kingdom, the researchers showed that nestedness minimizes competition between species, boosts the number of species that can live together, and increases stability. A Perspective provides more insights.

Read more about this research from the 25 July issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Mark Chappell. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

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It’s called the Guelta d’Archei and it is an oasis, (actually a guelta). A guelta is a type of wetland you will typically find in the desert. And what happens there is a beautiful miracle.

A guelta forms when underground water in lowland depressions spills to the surface and creates permanent pools and reservoirs. 

It is not a swimming hole.  The excrement from the camels has turned the water black. The Nile crocodiles feed on fish that feed on the algae that feed on the waters fertilized by camels. 

Source: woahdude

When we use these metaphors when we talk about plants having a strategy to do this, or wanting this, or desiring this, we’re being metaphorical about this.

I mean plants do not have consciousness but this is a fault of our own vocabulary. We don’t have a very good vocabulary to describe what other species do to us, because we think we’re the only species that really does anything. But, to the extent that you can put yourself in the place of these other species and look at the world from their point of view it frees us from our alienation from nature and we become members of the biotic community. One among many species, all of them together creating this wondrous web that we call life.

—  Michael Pollan - The Botany of Desire
Sediment Dumping in the Great Barrier Reef

The Australian government has just approved the expansion of Abbot port. The expansion project is to allow for a greater capacity to export coal out of australia, the worlds second largest coal exporter, and it will see the dredging of the sea floor to allow room, which will disrupt a species of turtles. however the big talking point is what is being done with the material once it has been removed from the sea floor - its being dumped into the Great Barrier Reef.

For those of you that don’t know me very well, i am not the biggest supporter of defending the climate when it comes to some issues. I believe that until people can find a way to run the world completely with green energy you should get out of the way of mining companies. Yes they should be regulated and restricted, but stopping them completely is impractical and basically impossible at this point.

That being said - I do profusely disagree with this latest decision made by the Australian Government. The Great Barrier Reef has been claimed as a world heritage site, and just last year australia was praised for created the worlds largest marine reserve but now its done a 180.

Something as vital to the entire worlds ecosystem, and frankly something as Beautiful as the Great Barrier Reef should be preserved in its entirety. I mean… just look at it…

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The reef is home to over 1500 species of fish, 2200 species of plants, 200 species of birds, and 5000 species of mollusks! it is one of the most dense regions of biodiversity in the world.

A Lost Underground Kingdom (Wired)

Soil isn’t just dirt. It’s rich microbial ecosystems integral to the life that grows above. In the Great Plains, these ecosystems have been almost entirely wiped out: as tallgrass prairies were converted to farmland, soil composition changed, too. The microbial relationships that sustained one of Earth’s great biomes were lost to time. Yet a few prairie fragments remain; by taking DNA samples from their soils, researchers reconstructed this vanished underground world.

Citation: “Reconstructing the Microbial Diversity and Function of Pre-Agricultural Tallgrass Prairie Soils in the United States.” By Noah Fierer, Joshua Ladau, Jose C. Clemente, Jonathan W. Leff, Sarah M. Owens, Katherine S. Pollard, Rob Knight, Jack A. Gilbert, Rebecca L. McCulley. Science, Vol. 342 No. 6158, 1 November 2013

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