DNR weekend reading: Bees, seas, rain, and socializing plants

tree growth-mistletoe
A tree deformation that was likely caused by mistletoe. Photo: Venice Goetz/DNR

Here are selections published recently in science-based magazines for your weekly

New York Times – Dot Earth blog: Straight Talk on Rising Seas in a Warming World
Joshua K. Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory speaks about a recent study that, using patterns in layered salt marsh sediment, found a sharp recent uptick in the rate of sea-level rise after 2,000 years of fairly stable conditions.

University of Maryland: Rising Air Pollution Worsens Drought, Flooding UMD-Led Study Shows
A new study says that air pollution can significantly alter the frequency and intensity of precipitation in a region, inhibiting the chances of light rain while exacerbating heavy storms in some cases. Using a decade of atmospheric data, U.S. scientists found that high levels of aerosols — including soot, dust and other particulate matter — can more than double the mean cloud height of deep convective clouds in comparison to clouds located in cleaner skies.

Scientific American: The Pollinator Crisis: What’s Best for Bees?
Scientists are studying the evolving relationships between native bees and introduced plants. Their work is critical in a world where human actions have dramatically shifted the distributions of plants and are forcing a pollinator crisis. What bees need most, new pollination studies have shown, is a diverse community of flowering plants that bloom throughout the spring and summer. Abundance and diversity matter more than whether species are native or exotic.

Science Daily: Do Plants Perform Best With Family or Strangers? Researchers Consider Social Interactions
In the fight for survival, plants are capable of complex social behaviors and may exhibit altruism towards family members, but aggressively compete with strangers. A growing body of work suggests plants recognize and respond to the presence and identity of their neighbors. But can plants cooperate with their relatives?

Science Daily: How Should Society Pay for Services Ecosystems Provide?
Over the past 50 years, 60 percent of all ecosystem services have declined as a direct result of the conversion of land to the production of foods, fuels and fibers. This should come as no surprise, say seven of the world’s leading environmental scientists, who met to collectively study the pitfalls of utilizing markets to induce people to take account of the environmental costs of their behavior and solutions. We are getting what we pay for.


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