Taxonomy term


Nineteenth-century cows muddied Southern California continental shelf

When offshore ecosystems deteriorate, scientists often look at changing ocean conditions, urban runoff or fishing as potential explanations. Cows usually don’t come to mind. But new research investigating the seafloor off the coast of Los Angeles suggests that 19th-century cattle, despite their terrestrial lifestyle, left a lasting impact on the underwater habitat there.

26 Jul 2017

Tibetan Plateau populated long before advent of agriculture

Due to the harsh living conditions of the Tibetan Plateau — which has an average elevation over 4,500 meters — archaeologists have long assumed that people didn’t live in the Himalayan high country until after the adoption of agriculture in this region of the world, about 3,600 years ago. But a new study of a trove of handprints and footprints found around a fossilized mud spring in Tibet is suggesting that people may have lived here as early as 13,000 years ago.

16 May 2017

Grapes reveal impacts of sulfur-rich Samalas eruption on 13th-century climate

The A.D. 1257 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Samalas sent an ash plume an estimated 43 kilometers into the sky in one of the most sulfur-rich eruptions of the last 7,000 years. A new study using tree rings, ice cores and historical records investigates how this colossal eruption impacted climate across the Northern Hemisphere, finding that the eruption triggered severe cold in some regions, while other areas were less affected. The pattern could be explained by the behavior of sulfate particles in the atmosphere, researchers suggest.

28 Apr 2017

Neonicotinoids: Prominent pesticides escape into the environment

Three decades after neonicotinoids, a widely used class of pesticides, were first introduced, a far more complex understanding of their distribution, abundance and persistence in the environment — as well as their effects on nontarget species like bees — is emerging. 
14 Apr 2017

Ants developed farming millions of years ago

A new study in Nature suggests that ants may have invented agriculture as much as 3 million years before humans.

20 Feb 2017

Burning grass releases more nitrogen pollution than burning wood

Smoke from fires — whether from wildfires or from residential and agricultural grass and crop burning — carries pollutants into the air that affect climate and can be toxic to humans and ecosystems. According to new research, smoke from crop and grass fires appears to contain higher levels of some hazardous nitrogen-containing chemicals than wood fire smoke. The work also calls into question whether certain chemicals commonly used as distinctive signatures of biomass burning are still valid.

06 Feb 2017

'P' is for phosphate: Could urine solve a fertilizer shortage?

Phosphorus is essential to plant growth, but there’s a looming shortage, which could leave global agriculture without the fertilizer needed to feed growing populations. Some scientists think, with some tweaks to our sanitation system, human urine could be mined for the necessary phosphorus.

26 Jun 2016

Take a stand (or sit) for better water quality management

The average person urinates four to seven times over a 24-hour period, producing about 1.5 liters of urine per day. Here are some things you can do today to help conserve water, improve water quality, and keep all that waste from going to waste.

26 Jun 2016

Uranium contamination in aquifers could be linked to nitrate

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant life, but plants can only take up so much so fast. When excess nitrogen enters the environment by way of fertilizer and manure runoff, as well as in automobile and industrial emissions, it becomes a pollutant that can leach into waterways, carrying with it unintended — and often undesirable — consequences. In a new study, researchers have found evidence of one such consequence: elevated uranium levels in two major U.S. aquifers.

17 Feb 2016

Irrigation drives rain away in East Africa

Researchers have found that large-scale agricultural irrigation, intended to supplement precipitation, may actually drive rainfall away, potentially exacerbating conditions in some areas while improving them in nonirrigated lands. 
28 Jan 2016