Biology

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Palm oil plantation and native forests

Losing ground in biodiversity hotspots worldwide

Agriculture is eating into areas that are important in protecting some of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. Most of this new agricultural land is being used to grow cattle feed.

Some sparrows sitting in a tree

Inbreeding detrimental for survival

Inbred birds don’t live as long and have fewer offspring than non-inbred birds. Inbreeding is equally harmful regardless of where the birds live.

Panthera leo’s family tree takes shape

Once upon a time, lions were the world’s most widespread mammals. Now we know more about their genealogy – and that could make it easier to help the species survive.

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Bats not a threat to public health, but important for ecosystems

Bats have received a lot of negative attention, but the chances are slim that the virus that causes COVID-19 was transmitted from bats to humans. The world needs bats – in ecosystems, for pollination and for seed dispersal. On top of that, they keep harmful insects in check around our homes, on farms and in cities.

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A tiny arctic shrub reveals secrets of plant growth on Svalbard

It’s not easy being a tiny willow on the wind-and snow-blasted islands of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard. It turns out that Salix polaris, the polar willow, handles these tough conditions by growing as best it can in response to July temperatures — a response that researchers recorded all over the archipelago.

Mystery of the blunt-tipped beetle penis

It took seven years, countless beetle penis field investigations, and hours upon hours on hands and knees in coastal wetlands. This is the story of all the research that has to happen before a new species can finally get its official name.

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Thinking outside the box of fossils

During the time of Darwin, anthropogeny was the study of human origins. Its sub-discipline paleoanthropology has since taken over, which focuses on fossils found in dry parts of Africa. These fossils don’t tell us much about why or where humans actually evolved.

Abandoned cropland helps make Europe cooler

As nations prepare to mitigate climate change, decision makers need to understand how land use fits into the climate equation. A new study looked at land use changes over two decades and found a major shift from cropland to forests.  That change made western Europe cooler.

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Following sea trout minute by minute

Sea trout populations have declined sharply. Researchers have studied the life of sea trout by means of acoustic telemetry tags and listening stations. Now they know more about what we need to do to protect the sea trout population.

Your plane travel destroys polar bear habitat

A group of polar bear researchers wants you to do more than worry about the fate of these beautiful animals. They’ve calculated how much summer sea ice is melted per metric tonne of CO2 emissions. Then you can decide if the flight you’re planning to take is worth destroying polar bear habitat.