UN Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land

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Smart site selection can make hydropower greener

Even though new hydropower dam developments are intended to provide green energy, they can drown areas that are rich in plant and animal species. But this kind of collateral damage can be limited by strategic site selection, a new study shows.

a gaggle of barnacle geese

Skinnier but resilient geese thriving in the high Arctic

Barnacle geese in the Arctic have been on a diet. So many now migrate to northern breeding grounds that in some places there’s less food to go around. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to restrict their population growth — yet.

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.

Gaming their way to sustainable development

Researchers wanted to involve local people living around Kenya and Tanzania’s Serengeti-Mara parks in developing a sustainable future for them and the parks. They developed a board game to get people talking to the researchers — and to each other. That game has now won an international award.

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Svalbard reindeer populations rebounding from centuries of hunting

As reindeer go, the animals living on Svalbard might not be Santa’s first choice. They’re a smaller subspecies of their common mainland relatives, and to save energy they basically never run. But because they were nearly exterminated from Svalbard around 1900 — and were then protected in 1925 — the animals provide unique insights into how conservation can help species thrive.

Moose: like having wild livestock in the woods

Moose prefer to browse on deciduous trees. Then conifers take over and affect the species diversity in the forest. One researcher contends that Norwegian wildlife management is not good enough to address what happens in the wake of these large herbivores.