UN Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land

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Abandoned cropland should produce biofuels

More biofuels are needed to counteract climate change. But producing them shouldn’t diminish food production or wilderness areas. The solution may be to grow more grass on recently abandoned cropland.

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.

VIEWPOINTS

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.

WITH VIDEO

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.