BRITTANY STEFF | Science Writer

Putting a price tag on the priceless: Real-world property values in Kenya aid conservation decisions – The Ecological Society of America

Wildlife is priceless, but wildlife conservation is far from free. Being able to assess the value of land is vital to the success of land conservation. In an effort to bolster this understanding, a Kenyan ecologist, Peter Tyrrell of the University of Oxford and the South Rift Association of Landowners, turned to data science methods to mine data from real estate websites to determine how land is valued across Kenya.

Farm-dwelling Tree Swallows are Feeding Their Chicks Pesticide-laced Prey

On agricultural landscapes, pesticides travel through food webs and can negatively affect local wildlife populations. However, few studies have considered the long-term, cumulative effect of multiple pesticides on avian species, and most are carried out with treated food in a laboratory setting, not in the living landscape. Other studies have analyzed pesticides in the soil and water, but not in the food web itself.

Soaking Up the Sun: Artificial photosynthesis promises a clean, sustainable source of energy

Humans can do lots of things that plants can’t do. But plants have one major advantage over humans: They can make energy directly from the sun. That process of turning sunlight directly into usable energy – called photosynthesis – may soon be a feat humans are able to mimic to harness the sun’s energy for clean, storable, efficient fuel. If so, it could open a whole new frontier of clean energy.

A Sticky Subject: Studying shellfish for advanced adhesives

Humans have been trying to stick things to other things for millennia. But shellfish have been doing it for eons longer. And they are far better at it than humans. Which is why Purdue chemists got to wondering: Why don’t we just use whatever they’re using? Anyone who has ever tried to unstick a barnacle from a rock knows that it’s nearly impossible. That success is something Jonathan Wilker, a Purdue professor of chemistry and materials engineering, and his lab are hoping to learn from – and build on.

17-year Cicadas: Bird buffet or a big disturbance?

As the emergence of 17-year cicadas, commonly referred to as Brood X, approaches, animal keepers are gearing up to keep an extra close eye on their charges, especially those that eat insects, to make sure they don't over-indulge. But of course, zoo animals aren't the only ones that eat cicadas. Local songbirds, including chickadees, bluebirds and cardinals, will take advantage of their abundance too, something Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center scientists are eager to study.

Cicada Snacks: The wild (and tasty) side of Brood X at the zoo

They slumber underground for 16 summers, nestled near tree roots, sipping xylem — the nutrient-poor water inside tree tissues. Then, as ground temperatures rise on the 17th summer, they emerge and begin blindly burrowing their way toward the surface, bursting forth to a summer of song, flight and love. It sounds like a spooky fairy tale but in fact, it’s the actual true story of the 17-year Brood X cicadas and for some Zoo animals, the beginning of a tasty bug buffet.
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Spe·cies rich·ness  (noun)

  1. A technical term from the field of ecology. The number of different species present in an ecological community, landscape, or region.
  2. More philosophically, a lovely and poetic phrase that conveys the value and wonder inherent in the range of species on the planet and in all the amazing detail of the living world.
  3. A freelance science writer's call sign (see above).

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