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  1. Using high quality molecular data, researchers have re-investigated a long-standing question about the position of two phyla of small aquatic invertebrates -- Kamptozoa and Bryozoa -- on the evolutionary tree. View the full article
  2. Researchers investigating the exposure of small mammals to plastics in England and Wales have found traces in the feces of more than half of the species examined. The densities of plastic excreted were comparable with those reported in human studies. View the full article
  3. The 2021 Dixie Fire burned over nearly 1 million acres in California and cost $637 million to suppress, making it the largest and most expensive wildfire to contain in state history. Fire history largely determined how severely the wildfire burned, and low-severity fire treatments had the largest impact on reducing the worst effects of the fire, according to a research team. View the full article
  4. An new study shows the number of evening grosbeaks using the campus as a migration stop-over site has gone down an average of 2.6% per year over the last four decades, emblematic of population declines across the charismatic songbird's range. View the full article
  5. Larvae of longhorned beetles develop primarily in woody tissue, which is difficult for most organisms to digest. However, longhorned beetle larvae possess special enzymes to break down the various components of the plant cell wall. Researchers have now taken a closer look at a group of digestive enzymes found only in this beetle family. They resurrected the primordial enzymes, which first appeared in a common ancestor of longhorned beetles. Horizontal gene transfer from bacteria to the beetle as well as ancient and recent gene duplications promoted the evolution of this family of digestive enzymes and enabled longhorned beetles to degrade the main components of the plant cell wall, which make the bulk of their diet. View the full article
  6. A dramatic outbreak of kelp-eating sea urchins along the Central Coast of California in 2014, leading to a significant reduction in the region's kelp forests, was driven primarily by the emergence of sea urchins from their hiding places rather than an increase in the urchin population. In subsequent years, sea urchin movements enabled kelp forest recovery at sites that had been denuded 'urchin barrens.' Those are among the key findings of a long-term study of sea urchins and kelp forest dynamics in Monterey Bay. View the full article
  7. The endangered southern resident killer whale population isn't getting enough to eat, and hasn't been since 2018, a new study has determined. The animals have been in an energy deficit, averaged across spring, summer and fall, for six of the last 40 years -- meaning the energy they get from food is less than what they expend. Three of those six years came in the most recent years of the study, 2018 to 2020. The average difference in energy is 28,716 calories, or about 17 per cent of the daily required energy for an average adult killer whale, the authors say. View the full article
  8. A new botanical survey of southwest Ohio found that invasive species introduced to the United States over the past century are crowding out many native plants. View the full article
  9. Cheatgrass, an invasive annual grass that has invaded Nevada rangelands, is responsible for much of the increasing wildfire danger in the Intermountain West. However, scientists have discovered that fire danger can be reduced through the application of targeted cattle grazing in the dormant growing season by attracting the cattle with stations containing protein feed supplements. View the full article
  10. Several species of California bumble bees have gone missing in the first statewide census of the fuzzy pollinators in 40 years. View the full article
  11. Studying the unusual social behavior of an Australian native bee has enabled researchers to obtain a clear understanding of the earliest stages of social evolution. Evidence of how individuals that live a solitary lifestyle can transition to colonial life unlocks a key biological question about evolution, they say. View the full article
  12. A new study characterizes the role of fire refugia -- the green islands of live trees that remain after forest fires -- in forest regeneration following large and severe fires in the High Cascade mountains of Oregon and Washington. The results of this study can help determine when human intervention in the form of tree replanting is warranted, when it isn't, where replanting efforts should be targeted and what species should be prioritized. This is important to know since overplanting can be needlessly expensive and actually place forests at increased risk of future fires. View the full article
  13. A molecule in mosquito spit has been identified as a potential new target for vaccination against a range of diseases for which there is no protection or medicine. Researchers have discovered that the molecule, called sialokinin, makes it easier for a number of viruses to pass from mosquitoes to human, where they can then take hold -- leading to unpleasant and potentially deadly diseases including Yellow Fewer, Dengue and Zika. View the full article
  14. Initiatives using non-native tree species can impact tropical insects in neighbouring forests, according to an international study. View the full article
  15. A new study is providing an enhanced look at the intertwined evolutionary histories of polar bears and brown bears. Becoming separate species did not completely stop these animals from mating with each other. Scientists have known this for some time, but the new research draws on an expanded dataset -- including DNA from an ancient polar bear tooth -- to tease out more detail. View the full article
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