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Bird
Dopeyden / Getty Images stock

Just hearing or seeing birds can boost our mental health, new report suggests

Birds can be a catalyst for climate action. Renewable energy is going to be critical for bird survival; we can help people understand the importance by connecting to what they care about.

“Our main finding is that there is a time-lasting association between seeing or hearing birds and improved mental well-being,” said the study’s lead author, Ryan Hammoud, a PhD candidate and a research assistant at the institute of psychiatry and psychology and neuroscience at King’s College London…

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Bee
Getty Images

Climate change is ratcheting up the pressure on bees

UC Davis notes the impact of climate change on domesticated and native bees. Researchers are also working to understand how soil pesticides affect ground-nesting wild bees, which represent over 70% of the U.S. native bee population.

Drought conditions in the western U.S. in 2021 dried up bee forage — the floral nectar and pollen that bees need to produce honey and stay healthy. And extreme rain in the Northeast limited the hours that bees could fly for forage.

In both cases, managed colonies — hives that humans keep for honey production or commercial pollination – were starving…

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Bees Nest
Holly Holt, PhD/Penn State

Nests are bee nurseries

Check out this interesting research from Penn State about found or created bee nests.

Female bees build nests to protect their offspring from bad weather, predators, parasites and disease. Bees nest in cavities that they either find or create. Each of the 4,000 bee species found in North America has a unique life history and nesting preferences. Most North American bee species (>70%) nest underground. Ground nesting bees dig tunnels or look for abandoned holes made by other animals. Other bee species prefer to nest aboveground. Females look for hollow twigs, chew tunnels in dead logs or take advantage of preexisting burrows left by wood-boring beetles. Some species search for naturally occurring crevices in stones and trees and will even occupy pinecones or empty snail shells!

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Ground Nesting Bee
StGrafix/Shutterstock

A common soil pesticide cut wild bee reproduction by 89% – here’s why scientists are worried

It's important to be aware that, for some species, soils with pesticides are threatening extinction. "Protecting honeybees from pesticides is already difficult. For wild bees which forage and nest among a wide variety of crops worldwide, it may be impossible."

When you think of bees, a hive humming with activity probably comes to mind. But most of the world’s 20,000 bee species don’t call a hive home. These wild species lead solitary lives instead, and around 70% of them build nests underground where they raise their offspring on the nectar they gather from flowers.

Incredibly, almost all scientific understanding of how pesticides affect bees has came from testing domesticated honeybees, and, more recently, bumblebees. That’s largely because these species tend to be easier to work with in lab conditions. How non-social bees cope with these chemicals is largely understudied, despite them making up the vast majority of bee species worldwide.

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Shorebirds
Davis Ranches

Climate patterns thousands of miles away affect US bird migration

Bird migration in the U.S. is monitored in the context of four “flyways” or principle migration routes, two in the east and two in the west. The new research digs into the timing of environmental cues, such as temperature and weather patterns, that prompt birds to travel along their flyway.

The scientists analyzed 23 years of bird migration data collected via NOAA’s Next Generation Radar system — a network of 143 radar stations across the continental U.S. — to determine the variability in the birds’ arrival times each spring. This is where they made their first discovery: the U.S. could be divided into two regions, east and west, each with a distinct pattern of variability in bird arrival times…

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Beaver
iStock

Saving Our Swamps [Letter in the New Yorker Magazine]

Taking the time to reinforce ideas in the public realm is important if we are going to change people's perceptions of climate solutions. It's not easy getting published. Often you have to respond quickly, which means paying attention to what's going on around you and reserving time to be nimble.

Here you will find a short letter submitted by the land trust’s executive director, under the heading “Letters respond to Annie Proulx’s piece about swamps” (and beavers as part of the climate solution):

The dewatering of North America that Proulx describes was underway well before the nineteenth century, when westward expansionists began cutting down forests and farmers began draining and tilling fields. By the time those people were “reclaiming” land for their use, fur traders had been wreaking havoc on our wetlands for almost two hundred years, through the commodification of beavers…

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Species Migration
Emma Jacobs for NPR

Foresters hope ‘assisted migration’ will preserve landscapes as the climate changes

There's a shift in thinking about assisted migration (what I call "species jumping") given the increased pace of climate change. While many species won't survive, some may have a better chance if humans provide assistance.

“Thinking about actively moving species around is a little, well a lot uncomfortable for us,” acknowledges Abe Miller-Rushing, the science coordinator for Acadia National Park in Maine. “What might be the kind of unintended consequences? What diseases might we unintentionally move around if we move species around?”

He says, historically, the Parks Service has preferred hands-off management and modeled restorations on past conditions. In Acadia though, he noted, not intervening as warming takes place could mean the park’s iconic evergreen forests get replaced by shrubland, dominated by invasive bushes…

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Under The Sea
Unsplash

Study shows 90% of marine species at risk of extinction in 78 years if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed

Many conservation groups and people are focused on land-based conservation work, yet the health of the oceans will have far-reaching impacts on land-based communities and wildlife, as well as our weather patterns.

Greenhouse gas emissions impact the world’s climate in two ways. They raise the temperature of the atmosphere (and by extension, Earth’s surfaces and bodies of water) by holding in heat, and in the case of CO2 emissions, they make water more acidic, like carbonated soft drinks…

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Beaver
iStock

Beaver: The North American freshwater climate action plan

There’s a strong consensus among scientists and environmental managers on the benefits of working with beavers to protect our natural environments. This scientific article explains how.

Rivers and streams, when fully connected to their floodplains, are naturally resilient systems that are increasingly part of the conversation on nature-based climate solutions. Reconnecting waterways to their floodplains improves water quality and quantity, supports biodiversity and sensitive species conservation, increases flood, drought and fire resiliency, and bolsters carbon sequestration. But, while the importance of river restoration is clear, beaver-based restoration—for example, strategic coexistence, relocation, and mimicry—remains an underutilized strategy despite ample data demonstrating its efficacy.

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Waterbeaver
Manuel Valdes / Associated Press

Want to fight climate change and drought at the same time? Bring back beavers

This nature-based restoration effort can help stave off the worst effects of climate change that are warming streams, deepening droughts, and fueling wildfires.

There’s a strong consensus among scientists and environmental managers on the benefits of working with beavers to protect our natural environments. Beavers can help us continue to live on, work with, and enjoy our Western landscape. As ecosystem engineers, they build dams and dig canals to escape predators. Their manipulation of plants for food and building materials produces wide-ranging environmental gains…

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