Climate change may melt the ‘freezers’ of pygmy owls and reduce their overwinter survival

Read the full story from the University of Turku.

Ecologists have discovered that the food hoards pygmy owls collect in nest-boxes (‘freezers’) for winter rot due to high precipitation caused by heavy autumn rains and if the hoarding has been initiated early in the autumn. The results of the study show that climate change may impair predators’ foraging and thus decrease local overwinter survival.

Associated journal article: Giulia Masoero, Toni Laaksonen, Chiara Morosinotto, Erkki Korpimäki. Climate change and perishable food hoards of an avian predator: Is the freezer still working? Global Change Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15250

Should No-Till Farming Be Adopted by All to Help the Earth?

Read the full story at Resilience.

Farmers around the world are looking for innovative methods to save water, reduce costs and produce higher yields. No-till farming is a popular practice to improve soil quality and reduce soil erosion. Instead of using a plow to disturb soil before planning, it employs a drill or alternative equipment to grow crops without breaking the ground.

Is no-till growing as great as it’s made out to be? Should it be adopted by all to help the Earth? The answer is yes and no. What it really comes down to is the type of no-till farming, and whether it is being used in collaboration with other environmental conservation practices.

Land use changes may increase disease outbreak risks

Read the full story from University College London.

Global changes in land use are disrupting the balance of wild animal communities in our environment, and species that carry diseases known to infect humans appear to be benefiting, finds a new study.

Associated journal article: Rory Gibb, David W. Redding, Kai Qing Chin, Christl A. Donnelly, Tim M. Blackburn, Tim Newbold, Kate E. Jones. Zoonotic host diversity increases in human-dominated ecosystemsNature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2562-8

Photosynthetic hacks can boost crop yield, conserve water

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Plants are factories that manufacture yield from light and carbon dioxide — but parts of this complex process, called photosynthesis, are hindered by a lack of raw materials and machinery. To optimize production, scientists have resolved two major photosynthetic bottlenecks to boost plant productivity by 27 percent in real-world field conditions, according to a new study. This photosynthetic hack has also been shown to conserve water.

Associated journal article: Patricia E. López-Calcagno, Kenny L. Brown, Andrew J. Simkin, Stuart J. Fisk, Silvere Vialet-Chabrand, Tracy Lawson, and Christine A. Raines. Stimulating photosynthetic processes increases productivity and water-use efficiency in the fieldNature Plants, 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41477-020-0740-1

Land O’Lakes, Microsoft team to boost food production, sustainability & farm quality of life

Read the full story from Food Navigator.

An unexpected partnership between one of the largest dairy cooperatives in America and a technology powerhouse that is more often associated with cubical farms than actual farms is taking on some of the biggest threats to the US food system to help farmers produce more food, more profitably and more sustainably.

A quick, cost-effective method to track the spread of COVID-19 through untreated wastewater

Read the full story from Hokkaido University.

Researchers have demonstrated that, from seven methods commonly used to test for viruses in untreated wastewater, an adsorption-extraction technique can most efficiently detect SARS-CoV-2.

Associated journal article: Warish Ahmed, Paul M. Bertsch, Aaron Bivins, Kyle Bibby, Kata Farkas, Amy Gathercole, Eiji Haramoto, Pradip Gyawali, Asja Korajkic, Brian R. McMinn, Jochen F. Mueller, Stuart L. Simpson, Wendy J.M. Smith, Erin M. Symonds, Kevin V. Thomas, Rory Verhagen, Masaaki Kitajima. Comparison of virus concentration methods for the RT-qPCR-based recovery of murine hepatitis virus, a surrogate for SARS-CoV-2 from untreated wastewaterScience of The Total Environment, 2020; 739: 139960 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139960

Land-use change disrupts wild plant pollination on a global scale

Read the full story from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research.

Human changes to the environment have been linked to widespread pollinator declines. New research shows that intensive land use will further decrease pollination and reproductive success of wild plants, especially of those plants that are highly specialized in their pollination.

Associated journal article: Joanne M. Bennett, Janette A. Steets, Jean H. Burns, Laura A. Burkle, Jana C. Vamosi, Marina Wolowski, Gerardo Arceo-Gómez, Martin Burd, Walter Durka, Allan G. Ellis, Leandro Freitas, Junmin Li, James G. Rodger, Valentin Ştefan, Jing Xia, Tiffany M. Knight, Tia-Lynn Ashman. Land use and pollinator dependency drives global patterns of pollen limitation in the AnthropoceneNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17751-y

Ordinary bricks laced with conductive fibres can store energy

Read the full story at New Scientist.

A brick wall can also be a battery. Thanks to the red pigment they contain, bricks can be turned into efficient energy storage devices.

Associated journal article: Wang, H., Diao, Y., Lu, Y. et al. “Energy storing bricks for stationary PEDOT supercapacitors.” Nature Communications 11, 3882 (2020).

Keeping Cool Efficiently During Heat Waves

Read the full story from Berkeley Lab.

Heat waves are becoming a more regular occurrence across the country. Iain Walker, Leader of the Residential Building Systems Group at Berkeley Lab, has suggestions for how to weather them. Walker has more than 20 years’ experience as a building scientist and consultant on energy use and ventilation in residential buildings.

Personal connections key to climate adaptation

Read the full story from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Connections with friends and family are key to helping communities adapt to the devastating impact of climate change on their homes and livelihoods. The research found people are more empowered to deal with the impact of encroaching sea-levels and dwindling fish stocks when they see others doing the same.

Associated journal article: Michele L. Barnes, Peng Wang, Joshua E. Cinner, Nicholas A. J. Graham, Angela M. Guerrero, Lorien Jasny, Jacqueline Lau, Sarah R. Sutcliffe, Jessica Zamborain-Mason. Social determinants of adaptive and transformative responses to climate changeNature Climate Change, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-0871-4