Read the full story from Clemson University.
Recent Clemson University Ph.D. graduate Rhett Rautsaw wanted to explore whether the evolutionary theory of character displacement — when two species live in the same area and evolve to avoid competing over resources such as food — extended to pit viper venom.
There was one problem. To study competition, Rautsaw had to know where each pit viper species lived, and there wasn’t a comprehensive source of that information readily available.
Rautsaw created VenomMaps, a database and web application containing updated distribution maps and niche models for all 158 pit viper species living in North, Central and South America. Pit vipers are a group of venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths. While Rautsaw needed the information for his evolutionary biology research, the maps provide vital information for conservation efforts, citizen scientists and medical professionals.
Read the full story from the BBC.
Birds from every continent except Antarctica have been photographed nesting or tangled in our rubbish. Photos were submitted by people from all over the world to an online project called Birds and Debris. The scientists running the project say they see birds ensnared – or nesting – in everything from rope and fishing line to balloon ribbon and a flip-flop. Nearly a quarter of the photographs show birds nesting or entangled in disposable face masks. The focus of the project is on capturing the impact of waste – particularly plastic pollution – on the avian world.
Read the full story at Northern Virginia Daily.
At the Shenandoah County Landfill on Friday, local educator Hannah Bement was overjoyed to see a monarch butterfly.
“It gives me chills,” she said, watching as the orange-and-black insect fluttered over the plot of native wildflowers to land on a milkweed plant.
Monarchs, which make an approximately 1,000-mile flight each year from Mexico to the United States, rely on milkweed to provide a place for them to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to have a source of food before they eventually make their flight to Mexico.
Without milkweed, there is no monarch butterfly.
Bement was joined on Friday by three other volunteers from the local nonprofit organization Sustainability Matters to identify and catalog how well the pollinator gardens, maintained through the Making Trash Bloom initiative, are doing.
Read the full story at Inside Higher Ed.
Roosevelt University undergraduates engaged in a community science project that produced usable data for scientists at Chicago’s Field Museum.
Read the full story in the Washington Post.
Citizen-science projects turn ordinary people into researchers, and in recent years such efforts have abounded, tackling everything from astronomy to weather information contained in 19th-century whaling ship logs.
But how good is the data these projects generate?
A study in the journal Research Ideas and Outcomes has an answer: Community scientists do surprisingly well in producing accurate data that, in turn, can further scientific research — even when the participants are young children.
Read the full story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A new website launched Tuesday enables the public to track air quality in St. Louis neighborhoods, thanks to a network of monitors stationed primarily on churches around the region.
The site, called AirWatch St. Louis, provides up-to-the-hour data about current conditions and specific pollutants. Groups behind the project say it’s information “that researchers, residents and community leaders can use to address health problems that have plagued historically disenfranchised neighborhoods for generations,” according to an announcement Tuesday.
Read the full story at The Verge.
Birding saved one man’s life. Maybe it can save the rest of us from climate change?
Read the full story from the Columbia Climate School.
Some residents of Belmont County in eastern Ohio have long suffered from headaches, fatigue, nausea and burning sensations in their throats and noses. They suspected these symptoms were the result of air pollution from fracking facilities that dominate the area, but regulators dismissed and downplayed their concerns.
With the technical assistance of volunteer scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, MIT and the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange, local advocacy groups set up their own network of low-cost sensors. They found that the region’s three EPA sensors were not providing an accurate picture: The sensors revealed concerning levels of air pollution, and correlations between local spikes and health impacts.
The results are published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Read the full story from the University of Reading.
Real data gathered by volunteers was combined with new computer models for the first time to reveal which UK moth species are struggling to expand into new regions and the landscape barriers restricting their movement. Farmland and suburban moths were found to be struggling most, with hills or regions with variable temperatures acting as barriers. This has implications for British wildlife being forced to move to adapt to climate change, and habitat restoration in challenging areas could help wildlife movement.