Articles on ecosystems

  1. Animals

    Tiny — but mighty — food-cleanup crews

    Discarded food wastes can turn city spaces into food courts for disease-carrying rats and pigeons. But a new study shows tiny cleanup crews — especially pavement ants — are doing their best to eliminate such wastes. This, in turn, makes cities less attractive to bigger pests.

  2. Microbes

    Recycling the dead

    When things die, nature breaks them down through a process we know as rot. Without it, none of us would be here. Now, scientists are trying to better understand it so that they can use rot — preserving its role in feeding all living things.

  3. Environment

    Native ‘snot’

    The ‘rock snot’ choking rivers may be native algae. Experts blame its sudden and dramatic emergence on changes in Earth’s atmosphere, soils and climate.

  4. Animals

    These insects thirst for tears

    In some parts of the world, insects will drop by for a savory beverage. Interestingly, neither a croc — nor a scientist who offered his eyes up to ‘tear-sipping’ bees — seemed bothered much by the freeloaders.

  5. Animals

    Explainer: How invasive species ratted out the tuatara

    The introduction of rats to New Zealand led to huge population losses of the ancient tuatara. These uncommon reptiles vanished from the mainland. This left isolated populations to survive on several dozen isolated islands.

  6. Microbes

    Mystery microbes of the sea

    Biologists find archaea a true curiosity. They make up one of life’s three main branches. The two better known branches are bacteria and eukaryotes (u KARE ee oatz). That last branch includes animals, plants and fungi. But archaea have remained mysterious. Very little is known about them. In fact, their unique status wasn’t even recognized until relatively recently, in 1977.

  7. Animals

    Alien carp leap onto the scene

    Last summer, Alison Coulter got a big surprise as she piloted a boat along the Wabash River in Indiana. Startled by her boat’s motor, a 60-centimeter (24-inch) carp leaped out of the river. In some cases, jumping Asian carp have broken a boater’s nose, jaw or arm.

  8. Animals

    Gorgeous eco-bullies

    ‘Foreign’ lionfish — aquarium castoffs — have been invading American coastal waters at an alarming rate and gobbling up the natives.

  9. Animals

    Bats before bedtime

    Scientists find new animal species in old rainforests.

  10. Animals

    Infectious animals

    Critters spread many germs that can sicken each other — and even kill people.

  11. Environment

    Fungi as carbon keepers

    A common type of fungus stores most of a forest floor’s carbon underground.

  12. Chemistry

    A plant enemy’s enemy

    Plants use chemicals to recruit help in fighting off pests.