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17 news posts in Biodiversity


07 Mar 2023

Wings, not webs: Certain bugs are the winners of urbanization, impacting cities’ insect diversity

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Dr Marion Chatelain. Occurrence and abundance of the ‘cucumber green spider’ decreased along the rural-urban gradient. Urban spread goes hand in hand with wildlife habitat loss and fragmentation. This impacts all animals, down to the smallest. Scientists found that the level of urbanization impacts arthropod abundance, richness, and diversity, factors which likely alter the foraging behavior of bigger animals. Cities are bursting with life, both human and animal. The smallest of them, insects, spiders, and ants are easily overseen, but their presence – or absence – in cities has wide-reaching effects. Scientists in Austria have published a study in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, which found a correlation between the presence of arthropods – invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton; among them are bees, insects, and spiders – and level of urbanization. “We show that richness and diversity of arthropods on trees and bushes decreases along the rural-urban gradient,” said first author Dr Marion Chatelain, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. “More specifically, we show that urbanization disfavors wingless groups, particularly so on trees. Indeed, web spiders and springtails are less likely to be found in the city, where, on the […]

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16 Dec 2021

More than 100 underwater animal species found living on 2,200-year-old Mediterranean shipwreck

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer The ship’s ram as it was found on the seabed off Sicily at a depth of nearly 90m. Image credit: K. Egorov / Società per la Documentazione dei Siti Sommersi – Global Underwater Explorers (SDSS-GUE) Italian researchers found amazing community of 114 species of invertebrates on priceless archeological artifact, including ecological ‘constructors’, ‘binders’, and ‘dwellers’ On March 10, 241 BCE, a sea battle took place near the Aegadian Islands off northwestern Sicily. A fleet equipped by the Roman Republic destroyed a fleet from Carthage, ending the First Punic War in Rome’s favor. But scientists have now shown that this destruction and carnage utimately made a a rich flowering of marine life possible. In a recent study in Frontiers in Marine Science, they reported finding no fewer than 114 species of animals, coexisting in a complex community, on a ship’s ram from a Carthaginian ship sunk in the battle. This is the first study of marine life on a very ancient wreck. The ram is not only a priceless archeological find, but also a unique window into the processes by which marine animals colonize empty sites and gradually form mature, stable, diverse communities. “Shipwrecks are […]


24 Jun 2021

A dog’s life: James A Serpell and his investigation into the origin story of mankind’s best friend

By Colm Gorey, Frontiers science writer/Prof James Serpell, University of Pennsylvania Prof James A Serpell, University of Pennsylvania. Image: University of Pennsylvania Two distinctly different stories have been created to explain how fearsome, wild wolves were first domesticated by humans, according to Prof James A Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wallis Annenberg PetShape Leadership Institute. However, in the open access journal Frontiers, he recently published a paper investigating the truth of these claims. Despite being considered mankind’s best friend, the ancestors of modern dogs were a lot less welcoming to human owners. However, trying to trace the timeline of when early humans first domesticated wild wolves to serve their needs has proven difficult. One of the most prevalent origin stories in scientific literature suggests the ‘commensal scavenger hypothesis’. This posited that wolves essentially domesticated themselves by invading ancient human settlements in search of animal remains and other edible waste discarded by hunter-gatherers. Over time, tolerance by humans gave a selective advantage to the bolder, less fearful wolves, which then diverged from the ancestral population as they adapted to the new scavenging niche. An alternative hypothesis – sometimes referred to as the pet keeping or cross-species adoption hypothesis […]

Image of Finland coast. New assessment finds lack of knowledge when designating MPAs lets important species and biodiversity slip through the net- and that small, targeted changes can have big effects on protected area efficiency: Frontiers in Marine Science

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18 Dec 2018

Marine Protected Areas overlook a large fraction of biodiversity hotspots

Lack of knowledge when designating MPAs lets ecologically important species slip through the net, but small, targeted changes can have big effects on protected area efficiency: Frontiers in Marine Science