Urbanization delays spring plant growth in warm regions

Image of flowering tree by lake in park.

(Florida Museum) The first appearance of bright green leaves heralds the start of spring, nudging insects, birds and other animals into a whirlwind of action. But a new study shows that urbanization shifts this seasonal cue in nuanced ways, with cities in cold climates triggering earlier spring plant growth and cities in warm climates delaying it. The study also found that the urban heat island effect is not the only culprit behind the shift, suggesting that other aspects of urbanization, such as pollution, changes in humidity and fertilizer runoff, may also influence plants’ seasonal patterns.

Decade-long drought in Chile wipes out hives as bees are left without flowers

Image of honey bees at bee feeder.

(Reuters) “There’s no water anywhere. The bees are suffering just the same as cattle, crops and people.” Concern over the impact of changing environments on bees has reached the highest levels of government in Chile. The country has already unleashed millions in aid for drought-stricken farmers. In August, it said it would include a line item in future agency budgets to account for the ‘costs’ of climate change.

Climate change could pit species against one another as they shift ranges

Image of wildflowers with mountain in background.

(University of British Columbia) Species have few good options when it comes to surviving climate change; they can genetically adapt to new conditions, shift their ranges, or both. But new research indicates that conflicts between species as they adapt and shift ranges could lead experts to underestimate extinctions, and underscores the importance of landscape connectivity. “The good news is this conflict between moving and adapting is reduced when movement rates are high, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining well-connected landscapes.”

New research provides important insights into how different species might survive extreme climate events

Image of blazing sun over city.

(Washington University in St. Louis) Faced with unprecedented change in their environments, animals and plants are scrambling to catch up — with mixed results. Researchers have developed a new model that helps to predict the types of changes that could drive a given species to extinction. This model could give wildlife managers and conservation organizations insight into the potential vulnerabilities of different species based on relatively simple assessments of their natural histories and historical environments.

What a Virginia wildflower can tell us about climate change

Image of American bluebell flower.

(University of Virginia) “While migration is often viewed as a means for species to proliferate in new environments, in this research we find that there also are inherent perils of expansion, such as a shallow gene pool. While migration will lead to individuals that are better able to reproduce in the small populations expected in new habitats, it may also cause genetic change that limits their ability to survive in the long term.”

Planting trees is important for urban pollinator conservation

Image of big tree with roots spreading out.

(Xerces Society) Planting trees is an important action many of us can take to help fight the climate crisis. It’s also an action that will have a significant impact on pollinator conservation. The urban heat island effect, which is caused by large amounts of impervious surfaces, poses serious problems not only for the humans living in urban areas, but for the bee populations living there too. However, trees can provide a signifiant cooling effect in these urban areas that benefit both people and pollinators.