Conservation

Participants in First Nature Tours help mitigate damages from wildfires in Central Oregon.

Regenerative Tourism Invites Travelers to Get Their Hands Dirty

Vacations that allow tourists to participate in conservation activities, such as habitat restoration, are growing in popularity

Las Salinas in Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge

Puerto Rico

These Salt Flats in Puerto Rico Are Cotton-Candy Pink

The distinct color of Las Salinas comes from a combination of algae, bacteria, salt and water

Asian elephants

Scientists Are Using YouTube to Understand How Elephants Mourn Their Dead

The research is part of a growing trend of using crowdsourced videos to learn about elusive or hard-to-study animals

Up to 50 percent of the world's tarantula species are involved in wildlife trade, including 25 percent of species described since 2000.

The Black Market Is Crawling With Spiders, New Study Finds

More than 1,200 species of spiders, scorpions and other arachnids are involved in the wildlife trade

A female saltmarsh sparrow in a New Hampshire wetland is held by University of New Hampshire graduatet student Talia Kuras. The circular device reads the transponder-containing indentification tag on the bird's leg. 

Planet Positive

Saving the Imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow

Conservationists are racing to rescue a delightful coastal animal from rising seas

Genetically, each species were different, but the team also found differences in the skull shapes, the levels of bone formation in the skeleton, and the number of warts on the hands and feet. (Pictured: C. cueyatl)

Good News

Six New Miniature Frog Species Discovered in Mexico

The amphibians are found under leaf litter and hatch fully grown

Since 2017 when the Smithsonian Institution launched its first Earth Optimism Summit, marine biologist Nancy Knowlton notes that positive change is happening. “The price of renewable energy is cheaper than ever, electric vehicles are finally on the verge of taking off, and the world seems ready to protect 30 percent of its lands and water,” she says.

A New Surge of Earth Optimism Takes Center Stage at This Year's Folklife Festival

The challenges are many, but evidence shows that positivity emboldens global conservation efforts

Isaac Larsen, a geosciences expert at UMass Amherst, stands near a drop-off that seperates native remnant prairie from farmland in Iowa. Reseachers found that farmed fields were more than a foot lower than the prairie on average. 

More Than 50 Billion Tons of Topsoil Have Eroded in the Midwest

The estimate of annual loss is nearly double the rate of erosion the USDA considers sustainable

Woolly monkeys have thick dense fur, and are found in the rainforests of the western Amazon River basin.
 

Ecuador's High Court Rules Wild Animals Have Legal Rights

The landmark case involved a deceased woolly monkey named Estrellita

This mural outside of an outfitter's office illustrates the snaking mouth of Mosquito Bay.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Bioluminescent Bays Are Brighter Than Ever

The nightly light shows have rebounded from Hurricane Maria's devastating blow

An artists's take on the insect

The Quest to Find the World's Largest Bee

The rediscovery of Wallace’s giant bee uncovers disheartening truths about the tenuous fate of hidden insect species

Bats, rodents, hedgehogs, and shrews are mammals among the orders that are predicted to have the most undescribed mammals. (Pictured: a bicolored shrew)

Good News

Study Finds Hundreds of Mammals Are Waiting to Be Discovered

New species may be hidden in areas that have more comprehensive geographic ranges with high variability in temperature and precipitation

Bald eagles are intensely social in spite of also being fierce predators. Some 500 live near the remote fishing port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

Planet Positive

The Bald Eagle's Soaring Return Shows That the U.S. Can Change for the Better

The true meaning of a national symbol

Lions spritzed with the hormone oxytocin stayed closer together.

Planet Positive

Can Spraying Lions With the 'Love Hormone' Help Them Live Together?

Researchers administered oxytocin to captive animals, and preliminary results showed the big cats were less hostile towards strangers

A rare sighting of a northern spring salamander on migration night. These nocturnal creatures spend their days hiding under logs and stones.

Planet Positive

Why Did the Salamander Cross the Road?

To reproduce, of course. And a band of volunteers gathers at night to help it—and countless other amphibians—get to the other side

Emerald ash borers are already predicted to kill all ash trees in more than 6,000 urban areas.

1.4 Million Urban Trees May Fall to Invasive Insects by 2050

It could cost 30 million a year to replace infected trees in areas hardest hit by the non-native species

The rose-veiled fairy wrasse is the first Maldivian fish to be described by a local scientist. Pictured: a male rose-veiled fairy wrasse

New Rainbow-Colored, Deep-Sea Fish Officially Described by Scientists in the Maldives

The new-to-science species was named after roses, the Maldivian national flower

Mountain goats carry bacterial diseases that are lethal to bighorn sheep and also compete for food.

To Protect Bighorn Sheep, Authorities Kill 58 Mountain Goats in Grand Teton National Park

The cull is part of an effort to safeguard the park's vulnerable sheep herd from the non-native species

Artist rendering of a solar canal system for California.

California Is About to Test Its First Solar Canals

The innovative project is a win for water, energy, air and climate

Magpies are highly social and live in groups of two or 12 individuals that defend, occupy, and breed cooperatively.

Sneaky Magpies Outwit Scientists by Removing Tracking Devices

The trackers were supposed to track movement behaviors but instead uncovered an unusual problem-solving behavior

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