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Gleanings from Headline News – March 2022

Home Is Where the Pollinators Should Be

Pollinators play a significant role in maintaining the function and diversity of ecosystems through their unique relationship with native flowering plants. But the ongoing degradation of native pollination systems, coupled with the continued loss of insect biodiversity, poses a significant threat to human health and well-being and the world’s future. Read more at EcoRI News.

Seeds for Tomorrow

Artist Laura Fantini illustrates “hope” in each seed she discovers, draws, and records. Her “hope” is for the future of our world. Each of her drawings bears her plea to hope for each plant to endure and thrive through the life of its seed. Read more at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.

Western Megadrought is Megabad

A new study found that over the last two decades, the Western US and northern Mexico are experiencing their driest period in at least 1,200 years. Two of the largest reservoirs in the US, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are down to one-third of their capacity. The researchers attribute about one-fifth of the drought to human-caused climate change. Read more at National Public Radio.

Roadside Milkweed for Monarchs

Researchers have identified a species of milkweed that holds promise for planting on roadsides to improve conservation habitat for migrating monarch butterflies. Researchers surveyed the poorly studied bract milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana). The findings confirm that the species is a good candidate for planting within roadside or rights-of-way conservation projects. Read more at PHSY ORG.

Braiding Seeds Fellowship Applications Open

The Braiding Seeds Fellowship, a project of Soul Fire Farm Institute in collaboration with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, carries on the legacy of the braided seeds by providing beginning farmers with resources, professional development, and mentorship to support their livelihood on the land. 2022 Applications are now open. Read more at Soul Fire Farm.

US Sea Levels Rise at an Alarming Rate

America’s coastline will see sea levels rise in the next 30 years by as much as they did in the entire 20th century, with major Eastern cities regularly hit with costly floods even on sunny days, a government report warns. Read more at AP News.

National Butterfly Refuge Becomes Target for the Far-Right

For nearly two decades, the National Butterfly Center has provided a place of wonder along the banks of the Rio Grande. Recently, the butterfly center has become the latest unlikely victim of wild misinformation and outright lies spreading rapidly online. Read more at The New York Times.

Nature Is Truly a Balm for the Soul

Research has found that feelings of overcrowding increased loneliness by an average of 39%. But when people could see trees or the sky, or hear birds, feelings of loneliness fell by 28%. Feelings of social inclusion also cut loneliness by 21%, and when these feelings coincided with contact with nature, the beneficial effect was boosted by a further 18%. Read more at The Guardian and The Tree Hugger.

Urban Bees Face a Flower Deficit

Researchers compared beehive density in Swiss cities with available green space – based on a model, one square kilometer of available green space could support 7.5 beehives. Using that measure, researchers found none of the 14 cities under inspection had enough forage to satisfy the appetite of all pollinators. The honeybees outcompeted wild bee species that depend on city trees and plantings for food. Read more at Bloomberg CityLab.

Cute Plants on Antarctica Spell Trouble

Some cute little plants in Antarctica are flourishing in warmer temperatures – an ominous sign for the rest of the continent and the world. A study recently published in Current Biology finds that the continent’s only flowering plants have grown rapidly in the past decade, thanks to warmer temperatures. Read more at Gizmodo.

Why We Need to Revive Global Food Diversity

The Green Revolution helped feed a surging global population but at the cost of impoverishing crop diversity. Now, with climate change increasingly threatening food supplies, the need for greater agricultural resilience means restoring endangered crop and food varieties. Read more at Yale Environment 360.

ALERT! Deadly Avian Flu Heading for Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) warns commercial poultry producers and backyard chicken keepers that a contagious, virulent avian flu detected in Massachusetts and Connecticut is likely headed to Rhode Island. The virus is lethal to poultry but is not considered a threat to people or public health. Read more at EcoRI News.