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Gleanings from Headline News – July 2022

Enabling ecological change amid climate change is key to preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, says study

As the need to address climate change becomes increasingly urgent, so too does the concurrent need for proactive stewardship of the Earth’s rapidly changing biosphere, according to research published today in the journal Science. “There is actually a lot we can do to help systems cope with oncoming climate change,” says Simon Fraser University biology professor and author Jonathan Moore, who with University of Washington professor Daniel Schindler, reviewed and assessed the potential benefits of forward-looking approaches. “From restoring connectivity to reducing local stressors to conserving future habitats—all of these proactive approaches can help the ecosystems that we rely upon to adapt to climate change.” Read more at

The Tricky Politics of Ecological Restoration

In her new book, Wild by Design: The Rise of Ecological Restoration, environmental historian Laura J. Martin charts the history of a practice devoted to mending damaged ecosystems, which she argues is currently the most important mode of environmental management in the world. Martin, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Williams College, defines ecological restoration as “a mode of reconciliation with the human past.” Her definition encapsulates the way restorationists have had to approach the blurry line between protecting and interfering with the natural environment in response to human action, which has, for the better part of human history, been interchangeable with human harm. Read more at The Nation.

Study finds chaos is more common in ecological systems than previously thought

Chaos in natural populations appears to be much more common than previously recognized, according to a new analysis by scientists at UC Santa Cruz and NOAA Fisheries. Populations of organisms in natural ecosystems fluctuate a lot, and a key question for ecologists is whether those fluctuations are regular (varying around some theoretically “stable” equilibrium), random (completely unpredictable), or chaotic. Chaotic systems, like the weather, can be predictable in the short term but not in the long term, and they are highly sensitive to small differences in the initial conditions. Read more at

Garden Guru: The greenhouse pot has become an ecological marvel

No longer will trays of flower transplants create a mess, a sore back from picking them up and cluttering the garden shed with thoughts of future use. Thanks to the Eco+ Grande Pots that caught most of us by surprise at the garden center this year we can now simply pull four tabs and plant them and the pot in the hole, a true ecological wonder. Read more at Yahoo!

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Saving the Humboldt Marten

Unfortunately, we’re not just at risk of losing the Humboldt marten but also the very thing that could save them: traditional ecological knowledge or TEK. TEK is the body of expertise accumulated by Indigenous people concerning their environment and relates to both a spiritual and ecological understanding of nature. According to Tiana Clausen-Williams, a Yurok tribal member and director of the Yurok Tribe Wildlife Department, the loss of ancient knowledge is the reality for many Indigenous tribes in the U.S. Read more at North Coast Journal.

Grass is a water hog. Here’s how to create a drought-tolerant yard

With numerous municipalities and states considering or enacting strict limits on residential grass, you may have considered ditching your home’s turf. Xeriscaping — or designing a landscape that needs little irrigation to survive — is no longer a radical idea, even if you don’t live in an area where lawns are being restricted. Read more at the Washington Post.

Yes, You Can Do Better Than the Great American Lawn

Daniel Jaffe Wilder still remembers the conversation he had maybe six years ago with a former colleague, when they were working at Garden in the Woods, the native-plant garden in Massachusetts. The two ecologically focused horticulturists were looking for a way to talk to visitors about that massive monoculture of European turfgrass species that we grow and mow like mad. They wanted a catchy slogan, perhaps, to convince people that they could do better ecologically than the great American lawn — something encouraging, and not too intimidating. You know, like “Kill Your Lawn.” Read more at the New York Times.

Ripping out his lawn made him a native plant fanatic

For Georg Kochi, tearing out his Koreatown lawn has been as much about spiritual growth as water conservation — a deep and sometimes playful exploration into habitat, rebirth and decay on the property where he lived as a boy and returned decades later as a retiree. Read more at LA Times.

Learn how to kill lawns for good while saving these nuns from crushing water bills

Once upon a time, the grounds surrounding the Maryknoll Sisters home in Monrovia were 6.5 acres of lushly green lawn and trees. They’ll never be that way again — not with water being so rare and expensive these days — but the retired nuns of Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, about 15 former nurses, teachers and social workers in their 80s and 90s, are working with Grow Monrovia and other conservation activists to find a better use for their land. Read more at LA Times.

Ecology and traditions

On this edition of the ICT Newscast, a distinguished Indigenous professor talks about his career and next chapter. We learn about the ecology at Leech Lake and its traditions, and we talk more about a United Nations recommendation that aims to protect environmental defenders. Click here to watch the newscast.

Education system ‘neglecting the importance of plants’

People are becoming ‘disconnected from the botanical world’ at a time when plants could help solve global environmental problems, warn a group of research scientists. They say the problem has been exacerbated by schools and universities reducing their teaching of basic plant science, including plant identification and ecology. They describe a self-accelerating cycle which risks ‘…the extinction of botanical education,’ where biology is taught predominantly by people with research interests in animal science. Read more at ScienceDaily.