By Geoffrey Giller – Hakai Magazine – September 13, 2016

Stephen Durham ignores the cold water seeping into his hiking boots as he wades into a shallow, brackish creek wending through a salt marsh in Madison, Connecticut. With each step, shells crunch under his feet and he sentences a few more oysters to an early death. Below these casualties, the remains of their ancestors lie entombed in the muck. Less than a meter down, they could be hundreds of years old—artifacts of a time before modern record-keeping. Like thousands of soap-dish-sized Rosetta stones, the shells can reveal clues about the past—if you know what you’re looking for. Durham, sporting a trimmed grad-student beard and a hat from a seafood restaurant, is a new kind of sleuth. He’s one of the world’s first students trained in conservation paleobiology, a young field that applies a paleontologist’s skill set to modern-day conservation challenges by decoding animal and plant remains. For full article, click here.

By Rachel Cernansky – – September 13, 2016

Early on a cold spring morning, Diana Wall is trying out a tool normally used to make holes on golf courses — and she can't contain her excitement. Her team has always used more laborious methods to take samples of soil and its resident organisms. “Oh, that's a beautiful core,” she says as one student bags a sample filled with tiny roundworms. “Hello, nematodes!” For full story, click here.

Ducks Unlimited  – The Southern Illoisan  – August 25, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its 2016 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by FWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Overall duck numbers in the survey area are statistically similar to last year. Total populations were estimated at 48.4 million breeding ducks, which is 38 percent above the 1955-2015 long-term average. Last year's estimate was 49.5 million birds. The projected mallard fall flight index is 13.5 million birds, similar to the 2015 estimate of 13.8 million. The main factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes of the prairies and the boreal forest.  For full story, click here.

By Jim Robbins – Environment360 – August 24, 2016

In a small cabin that serves as the Glacier National Park climate change office, Dan Fagre clicks through photos that clearly show the massive glaciers that give this park its name are in a hasty retreat. "There was a hundred square kilometers of ice in 1850," Fagre, a United States Geological Survey researcher who has studied the glaciers of Glacier since 1991, explains. "We are down to 14 to 15 square kilometers, so an 85 to 86 percent loss of ice in the park. There's no doubt they are going to disappear unless some massive cooling happens," he says, which isn't likely. The flows of mountain streams and rivers throughout the park will dwindle as their sources melt. And one species that will dearly miss the ice-cold runoff from the glaciers is the meltwater stonefly, an insect that's only found in a few glacier-fed streams in the park. It will likely disappear when the glaciers vanish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says. For full story, click here.

By Rachel Feltman – The Washington Post – July 22, 2016

Traditionally, scientists have likened lichen to a married couple: The crusty growths found on trees and rocks are actually composite organisms, formed by the symbiotic partnership between an algae and a single fungus. But a new study throws a wrench into that 150-year-old belief, suggesting that a third partner has been lurking in the mix. A second fungus — this one a type of yeast — makes the synergy possible. For full story, click here.

By Krista Langlois – High Country News – August 1, 2016

Browns Creek slips out of the Collegiate Peaks near the central Colorado towns of Salida and Buena Vista. Bordered by conifer forests and alpine wetlands, the waterway offers perfect habitat for an obscure amphibian called the boreal toad, a warty, mottled creature about the size of a human palm. Historically, boreal toads abounded in Rocky Mountain streams above 7,000 feet, but in the past several decades, populations have plummeted. For full story, click here.

Contacts: Alex Demas and Sarah Haymaker, USGS – Soil Erosion News Today – June 22, 2016

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have published a new studyThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. that demonstrates that agricultural conservation practices in the upper Mississippi River watershed can reduce nitrogen inputs to area streams and rivers by as much as 34 percent. The study combined USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) data with the USGS SPARROW watershed model to measure the potential effects of voluntary conservation practices, which historically have been difficult to do in large river systems, because different nutrient sources can have overlapping influences on downstream water quality. For full story, click here.