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.

By Jim Melvin, Clemson University – Environmental News Network – June 21, 2016

By the year 2100, sea levels might rise as much as 2.5 meters above their current levels, which would seriously threaten coastal cities and other low-lying areas. In turn, this would force animals to migrate farther inland in search of higher ground. But accelerated urbanization, such as the rapidly expanding Piedmont area that stretches from Atlanta to eastern North Carolina, could cut off their escape routes and create climate-induced extinctions. For full story, click here.

By Christina Jedra – Capital Gazette – June 14, 2016

Scientists estimate this year's Chesapeake Bay low-oxygen "dead zone" will be roughly the volume of 2.3 million Olympic-size swimming pools —about average. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that the hypoxic, or low-oxygen, zone will be approximately 1.58 cubic miles, close to the long-term average since 1950. "The low oxygen levels are insufficient to support most marine life and habitats in near-bottom waters and threaten the Bay's production of crabs, oysters and other fisheries," NOAA said. For full story, click here.

By Todd Corillo – – June 16, 2016 – Video

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are studying sea turtle mortality in an effort to protect living turtles from harm by releasing "Frankenturtles" into the Chesapeake Bay. Assistant Professor David Kaplan and graduate student Bianca Santos are trying to pinpoint where hundreds of dead loggerhead sea turtles that wash up on beaches of the Chesapeake Bay every year may have died. They hope that information will help them figure out likely causes of sea turtle death and help map out "safe zones" for the turtles. For full story and to view video, click here.

By Kastalia Medrano – Pacific Standard Magazine – June 16, 2016

Estuary systems are in decline around the world. Polluted waters, overfishing, and sea levels rising as a result of climate change have left many marine ecosystems a mess. And the Chesapeake Bay, after a century of overfishing and deteriorating water quality, is in trouble. In the ongoing search for ways to restore the Chesapeake, an interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Smithsonian Institution — including biologists, resource managers, archaeologists, anthropologists, even a paleontologist — may have found the key in one of the watershed’s most vital and iconic symbols: the oyster. For full article, click here.