Natural wilderness areas need buffer zones to protect from human development

EarthzineEcosystems

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune. A view from the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.

Despite heavy development, the United States still has millions of acres of pristine wild lands. Coveted for their beauty, these wilderness areas draw innumerable outdoor enthusiasts eager for a taste of primitive nature. But researchers say these federally protected nature areas have a problem: Their boundaries have become prime real estate.

Sea sponge anchors are natural models of strength

EarthzineEcosystems, Oceans

The Venus’ flower basket sea sponge has hair-like appendages that hold it in place on the sea floor. Researchers show that the internal structure of those fibers is fine-tuned for strength. The findings from this natural system could inform the engineering of load-bearing structural members.

Tracking Sea Turtles Across Hundreds of Miles of Open Ocean

EarthzineEcosystems, Oceans

Scientists have long known that leatherback sea turtles travel thousands of miles each year through open ocean to get from foraging habitats to nesting beaches and tropical wintering grounds, but how the wanderers find their way has been “an enduring mystery of animal behavior,” says marine biologist Kara Dodge. “Adult turtles can pinpoint specific nesting beaches even after being away … Read More