BioScience tip sheet, March 2009

The March 2009 issue of BioScience includes the following peer-reviewed articles:

Molecular Biology and Genomics: New Tools for Weed Science.
Patrick J. Tranel and David P. Horvath.

Modern techniques have allowed great advances against weeds, including the development of herbicide-resistant crops and a better understanding of how weeds interact with neighboring plants. The next generation of tools, including genomics, could yield novel and still more effective strategies.


Why We Have Field Stations: Reflections on the Cultivation of Biologists.
John Janovy Jr. and Krista M. Major.

For students, time studying at a field station can be a life-changing experience that leads to increased respect for living systems, and, for some, a career choice leading to professional science.


Quantifying the Contribution of Organisms to the Provision of Ecosystem Services.
Gary W. Luck and colleagues.

The authors unite the concepts of ecological service-providing units and ecosystem service providers to define a continuum that can be used to direct future studies at different biological levels. The authors stress the importance of quantifying characteristics that provide services, and of assessing services relative to human needs. They provide examples of their approach and highlight significant gaps in scientific knowledge.


Do Changes in Connectivity Explain Desertification?
Gregory S. Okin, Anthony J. Parsons, John Wainwright, Jeffrey E. Herrick, Brandon T. Bestelmeyer, Debra C. Peters, and Ed L. Fredrickson.

The authors argue that diverse forms of desertification, as well as its remediation, are driven by changes in the length of connected pathways for the movement of fire, water, and soil resources. Natural processes increase the length of connected pathways. Management of connectivity is essential to understanding and potentially reversing the harmful effects of desertification, which are a major threat to populations worldwide.


Nonindigenous Species of the Pacific Northwest: An Overlooked Risk to Endangered Salmon?
Beth L. Sanderson, Katie A. Barnas, and A. Michelle Wargo Rub.

Nonindigenous species, especially fish, plants, mollusks, and crustaceans, are present in large numbers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, especially around the Columbia River corridor and the Willamette River basin. Non-native fish prey on juvenile native salmon in large numbers and appear to represent a major source of mortality comparable to better-known threats, such as harvest, hatcheries, the hydrosystem, and habitat alteration. Yet funding for research into the effects of nonindigenous species on salmonids is a small fraction of that devoted to other threats.


It’s Not Easy Being Green: Wind Energy and a Declining Grassland Bird.
Christin L. Pruett, Michael A. Patten, and Donald H. Wolfe.

The lesser prairie-chicken has suffered large population declines as prairies of the south-central United States have been lost. The development of wind-energy facilities throughout the species’ prime habitat poses a further risk, since the birds avoid wind turbines and their associated power transmission lines. This behavior means the facilities form barriers that break essential connections between populations. The authors urge regulations to restrict wind-farm placement, without which the species and others like it are likely to disappear from the wild.

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