From climate change and ocean acidification to food webs, nutrient cycling, and pollination, gain a big-picture view of the threats to—and importance of—Earth’s natural systems.

A young shepherd grazes a herd of sheep in Jordan’s mountainous desert landscape of Petra. Photograph by Vaidotas Grybauskas / Shutterstock A Protected Place 06.11.2024 Article - Faced with overgrazing and desertification, communities in the Middle East are reviving the concept of the hima, an ancient land-management practice that bridges tradition, culture, conservation—and faith.
Eider ducks bob along a small fishing harbor in Straumen, Trondelag, Norway. These ducks will travel to islands like Vega in the spring, seeking out a place to lay eggs and brood. Photograph by Pål Hermansen The Eider Keepers 03.08.2024 Article - An age-old tradition in Norway illuminates the bonds between wild ducks, wild places, and the people who care for both.
Fire is often seen as a destructive force. And it certainly can be, especially after decades of fire suppression across much of the western U.S. But slowly, with a better understanding of fire ecology and with the benefit of Indigenous knowledge, state and federal agencies are seeing the benefits that regular, low-intensity fires can provide entire ecosystems, like this one in Yosemite National Park. Photograph by Jen Guyton Fire for Water 02.12.2024 Article - To combat the growing risk of catastrophic wildfires and to bring more water back onto the landscape, a tribe in California is helping to reshape fire management policy in the West.
Straddling the Tides 01.30.2024 Article - To protect mangrove forests, traditional communities in coastal Brazil set their hopes on small-scale tourism.
A great egret flies near the banks of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina. River Guardians 01.23.2024 Article - In the face of growing environmental threats and porous regulations, grassroots groups have taken it upon themselves to protect waterways in the southeastern U.S.—and elsewhere around the world.
Shelly Boyd releases a Canada lynx onto the Colville Reservation. Welcoming Relatives Home 12.21.2023 Article - The Confederated Tribes of the Colville in Washington State are restoring the lands and species of their traditional ecological community.
Exposed microbialite reefs create beautiful patterns at the surface of Utah's Great Salt Lake. Photograph by Kayla Smith, Utah Geological Survey High and Dry 08.20.2023 Article - Utah’s immense Great Salt Lake has receded in recent years, revealing the microbial reefs crucial to its ecosystem.
A female lyrebird peers out over her territory in Sherbrooke Forest. Call of the Liar 08.02.2023 Article - The notion that only male birds sing has long been assumed. But evidence increasingly shows that females do, too. Now, scientists are studying a sensational singer in Australia to suss out why.
© Radim Schreiber The Galaxy in the Woods 07.05.2023 Article - As more people flock to see fireflies, scientists are trying to harness their enthusiasm without harming the bioluminescent wonder they’ve come to see.
A group of male African lions rests in the Masai-Mara Game Reserve, Kenya, as storm clouds build overhead. Photograph by Denis-Huot Africa’s Conservation Conundrum 05.15.2023 Article - The trophy hunting industry in Africa is dying, and that should concern all of us. What, if anything, replaces it will prove critical for the protection of the continent’s wildlife and wild places.
Linda Broome holds a captured mountain pygmy possum atop Mt Blue Cow, in Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park. Every spring, she returns to the park with a team of volunteers to monitor possum populations. Of Moths and Marsupials 04.26.2023 Article - The ancient relationship between the mountain pygmy possum and the bogong moth reveals the complexity of global climate change—and the lengths people may have to go to save some species from extinction.
Looking downstream near Glen Canyon’s Gretchen Bar, where relics of once-busy gold mining operations lie beneath Lake Powell. The white mineralization or “bathtub ring” along the main channel indicates the reservoir’s former high-water mark. Songs of the Dammed 04.12.2023 Article - As Lake Powell water levels drop, native plants are reclaiming Glen Canyon.
Rogues of the Rainforest 03.22.2023 Article - Tropical vines are wandering, as they always have, but recent environmental changes are giving them an edge over other rainforest plants—a shift that could have enduring impacts on climates around the globe.
Faces stained from digging in mud, snow geese pause to take measure of their surroundings before returning to their feast. The gray birds are juveniles, the white birds with black wings are adults. Photography by Nancy Crowell Washington’s Runaway Snow Geese 01.24.2023 Article - Mae West said too much of a good thing is wonderful. But she’d never seen the beautiful, marauding snow geese that swoop in each fall to take over Washington State’s Skagit Valley.
Like other salmon, sockeye die after spawning, providing important nutrients to surrounding ecosystems. Trouble at Sea 01.11.2023 Article - For salmon in the North Pacific, has the ocean reached its limit?
A western leafcutter bee visits a flower in search of pollen, Trinity Alps, California. Photograph by Clay Bolt Making Nature Less Predictable 12.02.2022 Article - In their fight against the homogenization of nature, scientists and farmers are walking well-worn paths and using innovative approaches to help bring native pollinators back to California.
A lone dragon’s blood tree in the Momi Valley of Socotra. Photograph by Neil Lucas Saving the Dragon’s Blood 10.12.2022 Article - Despite a range of threats, from droughts and cyclones to goats and militarization, Socotra's iconic trees are staging a slow, patient comeback—with the help of the people who know them best.
A levee divides a parched salt pond from a burgeoning wetland. Past the Salt 07.14.2022 Article - In San Francisco’s salty South Bay, an ambitious wetlands restoration project is seeking to balance a return to the ecological past with the realities of a changing future.
Ghana’s Sacred Monkeys 04.19.2022 Article - Myth and mystery have long protected two species of monkey and the West African forests they depend on, but for how much longer?
The brook trout, a species native to the eastern United States, made its way across the west in the hands of settlers looking to recreate a small, living piece of their adopted homeland. Photograph by Nick Hawkins The Tale of the Trojan Trout 02.21.2022 Article - Can the introduction of a modified invader save the West’s native fish?
Header image for Bringing out the Dead - Deep sea octopus Benthoctopus johnstoniana Bringing out the Dead 10.28.2021 Article - By sinking a wide array of carcasses into the deep ocean and studying what turns up when they fall, scientists are learning about some of the world’s most exotic scavengers and the roles they play in the darkness.
Sign designating the National Wild and Scenic section of the Rio Chama. A River’s Right to Flow 10.22.2021 Article - Indigenous communities and conservationists around the world are challenging the view of water as a human commodity, and fighting to keep this precious resource in the ecosystems it sustains. Can the same approach work in the arid Southwest?
Letters Between Trees 09.09.2021 Article - With a pandemic and record-breaking fire season raging, two individuals, seemingly worlds apart, find solace in their connections with one another and within the ecosystems they call home.
A Cicada calls from a plant with the Cincinnati, Ohio skyline in the background on June 12, 2021. Signs of the Times 07.08.2021 Article - Despite their perceived abundance, the periodical cicadas that emerged across the eastern United States this summer point to a growing set of threats facing both the insects themselves and the ecosystems they help support.
This Antarctic glacier is one of the remains of the once huge Larsen B ice shelf, which infamously collapsed in 2002 over the course of a single month. Such a large area of ice collapsing so quickly was an unprecedented event in scientific history. Photograph by Armin Rose / Shutterstock Antarctica’s Upside Down World 05.12.2021 Article - Clinging to the underside of ice hundreds of meters thick, strange communities of sea life eke out a living in perpetual darkness. Now, researchers are racing to find and study these creatures before they—and their ice sheets—disappear.
With the lighthouse peninsula in the background, a male tule elk stands on a bluff in the Tule Elk Preserve at Point Reyes National Seashore. Home on the Range 03.23.2021 Article - Once thought to be extinct, tule elk have returned to roam across California's Point Reyes National Seashore, but the park—which also supports beef and dairy cattle—is getting crowded.
Scales of Reference - sockeye salmon Scales of Reference 03.11.2021 Article - Collected at the tail end of British Columbia's "silver fever," hundred-year-old salmon scales are now helping conservation scientists reconstruct and better manage the populations of one of Canada's most important fish.
Large kauri tree framed by green foliage, Waipoua Forest, Northland. Photograph by Arno Gasteiger. Swamp Sentinels 02.18.2021 Article - Buried in mud for millennia, some of New Zealand's ancient kauri trees are revealing surprising clues about Earth's climate—past, present, and future.
Olms are aquatic, cave-dwelling salamanders found beneath the Dinaric Alps of southern and southeastern Europe. Saving Slovenia’s “Human Fish” 12.15.2020 Article - Scientists in this Central European country are leading the charge to understand and protect a charismatic, cave-dwelling salamander—and the subterranean habitats that supply much of the region's drinking water.
A lesser whistling duck forages in Pallikaranai Marsh. Chennai Ran Out of Water — But That’s Only Half the Story 10.30.2020 Article - To reduce flooding and bridge droughts, India’s southern coastal metropolis is using ancient knowledge, community action, and wetlands restoration to harness its monsoon rains.
Two swallow-tailed kite nestlings hunker down in their nest near the top of a tall pine in Florida’s Withlacoochie State Forest. A Precarious Perch 08.27.2019 Article - Swallow-tailed kites have lost much of their habitat in the southeastern United States, but thanks to an unlikely ally, their numbers are beginning to climb.
A Caribbean spiny lobster emerges onto a coral reef in late afternoon. The Lobster Wars 05.29.2019 Article - In one coastal Mexican town, a sustainable fishery anchors the community. So why has Florida outlawed the same fishing methods?
A male Raggiana bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) displays in forest canopy of Varirata National Park, Papua New Guinea. Photograph by Nick Garbutt Where the Rainforest Meets the Road 01.08.2019 Article - Community-led conservation has taken root in a remote corner of Papua New Guinea. Now the plan’s architects must ensure that ecological protection and economic prosperity can coexist.
An Indian flying fox peers out of the leaves of a date palm tree in India’s West Bengal, just across the border with Bangladesh. Photograph by Dhritiman Mukherjee The Reservoir 12.12.2018 Article - In Bangladesh, a bat-borne virus you've probably never heard of is poised to become the next pandemic—and medicine alone may not be sufficient to stop it. Is an ecological intervention the answer?
From national parks and forests to tribal lands, an estimated $31 billion worth of marijuana is grown annually by international drug trafficking organizations in California. Similar operations are known to occur in at least a dozen other states. Backcountry Drug War 03.28.2017 Article - In the Golden State, dangerous drug cartels are growing pot on public lands—putting wildlife, water supplies, and outdoor enthusiasts at grave risk.
maggot timelapse Maggot Revolution 01.18.2017 Article - Agricultural entrepreneurs want to solve the planet’s livestock-feed crisis by farming insect larvae. Will their scheme fly?
Long leaf pine habitat in the gamelands outside Southern Pines, NC. The Birds and the Bombs 06.28.2016 Article - The fate of the Southeast's longleaf pine forests, and the endangered woodpeckers that depend on them, may rest in the hands of the U.S. military.
Biologist Bart Shepherd in An Audacious Plan in the Twilight An Audacious Plan in the Twilight 04.26.2016 Article - A team of deep-reef explorers attempts to document the unknown biodiversity of Vanuatu’s twilight zone.

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