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European forests might not be realizing their full potential

USDA Invasive Species News -

European forest managers can have their cake and eat it, because according to a new study maximizing timber production in a forest does not necessarily have to come at a cost of reduced species diversity or the capacity to regulate climate change by the same forest. However most European forests fall well below their possible maximum levels of these three capacities.

Genomic study explores evolution of gentle 'killer bees' in Puerto Rico

USDA Invasive Species News -

A study of Puerto Rico's Africanized honey bees -- which are more docile than other so-called 'killer bees' -- shows they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. These changes likely contributed to the bees' rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years, and could spell hope for beekeeping in North America.

Flower attracts insects by pretending to be a mushroom

USDA Invasive Species News -

The mysterious flowers of Aspidistra elatior are found on the southern Japanese island of Kuroshima. Until recently, scientists thought that  A. elatior  had the most unusual pollination ecology among all flowering plants, being pollinated by slugs and amphipods. However, direct observation of their ecosystem has revealed that they are mainly pollinated by fungus gnats, probably thanks to their resemblance to mushrooms.

Poison-ivy an unlikely hero in warding off exotic invaders?

USDA Invasive Species News -

The invasive Japanese knotweed causes much more severe damage to floodplain forests along the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania, USA, than previously thought. Furthermore, the researchers point to a key role for the often-maligned poison-ivy as a native species that can not only compete with knotweed but also help sustain the growth of new trees.

Mapping functional diversity of forests with remote sensing

USDA Invasive Species News -

Productivity and stability of forest ecosystems strongly depend on the functional diversity of plant communities. Researchers have developed a new method to measure and map functional diversity of forests at different scales -- from individual trees to whole communities -- using remote sensing by aircraft. Their work paves the way for future airborne and satellite missions to monitor global plant functional diversity.

Climate-influenced changes in flowering, fruiting also affect bird abundance, activities

USDA Invasive Species News -

A new study has documented shifts in Hawaiian bird abundance, breeding and molting based on climate-related changes to native vegetation. Researchers with the US Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station recently reviewed extensive climate, vegetation and bird data collected between 1976 and 1982 at a 40-acre monitoring site about 5 miles outside Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Hawai'i Island. The study is featured in this month's issue of Ecology.

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