Biosphere

  • Jellyfish-Like Creatures Fight Global Warming
    Transparent jellyfish-like creatures known as salps, considered by many a low member in the ocean food web, may be more important to the fate of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the ocean than previously thought.
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  • Heat and Serve Species
    Comfortable living is not why so many different life forms seem to converge at the warmer areas of the planet.
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  • The Oxygen Imperative
    It's common knowledge that humans and other animals couldn't survive without oxygen. But scientists are now learning a good deal more about the extent of our evolutionary debt to a substance that was once a deadly poison.
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  • Sequencing the Seas
    Scientists have sequenced and compared the genomes of planktonic microbes living throughout the water column in the Pacific Ocean. The pioneering study yielded insight into the specialization of microbial communities at each depth--ranging from 40 to more than 13,000 feet.
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  • Eyes in the Ocean
    Scientists at Oregon State University have successfully cultured in a laboratory a microorganism with a gene for an alternate form of photochemistry an advance that may ultimately help shed light on the ecology of the world's oceans.
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  • Did Earth Have Purple Oceans?
    NASA exobiology researchers confirmed Earth's oceans were once rich in sulfides that would prevent advanced life forms, such as fish and mammals, from thriving. The research was funded in part by NASA's exobiology program.
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  • El Niño and La Niña
    El Niño and La Niña play with the populations of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton. That's what scientists have found using NASA satellite data and a computer model.
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  • In Search of Diversity
    At a recent meeting of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, molecular evolutionist Mitch Sogin explained how understanding the diversity of microbial life on Earth could help scientists in the search for life on other worlds.
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  • A Volcanic Dinosaur Debate
    Scientists can recite a long list of the devastating environmental consequences of a large meteorite impact, but they cannot prove these effects have led to the simultaneous loss of life around the globe.
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  • Adapting to Near-Extinctions
    Why were rates of extinction so low for many of the major groups of marine life during one of the greatest ice ages of them all, which occurred from about 330 million to 290 million years ago, late in the Paleozoic Era.
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  • World in a Water Drop
    Ecologists know that when it comes to habitats, size matters, and now a new study finds that contrary to earlier beliefs, that maxim holds true right down to the tiny plants at the bottom of many oceanic and freshwater food chains.
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  • Hyperventilating Grasshoppers
    How the Earth adapted to life has much to do with the generation of a stable oxygen atmosphere. But how life adapted to Earth often hinges on whether oxygen is a poison. New research on insect oxygen use highlights the novel ways that life has
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  • Pulling the Trigger on the Great Dying
    A catastrophe 250 million years ago nearly extinguished life on Earth. Did the death blow come from space, or did the Earth turn from hospitable to poisonous on its own accord?
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  • Space to Move
    One of the great unknowns in the climate change debate is the effect of regional alterations on individual species. Connie Millar, a geneticist from the Pacific Southwest Research Station, discusses the importance of allowing a species to move, even as space becomes more precious and
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  • Putting Earth in Rehab
    How the earth might recover from a mass extinction is as important as what might have caused the catastrophe in the first place. Penn State astrobiologists are looking at species immigration as one way for the Earth to recover its biodiversity.
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