Earth Day 2021

In line with the Earth Day 2021 theme to “Restore Our Earth,” the Communications Biology editors present a Collection of articles that feature important research on climate & conservation, forests, and evolution that further the goal of protecting and restoring our Earth’s biodiversity.

Read blog posts from our authors on the Nature Portfolio and Springer Nature Community sites

Sustainability Community

The collapse of an intertidal food web
Over the last two decades, populations of mussels, barnacles, limpets and other snails have been declining on rocky intertidal shores in the Gulf of Maine. The gradual loss of these species is leading to the collapse of an iconic intertidal food web.

Transforming conservation in a changing climate
Conservation investments are at risk of failing as the climate changes. The good news is that conservation practitioners are experimenting with novel approaches to conservation that embrace the realities of this pressing global challenge.

Glacial melt shifts benthic metabolism of an Antarctic fjord
The fjords along the West Antarctic Peninsula experience pronounced disturbance from climate-change related glacial retreat. Our work in Potter Cove demonstrates that glacial melt disturbance shifts the metabolism of the seafloor community from a net uptake to a net release of carbon dioxide.

Ecology & Evolution Community

What were Mesozoic mammals eating?
Using jaw shape and biomechanics to understand the diets of our earliest mammalian relatives

Thermal significance of hidden colors: Insights from the evolutionary history of vipers
Using evolutionary methods, we show that ventral colors may impact thermoregulation in vipers, and may have helped them to occupy new arid habitats during the Miocene via efficient heat dissipation from the ground. Our study sheds light on the function and evolution of this cryptic body region.

Fish ear bones can help improve understanding of the importance of coastal nursery grounds and unlock fairer ways to manage fisheries
Marine fisheries management rarely accounts for biological populations, and protection seldom focuses on links between juvenile and adult fish. Methods are needed to identify appropriate nursery grounds to protect, while avoiding unnecessary economic impacts and equitably share any benefits.

Hot topic: The evolution of thermal tolerance
Global warming is reshaping species distributions and altering ecological communities.

Environmental Drivers of Body Size Evolution in Crocodile-Line Archosaurs
Modern crocodilians are a deceptively small family that have remained unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Why have they change so little in such a long time, and why are there so few species of them? Environmental change might have had something to do with it.

Microbiology Community

To bead or not to bead
Studying interspecific interactions in soil microbial communities by random pairing of founder cells in agarose microbeads

Fine-tuning the phenotypic adaptability of a soil bacterium
The Rap phosphatases of Bacillus subtilis, along with cryptic prophage activation, function as a fine-tuning mechanism that enable the quick adaptation of this bacterium to diverse environmental conditions.

What factors shape virus spread in secretive carnivores?
Understanding how viruses spread through populations represents a major challenge for ecologists and epidemiologists.