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Bugs and Trees Roundup

January 27, 2006

Places that seem inhospitable to us, like the desert, are home-sweet-home to other organisms.


Teeming life in the desert. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you’re looking for teeming, diverse populations of organisms, the desert might be the best place to check. A new survey found that while deserts don’t have much in the way of big critters, they have far more varieties of bacteria than even the Amazon rain forest. Many bacteria are adapted to dry conditions, and prefer the alkaline pH of the desert to acid conditions of rainforests. Even though they’re tiny, bacteria have a big effect on the chemistry of earth’s atmosphere, and knowing where they’re most active is important to understanding global climate.

In other ecology news, Oregon State researchers have found that forests left alone after a forest fire regenerate more quickly than those that are logged and replanted. They also found that the neglected burned forests are less vulnerable to new fires.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.