Research of the past decades has shown that biodiversity promotes ecosystem functions including primary productivity. However, most studies focused on experimental communities at small spatial scales, and little is known about how these findings scale to nonexperimental, real-world ecosystems at large spatial scales, despite these systems providing essential ecosystem services to humans.

Cities are concentrations of sociopolitical power and prime architects of land transformation, while also serving as consumption hubs of “hard” water and energy infrastructures. These infrastructures extend well outside metropolitan boundaries and impact distal river ecosystems. We used a comprehensive model to quantify the roles of anthropogenic stressors on hydrologic alteration and biodiversity in US streams and isolate the impacts stemming from hard infrastructure developments in cities.

Suicide is a stark indicator of human hardship, yet the causes of these deaths remain understudied, particularly in developing countries. This analysis of India, where one fifth of the world’s suicides occur, demonstrates that the climate, particularly temperature, has strong influence over a growing suicide epidemic. With 47 y of suicide records and climate data, I show that high temperatures increase suicide rates, but only during India’s growing season, when heat also reduces crop yields. My results are consistent with widely cited theories of economic suicide in India.

The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss. This view overlooks the current trends of population declines and extinctions.

Both plants and animals make decisions in response to the environment to maximize their fitness. Plants use dormancy in seeds to move through time and space, and timing of the transition to germination is influenced by external cues, including temperature. Here, we report the presence of a decision-making center within the root tip of dormant seeds and demonstrate that it shares a similar configuration as some systems within the human brain.

Validation of volatile organic compound (VOC) emission reports, especially from large industrial facilities, is rarely attempted. Given uncertainties in emission reports, their evaluation and validation will build confidence in emission inventories. It is shown that a top-down approach can provide measurement-based emission rates for such emission validation. Comparisons with emission reports from Alberta oil sands surface mining facilities revealed significant differences in VOC emissions between top-down emissions rates and reports.

Urban waters remain widely impaired by excess nutrients, despite substantial management efforts. We present a comparison of urban watershed nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) budgets. Household actions of lawn fertilization and pet ownership were responsible for the majority of watershed N and P inputs, respectively. N and P exhibited contrasting dynamics within watersheds. Watersheds exported most or all P inputs via stormwater runoff, likely contributing to surface water degradation.

Degradation of coastal water quality in the form of low dissolved oxygen levels (hypoxia) can harm biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human wellbeing. Extreme hypoxic conditions along the coast, leading to what are often referred to as “dead zones,” are known primarily from temperate regions. However, little is known about the potential threat of hypoxia in the tropics, even though the known risk factors, including eutrophication and elevated temperatures, are common.

To explain diversity in forests, niche theory must show how multiple plant species coexist while competing for the same resources. Although successional processes are widespread in forests, theoretical work has suggested that differentiation in successional strategy allows only a few species stably to coexist, including only a single shade tolerant. However, this conclusion is based on current niche models, which encode a very simplified view of plant communities, suggesting that the potential for niche differentiation has remained unexplored.

Projections of the economic consequences of climate change are valuable for policy making but generally rely on integrated assessments that cannot account for highly localized climate effects. Most agricultural climate impact studies focus on local effects or partial productivity measures insufficient to capture national economic outcomes. Here, we directly link climate variables in specific US regions to total factor productivity (TFP).

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