Sunday, October 25, 2015

Can beavers really save the world? Scientists think so

It turns out that beavers and all the pesky dam things they do (get it…dam) in rivers and streams serve a hugely important purpose in helping our planet maintain its delicate and ever important balance.

Scientists at the University of Rhode Island have discovered that their habitats and all the organic matter the critters carry with them along the way can reduce the amount of nitrogen gas found in rivers and streams by as much as 45 per cent.

Why is this important, you ask? Well, although we humans require precious oxygen in order to keep on ticking, 78 per cent of the Earth’s atmosphere is made up of nitrogen. It’s an ultra-thin gas that works in coordination with other gases found on the periodic table of elements to protect our planet and all its ecosystems, and it’s also used by farmers to grow crops.

Here’s the thin: although nitrogen is a necessity in the atmosphere and in agriculture, it actually promotes the growth of algae once too much of the gas finds its way into rivers and lakes. Algae takes nutrients away from other plants and animals that need it. Since three-quarters of the Earth consists of bodies of water, that’s not a manageable long-term side effect.

Now that scientists know the animal featured on our nation’s nickel can work the magic necessary to help keep things balanced, the next challenge becomes figuring out where to get beavers to build their habitats...Continue reading...

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