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Scientists unravel human-ecosystem interactions
Date:8/2/2010

Whether it is a single rock being overturned or an entire mountaintop being removed, humans play a continuous role in environmental processes, and vice versa. Ecological scientists will discuss findings on human-ecosystem interactionsfrom the effects of nanomaterials on plant growth to the diversity of insect species on green roofs, and even communities of airborne microbes in hospital buildingsat the Ecological Society of America's 95th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh from August 1-6, 2010. Here is just some of the research on humans and the environment to be presented:

Nanotechnology and the environment

Silver nanoparticles are being increasingly used in consumer and medical products for their antimicrobial properties. However, use of these products results in the release of nanoparticles into the environment through wastewater effluent and biosolids, or treated wastewater byproducts. Benjamin Colman from Duke University and colleagues analyzed the potential effects of exposure to these particles on microbial and plant activity, growth and abundance.

Their findings, to be reviewed in a presentation at ESA's Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, revealed that silver nanoparticles altered root growth and plant physiology, and the abundance, composition and activity of microbial communities. Specifically in plants, roots near the soil surface were more abundant, though biomass of one of the five tested plant species decreased by 22 percent. In addition, microbial abundance decreased, the species of bacteria present changed and microbial enzyme activities were reduced by as much as 34 percent.

The contributed oral session "Nanomaterials in the environment: The effect of realistic silver nanoparticle exposures on terrestrial ecosystem dynamics," led by Benjamin Colman, Duke University, will be held Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm.

Other sessions on technology and ecology include:

The special session "Warfare ec
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Contact: Katie Kline
katie@esa.org
202-833-8773 x211
Ecological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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