Electric drillers on the hunt for rare plant species
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A new report by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) finds that oil and gas companies are drilling and exploring for a wide range of rare plant life on public lands.
The report, which was recently published in the journal Nature Communications, says that drilling on public land is becoming more efficient, but that the process is still relatively slow.
In fact, oil and natural gas companies have been drilling on nearly 1,000 parcels of land in the past decade on public property across the country, according to the report.
According to the authors, the vast majority of these drilling sites are small, ungulates-only operations, which could mean that they are likely to find the rare plants they are looking for.
But the companies are finding many of these plants, which are known as biodiversity hotspots, on public ground.
The researchers identified more than 600 of these hotspots on public and private lands, including oil and mineral exploration, agricultural land use, and other areas where large-scale, long-term exploration is being undertaken.
They found that the vast vast majority (95 percent) of these discoveries are found on public or private lands.
There is no evidence that these plants have been found before, the authors say, and they point to the fact that the public lands are in a more diverse landscape than many other areas.
For example, in most cases, the researchers say that oil or natural gas extraction operations in areas of oil and minerals are located near wetlands or on wetlands, or close to other wetlands, where the species can thrive.
“While some of the sites that we identified may have been previously explored, we found that nearly all of them have been drilled or are under active drilling,” said lead author Eric Gershoff, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and the Department of Ecology at UC Davis.
In many cases, these areas have been managed for oil and coal production, which has caused the habitats to deteriorate.
While it is possible that oil companies are discovering the plants because of these operations, Gershook said the finding suggests that more research is needed to understand the species that are being discovered.
“There is a lot more work to be done to understand whether these species are really common or not,” Gershew said.
This article was originally published by The Conversation.
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A new report by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS) finds that oil…