Looking Back at 2017: The Most Popular Stories of the Year

December 20, 2017

Contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084, tdlucas@duke.edu

As 2017 comes to an end, we look back at the Nicholas School's top 10 stories of the year.

10. Trash-Picking Seagulls Poop Hundreds of Tons of Nutrients

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At least 1.4 million seagulls feed at landfills across North America, which aside from the nuisance it might pose, is also a threat to the health of nearby waters, a new Duke University study finds. read more >

9. Duke Ranks as 6th Best Global University in Environment and Ecology


Duke University has been ranked among the top global universities in environment and ecology in the latest US News rankings. read more >

8. Gulf Shrimp Prices Reveal Hidden Economic Impact of Dead Zones 

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Hypoxic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico drive up the price of large shrimp relative to smaller sizes, causing economic ripples that can affect consumers, fishermen and seafood markets alike, a new Duke-led analysis reveals. read more >

7. Poaching Drives 80 Percent Decline in Elephants in Key Preserve

Forest elephants in Gabon’s Minkébé National Park. (Credit: John Poulsen)

Forest elephant populations in one of Central Africa’s largest and most important preserves have declined between 78 percent and 81 percent because of poaching, a new Duke University-led study finds. read more >

6. High Selenium Levels Found in Fish in N.C. Lakes Receiving Coal Ash Waste

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A new Duke University study has found high levels of selenium in fish in three North Carolina lakes receiving power plants’ coal ash waste. read more >

5. Taste, Not Appearance, Drives Corals to Eat Plastics

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Scientists have long known that marine animals mistakenly eat plastic debris because the tiny bits of floating plastic might look like prey. read more >

4. Marine Lab Director Heads to Mexico to Help Save World’s Most Endangered Marine Mammal

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Andrew J. Read, director of the Duke University Marine Lab, has traveled to San Felipe, Mexico, to take part in VaquitaCPR, a last-ditch conservation effort to save the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. read more >

3. Duke Receives $11M Gift to Fund New Marine Lab Research Ship

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Duke University has received $11 million for the construction and operation of a new state-of-the-art ship that will expand teaching and research capabilities at its marine lab. read more >

2. Contamination in North Dakota Linked to Fracking Spills

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Accidental wastewater spills from unconventional oil production in North Dakota have caused widespread water and soil contamination, a new Duke University study finds. read more >

1. West Virginia Groundwater Not Affected by Fracking, but Surface Water Is

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Fracking has not contaminated groundwater in northwestern West Virginia, but accidental spills of fracking wastewater may pose a threat to surface water in the region, according to a new study led by scientists at Duke University. read more >