Environment

Category: Environment


In May 2014, a group of recreational divers spotted an adult lionfish -- the voracious invader Pterois volitans -- in the rocky reefs of southeastern Brazil.
A single fish caught with a hand spear off the Brazilian coast is making big waves across the entire southwestern Atlantic. In May 2014, a group of recreational divers spotted an adult lionfish--the voracious invader Pterois volitans--in the rocky reefs of southeastern Brazil. A group of researchers, including scientists from the California Academy of Sciences, used genetic analysis to link the lionfish to the infamous Caribbean population of invaders. In light of a separate study detailing the lionfish penchant for eating critically endangered Caribbean reef fish, news of lionfish in Brazilian waters raises alarm for Atlantic reefs and the region's already-threatened marine life. The discovery is published this week in PLOS ONE.


Predatory fish are extremely important for maintaining a balanced ecosystem on the Great Barrier Reef.
New research shows that fishing is having a significant impact on the make-up of fish populations of the Great Barrier Reef.


This mesh, which is covered in a coating invented at The Ohio State University, captures oil (red) while water (blue) passes through.
The unassuming piece of stainless steel mesh in a lab at The Ohio State University doesn't look like a very big deal, but it could make a big difference for future environmental cleanups.


This is a Polyrhachis sp ant with prey. Ants like this keep invertebrate numbers down.
Invertebrates perform essential functions for the smooth running of the ecosystems in tropical forests. For example, creatures such as termites and millipedes help dead leaves decompose and release their nutrients back into the soil, and carnivorous ants and spiders act as predators of herbivorous invertebrates that would otherwise munch through all the foliage.


A coral specimen exposed to oil and dispersant displays declining health over time. The picture on the furthest right is a healthy control sample.
The dispersant used to remediate the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is more toxic to cold-water corals than the spilled oil, according to a study conducted at Temple University. The study comes on the eve of the spill's fifth anniversary, April 20th.


This is a central chimpanzee. The number of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa continues to decline due to hunting, habitat loss, and disease, combined with a widespread lack of...
The number of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa continues to decline due to hunting, habitat loss, and disease, combined with a widespread lack of law enforcement and corruption in the judicial process, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF, and partners in a new conservation plan.


Study co-author Gonedele Sere, on left, holds a cocoa plant found at an illegal farm in the Dassioko Forest Reserve in Ivory Coast.
Researchers surveying for endangered primates in national parks and forest reserves of Ivory Coast found, to their surprise, that most of these protected areas had been turned into illegal cocoa farms, a new study reports.

The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the irreversible exchange of species between the New and Old Worlds, according to new research published today in Nature.

The spread of exotic and aggressive strains of a plant fungus is presenting a serious threat to wheat production in the UK, according to research published in Genome Biology. The research uses a new surveillance technique that could be applied internationally to respond to the spread of a wide variety of plant diseases.


These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef.
Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.


The 192 countries with a coast bordering the Atlanta, Pacific and Indian oceans, Mediterranean and Black seas produced a total of 2.5 billion metric tons of solid waste. Of that,...
A plastic grocery bag cartwheels down the beach until a gust of wind spins it into the ocean. In 192 coastal countries, this scenario plays out over and over again as discarded beverage bottles, food wrappers, toys and other bits of plastic make their way from estuaries, seashores and uncontrolled landfills to settle in the world's seas.


Forest managers must balance concerns for wildlife habitat with reducing the chance for damaging wildfires.
Healthy forest ecosystems need dead wood to provide important habitat for birds and mammals, but there can be too much of a good thing when dead wood fuels severe wildfires. A scientist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) compared historic and recent data from a forest in California's central Sierra Nevada region to determine how logging and fire exclusion have changed the amounts and sizes of dead wood over time. Results were recently published in Forest Ecology and Management.

Drawing on nearly five decades of experience, Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, one of the seminal scientific explorers of the Amazon rain forest in modern times, chronicles some of his most significant and fascinating expeditions in That Glorious Forest: Exploring the Plants and Their Indigenous Uses in Amazonia, now available from The New York Botanical Garden Press.

WCS scientists in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have discovered a new species of plant living in a remote rift valley escarpment that's supposed to be inside of a protected area. But an administrative mapping error puts the reserve's borders some 50 kilometers west of the actual location. Now the new species, along with 900 other plant varieties and 1,400 chimpanzees, are in limbo with no protection and threatened by cattle ranches and forest destruction.


Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil.
Multiple fires are visible in in this image of the Para and Mato Grosso states of Brazil. Many of these were most likely intentionally set in order to deforest the land. Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use. The herringbone-patterned tan lines cutting through the dark green of the Amazon Rainforest in the middle of the image are evidence of deforestation in the Brazilian state of Pará. The deforestation in Pará follows the Brazialian national motorway BR 163, passing by cities such as Novo Progresso. The lower half of the image shows the state of Mato Grosso.

Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring, has provided unique insights into the effect of climate change on a population of top-predators. Published in Nature this week, the findings show that the seals have significantly altered in accordance with changes in food availability that are associated with climate conditions. Despite a shift in the population towards 'fitter' individuals, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the population in decline.

A study conducted by scientists in Brazil and the United Kingdom has quantified the impact that selective logging, partial destruction by burning, and fragmentation resulting from the development of pastures and plantations have had on the Amazon rainforest. In combination, these factors could be removing nearly 54 million tons of carbon from the forest each year, introduced into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases. This total represents up to 40% of the carbon loss caused by deforestation in the region.

EnvironmentJuly 3, 2014 07:08 PM


On the left is a coral-covered reef. On the right is one dominated by algae.
A new study by biologists at San Diego State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows that inhabited coral islands that engage in commercial fishing dramatically alter their nearby reef ecosystems, disturbing the microbes, corals, algae and fish that call the reef home.

Climate changeButterflies and dragonflies with a lighter shade of colour do better in warmer areas of Europe. This gives them a competitive advantage over the darker insects in the face of climate change. Changes in Europe's insect assemblages due to warming can already be seen for dragonflies, shows a study recently published in Nature Communications.

A study led by scientists from the Polytechnic University of Marche (Ancona, Italy) involving researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM, CSIC) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), has determined that fishing trawling causes intensive, long-term biological desertification of the sedimentary seabed ecosystems, diminishing their content in organic carbon and threatening their biodiversity.


Where will we find the causes of declining ecosystems? University of Vermont ecologist Nick Gotelli and his colleagues examined 6.1 million records covering 35,613 species
The diversity of the world's life forms — from corals to carnivores — is under assault. Decades of scientific studies document the fraying of ecosystems and a grim tally of species extinctions due to destroyed habitat, pollution, climate change, invasives and overharvesting.


A graphical representation of the size of the asteroid thought to have killed the dinosaurs, and the crater it created, compared to an asteroid thought to have hit the Earth...
Picture this: A massive asteroid almost as wide as Rhode Island and about three to five times larger than the rock thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs slams into Earth. The collision punches a crater into the planet's crust that's nearly 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) across: greater than the distance from Washington, D.C. to New York City, and up to two and a half times larger in diameter than the hole formed by the dinosaur-killing asteroid. Seismic waves bigger than any recorded earthquakes shake the planet for about half an hour at any one location – about six times longer than the huge earthquake that struck Japan three years ago. The impact also sets off tsunamis many times deeper than the one that followed the Japanese quake.


Logistics were extremely challenging because Liberia's infrastructure was almost completely destroyed during the civil war and because of the remoteness of some of the survey locations.
When Liberia enters the news it is usually in the context of civil war, economic crisis, poverty or a disease outbreak such as the recent emergence of Ebola in West Africa. Liberia's status as a biodiversity hotspot and the fact that it is home to some of the last viable and threatened wildlife populations in West Africa has received little media attention in the past. This is partly because the many years of violent conflict in Liberia, from 1989 to 1997 and from 2002 to 2003, thwarted efforts of biologists to conduct biological surveys. An international research team, including scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has now counted chimpanzees and other large mammals living in Liberia. The census revealed that this country is home to 7000 chimpanzees and therefore to the second largest population of the Western subspecies of chimpanzees. As Liberia has released large areas for deforestation, the local decision-makers can now use the results of this study in order to protect the chimpanzees more effectively.

Recent decades may have been the wettest in 3,500 years in North East Tibet – according to climate researchers at the University of East Anglia (UK) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Lanzhou, China).


This image shows umulative groundwater losses (cubic km and million acre-ft) in California's Central Valley since 1962.
Updates to satellite data show that California's Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins are at near decade-low water storage levels. These and other findings on the State's dwindling water resources were documented in an advisory report released today from the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM) at the University of California, Irvine.


Corals living in more acidic bays around Palau's Rock Islands are surprisingly healthy.
Marine scientists working on the coral reefs of Palau have made two unexpected discoveries that could provide insight into corals' resistance and resilience to ocean acidification.


Despite living in waters that are more acidic than average seawater, the corals living in the bays around Palau's Rock Islands are unexpectedly diverse and healthy.
Ocean researchers working on the coral reefs of Palau in 2011 and 2012 made two unexpected discoveries that could provide insight into corals' resistance and resilience to ocean acidification, and aid in the creation of a plan to protect them.

If you've ever slipped on a slimy wet rock at the beach, you have bacteria to thank. Those bacteria, nestled in a supportive extracellular matrix, form bacterial biofilms—often slimy substances that cling to wet surfaces. For some marine organisms—like corals, sea urchins, and tubeworms—these biofilms serve a vital purpose, flagging suitable homes for such organisms and actually aiding the transformation of larvae to adults.

A new study of four Antarctic emperor penguin colonies suggest that unexpected breeding behaviour may be a sign that the birds are adapting to environmental change.


This shows some of the world's 200 remaining wild addax in Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve in Niger.
A new study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society or London warns that the world's largest tropical desert, the Sahara, has suffered a catastrophic collapse of its wildlife populations.

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