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With more than one million unique visitors per month, Mongabay.com is one of the world's most popular environmental science and conservation news sites. The news and rainforests sections of the site are widely cited for information on tropical forests, conservation, and wildlife.
Mongabay.com aims to raise interest in wildlife and wildlands while promoting awareness of environmental issues. Originally the site was based around a text on tropical rainforests written by Rhett A. Butler, but today the site has expanded to other topics (like Madagascar [WildMadagasacar.org]) and is available in versions for kids and in more than two dozen non-English languages. Mongabay.com is also publisher of Tropical Conservation Science, a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal that seeks to provide opportunities for scientists in developing countries to publish their research in their native languages.
rhett (at) mongabay.com
Cheetah Don't Overheat During Hunts
July 26, 2013 08:55 AM - Emily Eggleston, MONGABAY.COM
Study finds that contrary to popular opinion, cheetah don't overheat during hunts. But their body temperature rises after successful hunts due to stress that another predator may seize their prey. In a 4,500 hectare cheetah rehabilitation camp in the middle of Namibia, researchers observe the large, spotted carnivores as they readjust to wild life. This week one such researcher, physiologist Robyn Hetem from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, used her observations to disprove a theory about cheetah that has been treated as common knowledge for decades, that a cheetah's running speed causes its body to overheat while hunting.
Oil palm genome mapped, could boost yields, reduce pressure on rainforests
July 25, 2013 08:46 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
A team of Malaysian and American researchers have mapped the genome of the oil palm, the oilseed that is widely used as a cooking oil and in cosmetics, cleaning products, and processed foods. The genome sequencing, which was published today in the journal Nature, identified the gene responsible for regulating the crop's oil yield. The results could be used to boost palm oil yields, thus potentially reducing the need to clear wildlife-rich rainforests and carbon-dense peat swamps for plantations. The gene, dubbed the "Shell gene", controls "how the thickness of its shell correlates to fruit size and oil yield," according to Rajinder Singh, first author of the paper and a scientist at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), a government agency.
Long-term health of Congo forests threatened by human activity
July 23, 2013 06:40 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Unsustainable hunting of forest elephants, gorillas, forest antelopes, and other seed-dispersers could have long-term impacts on the health and resilience of Congo Basin rainforests, warns a study published today in a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. Conducting a review of more than 160 papers and reports on trends in wildlife populations, hunting, and land use in the Congo Basin, a team of researchers from Oxford University, the University of Queensland, the University of Stirling, and the Wildlife Conservation Society conclude that unless effective management plans are put into place, hunting pressure in the region is likely to increase, with knock-on ecological effects.
Galapagos sea lions threatened by human exposure
July 22, 2013 08:56 AM - Hannah Lindstrom, MONGABAY.COM
A recent study conducted by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on endangered Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) has revealed that the animals are more susceptible to starvation as a result of their exposure to humans. Over a span of more than 18 months, conservationists tagged and monitored the behavior and physiology of two groups of 60 Galapagos sea lions, one in San Cristobal, which is inhabited by humans, and one in Santa Fe, where there are no humans, dogs, cats, mice, or rats.
Scientists build app to automatically identify species based on their calls
July 18, 2013 08:46 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
New technology makes it possible to automatically identify species by their vocalizations. The software and hardware system, detailed in the current issue of the journal PeerJ, has been used at sites in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica to identify frogs, insects, birds, and monkeys. Many of the animals identified by the system are typically difficult to spot in their natural environment, but audio recordings of their calls reveal not only their presence but also their activity patterns. The platform, which is called the Automated Remote Biodiversity Monitoring Network (ARBIMON), could potentially allow scientists to monitor species in remote sites without having a physical presence on the ground, according to the study's lead author Mitchell Aide of the University of Puerto Rico.
80% of Rainforests in Malaysian Borneo Logged
July 18, 2013 08:43 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
0 percent of the rainforests in Malaysian Borneo have been heavily impacted by logging, finds a comprehensive study that offers the first assessment of the spread of industrial logging and logging roads across areas that were considered some of Earth's wildest lands less than 30 years ago. The research, conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Tasmania, University of Papua New Guinea, and the Carnegie Institution for Science, is based on analysis of satellite data using Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite), a freely available platform for measuring deforestation and forest degradation. It estimated the state of the region's forests as of 2009.
Madagascar's rate of speciation slowing down
July 17, 2013 08:57 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
While Madagascar is famous for its incredible diversity of plants and animals, a new study suggests that the island's rate of speciation has slowed to a crawl. The research, published last week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by Daniel Scantlebury of the University of Rochester, is based on analysis of evolutionary records of seven groups of reptiles and amphibians. It finds a decrease in the rate of new species formation since Madagascar split from the super-continent Gondwana some 90 million years ago.
What is causing drop in Monarch Butterfly population?
July 16, 2013 06:06 AM - Lacey Avery , MONGABAY.COM
In the next few months, the beating of fragile fiery orange and black wings will transport the monarch butterfly south. But the number of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) reaching their final destination has steadily declined, dropping to its lowest level in two decades last winter, according to a recent survey. The insect's journey begins in late summer and August, when monarchs fly from Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to highly selective overwintering sites in Mexico. Individually weighing less than a paperclip, monarch butterflies employ an inherited compass to make the longest insect migration in the world, flying up to 4000 kilometers (2,485 miles) to reach their final destination by November.
Forgotten Species: The Arapaima or 'Dinosaur Fish'
July 15, 2013 11:21 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Everyone knows the tiger, the panda, the blue whale, but what about the other five to thirty million species estimated to inhabit our Earth? Many of these marvelous, stunning, and rare species have received little attention from the media, conservation groups, and the public. This series is an attempt to give these 'forgotten species' some well-deserved attention.
Forests may be using less water as CO2 rises
July 11, 2013 05:13 PM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Forests may be becoming more efficient in their use of water as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, reports a new study in Nature. The findings are based on data from 300 canopy towers that measure carbon dioxide and water flux above forests at sites around the world, including temperate, tropical, and boreal regions. The researchers found that plants are becoming more water efficient as CO2 levels rise. While the findings are consistent with forecasts using models, the rate of efficiency gain is higher than expected.