Our Editorial and News Affiliates
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
Seabirds face big problems as sea levels rise
June 20, 2013 09:08 AM - Jemma Smith, MONGABAY.COM
Migratory shorebird populations are at great risk from rising sea levels due to global climate change, warns a recent paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. These birds play an important role in the distribution of nutrients within wetland and coastal ecosystems, and their loss could have unknown consequences for the rest of the world. Many scientists have documented the accelerated melting of land ice that had led to higher sea levels, but until now researchers have not known how this would impact shorebirds. But utilizing a mathematical technique that models flow of water through a pipeline, scientists have developed an innovative method to measure the effect habitat loss on shorebirds.
Warming world hits fig wasps and figs
June 19, 2013 12:16 PM - Adam Andrus, MONGABAY.COM
Recent experiments concerning hugely-important fig plants (Ficus) and their relationship with small, short-lived fig wasps suggest dire potential consequences due to human induced climate change, finds a study published in the journal Biology Letters. The researchers, lead by Richard T. Corlett of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Center for Integrative Conservation in the Peoples Republic of China, collected four species of adult female fig wasps from the lowland tropical forests of Singapore to test their tolerance to gradually increased temperatures. The results of the experiment showed a steady decrease in fig wasp life-expectancy as temperatures rose, suggesting the vulnerability of these pollinator wasps to a warmer world.
Logging in temperate zones may release more greenhouse gases than previously thought by destabilizing carbon stored in forest soils, argues a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. The research involved analysis of carbon released from forest management practices in the northeastern United States. It found that while most models assume carbon stored in mineral soils to be relatively stable, in fact intensive logging operations, like clear-cutting, trigger release of carbon from various pools above and below ground.
11,000 barrels of oil spill into the Amazon's Coca River
June 13, 2013 09:02 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
On May 31st, a landslide ruptured an oil pipeline in Ecuadorean Amazon, sending around 11,000 barrels of oil (420,000 gallons) into the Coca River. The oil pollution has since moved into the larger Napo River, which borders Yasuni National Park, and is currently heading downstream into Peru and Brazil. The spill has occurred in a region that is notorious for heavy oil production and decades of contamination, in addition to resistance and lawsuits by indigenous groups.
Ocean acidification pushing young oysters into 'death race'
June 12, 2013 08:51 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Scientists have long known that ocean acidification is leading to a decline in Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) in the U.S.'s Pacific Northwest region, but a new study in the American Geophysical Union shows exactly how the change is undercutting populations of these economically-important molluscs. Caused by carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification changes the very chemistry of marine waters by lowering pH levels; this has a number consequences including decreasing the availability of calcium carbonate, which oysters and other molluscs use to build shells.
Tibetan monks could be the key to safeguarding the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) from extinction, according to an innovative program by big cat NGO Panthera which is partnering with Buddhist monasteries deep in leopard territory. Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, snow leopard populations have dropped by a fifth in the last 16 years or so. Large, beautiful, and almost never-seen, snow leopards are the apex predators of the high plateaus and mountains of central Asia, but their survival like so many big predators is in jeopardy. Tom McCarthy the head of the Snow Leopard Program at Panthera told mongabay.com that the high-altitude predators are facing three major threats: poaching for illegal snow leopard skins, fur, and parts; decline in natural prey; and revenge killing by locals over livestock losses.
The Giant hot pink slug
June 10, 2013 06:19 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
The Hot Pink slugs that emerge after rainy nights have become a conservation symbol for alpine forests on Australia's Mount Kaputar, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The slugs, which measure up to 20 centimeters (8 inches), are only found on Mount Kaputar, a volcano that last erupted 17 million years ago. They spend most of their time buried under leaf litter, but emerge by the hundreds when conditions are right to feed on moss, algae, and fungi. While their fluorescent coloration may seem jarring, it actually helps them blend in with brightly-colored eucalyptus leaves that cover the forest floor.
Saving the Tenkile
June 6, 2013 05:59 AM - Jordanna Dulaney , MONGABAY.COM
The tenkile, or the Scott's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae) could be a cross between a koala bear and a puppy. With it's fuzzy dark fur, long tail and snout, and tiny ears, it's difficult to imagine a more adorable animal. It's also difficult to imagine that the tenkile is one of the most endangered species on Earth: only an estimated 300 remain. According to the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA), the tenkile's trouble stems from a sharp increase of human settlements in the Torricelli mountain range. Once relatively isolated, the tenkile now struggles to avoid hunters and towns while still having sufficient range to live in.
Difference within Common Species May Predict the Presence of Rare Animals
June 5, 2013 10:31 AM - Jenny R. Isaacs, MONGABAY.COM
When deciding whether or not to clear a patch of rainforest land for development, scientists are often called in to quantify how many different species exist there. But determining the number of rare and threatened species living in a section of jungle isn't easy. If they are very rare, the individual members of the species will be hard to find; if the area being surveyed is along a steep slope it may be difficult to access the area; if there are lots of species to identify, you might need to hire a dream team of biologists—each specialized within a different area of biodiversity—and that can get expensive. However a new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Journal by an international group of scientists suggests a more cost-effective and efficient way to rapidly assess local biodiversity: instead of spending time and money looking at everything—searching for rare and threatened individuals in a forest patch or on a hillside—focus instead on the biological difference which can easily be determined within a few, easy-to-find, common species.
Data from NASA's Landsat 8 now available in almost real time
June 3, 2013 06:19 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Data from NAA's Landsat 8 is now freely available, enabling researchers and the general public to access images captured by the satellite within twelve hours of reception. The data is available to download at no charge from GloVis, EarthExplorer, or via the LandsatLook Viewer. Landsat 8 launched this February and has been capturing images since April. The satellite orbits Earth every 99 minutes and captures images of every point on the planet every 16 days, beaming 400 high resolution images to ground stations every 24 hours. Landsat features nine spectral bands, which include three visible light bands, two near-infrared bands, and two shortwave infrared (SWIR) bands, among others, as well as two thermal sensors, which are used for a wide range of applications, including monitoring environmental change, detecting fires, and watching crops. Google is one of the biggest commercial users of Landsat images, which feed into Google Earth, but other users include scientists and conservationists involved in tracking deforestation and forest degradation.