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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
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.
Rainforests will survive extreme global warming, argues study
June 2, 2013 09:52 PM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Rainforests in South America have survived three previous extreme global warming events in the past, suggesting that they will survive a projected 2-6 degree rise in temperatures over the coming century, reports a study published in the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science. The research, published by Carlos Jaramillo and Andrés Cárdenas of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, reviewed some 3,800 published estimates of temperature over the past 120 million years and compared them to the existence of tropical plants in the fossil record.
New Study Predicts Significant Global Warming
May 30, 2013 02:57 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
A new study by Australian scientists projects that the world will likely warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels by 2100. The study published in Nature Climate Change finds that exceeding the 2-degree threshold is very likely under business-as-usual emissions scenarios even as scientists have long warned that passing the 2-degree mark would lead to catastrophic climate change. "This study ultimately shows why waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy," lead author Roger Bodman from Victoria University said. "Some uncertainty will always remain, meaning that we need to manage the risks of warming with the knowledge we have."
Scientists Discover High Mercury Levels in Amazon Residents, Gold-Mining to Blame
May 29, 2013 01:35 PM - Lacey Avery, MONGABAY.COM
The Madre de Dios region in Peru is recognized for its lush Amazon rainforests, meandering rivers and rich wildlife. But the region is also known for its artisanal gold mining, which employs the use of a harmful neurotoxin. Mercury is burned to extract the pure gold from metal and ore producing dangerous air-borne vapors that ultimately settle in nearby rivers.