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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
World nations see six all-time record high temperatures, no lows so far in 2011
August 19, 2011 08:50 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Eight months into the year, six nations have seen record high temperatures, including Kuwait, Iraq, Armenia, Iran, and Republic of the Congo, reports Jeff Master's Wunderblog. To date no record lows have been recorded in any country in the world so far. This is similar, though not quite as extreme, to last year when twenty countries broke all time highs with none hitting an all time low.
SHARE: print Lessons from the world's longest study of rainforest fragments
August 15, 2011 02:39 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
For over 30 years, hundreds of scientists have scoured eleven forest fragments in the Amazon seeking answers to big questions: how do forest fragments' species and microclimate differ from their intact relatives? Will rainforest fragments provide a safe haven for imperiled species or are they last stand for the living dead? Should conservation focus on saving forest fragments or is it more important to focus the fight on big tropical landscapes? Are forest fragments capable of regrowth and expansion? Can a forest—once cut-off—heal itself? Such questions are increasingly important as forest fragments—patches of forest that are separated from larger forest landscapes due to expanding agriculture, pasture, or fire—increase worldwide along with the human footprint.
Amazing recovery, Blue iguana back from the dead
August 12, 2011 01:15 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) was once king of the Caribbean Island, Grand Cayman. Weighting in at 25 pounds, measuring over 5 feet, and living for over sixty years, nothing could touch this regal lizard. But then the unthinkable happened: cars, cats, and dogs, along with habitat destruction, dethroned Grand Cayman's reptilian overlord. The lizard went from an abundant population that roamed the island freely to practically assured extinction. In 2002, researchers estimated that two dozen—at best—survived in the wild. Despite the bleak number, conservationists started a last ditch effort to save the species. With help from local and international NGOs, the effort, dubbed the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, has achieved a rarity in conservation. Within nine years it has raised the population of blue iguanas by twenty times: today 500 wild blue iguanas roam Salina Reserve. How did they do it? Blue iguanas are raised in captive breeding until they are two years old—big enough to keep feral cats at bay, which were decimating juvenile iguanas. Once they hit two, they are released in the 625 acres of Salina Reserve. Populations are then monitored.
Arctic open for exploitation: Obama administration grants Shell approval to drill
August 9, 2011 08:04 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Less than a year and a half after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration has bucked warnings from environmentalists to grant preliminary approval to oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, to drill off the Arctic coast. Exploratory drilling will occur just north of the western edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in the Beaufort Sea, home to bowhead and beluga whales, seals, walruses, polar bears, and a wide-variety of migrating birds.
Oil horror in Nigeria: 30 years, one billion dollars to clean-up
August 8, 2011 07:20 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Fifty years of oil spills in Nigeria's now infamous Ogoniland region will take up to three decades and over a billion dollars ($1 billion for just the first five years) to restore environments to healthy conditions, according to a new independent report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The most thorough study to date has found that widespread pollution has hit the Niger Delta even harder than assumed with devastating impacts on fishing grounds and community health. Last week Shell, one of the biggest operators in Nigeria, admitted to two massive oil spills in 2008 totaling 11 million gallons of crude.
Incredible! A picture of the long lost rainbow toad
July 25, 2011 09:09 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Scientists are elated after the surprise rediscovery of a wildly-colored frog not seen for 87 years and never before photographed—until now. The Bornean rainbow toad, also known as the Sambas Stream toad (Ansonia latidisca) was rediscovered on Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sarawak by local scientists inspired by a 2010 search for the world's missing amphibians by Conservation International (CI). Leading up to its search CI released the World's Top 10 Most Wanted Lost Frogs (out of a hundred being searched for): the Bornean rainbow toad was listed as number 10. Led by Dr. Indraneil Das with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), who last years discovered a pea-sized frog in Borneo, researchers found the long-elusive Bornean rainbow toad hanging out 2 meters up a tree. The species was found at night in a little-explored area of the Gunung Penrissen mountain range. Several early expeditions failed, but once the group included higher altitudes they were actually able to locate three individuals of the long-lost toad. Prior to its rediscovery the toad was only known from three individuals and a single black-and-white illustration made in the 1920s.
Amazon drought and forest fire prediction system devised
July 20, 2011 07:10 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Researchers have devised a model to anticipate drought and forest fires in the Amazon rainforest. The research, which used precipitation records dating back to 1970 and hotspots tracked by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA satellites, finds a strong correlation between sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic and subsequent drought in the western Amazon. Drought in the Amazon is increasingly associated with forest fires due to land-clearing fires set by agricultural developers and cattle ranchers.
Are Birds Smarter than Lizzards?
July 14, 2011 01:03 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Reptiles have long been thought to be dim-witted, but a new study in Biology Letters finds that the Puerto Rican anole, a type of lizard, can match birds in smarts. Using cognitive tests that have been previously used on birds, researchers with Duke University found that the lizards were capable of solving a problem they've never encountered before, remembering the solution in future trials, and even changing techniques when presented with new challenges. In fact, the tiny anoles solved the test with fewer tries than birds. Given reptiles' reputation of being slow-on-the uptake the head author, Manuel Leal, said the findings are 'completely unexpected'.
Proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code could hurt economy
July 14, 2011 09:02 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code will hurt Brazilian agriculture, argues a leading conservationist. Carlos Alberto de Mattos Scaramuzza, WWF-Brazil's director for conservation, says the reform bill currently being evaluated by Brazil's Senate could have unexpected economic implications for Brazilian ranchers and farmers. Scaramuzza says a bill that grant amnesty for illegal deforesters and sanctions expanded destruction of the Amazon rainforest would make Brazilian agricultural products less attractive in foreign markets.
Animal picture of the day: humpback whale breaching
July 13, 2011 07:19 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a conservation success story. Decimated by centuries of whaling, most populations have risen since a moratorium was placed on commercial whaling in the 1966. Today, over 60,000 humpback whales migrate through the world's oceans, though this is still considerably less than the historic population. Humpback whales, one of the most iconic cetaceans, grow over 50 feet long (16 meters), with females slightly larger than males. These behemoths mate and reproduce in warm tropical waters then migrate to feeding grounds in the more productive northern latitudes.