Ecosystems

Ozone + Rising Temperatures = Problems for Food Security
July 28, 2014 02:37 PM - Editor, ENN

A new study shows that interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution can be quite significant when it comes to addressing food security. Conducted in part by researchers at MIT, a study looked in detail at global production of four leading food crops — rice, wheat, corn, and soy. It predicts that effects will vary considerably from region to region, and that some of the crops are much more strongly affected by one or the other of the factors

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Goats to the Rescue in Fire-Prone Bay Area
June 3, 2014 02:47 PM - S.E. Smith, Care2

How does the saying go? Only you can prevent forest fires, or only goats can prevent forest fires? You'll understand the confusion when you meet the Bay Area's latest fire prevention crews: goats. California is facing a forecast for what may be the worst fire season ever, thanks to drought conditions and a large buildup of tinder. Fire management professionals are working ahead of time to try to clear brush, high grass and other fire hazards, in the hopes of reducing the spread of the inevitable wildfires that are already streaking across the state. When it comes to brush clearance crews, it can be tough to find someone willing to do the job. It's backbreaking labor conducted in the hot sun, and it takes hours to make a dent in overgrown shrubs and brush, which are often filled with tangles of thorns and other unpleasant surprises. Brush clearance can get extremely expensive, and it requires constant maintenance. That's one reason why people have been turning to rental goats to clear brush and keep areas like road verges, medians and hillsides trimmed.

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SPOTLIGHT

How forest debris affects freshwater food chains

Allison Winter, ENN
While one may think that forest and lake ecosystems are two separate networks, new research shows how forest debris is an important contributor to freshwater food chains. How? Debris in the form of organic carbon from trees washes into freshwater lakes, which consequently supplements the diets of microscopic zooplankton and the fish that feed on them. Researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a study at Daisy Lake in Ontario, Canadian by observing Yellow Perch fish from different parts of the water body with varying degrees of surrounding forest cover. Carbon from forest debris has a different elemental mass than carbon produced by algae in the aquatic food chain. By analyzing the young Perch that had been born that year, scientists were able to determine that at least 34% of the fish biomass comes from vegetation, increasing to 66% in areas surrounded by rich forest. Essentially, the more forest around the edge of the lake, the fatter the fish in that part of the lake were. Similarly, the sparser the forest leaves, the smaller the fish.

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