Ecosystems

How Rainwater Could Save Rupees
June 29, 2015 11:24 AM - Ashley Morrow, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Rainwater could save people in India a bucket of money, according to a new study by scientists looking at NASA satellite data. The study, partially funded by NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions, found that collecting rainwater for vegetable irrigation could reduce water bills, increase caloric intake and even provide a second source of income for people in India.

California's Isla Rasa being abandoned by seabirds
June 27, 2015 09:11 AM - ScienceDaily

Isla Rasa, in the Gulf of California, is renowned for its massive aggregations of nesting seabirds. Over 95 percent of the world populations of Elegant Terns and Heerman's Gulls concentrate unfailingly every year on this tiny island to nest. Ever since the phenomenon was described by L. W. Walker in 1953 the island has been a magnet for tourists, naturalists, filmmakers, and seabird researchers.

During some years in the last two decades, however, the seabirds have arrived to the island in April, as they usually do, but leave soon after without nesting. The first event was the 1998 "El Niño," when oceanic productivity collapsed all along the eastern Pacific coast from Chile to California. But then colony desertion happened again in 2003, and since then it has recurred with increasing frequency in 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2015. Researchers and conservationists were asking themselves where are the birds going when they leave their ancestral nesting ground, and what is causing the abandonment of their historic nesting site.

Beware the Giant Toxic Algae Bloom
June 26, 2015 07:56 AM - Lizabeth Paulat, Care2

Humans and animals on the west coast should take care when near the water. One of the largest algae blooms of all time is producing dangerous toxins which now stretch from California to Alaska. The neurotoxin being released by the bloom is called domoic acid, and it can cause a series of problems for any mammal that comes into contact with it.

Nepal deals with climate change
June 25, 2015 02:33 PM - SciDevNet., SciDevNet

On 25 April, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. But as well as quakes, the country is also vulnerable to climate change, a combination that makes it harder to build resilience and risk preparedness.
 
As mean temperatures rise in South Asia, the monsoon season has changed, leading to more-erratic rainfall and increasing the risk of floods and landslides that can claim lives and wreck food production.
 

Using Invasive Species to Defeat Another Invasive Species
June 25, 2015 10:35 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

The forests of Denver, Colo., are currently under attack by an invasive insect species from Asia. So what is the scientists’ plan to stop this assault on trees? They’re going with the controversial move of introducing a second invasive species to destroy the first one. If it sounds like that children’s song about the old lady who swallowed the spider to catch the fly, that’s because it basically is. Unleashing a second non-native species might help to eradicate the first species, but it can also unleash a series of other consequences. Previous experiments in this invasive species vs. invasive species tactic have worked out with various degrees of success, as these four examples will show.

A look at N2O: Nitrous oxide emissions may be higher than previously thought
June 22, 2015 05:01 PM - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

In addition to carbon dioxide there are plenty of other greenhouse gases. Nitrous oxide is one of them. However, a global assessment of emissions from the oceans is difficult because the measurement methods used so far have only allowed rough estimates. Using a new technology for continuous measurements, researchers of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel have now discovered that nitrous oxide emissions from the Southeast Pacific are much higher than previously thought. They publish their data in the international journal Nature Gesoscience.

Kids need green open spaces
June 19, 2015 07:58 AM - Renee Farris , Triple Pundit

Is it coincidence that Isaac Newton discovered gravity while sitting under a tree? Or that Albert Einstein said, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”

A study was just released that says outdoor green spaces make kids smarter.

The study assessed whether exposure to green space improved the cognitive development in children. Researchers tested the cognitive development of 2,593 schoolchildren in Spain, ages 7 to 10.

Study relates influx of North American icebergs in Atlantic Ocean to increased methane production in tropical wetlands
June 2, 2015 10:15 AM - Oregon State University

A new study shows how huge influxes of fresh water into the North Atlantic Ocean from icebergs calving off North America during the last ice age had an unexpected effect – they increased the production of methane in the tropical wetlands. Usually increases in methane levels are linked to warming in the Northern Hemisphere, but scientists who are publishing their findings this week in the journal Science have identified rapid increases in methane during particularly cold intervals during the last ice age. These findings are important, researchers say, because they identify a critical piece of evidence for how the Earth responds to changes in climate.

No Sunscreen Needed
May 12, 2015 08:47 AM - ENN Editor

With summer sun right around the corner, it is important to be prepared and protect our skin from those potentially harmful rays. Whether you use sunscreen or set up an umbrella for shade at the beach, we should be proactive so we don't get sun-burn.

For us, we take precautions, but how do the rest of the animal kingdom fare? How can animal species spend their whole lives outdoors with no apparent concern about high levels of solar exposure?

According to researchers from Oregon State University, animals make their own sunscreen.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, found that many fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds can naturally produce a compound called gadusol, which among other biologic activities provides protection from the ultraviolet, or sun-burning component of sunlight.

The researchers also believe that this ability may have been obtained through some prehistoric, natural genetic engineering.

Declining 'large herbivore' populations may lead to an 'empty landscape'
May 1, 2015 02:49 PM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!

The decline of the world's large herbivores, especially in Africa and parts of Asia, is raising the specter of an "empty landscape" in some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, according to a newly published study. Many populations of animals such as rhinoceroses, zebras, camels, elephants and tapirs are diminishing or threatened with extinction in grasslands, savannahs, deserts and forests, scientists say.

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