Ecosystems

New research in Thailand finds birds and bats key to reforestation efforts
September 30, 2014 08:37 AM - Heather D'Angelo, MONGABAY.COM

Tropical forest restoration projects are exciting research sites for scientists studying factors that affect ecosystem recovery. Here, scientists are trying to understand plant community succession, i.e. the process of recovery after cleared lands are abandoned and allowed to regrow naturally. One of the most important components of this recovery process is seed dispersal, since seeds from nearby forests allow a deforested habitat to become populated again by native plants and trees.

Causes of California drought linked to climate change, Stanford scientists say
September 29, 2014 03:34 PM - Ker Than, Stanford University

The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are "very likely" linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper. In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

Some good news for the oceans!
September 28, 2014 08:04 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Good news for aquatic life: the oceans just got a little bit safer. Okay, so most of the ocean remains vulnerable to human devastation, but on Thursday, President Barack Obama used his authority to create the most massive ocean reserve in the world. In a single day, the amount of the world’s ocean protected from commercial interests has effectively doubled. Originally, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was something that George W. Bush established during his last weeks in office. However, Obama has taken the symbolic ocean protection and turned it into something useful by growing the area to six times its original size.

'Transponders' from Japan was ashore along US West Coast
September 26, 2014 06:37 AM - Oregon State University

Northwest anglers venturing out into the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of salmon and other fish this fall may scoop up something unusual into their nets — instruments released from Japan called "transponders." These floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

Goats found to be better than chemicals when it comes to curbing invasive marsh grass
September 25, 2014 01:01 PM - Duke University via EurekAlert!

Herbivores, not herbicides, may be the most effective way to combat the spread of one of the most invasive plants now threatening East Coast salt marshes, a new Duke University-led study finds. Phragmites australis, or the common reed, is a rapid colonizer that has overrun many coastal wetlands from New England to the Southeast. A non-native perennial, it can form dense stands of grass up to 10 feet high that block valuable shoreline views of the water, kill off native grasses, and alter marsh function.

A new treaty to restore Buffalo herds and grazing land
September 24, 2014 01:29 PM - Wildlife Conservation Society

This week, dignitaries from U.S. Tribes and Canadian First Nations signed a treaty-the first among them in more than 150 years-to establish intertribal alliances for cooperation in the restoration of American buffalo (or bison) on Tribal/First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands within the U.S. and Canada. This historic signing of the "Northern Tribes Buffalo treaty" occurred in Blackfeet territory in Browning, Montana, and brought together members of the Blackfeet Nation, Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indian Reservation, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

Encouraging planting trees will sequester carbon and conserve habitat
September 23, 2014 04:00 PM - Oregon State University

Rewarding landowners for converting farmland into forest will be key to sequestering carbon and providing wildlife habitat, according to a new study by Oregon State University and collaborators. Current land-use trends in the United States will significantly increase urban land development by mid-century, along with a greater than 10 percent reduction in habitat of nearly 50 at-risk species, including amphibians, large predators and birds, said David Lewis, co-author of the study and an environmental economist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences.

The important role that agroecological farming can play to feed the world
September 23, 2014 11:02 AM - Nafeez Ahmed, The Ecologist

Governments must shift subsidies and research funding from agro-industrial monoculture to small farmers using 'agroecological' methods, according to the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. And as Nafeez Ahmed notes, her call coincides with a new agroecology initiative within the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. This is critical for future agricultural policies. Currently, most subsidies go to large agribusiness. This must change. Governments must support small farmers. Modern industrial agricultural methods can no longer feed the world, due to the impacts of overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability.

Can fossils reveal how to reverse biodiversity loss?
September 23, 2014 07:32 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

Many native species have vanished from tropical islands because of human impact, but University of Florida scientists have discovered how fossils can be used to restore lost biodiversity. The key lies in organic materials found in fossil bones, which contain evidence for how ancient ecosystems functioned, according to a new study published in the September issue of the Journal of Herpetology.

Endangered Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel still looks threatened
September 20, 2014 08:53 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced today the recovery of the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, previously protected as an endangered species. The Interior Department made its finding based on an increase in distribution since 1967 from 4 to 10 counties where the squirrel can be found, and an overall population of 20,000. But despite these modest population gains, sea-level rise remains a severe threat to the species. "No one should discount the heroic conservation work that has been done to keep this squirrel from going extinct," said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "But most of the places where the squirrel lives will eventually be underwater due to climate change and sea-level rise, and unfortunately most of the places on higher ground have already been lost to development."

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