Ecosystems

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection
August 28, 2014 11:49 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads — and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

Monarch Butterflies need Endangered Species Act protection
August 28, 2014 09:49 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

As monarch butterflies are beginning their epic migration from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico for the winter, concerns about the drastic rate at which they're disappearing from the landscape have led environmental and health organizations to petition the government for federal protection. This week, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking protection for monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.

Mystery Behind Slithering Rocks of Death Valley Revealed
August 28, 2014 09:38 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

In California's Death Valley, a geological phenomenon exists. Sailing stones, or moving rocks can be observed on the valley floor inscribing long trails on the ground without human or animal intervention. For over 60 years of observations, no one has been able to uncover the mystery of what is actually pushing these stones across the sand. That is, until now.

Dams vs. Rivers
August 27, 2014 08:40 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

A new 'State of the World's Rivers' database shows how the world's rivers have been impoverished by dams and their ecosystems devastated - and provides a valuable resource to help save river basins that remain in good health. International Rivers has launched 'The State of the World's Rivers', an interactive online database that illustrates the role that dams have played in impoverishing the health of the world's river basins.

Drought Causes Western US to Rise
August 22, 2014 02:00 PM - Editor, ENN

Severe drought affecting the western United States in recent years is not only influencing water restrictions for residence and creating problems for crops and wildlife, but it's changing the landscape by causing land to rise up in elevation.

Fracking's Chemical Cocktails
August 22, 2014 09:15 AM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking.

Study shows sunlight, not microbes dominate CO2 production in Arctic
August 21, 2014 03:38 PM - University of Michigan

Just how much Arctic permafrost will thaw in the future and how fast heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be released from those warming soils is a topic of lively debate among climate scientists. To answer those questions, scientists need to understand the mechanisms that control the conversion of organic soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas. Until now, researchers believed that bacteria were largely responsible.

Turning Jellyfish into Sustainable Medical Products
August 20, 2014 01:20 PM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels

In a United Nations report released in May, scientists worldwide were called upon to join the war on jellyfish. According to the report, jellyfish have overwhelmed the marine ecosystem as a result of the overfishing of more competitive species, consuming fish eggs and larvae of weaker specimens and creating what the report called a "vicious cycle." So how can this cycle be stopped?

Arctic insects and spiders can survive colder temperatures than thought
August 20, 2014 08:10 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth online

Arctic bugs can survive in frozen ground as cold as -27°C, scientists have revealed. It is the first time higher-order invertebrates such as spiders, flies and beetles have been found coping in direct exposure to such cold temperatures. Previous lows were between just -5°C and a little below -10°C. The research, published in the Journal of Thermal Biology, suggests they may be more resilient to climate change than first feared.

When Forests Aren't Really Forests: The High Cost of Chile's Tree Plantaions
August 19, 2014 01:46 PM - Julian Moll-Rocek, MONGABAY.COM

At first glance, the statistics tell a hopeful story: Chile’s forests are expanding. According to Global Forest Watch, overall forest cover changes show approximately 300,000 hectares were gained between 2000 and 2013 in Chile’s central and southern regions. Specifically, 1.4 million hectares of forest cover were gained, while about 1.1 million hectares were lost. On the ground, however, a different scene plays out: monocultures have replaced diverse natural forests while Mapuche native protesters burn pine plantations, blockade roads and destroy logging equipment. At the crux of these two starkly contrasting narratives is the definition of a single word: “forest.”

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