Ecosystems

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.”

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms
August 18, 2014 09:25 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2

What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

Plant Language
August 15, 2014 08:39 AM - Virginia Tech

A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, one that allows them to share an extraordinary amount of genetic information with one another. The finding by Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, throws open the door to a new arena of science that explores how plants communicate with each other on a molecular level. It also gives scientists new insight into ways to fight parasitic weeds that wreak havoc on food crops in some of the poorest parts of the world.

What can we learn from the California Rim Fire?
August 14, 2014 06:42 AM - Crystal Shepeard, Care2

August 17, 2014 will mark the one year anniversary of the Rim Fire in the California Sierra Nevadas. It was dubbed the Rim Fire due to its proximity to the Rim of the World scenic lookout. The third largest wildfire in California’s history, it burned 257,000 acres of land in Stanislaus National Forest and the western edge of Yosemite National Park, in addition to private land in neighboring counties. It cost more than $127 million to contain, and included more than $50 million in property damage. In the early hours of the fire, a deer hunter was rescued. After the hunter was taken to safety by helicopter, investigators interviewed him to see if he witnessed anything. He told them that he had slipped and caused a rock slide that may have ignited the dry vegetation. As time went on, his story changed several times, even blaming it on marijuana growers. Finally, as the fire had been raging for several weeks, he finally told the real story.

Engineering Fruit Flies May Help Crops
August 13, 2014 08:04 AM - Editor, ENN

We've genetically-modified crops to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or pesticides. Nonetheless, pests still infest crops around the world. In an attempt to control these pests, scientists have turned to genetically engineering the pests themselves!

The cost of marine debris
August 12, 2014 03:53 PM - NOAA

Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches. The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

Bottling Water from Drought Stricken Areas
August 12, 2014 07:55 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

The bottled water industry has grown exponentially the past few decades despite the fact tap water in the United States is generally safe. Never mind the fact bottled water producers have had more than their fair share of safety issues: bottled water has become accepted by consumers. While companies such as Nestlé insist they are taking responsibility for water stewardship and recycling, they also bottle their water at dubious sources, including those in drought stricken regions.

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