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Ecosystems

Decreasing biodiversity affects productivity of remaining plants
April 20, 2015 03:32 PM - University of Alaska Fairbanks

When plant biodiversity declines, the remaining plants face diminishing productivity, say scientists in study published April 20 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The loss of biodiversity is threatening ecosystem productivity and services worldwide, spurring efforts to quantify its effects on the functioning of natural ecosystems," said lead author Jingjing Liang, a forest ecologist from West Virginia University.

Five Years and Counting: Gulf Wildlife in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster
April 17, 2015 09:37 AM - National Wildlife Federation

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, sending oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days, wildlife are still struggling. The Gulf, with its deep waters, sandy beaches, lush wetlands and coral reefs, is a vast system that supports more than 15,000 species of wildlife – fish, birds, marine mammals and many, many others.

A new report from the National Wildlife Federation looks at how 20 types of wildlife that depend on a healthy Gulf are faring in the wake of the BP oil spill. The full extent of the spill’s impacts may take years or even decades to unfold, but Five Years & Counting: Gulf Wildlife in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster examines what the science tells us so far.

Species loss linked to unstable production of grassland ecosystem
April 17, 2015 08:28 AM - University of Oxford

Losing plant species is directly linked to long-term declines in the stable productivity of grasslands, a new study has shown. The study demonstrates for the first time that for every decrease in plant biodiversity there is a proportional decrease in the stable production of plant biomass through time of grassland ecosystems. Over the long-term, factors such as rising levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, more frequent grazing, or drought, only affect ecosystem stability in as much as they affect biodiversity.

Think Different: Apple and conservation
April 17, 2015 07:14 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

Marking a precedent-setting conservation partnership, Apple and the Conservation Fund will purchase two large areas of working forest, the organizations announced on Thursday. The move is expected to conserve “more than 36,000 acres of working forestland in Maine and North Carolina, ensuring these forests stay forests and any timber on the land is harvested sustainably,” the partners said in a joint announcement.

This initial purchase of U.S. working forestland marks “the beginning of a worldwide effort, one that represents a new approach as it reassesses its impact on the world’s paper supply chain,” Lisa P. Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, and Larry Selzer, president and CEO of the Conservation Fund, wrote in a Medium op-ed. Prior to joining Apple, Jackson led the U.S. EPA as President Barack Obama’s EPA Administrator from 2009 to 2013.

Study shows how climate affects biodiversity
April 16, 2015 03:18 PM - Uppsala University via AlphaGalileo

A key question in the climate debate is how the occurrence and distribution of species is affected by climate change. But without information about natural variation in species abundance it is hard to answer. In a major study, published today in the leading scientific journal Current Biology, researchers can now for the first time give us a detailed picture of natural variation.

Bird populations decline years after Fukushima's nuclear catastrophe
April 16, 2015 08:40 AM - Steven Powell, University of South Carolina

This is the time of year when birds come out and really spread their wings, but since a disastrous day just before spring’s arrival four years ago, Japan’s Fukushima province has not been friendly to the feathered. And as several recent papers from University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau and colleagues show, the avian situation there is just getting worse.

Report finds rise in ER visits following heavy rainfall
April 14, 2015 09:02 AM - University of Illinois at Chicago

Consumers whose drinking water can be contaminated by the release of untreated wastewater after heavy rains face increased risk for gastrointestinal illness, according to a report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “Combined” sewer systems collect both sewage and stormwater runoff on the way to treatment facilities. When heavy rainfall fills these systems beyond their capacity, untreated wastewater can back up into homes. To reduce the risk of home flooding during heavy precipitation, municipalities often discharge some of the untreated flow into nearby bodies of water. The release of untreated waste is known as a combined sewer overflow.

The importance of oceanic phytoplankton
April 14, 2015 07:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Do you have any idea just how many organizims are in seawater?  Not the fish you can see, but the microscopic organizims you cant see?

Dip a beaker into any portion of the world’s oceans, and you’re likely to pull up a swirling mix of planktonic inhabitants. The oceans are teeming with more than 5,000 species of phytoplankton — microscopic plants in a kaleidoscope of shapes and sizes. Together, phytoplankton anchor the ocean’s food chain, supplying nutrients to everything from single-celled organisms on up to fish and whales.

Through photosynthesis, these tiny organisms supply more than half the world’s oxygen. When these plants die, they drift to the ocean bottom, or evaporate into the air as carbon — a process that generates more than half the world’s cycling carbon.

Warmer Waters Threaten Future of Traditional Fish and Chips
April 13, 2015 03:02 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Popular North Sea fish such as haddock, plaice and lemon sole could be replaced on the menus of the nation’s fish and chip shops as the seas around the UK continue to warm at a rapid rate, a new study warns. Fish distributions are limited by water temperature and some species can only thrive in certain habitats and depths. 

The impact levees have on groundwater recharge
April 12, 2015 08:54 AM - Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service via ECOreport

Strange as it sounds, flood control can be part of the solution to managing California’s droughts. University of California scientists have shown that making more room for floodwaters can improve the state’s groundwater supplies and fisheries.

Removing some levees or rebuilding aging ones some distance away from riverbanks can appreciably replenish aquifers during wet years, providing some relief during droughts.

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