Urban development causes damage and loss of valuable ecosystems
May 14, 2015 06:29 AM - Harvard University
All land is not created equal. Some ecosystems do triple duty in the benefits they provide to society. Massachusetts forests, for example, filter public drinking water while also providing habitat for threatened species and storing carbon to combat climate change.
Ecologists and conservation groups single out the hardest-working ecosystems – called “hotspots” – for their exceptional conservation value. A new study published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology reports that the number of ecosystem hotspots has increased in Massachusetts over the past decade, with more and more hotspots popping up in metro Boston.
But, the study authors say, more hotspots may not be a good thing.
40% of Honey Bee Colonies Lost Last Year
May 13, 2015 10:53 AM - University of Maryland
Beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of an annual nationwide survey led by a University of Maryland professor. While winter loss rates improved slightly compared to last year, summer losses—and consequently, total annual losses—were more severe. Commercial beekeepers were hit particularly hard by the high rate of summer losses, which outstripped winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies.
Biofuels: the right crop at the right place
May 12, 2015 04:48 PM - Radboud University
Corn, wheat and rapeseed can be used to produce biofuels, such as bioethanol and biodiesel. According to recent findings by environmental scientists at Radboud University, the location of the agricultural lands used to grow these biofuel crops has a major impact on the greenhouse gas emission they ultimately produce. The study that arrived at this conclusion is due to be published by Nature Climate Change on 11 May.
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.
Vineyard Habitats Attract Butterflies
May 11, 2015 04:35 PM - Scott Weybright, Washington State University
Washington wine grape vineyards experimenting with sustainable pest management systems are seeing an unexpected benefit: an increase in butterflies. Over the years, loss in natural habitat has seen the decline in numbers of around 50 species of butterflies in eastern Washington. But in a recent Washington State University study published in the June issue of the Journal of Insect Conservation, researchers found that vineyards that create nearby natural habitats have three times the number of butterfly species and four times more butterflies than conventional vineyards.
Could pumpkins be the answer to the food/biofuel crop dilemma?
May 11, 2015 08:48 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
As concern remains over the need to convert millions of acres of crop land to meet the ever-increasing biofuel demand, a new study has found pumpkins could provide the answer to sharing between food and fuel.
Greenhouse gas benchmark reached
May 8, 2015 08:54 AM - NOAA Newsroom
For the first time since we began tracking carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere, the monthly global average concentration of this greenhouse gas surpassed 400 parts per million in March 2015, according to NOAA’s latest results.
California Resident Poll Expresses Wide Concern Over Drought
May 7, 2015 09:13 AM - Chris Sosa, Care2
A recent Care2 poll has found that slightly over 90 percent of respondents express major concern over the current drought engulfing the state, despite the fact that only 60 percent of respondents consider themselves strong environmentalists. Fewer than 1 percent expressed no concern about the drought. Nearly 75 percent of respondents cited fears about the fate of wildlife. Concern for humans came in second at 71 percent and agriculture at 61 percent.
Undersea robots plan missions autonomously
May 7, 2015 07:05 AM - Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office
For the last decade, scientists have deployed increasingly capable underwater robots to map and monitor pockets of the ocean to track the health of fisheries, and survey marine habitats and species. In general, such robots are effective at carrying out low-level tasks, specifically assigned to them by human engineers — a tedious and time-consuming process for the engineers.
When deploying autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), much of an engineer’s time is spent writing scripts, or low-level commands, in order to direct a robot to carry out a mission plan. Now a new programming approach developed by MIT engineers gives robots more “cognitive” capabilities, enabling humans to specify high-level goals, while a robot performs high-level decision-making to figure out how to achieve these goals.
How forests can end global hunger
May 6, 2015 08:46 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
Forests and forestry are essential to achieve global food security as the limits of boosting agricultural production are becoming increasingly clear, a new study published today reveals. The findings are included in the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date on the relationship among forests, food and nutrition launched today in New York at a side event of the United Nations Forum on Forests.