Ecosystems

Latest species discovery: the littlest crayfish from down under
April 9, 2014 11:08 AM - Rob McCormack, The Australian Aquatic Biology Pty.

Hidden in one of Australia's most developed and fastest growing areas lives one of the world's smallest freshwater crayfish species. Robert B. McCormack the Team Leader for the Australian Crayfish Project described the new species belonging to the genus Gramastacus, after 8 years of research in the swamps and creeks of coastal New South Wales, Australia. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

At more than 23,000 feet, why don't bar-headed geese get hypoxic?
April 9, 2014 10:04 AM - ENN Staff

The bar-headed goose migratory path takes it over the Himalayan Mountains each year between China and Mongolia to their Indian breeding grounds. This flight path puts them at 23,917 feet above sea level. University of Exeter led study followed these birds to gain insight into their ability to survive these extreme altitudes in hopes that their findings might have future implications for low oxygen medical conditions in humans.

World's first Water Stewardship Standard is released
April 9, 2014 08:07 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

The first international Water Stewardship Standard, a global framework to promote sustainable freshwater use, has been released by the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). The Standard defines globally applicable, consistent criteria for sustainable management and use of the world's limited freshwater resources. "We are excited to see global leaders join us on the journey towards sustainable and equitable water use," said Michael Spencer, Chair of AWS's board and representative of Water Stewardship Australia.

High Tech Trees!
April 8, 2014 01:20 PM - ENN Staff

Scientists at Oregon State University have found a way to convert tree cellulose into high-tech energy storage devices. Because cellulose is a key component of trees and the most abundant organic polymer on earth this discovery will have a profound impact in industry. Scientists were able to heat the tree cellulose in a furnace in the presence of ammonia to create the building block for supercapacitors for use in industrial electronic applications. Supercapacitors are extraordinarily, high-power energy devices for which production has been held back by cost and difficulty in producing high-quality carbon electrodes.

Shifting bird and reptile distributions
April 8, 2014 12:23 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

With climate change come several dramatic shifts in species distribution within the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey in concert with the University of New Mexico and Northern Arizona University have recently projected distribution losses for nearly half of the 5 examined reptile species including the locally famed chuckwalla. Breeding bird ranges, however exhibited broader expansions and contractions within their breeding habitats.

Fences May Cause 'Ecological Meltdown' of Wildlife
April 8, 2014 08:04 AM - Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife fences are constructed for a variety of reasons including to prevent the spread of diseases, protect wildlife from poachers, and to help manage small populations of threatened species. Human—wildlife conflict is another common reason for building fences: Wildlife can damage valuable livestock, crops, or infrastructure, some species carry diseases of agricultural concern, and a few threaten human lives. But in a paper in the journal Science, published April 4th, WCS and ZSL scientists review the 'pros and cons' of large scale fencing and argue that fencing should often be a last resort.

Why Are Scientists Genetically Modifying Trees?
April 7, 2014 10:41 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

The Lorax may speak for the trees, but even he might want to stop to listen to researchers' new plans to genetically alter trees. What may outwardly seem like disconcerting news just might change how paper is made for the better. The engineered trees would allow manufacturers to create paper significantly easier. Moreover, it's not just the paper industry that benefits from this change — the effects would be advantageous to the entire planet.

Desert absorption helps curtail CO2 levels
April 7, 2014 09:55 AM - Eric Sorensen, Washington State University News

Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. The findings give scientists a better handle on the earth's carbon budget — how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming, and how much gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.

The Melting Arctic
April 5, 2014 08:59 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

As the Eastern US ends what seems to have been the most severe winter in memory, it is hard to remember that the global climate is still warming. A severe winter in a region doesn't mean that the entire hemisphere had an extreme winter. And it really doesn't imply much about long term trends. A key indicator of long term trends is the length of the Arctic melt season. A new study by researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA shows that the length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade. An earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap’s thickness. "The Arctic is warming and this is causing the melt season to last longer," said Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at NSIDC, Boulder and lead author of the new study, which has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. "The lengthening of the melt season is allowing for more of the sun’s energy to get stored in the ocean and increase ice melt during the summer, overall weakening the sea ice cover."

Unearthing of large tusk in Arabian Desert suggests once greener pastures
April 4, 2014 09:49 AM - ENN Staff

Working in conjunction with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, researchers from the University of Oxford have discovered two pieces of a tusk that when combined measure six feet in length. The researchers believe it is from a Palaeoloxodon or a "straight tusked elephant". An elephant's carpal bone was recovered in a separate study done by a Swiss team in the Nefud Desert just five meters away. The sand layer dates back to approximately 325,000 years and the elephant is believed to be of the same age.

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