Ecosystems

Why is the US Throwing Away $1 Billion Worth of Fish Every Year?
July 9, 2014 08:38 AM - Judy Molland, Care2

You've probably already seen the grim news about overfishing: scientists predict that world food fisheries could collapse by 2050, if current trends continue. That's because 3/4 of the world's fish stocks are being harvested faster than they can reproduce; 80 percent are already fully exploited or in decline; and in addition 90 percent of all large predatory fish are already gone. But the picture gets worse: every year, the U.S. fishing industry throws about 2 billion pounds worth of fish back into the water. A report released last month by Oceana estimates that this amounts to an annual loss of one billion dollars.

Oceanic litter is widespread
July 8, 2014 08:18 AM - Harriet Jarlett, Planet Earth Online

Litter is now found in even the most remote areas of the oceans, say scientists trying to understand how much rubbish is lying at the bottom of Europe's seas. The new study, published in Plos One, shows for the first time that there seems to be no area of the ocean left untouched by human litter. Using 588 video clips collected by unmanned submarine vehicles for geological mapping and marine biology studies, the team found that plastics waste like shopping bags is the most prevalent.

SAR11 and Methane
July 8, 2014 08:07 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

With the focus on reducing carbon emissions, we often forget about methane — another greenhouse gas that is way more powerful as an atmospheric pollutant than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions can come from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities, but can also be emitted from a number of natural sources. One newly discovered natural source: SAR11.

How Warming Antarctic Climate Affects Marine Life
July 7, 2014 08:40 PM - David Malmquist, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

A long-term study of the links between climate and marine life along the rapidly warming West Antarctic Peninsula reveals how changes in physical factors such as wind speed and sea-ice cover send ripples up the food chain, with impacts on everything from single-celled algae to penguins.

Condors vs. the NRA
July 7, 2014 08:36 AM - Dawn Starin, The Ecologist

Recently scientists from the Zoological Society of London and Yale University assessed the world's 9,993 bird species according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk. At number three on the list is the Critically Endangered California condor (Gymnogyps cali­fornianus) - weighing as much as 25 pounds, standing over four foot tall, with a wingspan of almost 10 feet, it is the largest land bird in North America.

A Fine Line : New Program Predicts When Human Impact Becomes Too Much
July 6, 2014 10:25 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Scientists at Stanford University recently unveiled a new modeling program that can predict the response of the environment to the land-use changes of human communities. Using their model, they found that natural resources can support humanity — up to a certain point. They recently published their findings in the journal Environmental Modelling & Software.

Sea Grass in coastal New England waters under attack by Nitrogen
July 5, 2014 08:29 AM - ecoRI News staff

A federally funded scientific study on regional seagrass health recently released by The Nature Conservancy points to nitrogen pollution — from sewage and fertilizers — and warmer water temperatures as the killer threats to seagrasses throughout the coastal waters of southern New England. Seagrass is vital habitat for fish and shellfish and is important for water quality.

Frackable rock under groundwater aquifers raise water contamination fears
July 3, 2014 02:20 PM - Editor, The Ecologist

A study by the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency reveals that almost all the the oil and gas bearing shales in England and Wales underlie drinking water aquifers, raising fears that widespread water contamination could occur. The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with The Environment Agency (EA) have published a map which show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers in England and Wales.

Where's the Plastic?
July 3, 2014 08:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

According to a new study, 99% of plastic waste that enters the ocean cannot be located. While initially hearing that there's less plastic in the ocean than we believed sounds like great news, it's actually a frightening prospect. After all, if the plastic isn't in the ocean ... where is it going?! A team from the University of Western Australia spent a couple of years sailing around the world in five vessels hoping to accurately record just how much plastic is actually in the ocean. Although researchers expected to discover millions of tons, they were surprised to calculate that they only calculated about 40,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface.

Small Elephant-Relative Spotted in Namibia
July 2, 2014 11:35 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Forget marsupials, the world's strangest group of mammals are actually those in the Afrotheria order. This superorder of mammals contains a motley crew that at first glance seems to have nothing in common: from the biggest land animals on the planet—elephant—to tiny, rodent sized mammals such as tenrecs, hyraxes, golden moles, and sengis. But there's more: the group even includes marine mammals, such as dugongs and manatees. Finally, they also include as a member the most evolutionary-distinct mammal on the planet: the aardvark. While these species may seem entirely unrelated—and many were long shuffled into other groups—decades of genetic and morphological research now point to them all springing from the same tree. Last week, though, scientists announced the newest, and arguably cutest, member of Atrotheria: the Etendeka round-eared sengi. Described in the most recent edition of the Journal of Mammology, the Etendeka round-eared sengi (Macroscelides micus) was discovered in the northwest corner of Namibia.

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