Ecosystems

The important role that agroecological farming can play to feed the world
September 23, 2014 11:02 AM - Nafeez Ahmed, The Ecologist

Governments must shift subsidies and research funding from agro-industrial monoculture to small farmers using 'agroecological' methods, according to the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. And as Nafeez Ahmed notes, her call coincides with a new agroecology initiative within the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. This is critical for future agricultural policies. Currently, most subsidies go to large agribusiness. This must change. Governments must support small farmers. Modern industrial agricultural methods can no longer feed the world, due to the impacts of overlapping environmental and ecological crises linked to land, water and resource availability.

Can fossils reveal how to reverse biodiversity loss?
September 23, 2014 07:32 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

Many native species have vanished from tropical islands because of human impact, but University of Florida scientists have discovered how fossils can be used to restore lost biodiversity. The key lies in organic materials found in fossil bones, which contain evidence for how ancient ecosystems functioned, according to a new study published in the September issue of the Journal of Herpetology.

Endangered Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel still looks threatened
September 20, 2014 08:53 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced today the recovery of the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, previously protected as an endangered species. The Interior Department made its finding based on an increase in distribution since 1967 from 4 to 10 counties where the squirrel can be found, and an overall population of 20,000. But despite these modest population gains, sea-level rise remains a severe threat to the species. "No one should discount the heroic conservation work that has been done to keep this squirrel from going extinct," said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "But most of the places where the squirrel lives will eventually be underwater due to climate change and sea-level rise, and unfortunately most of the places on higher ground have already been lost to development."

Egyptian art sheds light on changing ecosystem
September 19, 2014 07:47 AM - Bristol University

Depictions of animals in ancient Egyptian artefacts have helped scientists assemble a detailed record of the large mammals that lived in the Nile Valley over the past 6,000 years. A new analysis of this record shows that species extinctions, probably caused by a drying climate and growing human population in the region, have made the ecosystem progressively less stable. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that local extinctions of mammal species led to a steady decline in the stability of the animal communities in the Nile Valley.

Arctic Cod fishery recovery aided by Norway and Russia
September 19, 2014 06:39 AM - John Waldman, Yale Environment360

The prime cod fishing grounds of North America have been depleted or wiped out by overfishing and poor management. But in Arctic waters, Norway and Russia are working cooperatively to sustain a highly productive — and profitable - northern cod fishery. What years of dwelling in the cold Atlantic had amassed, an army of knife-wielding, white-suited Norwegian factory workers were taking apart in just minutes. In a consummate display of optimization, streams of fish parts were whisked along on conveyor belts around and above me, with various cuts destined for their most appropriate markets. Nothing was wasted.

Fall foliage may be delayed, but will last longer
September 18, 2014 01:55 PM - Wendy Plump, Princeton Environmental Institute

The fall foliage season that prompts millions of Americans to undertake jaunts into the countryside each year could come much later and possibly last a little longer within a century, according to new research. Climate change could postpone fall leaf peeping in some areas of the United States as summer temperatures linger later into the year, Princeton University researchers report in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Pollinators are important to nutrition, especially in poorer regions
September 17, 2014 07:31 AM - University of Leeds

Declines in populations of pollinators, such as bees and wasps, may be a key threat to nutrition in some of the most poorly fed parts of the globe, according to new research. A major study, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B and co-authored by a University of Leeds academic, looked at the importance of pollinators to 115 of the most common food crops worldwide and the importance of those crops in delivering vital nutrients to vulnerable populations.

Protected Areas Do Work, Says Study
September 16, 2014 12:17 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Protected areas are working. That's the conclusion of a new analysis of over 80 different studies on the efficacy of parks and nature reserves in safeguarding wildlife. Published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE, the new study finds that in general protected areas house higher abundances of wildlife as well as greater biodiversity than adjacent areas.

Australia to end shark cull
September 13, 2014 08:59 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

In a major win for sharks and their advocates, Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended Western Australia (WA) end its controversial shark killing program. After a series of fatal attacks, WA's government proposed a new program in an effort to keep beachgoers safe that involved setting out baited drum lines, which consist of a large baited hook attached to a buoy and an anchor to hold it in place, in designated zones along popular beaches with the intention of killing great white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks who were larger than three meters.

California Drought: Why Farmers Must Adapt
September 12, 2014 08:40 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

The entire state of California is in a drought. A big part of the state, including the fertile Central Valley, is experiencing the worst category of drought, exceptional. California supplies much of the fruits, vegetables and nuts the nation eats. In inland areas such as the Central Valley, as well as the combined Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, agriculture truly rules.

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