Ecosystems

Who could EVER live in New Zealand's Kermadec Trench?
April 11, 2014 01:16 PM - Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution Newsroom

An international team of researchers led by deep-sea biologist Tim Shank of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will use the world's only full-ocean depth, hybrid remotely operated vehicle, Nereus, and other advanced technology to explore life in the depths of the Kermadec Trench. The 40-day expedition, which begins on April 12th, kicks off an ambitious three-year collaborative effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the project, known as Hadal Ecosystem Studies (HADES), is to conduct the first-ever systematic study of life in ocean trenches, comparing it to the neighboring abyssal plain—flat areas of the seafloor usually found at depths between 3,000 and 6,000 meters.

2014 ten most endangered rivers
April 10, 2014 12:10 PM - ENN staff

American Rivers yesterday announced its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers®, naming California's San Joaquin River the Most Endangered River in the country. Outdated water management and excessive diversions, compounded by the current drought, have put the San Joaquin River at a breaking point.

City lights threaten rain forests by deterring bats
April 10, 2014 08:53 AM - Paul Sutherland, MONGABAY.COM

Fruit-eating bats play an important role in forest regeneration, collecting and spreading seeds far and wide. However, human development may be stymying bat-mediated dispersal. In a new study published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers found that fruit bats avoid feeding in light-polluted areas, which may significantly affect forest growth. Scientists from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin (IZW), undertook the study in Costa Rica, and focused on Sowell's short-tailed bats (Carollia sowelli), a species found throughout Central America and Mexico. The findings of their study indicate that artificial lights may deter these bats from feeding on fruit and spreading seeds by 25 to 50 percent.

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.

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