Ecosystems

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.

Oklahoma and Earthquakes - Is Fracking to Blame?
July 1, 2014 08:42 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Which state is the current earthquake capital of the United States? If you guessed California, your data is sadly out of date. Believe it or not, Oklahoma, the new center of quivering land, has twice as many earthquakes as California does at this point. We're not just talking minor shaking, either. Oklahoma averages one earthquake that measures at least 3.0 on the Richter scale every single day.

New research reveals causes and warning signs of rare tsunami earthquakes
June 30, 2014 09:16 AM - Imperial College London

Tsunami earthquakes happen at relatively shallow depths in the ocean and are small in terms of their magnitude. However, they create very large tsunamis, with some earthquakes that only measure 5.6 on the Richter scale generating waves that reach up to ten metres when they hit the shore. A global network of seismometers enables researchers to detect even the smallest earthquakes. However, the challenge has been to determine which small magnitude events are likely to cause large tsunamis.

Connecting population growth and biodiversity decline
June 27, 2014 08:11 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

It took humans around 200,000 years to reach a global population of one billion. But, in two hundred years we've septupled that. In fact, over the last 40 years we've added an extra billion approximately every dozen years. And the United Nations predicts we'll add another four billion—for a total of 11 billion—by century's end. Despite this few scientists, policymakers, or even environmentalists are willing to publicly connect incredible population growth to worsening climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, or the global environmental crisis in general.

Farmed fish, the dark side
June 27, 2014 06:24 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

It seems as more and more of the fish available to us in the supermarket and in restaurants is farmed. Is this good or bad? Probably a bit of both. Raising fish in fish farms doesn't impact the wild fish to any great extent, but fish farms must be well situated, and well run to prevent problems. They are not natural ecosystems! Aquaculture has become a booming industry in Chile, with salmon and other fish farmed in floating enclosures along the South Pacific coast. But as farmers densely pack these pens to meet demand, diseases can easily pass between fish — for example, an outbreak of infectious salmon anemia that emerged in 2007 caused the deaths of more than a million fish and threatened to cripple the industry. And unsustainable aquaculture methods can have a wider impact, spreading disease to the world’s already vulnerable ocean fisheries and contaminating the environment.

Cloud Forests and Biodiversity
June 25, 2014 08:00 AM - Nicholas Barrett, MONGABAY.COM

Tropical cloud forests are situated in mountains and are characterized by the frequent presence of low-level clouds. Scientists have always regarded them as having high biodiversity, but a study published recently in mongabay.com's open access journal, Tropical Conservation Science adds a new dimension: it found cloud forests contain a significant and surprising array of tree and bromeliad species, even when they are relatively small.

For healthy oceans, end illegal fishing: WWF
June 24, 2014 08:34 AM - 3P Contributor, Triple Pundit

Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry brought together some of the world's leading thinkers to chart a path for securing the future of our planet’s oceans and the communities and economies they support. Leaders from more than 80 countries delved into the most pressing issues facing our oceans, including marine pollution, climate change and unsustainable fisheries.

Study links pesticides and pregnancies with increased risk of autism
June 23, 2014 08:00 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, according to a new study. The research discovered the associations were even stronger when the exposures occurred during the second and third trimesters of the women's pregnancies.

New study challenges theory that emperor penguins return to same area each year
June 20, 2014 02:09 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

Philopatry is the tendency of an organism to stay in, or return to its home area. Many animal species are considered philopatric because they often return to their birthplace year after year to breed. Revisiting the same site is advantageous because nests and courtship areas have already been established while competition from other animals is largely non-existent due to territoriality. Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were a prime example of this phenomenon, however a new study shows that this species may be adapting to changing environments and may not necessarily be faithful to previous nesting locations.

New study shows link between bald eagle deaths and lead ammunition
June 20, 2014 07:32 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Endangered California condors have been the poster birds for calls to get lead ammunition out of our environment, but they might have to make some room for our nation's most iconic raptors thanks to a new study showing how lead ammunition is also harming bald eagles. It might be illegal to hunt bald eagles, but a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigating the link between lead ammunition and bald eagle deaths in the Upper Mississippi River U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

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