Ecosystems

Scientists Get $1 Million To Demonstrate How Restored Prairies Filter Water, Produce Bioenergy
October 3, 2007 07:44 PM -

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL - University of Minnesota researchers Clarence Lehman, John Nieber and David Tilman and colleagues have been awarded a $1.07 million grant to show how restored prairie areas can act as buffers to filter water polluted by agriculture while simultaneously producing bioenergy.

The strategy will also conserve prairies, expand areas available for wildlife habitats, reduce the amount of water needed for biofuels, enhance biodiversity in Minnesota and reduce Minnesota's greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon.

Rain Stops Banff Beetle Blight Burn
October 3, 2007 06:54 PM - Reuters

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Wet weather has thwarted a Canadian plan to stem the spread of tree-killing pine beetles eastward through the Rocky Mountains by burning an Alberta forest near Banff National Park, an official said on Wednesday.

The province of Alberta had planned to burn about 80 square kilometers of trees last week and it is now too late to make the attempt this year, said Duncan MacDonnell, a spokesman for the province's Sustainable Resource Development ministry.

Brazil urges world support for Amazon
October 3, 2007 03:28 PM - Raymond Colitt and Maria Pia Palermo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's environment minister said on Wednesday the international community was failing to honor pledges to help protect the Amazon and other tropical forests but that her government rejected specific deforestation targets.

Marina Silva, a former rubber tapper and activist, said a 50 percent reduction in deforestation over the past two years showed Brazil's increased control mechanisms were working.

Ensuring a long-term reduction by changing the economic development model of the Amazon required foreign help, Silva said in an interview at her office in Brasilia.

"We don't want charity, it's a question of ethics of solidarity," said Silva, who defended the Amazon in the 1980s alongside legendary conservationist Chico Mendes.

Polar bear endangered status "likely"
October 3, 2007 03:04 PM - Gerard Wynn and Alister Doyle

LONDON - An accelerating melt of Arctic sea ice is likely to make the polar bear officially "endangered" in the very near future, the head of a global wildlife conservation network said on Wednesday.

"They're running out of ice to be on," said Julia Marton-Lefevre, the director general of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which publishes an annual "Red List" of threatened species.

The IUCN, grouping 83 states and hundreds of conservation organizations, currently lists the polar bear as "vulnerable".

"It's likely to be increased to endangered... in the very near future, unfortunately," Marton-Lefevre told the Reuters Environment Summit of the giant Arctic carnivore that is an emblem of manmade global warming for conservationists.

Invasive weed strangles Zambian park
October 3, 2007 08:22 AM - , SciDevNet

LUSAKA - An invasive shrub is upsetting the ecological balance of national parks in Zambia's Kafue Flats and could drive away tourism.  A study by the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ), released last month (20 September), shows that the weed Mimosa pigra has covered around 2,900 hectares of the Kafue Flats.  It is interfering with the ecosystems by blocking access to water for animals and birds and displacing animals by reducing available habitat.

Despite Warming, Ships to Shun Northwest Passage
October 3, 2007 07:32 AM - Reuters

OTTAWA - While there has been much talk that Arctic trade routes will open up as northern ice melts, shipping companies and experts say using the fabled Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic archipelago would be too difficult, too dangerous and totally impractical.  In theory, the idea is tempting -- the passage cuts the distance between Europe and the Far East to just 7,900 nautical miles, from 12,600 nautical miles through the Panama Canal.

Iran Dam Sparks Row About Ancient Persian Relic
October 3, 2007 07:27 AM - Reuters

PASARGADAE, Iran - For the people protesting against it, a new dam near these sun-drenched ruins may be more than an environmental upheaval: in it they scent an affront to the country's pre-Islamic identity.  For 2,500 years, the tomb of Cyrus the Great has stood on the plain at Pasargadae in southern Iran, a simple but dignified monument to a king revered as the founder of the mighty Persian empire. But some fear the dam and reservoir pose a threat to the ancient structure.

Lizzard Mating Game Offers Insight Into Humans
October 2, 2007 09:05 PM - UC Santa Cruz News

Santa Cruz, California - An intricate three-way mating struggle first observed in a species of North American lizard has been discovered in a distant relative, the European common lizard. The two species are separated by 5,000 miles and 175 million years of evolution, yet they share behavioral and reproductive details right down to the gaudy colors of the males, according to new research published in the November issue of American Naturalist and now available online.

The triangle of competing strategies, which biologists liken to the children's game rock-paper-scissors, may be far more common than previously recognized--and may even shape the way humans behave, according to lead author Barry Sinervo, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Three rare bears dead in Italy, thought poisoned
October 2, 2007 08:19 PM -

ROME (Reuters) - Police in Italy were investigating on Tuesday whether someone deliberately poisoned three rare bears found dead in a national park, a crime the park head called "an act of barbarity."

One of the dead animals was identified as "Bernardo," around 10-years-old, who was a familiar sight in the Abruzzo region where he would often scavenge for food from local farms and gardens. Another was thought to be his mate.

"The disappearance of Bernardo and his mate represents an incalculable loss for the nature and the culture of the park," said Giuseppe Rossi, head of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise. "It's an act of barbarity not worthy of civilized people."

Ice cap melt seen "very, very alarming"
October 2, 2007 04:06 PM - Gerard Wynn and Jeremy Lovell, Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Record melting of Arctic sea ice this year sent a "very alarming" signal about warming at the North Pole, but it couldn't all definitely be blamed on manmade climate change, the U.N.'s top weatherman said on Tuesday.

The amount of Arctic ice which melted this summer beat a previous record, set two years ago, by an area more than four times the size of Britain, a 30-year satellite record shows.

"This year was quite exceptional ... the melting of the Arctic ice ... it's quite spectacular," Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organisation, told Reuters.

"Can it all be attributed to climate change? That's very difficult. It's very, very alarming," he said. His answer to how best to interpret the melt was -- "let's do more research".

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