Ecosystems

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".

Climate change will alter world travel patterns
October 2, 2007 12:05 PM - Laura MacInnis, Reuters

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Global warming will produce stay-at-home tourists over the next few decades, radically altering travel patterns and threatening jobs and businesses in tourism-dependent countries, according to a stark assessment by U.N experts.

The U.N. Environment Program, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Tourism Organization said concerns about weather extremes and calls to reduce emissions-heavy air travel would make long-haul flights less attractive.

Holiday-makers from Europe, Canada, the United States and Japan were likely to spend more vacations in or near their home countries to take advantage of longer summers, they said.

Amazon Rainforest at risk from initiative to connect South American economies
October 2, 2007 08:12 AM - Conservation International

An unprecedented development plan to link South America’s economies through new transportation, energy and telecommunications projects could destroy much of the Amazon rainforest in coming decades, according to a new study by Conservation International (CI) scientist Tim Killeen.

Forest fires rage in Lebanon
October 2, 2007 08:04 AM - Jamal Saidi -Reuters

Forest fires blazed in several areas of Lebanon on Tuesday, including the ancient town of Deir al-Qamar southeast of Beirut.

"Most of Deir al-Qamar is engulfed in thick, black smoke. There's not one wooded area left. Television footage showed several burned-out cars on roads in the Shouf region and smoke rising from charred woodland.

Philippines bans fishing to revive biggest reef
October 2, 2007 07:40 AM - Reuters

The Philippines has tightened laws banning fishing and collecting of species on the country's largest coral reef to help it recover from near destruction, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature said on Tuesday.

The 27,400 hectare Apo Reef off the coast of Mindoro island was almost drained of life by heavy fishing, including by dynamite and cyanide, which left only a third of coral cover by the early 1990s.

Biologists aim to wipe out Alaska's "Rat Island"
October 1, 2007 06:46 PM - Yereth Rosen, Reuters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Two centuries after rats first landed on a remote Aleutian island from a shipwreck, wildlife managers in Alaska are plotting how to evict the non-native rodent from the island that bears their name.

Rat Island, like many other treeless, volcanic islands in the 1,000-mile (1,609-km) long Aleutian chain, is infested with rats that have proved devastating to wild birds that build nests in the earth or in rocky cliffs.

"They pretty much made the island worthless for a lot of wildlife," said Art Sowls, a biologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which sprawls across the Aleutians and other Alaska islands.

Rodents have reigned at Rat Island at the western end of the Aleutians since the 1780 shipwreck of a Japanese sailing ship, wreaking havoc on millions of seabirds with no natural defenses against land predators.

Killer Amoeba Blamed for Six Deaths
October 1, 2007 03:50 PM - Chris Kahn, AP, Lisa Vorderbruggen, Contra Costa Times / MCT

PHOENIX (Sept. 29) — It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.
 
Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

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