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Ecosystems

Declining 'large herbivore' populations may lead to an 'empty landscape'
May 1, 2015 02:49 PM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!

The decline of the world's large herbivores, especially in Africa and parts of Asia, is raising the specter of an "empty landscape" in some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, according to a newly published study. Many populations of animals such as rhinoceroses, zebras, camels, elephants and tapirs are diminishing or threatened with extinction in grasslands, savannahs, deserts and forests, scientists say.

Photosynthesis measured on a global scale
May 1, 2015 10:12 AM - Brown University

A research team led by geoscientists from Brown University and the Marine Biological Laboratory has provided some crucial ground-truth for a method of measuring plant photosynthesis on a global scale from low-Earth orbit. The researchers have shown that chlorophyll fluorescence, a faint glow produced by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis, is a strong proxy for photosynthetic activity in the canopy of a deciduous forest. That glow can be detected by orbiting satellites and could be used to monitor global photosynthetic activity in real time.

What ecosystem is most at threat from human impact?
April 30, 2015 04:42 PM - ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

An international team of scientists has used the 23-million-year fossil record to calculate which marine animals and ecosystems are most at risk of extinction today. In a paper published in the journal Science, the researchers found those animals and ecosystems most threatened are predominantly in the tropics.

Oregon State University study links climate changes in Northern and Southern Hemispheres - with 200 year lag
April 29, 2015 03:52 PM - Oregon State University

A new study using evidence from a highly detailed ice core from West Antarctica shows a consistent link between abrupt temperature changes on Greenland and Antarctica during the last ice age, giving scientists a clearer picture of the link between climate in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Greenland climate during the last ice age was very unstable, the researchers say, characterized by a number of large, abrupt changes in mean annual temperature that each occurred within several decades. These so-called “Dansgaard-Oeschger events” took place every few thousand years during the last ice age. Temperature changes in Antarctica showed an opposite pattern, with Antarctica cooling when Greenland was warm, and vice versa.

Selective logging may underestimate carbon stock
April 29, 2015 08:20 AM - Rhett A. Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Up to 64 percent of above-ground biomass in selectively logged forests may consist of dead wood left over from logging damage, argues a paper published this week in Environmental Research Letters

Parrotfish play critical role in building coral reefs
April 28, 2015 01:42 PM - University of Exeter

As well as being a beautiful species capable of changing its colour, shape and even gender, new research published today shows that parrotfish, commonly found on healthy coral reefs, can also play a pivotal role in providing the sands necessary to build and maintain coral reef islands.

How Desalination Technology Is Helping Solve California's Drought
April 27, 2015 08:40 AM - Betty Ilovici, NoCamels

Four years of devastating droughts in California have pushed cities and counties in the Golden State to seriously consider turning to the one drinking source that is not depleting anytime soon – seawater. With the Pacific Ocean abutting their shores, water desalination may be the much-needed solution for Californians. But desalination has its disadvantages, the chief ones being the high costs and the potential environmental damage.

Mountains warming faster than expected
April 24, 2015 03:28 PM - Janet Lathrop, UMassAmherst

High elevation environments around the world may be warming much faster than previously thought, according to members of an international research team including Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They call for more aggressive monitoring of temperature changes in mountain regions and more attention to the potential consequences of warming.

Microbes have major effect on climate change
April 24, 2015 07:21 AM - Kathleen Haughney, Florida State University

Carbon, held in frozen permafrost soils for tens of thousands of years, is being released as Arctic regions of the Earth warm and is further fueling global climate change, according to a Florida State University researcher.

What countries have the most endangered animals?
April 23, 2015 10:55 AM - Susan Bird, Care2

If you had to guess which countries are losing the greatest number of endangered mammals to extinction, which would you pick? Actually, you don’t have to guess. There’s a new map that will show you, in no uncertain terms, where in the world we’re losing animals the fastest. The top three “winners” of this unfortunate contest are Indonesia (184), Madagascar (114), Mexico (101), with India following close behind at 94.

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