Ecosystems

Leftover trees enhance the biodiversity of new forests
March 20, 2014 08:34 AM - Nicholas Barrett, MONGABAY.COM

Trees left standing after deforestation have a discernible impact on the composition of local biodiversity in secondary growth forests, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE. Researchers working on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica discovered that remnant trees could affect species composition of regenerated forests up to 20 years after being logged.

No more stinky cotton!
March 19, 2014 10:18 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Following the eradication of the cotton boll weevil in the late 1990s cotton growers began to notice an influx of a new pest, stink bugs. Stink bugs feed on bolls on the bottom portion of the plant, puncturing squares causing young cotton bolls to drop and staining, matting and shrinking cottonseeds through heavy stink bug feeding. Injured locks or bolls may fail to open. Resultantly damage caused by stink bugs introduce bacteria, such as Pantoea agglomerans and fungi that cause boll rots. Currently stink bugs are ranked among the most damaging insect pests of cotton in the southeastern United States.

Invasive Burmese Pythons Can Find Their Way Back Home
March 19, 2014 10:15 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

There are multiple ways to deal with a critter that may find its way into your home. The most humane — catch it and release it back into its natural habitat perhaps a couple of miles away from your neighborhood. But this might not work for all species as a new study reveals that Burmese pythons are able to find their way back home even when moved far away from their capture locations.

Thought-to-be-Extinct Harlequin Frog Rediscovered in Costa Rica
March 19, 2014 08:07 AM - Editor, ENN

The critically endangered harlequin frog (Atelopus varius), believed to be extinct in Costa Rica, has been rediscovered in the Talamanca Mountains of southern Costa Rica by an international team of researchers. The harlequin frog was a relatively common species in areas of Costa Rica and Panama until 1988, when populations declined rapidly, primarily as a result of the invasive, infectious chytrid fungus (implicated in extinctions of hundreds of amphibian species globally). The increasingly rare harlequin was believed extirpated from Costa Rica until 2004, when two individual harlequin frogs were spotted in a remote area near Manuel Antonio National Park in the western region of the country. Unfortunately, no harlequin frogs have been seen at this location since then.

The cold hard glacial truth
March 18, 2014 03:46 PM - Tom Robinette, University of Cincinatti

Lewis Owen has been scraping out icy fragments of history's truth from one of the most glaciated regions on Earth for the past 25 years. His frequent excursions to Tibet and the Himalayas have led the University of Cincinnati professor of geology to some cold, hard facts. Owen knows climate change is immortal — fluctuating across millennia, patiently building toward moments when circumstances are ripe for apocalypse. It was true thousands of years ago, when rapid climate change had profound effects on landscapes and the creatures that lived on them. That scenario could be true again, if the past is ignored.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Offshore oil drilling: is it really necessary?
March 18, 2014 10:32 AM - Christian Ramirez, Class of 2015, Wakefield High School, Arlington, VA

As we all know, oil is a very important energy resource the world needs for its everyday life. It is known that not only do most of the countries on the planet use it, but also it is a scarce resource, which means that in the near future, there will no longer be enough available oil that could be drilled and processed for future endeavors. The demand for oil has increased significantly throughout the past few years and other ways of obtaining this resource must be used more often. A form of oil drilling has emerged which is dangerous and is known as offshore drilling. Sounds like a good plan at first, going to the ocean where more oil can be found and at a faster rate, but is it really worth it? There should be an alternate to offshore drilling because of the many horrific and unfair problems that it brings to Americans, animals, and the overall environment.

Amazon inhales more carbon than it emits
March 18, 2014 09:24 AM - University of Leeds

A new study led by NASA and the University of Leeds has confirmed that natural forests in the Amazon remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emit. This finding resolves a long-standing debate about a key component of the overall carbon balance of the Amazon basin.

Mountain Thermostats
March 17, 2014 08:10 AM - Dominic Rowland, MONGABAY.COM

What do mountains have to do with climate change? More than you'd expect: new research shows that the weathering rates of mountains caused by vegetation growth plays a major role in controlling global temperatures. Scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Sheffield have shown how tree roots in certain mountains "acted like a thermostat" for the global climate. In warmer climates, tree roots grow faster and deeper (aided by the decomposition of leaf litter), breaking up rock that combines with carbon dioxide. This weathering process removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, lowering the global temperature and decreasing the growth rate of vegetation.

A global climate change directive?
March 14, 2014 04:11 PM - Editor, ENN

Could another climate change deal be in the works? World leaders are meeting in Brussels this month to discuss climate change. While environmentalists are calling for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, diplomatic language presented in the introductory document is most likely not ambitious enough.

Can Penguins Cope with Climate Change?
March 14, 2014 08:01 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Human-caused climate change is altering the habitat of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). In an article recently published in PLOS ONE, a team of researchers led by Amélie LescroĆ«l from the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS) in France, found that changes in sea-ice content and newly formed icebergs significantly impacted Adélie penguin communities in the Ross Sea.

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