Ecosystems

Egyptian art sheds light on changing ecosystem
September 19, 2014 07:47 AM - Bristol University

Depictions of animals in ancient Egyptian artefacts have helped scientists assemble a detailed record of the large mammals that lived in the Nile Valley over the past 6,000 years. A new analysis of this record shows that species extinctions, probably caused by a drying climate and growing human population in the region, have made the ecosystem progressively less stable. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that local extinctions of mammal species led to a steady decline in the stability of the animal communities in the Nile Valley.

Arctic Cod fishery recovery aided by Norway and Russia
September 19, 2014 06:39 AM - John Waldman, Yale Environment360

The prime cod fishing grounds of North America have been depleted or wiped out by overfishing and poor management. But in Arctic waters, Norway and Russia are working cooperatively to sustain a highly productive — and profitable - northern cod fishery. What years of dwelling in the cold Atlantic had amassed, an army of knife-wielding, white-suited Norwegian factory workers were taking apart in just minutes. In a consummate display of optimization, streams of fish parts were whisked along on conveyor belts around and above me, with various cuts destined for their most appropriate markets. Nothing was wasted.

Fall foliage may be delayed, but will last longer
September 18, 2014 01:55 PM - Wendy Plump, Princeton Environmental Institute

The fall foliage season that prompts millions of Americans to undertake jaunts into the countryside each year could come much later and possibly last a little longer within a century, according to new research. Climate change could postpone fall leaf peeping in some areas of the United States as summer temperatures linger later into the year, Princeton University researchers report in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Pollinators are important to nutrition, especially in poorer regions
September 17, 2014 07:31 AM - University of Leeds

Declines in populations of pollinators, such as bees and wasps, may be a key threat to nutrition in some of the most poorly fed parts of the globe, according to new research. A major study, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B and co-authored by a University of Leeds academic, looked at the importance of pollinators to 115 of the most common food crops worldwide and the importance of those crops in delivering vital nutrients to vulnerable populations.

Protected Areas Do Work, Says Study
September 16, 2014 12:17 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Protected areas are working. That's the conclusion of a new analysis of over 80 different studies on the efficacy of parks and nature reserves in safeguarding wildlife. Published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE, the new study finds that in general protected areas house higher abundances of wildlife as well as greater biodiversity than adjacent areas.

Australia to end shark cull
September 13, 2014 08:59 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

In a major win for sharks and their advocates, Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended Western Australia (WA) end its controversial shark killing program. After a series of fatal attacks, WA's government proposed a new program in an effort to keep beachgoers safe that involved setting out baited drum lines, which consist of a large baited hook attached to a buoy and an anchor to hold it in place, in designated zones along popular beaches with the intention of killing great white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks who were larger than three meters.

California Drought: Why Farmers Must Adapt
September 12, 2014 08:40 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

The entire state of California is in a drought. A big part of the state, including the fertile Central Valley, is experiencing the worst category of drought, exceptional. California supplies much of the fruits, vegetables and nuts the nation eats. In inland areas such as the Central Valley, as well as the combined Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, agriculture truly rules.

Illegal land clearing for commercial agriculture responsible for half of tropical deforestation
September 11, 2014 09:07 AM - Forest Trends

A comprehensive new analysis released today says that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture. The study also finds that the majority of this illegal destruction was driven by overseas demand for agricultural commodities including palm oil, beef, soy, and wood products. In addition to devastating impacts on forest-dependent people and biodiversity, the illegal conversion of tropical forests for commercial agriculture is estimated to produce 1.47 gigatonnes of carbon each year—equivalent to 25% of the EU's annual fossil fuel-based emissions.

Hazardous waste-eating bacteria discovered
September 10, 2014 09:07 AM - The University of Manchester

Although bacteria with waste-eating properties have been discovered in relatively pristine soils before, new research shows for the first time that microbes that can survive in the very harsh conditions expected in radioactive waste disposal sites have also been found. The ultimate aim of this research conducted by the University of Manchester is to improve our understanding of the safe disposal of radioactive waste underground by studying the unusual diet of these hazardous waste eating microbes.

How is a warming climate impacting coral reefs?
September 10, 2014 07:34 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

How is a warming climate impacting life in the oceans? Fish can move to cooler areas, but coral reefs are anchored in place. Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Researchers indicate that the warmer water temperatures are stressing corals and increasing the number of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae. The corals can starve to death if the condition is prolonged.

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