Ecosystems

Hundreds of species of fungi in deep coral ecosystems discovered by University of Hawaii at Manoa botanists
July 12, 2017 05:04 PM - University of Hawaii at Manoa

Researchers from the University of Hawai?i at M?noa Department of Botany have discovered hundreds of potentially new species of fungi in the deep coral ecosystem in the ?Au?au channel off Maui, Hawai?i. Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCE) are generally found at depths between 130–500 feet and possess abundant plant (algal) life as well as new fish species. The mysteries of these reefs are only recently being revealed through technological advances in closed circuit rebreather diving. Previously overlooked—being too precarious for conventional SCUBA and too shallow to justify the cost of frequent submersible dives—mesophotic reefs continuously disclose breathtaking levels of biodiversity with each dive, yielding species and behavioral interactions new to science.

Dartmouth Study: Highway Salt Is Polluting Our Lakes
July 12, 2017 04:54 PM - Dartmouth College

Salt can be good, and it can also be bad. Sprinkled on food, it makes things tastier, but it may also raise your blood pressure. Spread on winter roads, it can make driving safer, but the melting runoff contaminates nearby lakes and ponds.

In a study that gathered data from hundreds of lakes in the Northeast and the Midwest, a Dartmouth researcher and colleagues have found dramatic evidence of highway salt’s impact.

"Big Muddy" Missouri River needs a plan
July 11, 2017 12:36 PM - University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

As the Missouri River flows across the Great Plains to where it meets the Mississippi River at St. Louis, it accumulates such a large sediment load that it has earned the nickname “Big Muddy.”  A recent University of Illinois study looks at the history of the river, damages and changes from the 2011 flood, and its current post-flood condition. The study concludes that the river needs a comprehensive plan with multi-state cooperation.

Can the Monarch Highway Help Save a Butterfly Under Siege?
July 11, 2017 11:21 AM - Yale Environment 360

Interstate 35 lies at the heart of a vast circulatory system, one of the massive transportation arteries that enable Americans to move long distances quickly. The highway also cuts through the heart of the eastern monarch’s central flyway, which produces the vast majority of brilliant orange and black butterflies that undertake one of the world’s most grueling insect migrations.

En route from as far away as southern Canada to their wintering grounds in steep, fir-clad slopes northwest of Mexico City, monarchs must fly through numerous metropolitan areas strung along the 1,568-mile river of asphalt, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Once a vast expanse of prairie, today the I-35 corridor not only bisects cities and suburbs but also passes through the Corn Belt, an ever-expanding patchwork of corn and soybean monocultures laced with the pesticide glyphosate. According to Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch and a biologist at the University of Kansas, the resulting loss of monarch habitat has been “tremendous.”

Marine Vessels are Unsuspecting Hosts of Invasive Species
July 11, 2017 11:02 AM - American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Invasive ascidians — sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders — are nuisance organisms that present a global threat. They contribute to biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and impairment of ecosystem services around the world.

A new Tel Aviv University study finds that ships play an unknowing but dominant role in introducing and dispersing these tough-shelled non-indigenous organisms into new environments. The research showed that these marine invertebrates hitch a ride on half of all the marine vessels passing through Israel's Mediterranean coast.

Stalagmites from Iranian Cave Foretell Grim Future for Middle East Climate
July 11, 2017 10:39 AM - University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

New study showed relief from current dry spell unlikely within next 10,000 years

Prelude to global extinction: Stanford biologists say disappearance of species tells only part of the story of human impact on Earth's animals
July 11, 2017 09:20 AM - Stanford University

No bells tolled when the last Catarina pupfish on Earth died. Newspapers didn’t carry the story when the Christmas Island pipistrelle vanished forever.

A study warns about the impact of the carp in shallow lakes with high ecological value for the preservation of waterbirds
July 10, 2017 03:55 PM - Universidad de Barcelona

The presence of the carp, a freshwater invasive species spread worldwide, is alarmingly reducing the populations of diving ducks and waterbirds, according to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation by the researchers Alberto Maceda Veiga, from the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio) and Raquel López and Andy J. Green, from the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC).

This is the first study which clearly shows the ecological impact of the carp on water birds in Mediterranean shallow lakes, and it warns about the dramatic effect of this invasive species on other species such as the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and the red-crested pochard (Aythya farina), classified as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN).

Camera-trap research paves the way for global monitoring networks
July 7, 2017 04:15 PM - Virginia Tech

Biodiversity loss is one of the driving factors in ecosystem change, on par with climate change and human development. When one species, especially a large predator, disappears from an area, other populations will be affected, sometimes changing entire landscapes.

Greenland's summer ocean bloom likely fueled by iron
July 7, 2017 11:33 AM - Ker Than, Stanford School of Earth, Energy, & Environmental Services

Iron-rich meltwater from Greenland’s glaciers are helping fuel a summer bloom of phytoplankton.

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