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Light-Scattering Properties are Risk Factor for Coral Reef Survival
May 9, 2013 12:58 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Coral reefs have been gaining a lot of attention by conservation groups as environmental and human stresses are causing irreparable damage to these reefs. Stresses such as warming oceans and climate change are going to serve as future obstacles for these coral populations. However, the study of dying corals is complex, and researchers have found that some corals die while others do not, even when exposed to the same environmental conditions. In order to figure out this conundrum, a research team from Northwestern University and The Field Museum of Natural History found that corals themselves play a role in their susceptibility to deadly coral bleaching due to the light-scattering properties of their skeletons.
The Regional Centre for Climate Change and Decision-Making
May 9, 2013 06:53 AM - Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDevNet
South America has got its first think-tank aimed at providing climate change knowledge to decision-makers to help them design tools tailored to local needs. The Regional Centre for Climate Change and Decision-Making was launched earlier this year (19 March) in Montevideo, Uruguay, where it will have its headquarters and where it is organising its first training event for policymakers. The centre is a joint initiative by the Panama-based Avina Foundation, which promotes sustainable development in Latin America, and UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Poachers seen at unique elephant habitat
May 8, 2013 12:48 PM - WWF
Poachers have entered one of Africa's most unique elephant habitats this week, threatening to cause one of the biggest elephant massacres in the region since poachers killed at least 300 elephants for their ivory in Cameroon's Bouba N'Djida National Park in February 2012. According to WWF sources, a group of 17 armed individuals on Monday entered the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and headed for the Dzanga Bai, locally known as the "village of elephants", a large clearing where between 50 and 200 elephants congregate every day to drink mineral salts present in the sands.
Ground Water Flow Rate
May 8, 2013 09:16 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Ground water flow rates can be a slow process. USGS hydrologic researchers, for example, have found that the movement of nitrate through groundwater to streams can take decades to occur. This long lag time means that changes in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer (the typical source of nitrate) — whether the change is initiation, adjustment, or cessation — may take decades to be fully observed in their effect on streams, according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Water quality experts have been noting in recent years that nitrate trends in streams and rivers do not match their expectations based on reduced regional use of nitrogen-based fertilizer. The long travel times of groundwater discharge, like those documented in this study, is the likely cause.
Illegal Fishing Linked to Seafood Fraud in New Report
May 8, 2013 06:07 AM - Editor, Oceana
Today, as the nation's top leaders in fishery management come together at the 2013 Managing Our Nation's Fisheries Conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss science and sustainability, Oceana released a new report finding that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing leads to seafood fraud and threatens fishing economies, seafood consumers and vulnerable marine species on a global scale. According to recent estimates, IUU fishing accounts for 20 percent of the global catch and contributes to economic losses of $10-23 billion, while also threatening 260 million jobs that depend on marine fisheries around the world. "Similar to the illegal ivory trade, pirate fishing is decimating the ocean's most vulnerable and valuable wildlife - we are losing the elephants of the sea to poachers," said Oceana campaign director and senior scientist Margot Stiles. "By fishing illegally, including in national parks, and targeting endangered species with destructive gear, poachers provoke economic losses in the billions of dollars every year, undermining decades of conservation by more responsible fishermen."
Black Sea Changes and Reponses
May 7, 2013 04:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
When Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine paleoecologist Marco Coolen was mining through vast amounts of genetic data from the Black Sea sediment record, he was amazed about the variety of past plankton species that had left behind their genetic makeup as a sign of their environmental responses. The semi-isolated Black Sea is highly sensitive to climate driven environmental changes, and the underlying sediments represent high-resolution archives of past continental climate and concurrent hydrologic changes in the basin. The brackish Black Sea is currently receiving salty Mediterranean waters via the narrow Strait of Bosphorus as well as freshwater from rivers and via precipitation. In the past the Black Sea was more of a freshwater lake than a salty sea. Over the centuries the Black Sea has changed back and forth due to the ever changing climatic conditions of the world.
Unconventional swine: how invasive pigs are helping preserve biodiversity in the Pantanal
May 6, 2013 12:38 PM - Erica Santana , MONGABAY.COM
Ordinarily, invasive and exotic species are a grave threat to native wildlife: outcompeting local species, introducing parasites and disease, and disturbing local ecological regimes. A unique case in the Brazilian Pantanal, however, has turned the tables; here, an introduced mammal has actually aided the conservation of native wildlife. The impact of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) is a serious threat to biodiversity in many ecosystems around the globe. Their destructive rooting behavior and voracious appetite are often severely damaging to populations of plants and small animals, not to mention they serve as a reservoir for a host of zoonotic diseases. In the Pantanal, however, introduced feral pigs have had a positive impact on wildlife communities and the local culture. The Pantanal region of South America, which extends beyond Brazil into Bolivia and Paraguay, is one of the largest freshwater wetlands on the planet and boasts a diversity of unique wildlife- but this hasn't always been the case.
Gulf Killifish Affected by 2010 Oil Spill
May 6, 2013 09:34 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened over three years ago, but according to scientists, crude oil toxicity still continues to sicken a sentinel Gulf Coast fish species. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, teamed up with researchers from Louisiana and South Carolina to find that Gulf killifish embryos exposed to sediments from oiled locations in 2010 and 2011 show developmental abnormalities, including heart defects, delayed hatching and reduced hatching success.
Ordinary Ballast Water
May 6, 2013 08:32 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Everything we do can affects something else. Globalization, with its ever increasing demand for cargo transport, has inadvertently opened the flood gates for a new, silent invasion. New research has mapped the most detailed forecast to date for importing potentially harmful invasive species with the ballast water of cargo ships. Scientists from the Universities of Bristol, UK, and Oldenburg, Germany, have examined ship traffic data and biological records to assess the risk of future invasions. Their research is published in the latest issue of Ecology Letter.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles May Get Protected Habitat
May 4, 2013 07:33 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
Endangered loggerhead sea turtles won a federal commitment to protect critical nesting-beach and ocean habitat in a legal settlement filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court between conservation groups Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana and Turtle Island Restoration Network and the U.S. government. By July 1, 2013, the government must identify and propose protection of loggerhead sea turtle feeding, breeding and migratory habitat in ocean waters in the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific oceans and in the Gulf of Mexico. Final critical habitat protection for marine habitat and nesting beaches must be completed by July 1, 2014. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed critical habitat protection for loggerhead nesting beaches along Atlantic and Gulf coasts and will accept public comment until May 24. Protecting critical habitat for loggerheads is essential for their recovery. Studies show that endangered and threatened species with protected habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without.