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Logging in temperate zones may release more greenhouse gases than previously thought by destabilizing carbon stored in forest soils, argues a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. The research involved analysis of carbon released from forest management practices in the northeastern United States. It found that while most models assume carbon stored in mineral soils to be relatively stable, in fact intensive logging operations, like clear-cutting, trigger release of carbon from various pools above and below ground.
Some Invasive Species may be Judged Unfairly
June 14, 2013 06:02 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Non-native species are organisms that have been purposely or accidently introduced to an area outside its original geographic range. Often, these non-native species become invasive where they thrive in their new habitat and can aggressively start to take over the environment by outcompeting some of the native species. This alteration can not only cause harm to the environment, but to the economy as well.
The Flesh of Ancient Fish
June 13, 2013 03:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
It is hard to tell from just bones or a fossilized rock what a creature once looked like with muscles. Flesh does not survive well over the eons. Swedish, Australian and French researchers have presented for the first time miraculously preserved musculature of 380 million year old armored fish discovered in north-west Australia. This research will help scientists to better understand how neck and abdominal muscles evolved during the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates. The scientific paper describing the discovery is published in the journal Science. The team of scientists who studied the fossilized fish was jointly directed by Prof. Kate Trinajstic, Curtin University, Perth, Australia and Prof. Per Erik Ahlberg of Uppsala University Sweden.
Better Land Use May Help Protect Coral Reefs
June 13, 2013 02:21 PM - Editor, ENN
According to new research, for nations that have outlying coral reefs, better land use of the mainland is crucial in order to prevent further damage to these ocean habitats. A recent study reveals important implications for Madagascan and Australian reefs based on deforestation scenarios.
11,000 barrels of oil spill into the Amazon's Coca River
June 13, 2013 09:02 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
On May 31st, a landslide ruptured an oil pipeline in Ecuadorean Amazon, sending around 11,000 barrels of oil (420,000 gallons) into the Coca River. The oil pollution has since moved into the larger Napo River, which borders Yasuni National Park, and is currently heading downstream into Peru and Brazil. The spill has occurred in a region that is notorious for heavy oil production and decades of contamination, in addition to resistance and lawsuits by indigenous groups.
Of Wolves and Elk in Yellowstone National Park
June 13, 2013 06:03 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
What does the rising wolf population mean for the elk in Yellowstone? A new study casts light on this question. It turns out that the mere presence of wolves, previously shown to affect the behavior of elk in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, is not potent enough to reduce the body condition and reproductive rates of female elk, according to new research. The research, led by recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate Arthur Middleton, provides the most comprehensive evidence to date refuting the idea that wolves are capable of reducing elk calf recruitment indirectly through predation risk.
New fossil shines light on primate and human evolution
June 12, 2013 09:47 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
A 55 million year old fossil that has been unearthed from an ancient lakebed in China's Hubei Province has revealed a pivotal event in primate and human evolution. Hailing from the early Eocene Epoch, the fossil is crucial to the branch split that led to anthropoids (monkeys, apes, and humans) on one side, and living tarsiers (small, tree-dwelling nocturnal primates) on the other. The discovered fossil represents a previously unknown genus and species named Archicebus Achilles.
Ocean acidification pushing young oysters into 'death race'
June 12, 2013 08:51 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Scientists have long known that ocean acidification is leading to a decline in Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) in the U.S.'s Pacific Northwest region, but a new study in the American Geophysical Union shows exactly how the change is undercutting populations of these economically-important molluscs. Caused by carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification changes the very chemistry of marine waters by lowering pH levels; this has a number consequences including decreasing the availability of calcium carbonate, which oysters and other molluscs use to build shells.
Panama expects benefits from world's first GM salmon
June 11, 2013 03:45 PM - Eva Aguilar, SciDevNet
Panama's researchers have played a key role in creating a rapidly growing salmon that may soon become the world's first commercially sold genetically modified (GM) animal. The US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled the consumption of GM salmon to be as safe as conventional Atlantic salmon, and is now analyzing public comments on its environmental impact as the final part of the approval process. If the FDA permits the transgenic salmon to be imported for human consumption — which the firm that developed the fish hopes will be granted this year — the research station in Panama that is studying the GM salmon would switch to growing it for the US market.
Tibetan monks could be the key to safeguarding the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) from extinction, according to an innovative program by big cat NGO Panthera which is partnering with Buddhist monasteries deep in leopard territory. Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, snow leopard populations have dropped by a fifth in the last 16 years or so. Large, beautiful, and almost never-seen, snow leopards are the apex predators of the high plateaus and mountains of central Asia, but their survival like so many big predators is in jeopardy. Tom McCarthy the head of the Snow Leopard Program at Panthera told mongabay.com that the high-altitude predators are facing three major threats: poaching for illegal snow leopard skins, fur, and parts; decline in natural prey; and revenge killing by locals over livestock losses.