Road to environmental destruction
March 21, 2014 11:40 AM - ENN Editor
Roads are considered connectors of human development providing opportunities for economic success and communication but the flip side of this network is that it has also brought enormous destruction to our fields and forests. With forest destruction comes increased human development and ecological degradation. Recent mapping and modeling has been done to document and measure forest destruction in an initiative by the Ames Research Center of NASA and ENN affiliate, Mongabay.
Plankton make scents for seabirds and a cooler planet
March 21, 2014 08:56 AM - University of California, Davis
The top predators of the Southern Ocean, far-ranging seabirds, are tied both to the health of the ocean ecosystem and to global climate regulation through a mutual relationship with phytoplankton, according to newly published work from the University of California, Davis.
Are Your Shaving Razors Inspired by Frog and Cricket Legs?
March 21, 2014 07:40 AM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels
Despite the fact that no animals (except for humans!) shave, it turns out the animal kingdom can teach us a thing or two about shaving. Researchers at the Technion have found that by mimicking the texture of the legs of creatures who live in wet environments — they can create better razors.
Forest Peoples at risk from 'carbon grab'
March 20, 2014 10:52 AM - Oliver Tickell, Ecologist
A new 'carbon grab' is under way as governments and corporations seize valuable rights to the carbon stored in standing forests, with UN and World Bank support. But there's no benefit for forest communities - who even risk expulsion to make way for 'carbon plantations'. As the United Nations and the World Bank prepare to develop world carbon markets as a tool to halt deforestation under so-called REDD+,new research warns of a new 'carbon grab' in the making.
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.
Blame Humans: New Research Proves People Killed Off New Zealand's Giant Birds
March 19, 2014 11:13 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Moas were a diverse group of flightless birds that ruled over New Zealand up to the arrival of humans, the biggest of these mega-birds stood around 3.5 meters (12 feet) with outstretched neck. While the whole moa family—comprised of nine species—vanished shortly after the arrival of people on New Zealand in the 13th Century, scientists have long debated why the big birds went extinct. Some theories contend that the birds were already in decline due to environmental changes or volcanic activity before humans first stepped on New Zealand's beaches. But a study released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds no evidence of said decline, instead pointing the finger squarely at us.
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.