Mercury and Selenium are Accumulating in the Colorado River Food Web
August 20, 2015 09:01 AM - USGS Newsroom

Although the Grand Canyon segment of the Colorado River features one of the most remote ecosystems in the United States, it is not immune to exposure from toxic chemicals such as mercury according to newly published research in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, found that concentrations of mercury and selenium in Colorado River food webs of the Grand Canyon National Park, regularly exceeded risk thresholds for fish and wildlife. 

Help the Monarch recover
August 19, 2015 06:42 AM - DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION via The ECRReport, ECOreport

Jode Roberts has spent a lot of the summer checking out ditches and fields along the sides of roads, railways and trails. At first, he didn’t like what he was seeing. Roberts, who is leading the David Suzuki Foundation’s effort to bring monarchs back from the brink, was searching for signs that the butterflies had visited patches of milkweed plants. Despite the bleak start, he recently hit the jackpot: a half-dozen eggs and a couple of monarch caterpillars, calmly munching on milkweed leaves.

Over the past millennium, eastern monarch butterflies have migrated northward from Mexico in spring, arriving in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes in early summer, where they lay eggs on the undersides of milkweed leaves. In the following weeks, their caterpillars hatch and eat a steady milkweed diet. In late summer, they form chrysalises and undergo the amazing transformation into butterflies. They then begin fattening themselves for the arduous return to the Mexican alpine forests where they overwinter.

Long-term Protection Achieved for the Sumatran Forest
August 14, 2015 07:59 AM - WWF Global

One of the last places on Earth where Sumatran elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild has received long-term protection. The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry approved a conservation concession – a lease of the land – covering 40,000 hectares of forest on the island of Sumatra.

Apes show abilities related to speech
August 14, 2015 07:45 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Koko the gorilla is best known for a lifelong study to teach her a silent form of communication, American Sign Language. But some of the simple sounds she has learned may change the perception that humans are the only primates with the capacity for speech.

In 2010, Marcus Perlman started research work at The Gorilla Foundation in California, where Koko has spent more than 40 years living immersed with humans — interacting for many hours each day with psychologist Penny Patterson and biologist Ron Cohn.

"I went there with the idea of studying Koko's gestures, but as I got into watching videos of her, I saw her performing all these amazing vocal behaviors," says Perlman, now a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology Professor Gary Lupyan.

Greenland ice sheet's winds driving tundra soil erosion
August 13, 2015 08:52 AM - Dartmouth College

Strong winds blowing off the Greenland Ice Sheet are eroding soil and vegetation in the surrounding tundra, making it less productive for caribou and other grazing animals, carbon storage and nutrient cycling, a Dartmouth College study finds.

Happy World Elephant Day!
August 12, 2015 02:00 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

On Wednesday, August 12, animal lovers around the world will be coming together to celebrate elephants and support a future where they’re respected and protected for the fourth annual World Elephant Day.

Could eating meat speed-up worldwide species extinction?
August 12, 2015 09:03 AM - Virginia Morell, Science/AAAS

Diets rich in beef and other red meat can be bad for a person’s health. And the practice is equally bad for Earth’s biodiversity, according to a team of scientists who have fingered human carnivory—and its impact on land use—as the single biggest threat to much of the world’s flora and fauna. Already a major cause of extinction, our meat habit will take a growing toll as people clear more land for livestock and crops to feed these animals, a study in the current issue of Science of the Total Environment predicts.

Melting glaciers feed Antarctic food chain
August 11, 2015 03:48 PM - American Geophysical Union

Nutrient-rich water from melting Antarctic glaciers nourishes the ocean food chain, creating feeding “hot spots” in large gaps in the sea ice, according to a new study. New research finds that iron stored in the region’s glaciers is being shuttled by melting water to open areas of the ocean, called polynyas, where it stimulates growth of phytoplankton, ocean algae that form the base of the marine food chain. 

Range of non-native marine species is explained by time introduced
August 11, 2015 09:04 AM - Beth Gavrilles, University of Georgia

The time since the introduction of a non-native marine species best explains its global range, according to new research by an international team of scientists led by University of Georgia ecologist James E. Byers. The study, published in the open access journal Nature Scientific Reports, also contains a warning: The vast majority of marine invaders have not yet finished spreading.

Fish go deep to beat the heat
August 7, 2015 02:21 PM - James Cook University

A James Cook University study shows fish retreat to deeper water to escape the heat, a finding that throws light on what to expect if predictions of ocean warming come to pass. 

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