Wildlife

Biodiversity needs citizen scientists
November 3, 2016 07:49 PM - Linda See, IIASA

Could birdwatching or monitoring tree blossoms in your community make a difference in global environmental research? A new study says yes: citizen scientists have a vital role to play.

Citizen scientists are already providing large amounts of data for monitoring biodiversity, but they could do much more, according to a new study published in the journal Biological Conservation, which suggests that citizen science has the potential to contribute much more to regional and global assessments of biodiversity. Citizen scientists are regular people who provide data or input to science, for example by monitoring species in their community or examining satellite imagery for evidence of deforestation or land use change. 

“Citizen scientists are already contributing enormously to environmental science,” says IIASA researcher Linda See. “For example, a huge amount of species occurrence data is provided by members of the interested public. The question we addressed was, where are citizens contributing and where are they not, and how can we draw on this phenomenon to help fill the gaps in science?”

Seeing Fewer Butterflies? Blame Extreme Weather
November 3, 2016 07:42 PM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Have you noticed fewer butterflies floating this year? Researchers in the UK think they know the culprit for the population decline: extreme weather conditions.

Ghost Forests: How Rising Seas Are Killing Southern U.S. Woodlands
November 1, 2016 09:42 AM - Roger Drouin via Yale Environment 360

On a recent afternoon, University of Florida watershed ecologist David Kaplan and Ph.D. candidate Katie Glodzik hiked through the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve, on the Big Bend coast of northwestern Florida. Not long ago, red cedar, live oaks, and cabbage palms grew in profusion on the raised “hammock island” forests set amid the preserve’s wetlands. But as the researchers walked through thigh-high marsh grass, the barren trunks of dead cedars were silhouetted against passing clouds. Dead snag cabbage palms stood like toothpicks snapped at the top. Other trees and shrubs, such as wax myrtle, had long been replaced by more salt-tolerant black needlerush marsh grass. 

Food and Energy Demand Drives 58 Percent Decline in Global Wildlife Populations
October 28, 2016 07:16 AM - Lorin Hancock, World Wildlife Fund

Global populations of vertebrates -- mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish -- have declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, states a new report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Animals living in the world’s lakes, rivers, and freshwater systems have experienced the most dramatic population declines, at 81 percent. Because of human activity, the report states that without immediate intervention global wildlife populations could drop two-thirds by 2020.

The buzz about edible bugs: Can they replace beef?
October 27, 2016 07:16 AM - American Chemical Society

The idea of eating bugs has created a buzz lately in both foodie and international development circles as a more sustainable alternative to consuming meat and fish. Now a report appearing in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry examines how the nutrients — particularly iron — provided by grasshoppers, crickets and other insects really measures up to beef. It finds that insects could indeed fill that dietary need.

Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa's severe water shortages
October 19, 2016 04:09 PM - United Nations News Centre

There is a need to reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, a UN Environment report urged today.

The loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s forests could trigger water crisis as rivers begin to dry up, notes the report, entitled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate, which was launched at the World Mountain Forum in Uganda today.

Researchers use 'robomussels' to monitor climate change
October 18, 2016 07:07 AM - Northeastern University

Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how cli­mate change affects bio­di­ver­sity. Devel­oped by North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sci­en­tist Brian Hel­muth, the “robo­mus­sels” have the shape, size, and color of actual mus­sels, with minia­ture built-in sen­sors that track tem­per­a­tures inside the mussel beds.

Bees Are Declared Endangered for the First Time in the U.S.
October 7, 2016 07:09 AM - Alicia Graefi, Care2

For the first time in history, a group of bees in the U.S. will be protected under the Endangered Species Act, following a recent announcement from wildlife officials.

The group of bees, who are commonly known as yellow-faced bees because of the markings on their faces, are endemic only to the Hawaiian islands. While there are dozens of species, scientists identified several of them who are at risk of extinction and have been calling for their protection for years.

First evidence of deep-sea animals ingesting microplastics
October 3, 2016 07:11 AM - University of Oxford

Following the news that the UK government is to ban plastic microbeads by the end of 2017, a team of scientists led by the University of Oxford has discovered the first evidence of microplastics being ingested by deep-sea animals.

Researchers working on the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook at two sites in the mid-Atlantic and south-west Indian Ocean found plastic microfibres inside creatures including hermit crabs, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers at depths of between 300m and 1800m.

Fate of turtles and tortoises affected more by habitat than temperature
September 27, 2016 07:17 AM - University of Bristol

Habitat degradation poses a greater risk to the survival of turtles and tortoises than rising global temperatures, according to new research.

More than 60 per cent of the group are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, because they are being traded, collected for food and medicine and their habitats are being degraded. Understanding the additional impact of global warming and changes in rainfall patterns on their diversity and distributions is therefore paramount to their conservation.

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