Cell Phone Conservation
July 9, 2014 10:35 AM - Alex Kirby, The Ecologist
Some of the world's most endangered forests may soon benefit from better protection, thanks to discarded treasures from the consumer society - mobile phones. A Californian technology startup, Rainforest Connection (RFCx), has developed a tool - made from recycled smartphones - that it says will pilot new ways to monitor and stop illegal logging and animal poaching throughout Africa's equatorial forests. RFCx has formed a partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), an international scientific charity that works for the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The two organisations are planning to install the anti-deforestation, anti-poaching technology in Cameroon this year.
Why is the US Throwing Away $1 Billion Worth of Fish Every Year?
July 9, 2014 08:38 AM - Judy Molland, Care2
You've probably already seen the grim news about overfishing: scientists predict that world food fisheries could collapse by 2050, if current trends continue. That's because 3/4 of the world's fish stocks are being harvested faster than they can reproduce; 80 percent are already fully exploited or in decline; and in addition 90 percent of all large predatory fish are already gone. But the picture gets worse: every year, the U.S. fishing industry throws about 2 billion pounds worth of fish back into the water. A report released last month by Oceana estimates that this amounts to an annual loss of one billion dollars.
SAR11 and Methane
July 8, 2014 08:07 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
With the focus on reducing carbon emissions, we often forget about methane — another greenhouse gas that is way more powerful as an atmospheric pollutant than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions can come from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities, but can also be emitted from a number of natural sources. One newly discovered natural source: SAR11.
How Warming Antarctic Climate Affects Marine Life
July 7, 2014 08:40 PM - David Malmquist, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
A long-term study of the links between climate and marine life along the rapidly warming West Antarctic Peninsula reveals how changes in physical factors such as wind speed and sea-ice cover send ripples up the food chain, with impacts on everything from single-celled algae to penguins.
Condors vs. the NRA
July 7, 2014 08:36 AM - Dawn Starin, The Ecologist
Recently scientists from the Zoological Society of London and Yale University assessed the world's 9,993 bird species according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk. At number three on the list is the Critically Endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) - weighing as much as 25 pounds, standing over four foot tall, with a wingspan of almost 10 feet, it is the largest land bird in North America.
For some birds, family matters.
July 7, 2014 07:36 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth online
Extraordinary co-operation by sociable weavers, which work together to build the largest nests in the world, is motivated by family ties, say scientists. New research, published in Ecology Letters, says the birds, which are found throughout southern Africa, are more likely to maintain the communal part of the nest if they have relatives living nearby.
Ocean health depends more on whales than we thought
July 4, 2014 06:51 AM - University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Baleen and sperm whales, known collectively as the great whales, include the largest animals in the history of life on Earth. Though large in size, whales have long been considered too rare to make much of a difference in the ocean, and the focus of much marine ecological research has been on smaller organisms, such as algae and planktonic animals. While these small organisms are essential to life in the sea, they are not the whole story. As great whales recover from centuries of overhunting, scientists are beginning to appreciate their roles as ecosystem engineers of the ocean.
Where's the Plastic?
July 3, 2014 08:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2
According to a new study, 99% of plastic waste that enters the ocean cannot be located. While initially hearing that there's less plastic in the ocean than we believed sounds like great news, it's actually a frightening prospect. After all, if the plastic isn't in the ocean ... where is it going?! A team from the University of Western Australia spent a couple of years sailing around the world in five vessels hoping to accurately record just how much plastic is actually in the ocean. Although researchers expected to discover millions of tons, they were surprised to calculate that they only calculated about 40,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface.
Small Elephant-Relative Spotted in Namibia
July 2, 2014 11:35 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Forget marsupials, the world's strangest group of mammals are actually those in the Afrotheria order. This superorder of mammals contains a motley crew that at first glance seems to have nothing in common: from the biggest land animals on the planet—elephant—to tiny, rodent sized mammals such as tenrecs, hyraxes, golden moles, and sengis. But there's more: the group even includes marine mammals, such as dugongs and manatees. Finally, they also include as a member the most evolutionary-distinct mammal on the planet: the aardvark. While these species may seem entirely unrelated—and many were long shuffled into other groups—decades of genetic and morphological research now point to them all springing from the same tree. Last week, though, scientists announced the newest, and arguably cutest, member of Atrotheria: the Etendeka round-eared sengi. Described in the most recent edition of the Journal of Mammology, the Etendeka round-eared sengi (Macroscelides micus) was discovered in the northwest corner of Namibia.
World’s Protected Areas Not Protecting Biodiversity
June 30, 2014 02:53 PM - Wildlife Conservation Society
Scientists from James Cook University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, Stanford University, BirdLife International, the International Union for Nature Conservation, and other organizations have warned that the world's protected areas are not safeguarding most of the world's imperilled biodiversity, and clear changes need to be made on how nations undertake future land protection if wildlife is going to be saved. These findings come at a time when countries are working toward what could become the biggest expansion of protected areas in history. The authors of the new study found that 85 percent of world's 4,118 threatened mammals, birds, and amphibian species are not adequately protected in existing national parks, and are therefore vulnerable to extinction in the near term. The new study appears in the esteemed international journal PLOS Biology.