• Long-term health of Congo forests threatened by human activity

    Unsustainable hunting of forest elephants, gorillas, forest antelopes, and other seed-dispersers could have long-term impacts on the health and resilience of Congo Basin rainforests, warns a study published today in a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. Conducting a review of more than 160 papers and reports on trends in wildlife populations, hunting, and land use in the Congo Basin, a team of researchers from Oxford University, the University of Queensland, the University of Stirling, and the Wildlife Conservation Society conclude that unless effective management plans are put into place, hunting pressure in the region is likely to increase, with knock-on ecological effects. >> Read the Full Article
  • World Population Growing Fast & Unevenly

    It's no secret that the world's population growth is heavily skewed by region — so much so that the changes expected for the next century will radically change the world as we know it. But according to projections recently revised by the United Nations Population Program, those changes will come even faster than we thought. The UN has dispensed with the old estimate that Africa's population will triple within 90 years — instead, it could very well quadruple. >> Read the Full Article
  • Native UK bees at risk from imported bumblebees

    Bumblebees imported from Europe infected with parasites pose a serious threat to the UK’s wild and honey bee populations, according to a new study. Each year, more than a million bumblebee colonies are imported by countries across the globe to pollinate a variety of crops, with the UK alone importing between 40,000 and 50,000. Although the colonies are said by the global suppliers to be disease free, a recent study in the Journal of Applied Ecology has found that more than three-quarters of those imported into the UK each year are riddled with parasites. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Many Benefits of Crop Rotation

    Crop rotation is a common farming practice where different series of crops are planted in the same area each sequential season. Planting different crops on the same piece of land has been used since Roman times and has been proven to improve plant nutrition, benefit soil health, and control the spread of disease. A new study to be published in Nature's 'The ISME Journal' reveals just how profound crop rotation's effect is on enriching soil with bacteria, fungi and protozoa. >> Read the Full Article
  • Drought seriously impacting rangeland, cattle

    The Bureau of Land Management has been tracking range conditions as the current drought lingers on. Drought conditions across the West have impacted rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake targeted actions, such as providing supplemental water and food for wild horses; reducing grazing; and enacting fire restrictions. Hot, dry conditions continue to persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. For example, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor in New Mexico; 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah. Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013. >> Read the Full Article
  • Satellite monitoring of ice sheets

    Data from satellites have been used a lot recently to monitor the loss of ice from ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Having these data is relatively recent, however. It would be better if the data existed for a longer period so more accurate predictions of future rates of ice loss or accretion could be made. The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study led by Dr Bert Wouters from the University of Bristol. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, underscore the need for continuous satellite monitoring of the ice sheets to better identify and predict melting and the corresponding sea-level rise. >> Read the Full Article
  • Beef to Fish: A Historic Shift in Food Production

    The human diet is evolving as world farmed fish production has over taken beef production. Reports from 2012 show that 66 million tons of farmed fish were produced in comparison to 63 million tons of beef and experts are predicting that this year may be the first year that people eat more farm-raised fish than those caught in the wild. Annual beef production climbed from 19 million tons in 1950 to more than 50 million tons in the late 1980s. Over the same period, the wild fish catch ballooned from 17 million tons to close to 90 million tons. But since the late 1980s, the growth in beef production has slowed, and the reported wild fish catch has remained essentially flat. >> Read the Full Article
  • Chesapeake Bay "Dead Zones" Reduce Diversity and Abundance of Near-bottom Species

    The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and even though President Obama has declared it a "national treasure" in 2009, this watershed is becoming emptier with fewer shellfish and fish populations mainly due to upstream pollution. Consequently, a 10-year research study conducted by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) indicates that low oxygen levels reduce diversity and catch rates of species that live and feed near the Bay bottom. >> Read the Full Article
  • Politics of Climate Change: A Well-Oiled Machine

    The politics of climate change are a lot like the politics of gun control, at least in the sense that President Obama meant when he asked in April 2013 how Congress could fail to deliver gun control legislation when 90 percent of the American public wants it. Polling in 2013 shows that 87 percent of Americans would like their national government to make clean energy a priority; only 12 percent think that this should be a low priority. The same poll showed that 70 percent of Americans believe that climate policy should be a priority, and 59 percent think the US should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions even if other nations do not. Yet year after year, our national policy mechanisms have stalled efforts to do both. What’s holding us back? Special interests are, and more specifically, fossil fuel interests are. In the year leading up to President Obama's first election, expectations that Congress would pass some sort of bill limiting greenhouse gas emissions were high. The percentage of Americans who said in public opinion polls that they believed that climate change was happening and that something should be done about it was rising in the wake of two dreadful hurricane seasons. At least one global warming bill had gotten out of committee in 2007 in the Senate, and in 2009 the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security bill. Financial analysts were beginning to talk more about the costs of carbon emissions, often with the expectation that regulatory action was imminent. >> Read the Full Article
  • Conifers threatened globally

    A third of the world's conifers, the biggest and longest-lived organisms on the planet, are at risk of extinction, with logging and disease the main threats, scientists said. The study of more than 600 types of conifers – trees and shrubs including cedars, cypresses and firs – updates a "Red List" on which almost 21,000 of 70,000 species of animals and plants assessed in recent years are under threat. >> Read the Full Article