• Food and Energy Demand Drives 58 Percent Decline in Global Wildlife Populations

    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.

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  • The buzz about edible bugs: Can they replace beef?

    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.

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  • Wildlife Farming: Does It Help Or Hurt Threatened Species?

    More than a decade ago, looking to slow the decimation of wildlife populations for the bushmeat trade, researchers in West Africa sought to establish an alternative protein supply. Brush-tailed porcupine was one of the most popular and high-priced meats, in rural and urban areas alike. Why not farm it? It turned out that the porcupines are generally solitary, and when put together, they tended to fight and didn't have sex. In any case, moms produce only one offspring per birth, hardly a recipe for commercial success. 

    Wildlife farming is like that — a tantalizing idea that is always fraught with challenges and often seriously flawed. And yet it is also growing both as a marketplace reality and in its appeal to a broad array of legitimate stakeholders as a potentially sustainable alternative to the helter-skelter exploitation of wild resources everywhere. 

    Food security consultants are promoting wildlife farming as a way to boost rural incomes and supply protein to a hungry world. So are public health experts who view properly managed captive breeding as a way to prevent emerging diseases in wildlife from spilling over into the human population.

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  • Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa's severe water shortages

    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.

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  • Researchers use 'robomussels' to monitor climate change

    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.

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  • Bees Are Declared Endangered for the First Time in the U.S.

    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.

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  • First evidence of deep-sea animals ingesting microplastics

    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.

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  • 5 Species Most Likely to Survive a Climate Change Disaster

    Survival of the fittest. This basic tenet of evolution explains why the dodo bird no longer exists and why humans have opposable thumbs.

    Adaptation is key to survival, no matter how many fingers you’ve got. The ability to adjust to whatever conditions Mother Earth sends our way determines whether obstacles lead to extinction or to a new generation.

    Human-accelerated climate change is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve already seen the superstorms and drought it can create. Although we can work to slow climate change, there’s no way to stop it completely. This reality means adaptation will once again become the most important strategy for survival.

    One thing’s for sure: the Earth will continue to exist as it has for eons. The question is, what will be left behind to inhabit it?

    Below are five species known for their resilience and ability to survive in adverse conditions. They are the most likely to survive a climate change disaster. Spoiler: humans don’t make the list.

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  • Fate of turtles and tortoises affected more by habitat than temperature

    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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  • Birds prefer quality over quantity

    In a new study that upends the way ornithologists think about a young bird’s diet – but won’t shock parents used to scanning the nutritional profile of their children’s food – Cornell researchers have found that when it comes to what chicks eat, quality trumps quantity.

    In recent decades, many aerial insectivores, such as tree swallows, have undergone steep population declines. Cornell researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the fatty acid composition in the tree swallow diet plays a key role in chick health and survival rates, potentially pointing to new ways to protect fragile bird species.

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