• Botswana, Zambia & Costa Rica Toughen Hunting Regulations to Help Endangered Species

    Three developing countries have recently toughened hunting regulations believing the changes will better protect vanishing species. Botswana has announced it will ban trophy hunting on public lands beginning in 2014, while Zambia has recently banned any hunting of leopards or lions, both of which are disappearing across Africa. However, the most stringent ban comes from another continent: Costa Rica—often considered one of the "greenest" countries on Earth—has recently passed a law that bans all sport hunting and trapping both inside and outside protected areas. The controversial new law is considered the toughest in the Western Hemisphere. "The shooting of wild game purely for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna as a national treasure, which should be treated as such," Botswana's President, Ian Khama, said in last year's state of the nation address. >> Read the Full Article
  • Why are British Fish Eating Plastics?

    Scientists have found tiny fragments of plastic in the digestive systems of fish pulled from the English Channel. The discovery, by a team from Plymouth University and the UK Marine Biological Association, highlights the growing problem of plastic contamination of marine environments. Of 504 fish examined, more than a third was found to contain small pieces of plastic less than one millimetre in size, referred to by scientists as microplastics. >> Read the Full Article
  • Extreme Weather Events Sync Rise and Fall of Arctic Populations

    Climate change and changes in weather can affect species in many ways. From altering migration patterns, to varying plant growth leading to deviating diets, to extending or decreasing hibernation periods, climate can ultimately influence the success of a species. In an attempt to study some of these effects, a group of Norwegian scientists have found that extreme climate events can cause population fluctuations not only among single species, but also in a relatively simple high arctic community. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hope for the Wild Yak

    Unlike Asia's largest animal (the elephant) and its second largest (the rhino), the wild yak—the third largest animal on the world's biggest continent—rarely makes headlines and is never paraded by conservation groups to garner donations. Surviving on the top of the world, in the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau, the wild yak (Bos mutus) lives it's life out in such obscurity that even scientists know almost nothing about it. However, a recent count by American and Chinese conservations with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the University of Montana implies that the wild yak may be recovering after a close brush with extinction. >> Read the Full Article
  • Honeybees at Risk From Pesticide says EU Watchdog

    Three widely-used pesticides made by Switzerland's Syngenta and Germany's Bayer pose an acute risk to honeybees, the European Union's food safety watchdog said on Wednesday (16 January), but stopped short of linking them to bee colony collapse. Fears over the effects on bees of neonicotinoid insecticides - among the most commonly used crop pesticides in the world - led France to withdraw approval in June last year for Syngenta's Cruiser OSR, used to treat rapeseed crops. Responding to the opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission said it was ready to take the necessary steps if its findings are confirmed, raising the prospect of EU-wide restrictions on the use of the products. >> Read the Full Article
  • There is an Upside to the Devastating Pine Beetle Outbreak

    Pine beetles have been ravaging forests in the American West for years now, and there is very little that can be done to stop them. However, not all is lost for the ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains. A new study from the University of Colorado (CU), Boulder shows that the beetles go for the older mature pine trees, leaving the younger pines and lower vegetation to grow. When this occurs near a stream or water body, the smaller pines more successfully extract nitrates from the water and sediments. They buffer watersheds from nitrate pollution, a common pollutant typically caused by logging or damaging storms. >> Read the Full Article
  • Desertification solution? Olive Trees.

    The planting of ten of thousands of olive trees in arid areas in Israel have proved highly beneficial, according to a study which said the trees provide shade for animals, purge the air and even produce excellent olive oil. The study was conducted by the Faculty of Agriculture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with the help of the Agricultural Research Organization. Dr. Zohar Kerem, head of the olive oil research lab in the faculty's biochemistry institute, who participated in the study, explained that they followed tree-plantings in Israel's desert areas. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bee Politics

    Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants. Honey bees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other species of bees are present, says an international research team in ground-breaking research just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The research, which took place in California's almond orchards in Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus counties, could prove invaluable in increasing the pollination effectiveness of honey bees, as demand for their pollination service grows. When blue orchard bees and wild bees are foraging in almonds with honey bees, the behavior of honey bees changes, resulting in more effective crop pollination, said lead author Claire Brittain. Wild bees include non-managed bees such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Rise of Mammals in a Warming Land

    If it gets warmer what animals may benefit? The climate changes depicted by climatologists up to the year 2080 will benefit most mammals that live in northern Europe’s Arctic and sub-Arctic land areas today if they are able to reach their new climatic ranges. This is the conclusion drawn by ecologists at Umeå University in a recently published article in the journal Plos ONE. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tree height and leaf size dependent on internal physics

    The tallest trees in the world can grow up around 100 meters (think of a tree climbing the length of an entire football field!) but if a tree has all the necessary sunlight, water, and space what actually stops a tree from growing even taller? According to researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, Davis, the answers lie in the physics of a tree's internal plumbing. >> Read the Full Article