• Saving bees with spider venom?

    With Europe and the United States slow to ban the pesticides that science says is probably drastically harming our bee populations, could one of the world's most venomous spiders hold one solution to saving our pollinators? >> Read the Full Article
  • How herring populations are affected by commercial fisheries

    Scientists analyzed almost half a million fish bones to shed light on the population history of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) in the North Pacific Ocean. Their paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals a decline of unprecedented scale. It suggests that while the abundance of Pacific herring does fluctuate naturally, their numbers have fallen precipitously since commercial fishing started targeting the species in the 19th century. >> Read the Full Article
  • World Cup mascot helps score for Brazilian three-banded armadillos

    A call by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, seems to have been heeded by the Brazilian government. On 22 May, the Brazilian government published an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil. The document proposes increasing the protected areas where the armadillo lives, enhancing financial incentives to prevent three-banded armadillo hunting and increasing education about the importance of protecting this species. >> Read the Full Article
  • Milkweed loss to blame for declining Monarch populations

    Populations of the popular Monarch butterfly have been declining in recent years and a new study is citing habitat loss on US breeding grounds as the main culprit. The eastern North American monarch population is known not only for its iconic orange and black colors, but also for its late summer migration from the United States to Mexico, a migration covering thousands of miles. And despite the long-held belief that monarch butterflies are most vulnerable to disturbances on wintering grounds in Mexico, new research from the University of Guelph shows lack of milkweed in the US which provides breeding grounds for the species is playing more of a role for species decline. >> Read the Full Article
  • Intact Amazon forests show possible signs of global warming impact

    Climate change may be taking a hidden toll on intact rainforests in the heart of the Amazon, finds a new study based on 35 years of observations. The research, published in the journal Ecology, focused on the ecological impacts of fragmentation but unexpectedly found changes in the control forests. These shifts, which included faster growth and death rates of trees, increased biomass accumulation, and proliferation in vines, may be linked to rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, according to George Mason University's Thomas Lovejoy, who initiated the study in the late 1970's. >> Read the Full Article
  • Goats to the Rescue in Fire-Prone Bay Area

    How does the saying go? Only you can prevent forest fires, or only goats can prevent forest fires? You'll understand the confusion when you meet the Bay Area's latest fire prevention crews: goats. California is facing a forecast for what may be the worst fire season ever, thanks to drought conditions and a large buildup of tinder. Fire management professionals are working ahead of time to try to clear brush, high grass and other fire hazards, in the hopes of reducing the spread of the inevitable wildfires that are already streaking across the state. When it comes to brush clearance crews, it can be tough to find someone willing to do the job. It's backbreaking labor conducted in the hot sun, and it takes hours to make a dent in overgrown shrubs and brush, which are often filled with tangles of thorns and other unpleasant surprises. Brush clearance can get extremely expensive, and it requires constant maintenance. That's one reason why people have been turning to rental goats to clear brush and keep areas like road verges, medians and hillsides trimmed. >> Read the Full Article
  • Zebras Break Record for Africa's Longest Terrestrial Migration

    With food and water scarce in many parts of Africa, many species migrate long-distances in order to survive. A new study published in the journal, Oryx has found a new record-breaker for the continent’s longest tracked terrestrial migration: a huge group of zebras that traveled a total distance of 500 kilometers (300 miles). >> Read the Full Article
  • Trawling: destructive fishing method is turning sea floors to 'deserts'

    Bottom trawling is a practice used by commercial fisheries around the world in which a large, heavy net is dragged along the ocean floor to scoop up everything in its path. Previous research has linked trawling to significant environmental impacts, such as the harvest of large numbers of non-target species, collectively termed "by catch," as well as destruction of shallow seabeds. Now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds this method is also resulting in long-term, far-reaching consequences in the deeper ocean and beyond. Trawling dates back to the 1300s, and it became widespread in coastal areas around the world after the industrialization of commercial fishing in the late-1800s. Bottom trawling targets commercially valuable species that live near the sea floor, such as cod, rockfish, and various kinds of squid and shrimp. Gear varies depending on the fishing outfit, but nets can be nearly as large as a city block and scoop thousands of fish and other marine animals in a single drag. >> Read the Full Article
  • How Sharks Could Help Predict Hurricanes

    Scientists have embarked on a remarkable new project to use shark and large marine predators as biological sensors in the hopes that they could help us predict the formation and course of potentially dangerous hurricanes. Researchers from the University of Miami have tagged a total of 750 marine animals in the past ten years, all to track the temperature and salinity of sea waters at different depths. Earlier this year though, the researchers noticed something special about the data — the tagged marine life gravitated toward water that was about 79 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, which is the temperature at which hurricanes form. >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA doles out grants to replace old diesel engines on tug boats

    The shipping industry is one of the most under-regulated industries in the world due to outdated and international regulations that are difficult to enforce on a global scale. And as these ships enter our harbors and ports close to home, their operations have the potential to generate smog-forming emissions and other pollutants that are linked to various health problems in susceptible populations. In an effort to combat some of the pollution expelled from dirty diesel engines, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has allotted over one million dollars to help two specific organizations replace their old engines with less polluting models. According to the EPA, the projects will cut emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides and particulate matter among other pollutants which are linked to asthma, lung and heart disease and premature death. >> Read the Full Article