Red clover genome to help restore sustainable farming
Published Nov 30, 2015 - 9:28:57 AM
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in collaboration with IBERS, has sequenced and assembled the DNA of red clover to help breeders improve the beneficial traits of this important forage crop. The genome is published in Scientific Reports, a journal from the Nature publishing group.
On the road to Paris: Forest Service scientists improve US forest carbon accounting
Published Nov 30, 2015 - 9:23:51 AM
Scientists with the USDA Forest Service have developed a new approach to forest carbon accounting that will result in a more accurate picture of how much carbon is sequestered in forests - the planet's greatest terrestrial carbon sink - and the ramifications of changes in land use, wildfire and invasive insects on carbon sequestration.
Marine airgun noise could cause turtle trauma
Published Nov 23, 2015 - 9:52:18 AM
Scientists from the University of Exeter are warning of the risks that seismic surveys may pose to sea turtles. Widely used in marine oil and gas exploration, seismic surveys use airguns to produce sound waves that penetrate the sea floor to map oil and gas reserves.
New Program Rates Bird-Smart Glass Products for Homeowners and Architects
Published Nov 18, 2015 - 9:47:11 AM
Collisions with glass windows kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the United States, but thanks to American Bird Conservancy's new Bird-Smart Glass Program, a list of 18 tested, proven products is now available to help homeowners and architects identify simple but effective solutions to stop birds from hitting windows.
Conservation groups call for veto of extinction riders
Published Nov 17, 2015 - 8:15:13 AM
More than 150 conservation groups have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to oppose all policy “riders” that would undermine the Endangered Species Act during negotiations on final funding legislation for Fiscal Year 2016.
Shrinking shelf and faster flow for Greenland glacier
Published Nov 13, 2015 - 9:33:12 AM
A major glacier in northeast Greenland known as Zachariæ Isstrøm began a rapid retreat in recent years, a new study reports. The demise of this glacier, which helps to drain 12% of the Greenland Ice Sheet, has the potential to raise sea level significantly, the study's authors say.
Arctic Tundra Fire Causes Widespread Permafrost Landscape Changes
Published Nov 13, 2015 - 8:23:25 AM
Large and severe tundra fires cause top down permafrost thaw, playing a major role in altering Arctic landscapes according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Ongoing Clearance by Palm Oil Industry Spurs Imminent Species Extinction and Massive Climate Impact in Leuser Ecosystem
Published Nov 12, 2015 - 8:42:51 AM
In the midst of a catastrophic Indonesian forest fire season, a new report released today by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) exposes ongoing destruction to one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The RAN report––titled The Last Place on Earth: Tracking Progress and New Opportunities to Protect the Leuser Ecosystem––cites evidence of continued clearance by palm oil growers supplying palm oil to mills in the region. It highlights Wilmar International, Musim Mas Group and Golden Agri Resources––dubbed the “Big Three Buyers” of palm oil currently at risk of sourcing from the region––and outlines the steps that they, and government officials, need to take to protect endangered species and community livelihoods from encroaching industrial development.
West Antarctic ice cascades towards crisis, could raise sea levels by three metres
Published Nov 12, 2015 - 8:40:16 AM
It wouldn’t take much to precipitate the complete collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, according to new research.
Just a few more decades of ocean warming would be enough to destabilize the relatively small region of ice by the Amundsen Sea − starting a cascade of slipping and sliding that would tip enough ice into the ocean to raise sea levels by three meters. The loss of ice would continue for centuries.
International Civil Society Alarmed by Conviction of Cameroonian Environmental Human Rights Defender
Published Nov 9, 2015 - 12:14:43 PM
Cameroonian authorities must stop the harassment of Nasako Besingi, environmental human rights defender, according to an international coalition of civil society organizations including the Oakland Institute, Forest Peoples Programme, Grain, Save Wildlife Foundation, Cultural Survival, Greenpeace Africa, and the Environmental Investigation Agency.
Counting stars: Illegal trade of Indian star tortoises is a far graver issue
Published Nov 9, 2015 - 8:59:16 AM
Patterned with star-like figures on their shells, Indian star tortoises can be found in private homes across Asia, where they are commonly kept as pets. One can also see them in religious temples, praised as the living incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. How did they get there? Suspicious of a large-scale illegal international trade of these tortoises that could in fact pose a grave threat to the survival of the Indian Star tortoise, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Neil D'Cruze from Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, and World Animal Protection, London, spent 17 months investigating the case focusing on India and Thailand. They have their study published in the open-access journal Nature Conservation.
Removing Nitrogen from Groundwater Has New Ally: Anammox
Published Nov 6, 2015 - 9:47:10 AM
USGS scientists have conducted the first-ever field measurements of anammox activity in groundwater, demonstrating that nitrogen removal from groundwater can occur through the action of naturally occurring bacteria. This research was conducted in collaboration with partners from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the University of Connecticut.
Native Bees Foraging in Fields Are Exposed to Neonicotinoid Insecticides and other Pesticides
Published Nov 5, 2015 - 8:27:14 AM
According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides. This report was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Local destabilization can cause complete loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses
Published Nov 2, 2015 - 1:45:35 PM
The huge West Antarctic ice sheet would collapse completely if the comparatively small Amundsen Basin is destabilized, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research find. A full discharge of ice into the ocean is calculated to yield about 3 meters of sea-level rise. Recent studies indicated that this area of the ice continent is already losing stability, making it the first element in the climate system about to tip. The new publication for the first time shows the inevitable consequence of such an event. According to the computer simulations, a few decades of ocean warming can start an ice loss that continues for centuries or even millennia.
100-year-old mystery solved: Adult eel observed for the first time in the Sargasso Sea
Published Oct 27, 2015 - 9:57:03 AM
After more than a century of speculation, researchers have finally proved that American eels really do migrate to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce. A team supervised by Professor Julian Dodson of Université Laval and Martin Castonguay of Fisheries and Oceans Canada reports having established the migratory route of this species by tracking 28 eels fitted with satellite transmitters. One of these fish reached the northern boundary of the Sargasso Sea, the presumed reproduction site for the species, after a 2,400 km journey. Details are published in the latest edition of Nature Communications.
Reduction in Amazon deforestation avoids 1,700 deaths per year
Published Oct 26, 2015 - 8:38:56 AM
Because of decreasing deforestation and emissions from forest fires in the Amazon over the past ten years, the amount of particulate matter (aerosols), ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and other atmospheric pollutants released by burning biomass has fallen by 30% on average during the dry season in southern Brazil, Paraguay, northern Bolivia and Argentina.
Failing to account for climate change in mining land reclamation may cost billions: Study
Published Oct 23, 2015 - 11:06:52 AM
Researchers at the University of Waterloo are warning that plans to reclaim mined land risk failure and could cost industry and government billions in future cleanup costs if they do not take into account the affects of climate change.
Wildflowers on farms -- not just crops -- can expose bees to neonicotinoids
Published Oct 21, 2015 - 8:40:46 AM
Since bee colonies started declining at alarming rates over the past few decades, some scientists have identified a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids that are commonly used on crops as a potential contributor. Now one team reports in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology that bees could be getting an unexpected dose of neonicotinoids from wildflowers on farms. Their results suggest past studies may have underestimated the bees' exposure to these compounds.
Gone with the wind
Published Oct 21, 2015 - 8:36:12 AM
Each year migratory birds travel over thousands of kilometres. In spring and autumn, billions of individuals move from colder and less productive areas across vast distances to warmer and more productive places. To do so, however, it seems that the shortest route does not necessarily grant the fastest journey. Birds can save energy and time if they use wind support. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell Germany have calculated optimal routes in respect to wind support globally. Their research shows that birds using optimal wind conditions can save up to a quarter of travel time. Thus birds optimising on wind support should arrive earlier and in better conditions and have higher chances of survival and reproduction. The knowledge about such optimal flyways could spread over generations in migratory species.
Bacterium capable of aquifer decontamination identified in River Besòs (Spain)
Published Oct 19, 2015 - 9:34:11 AM
UAB researchers have identified in the Besòs river estuary a bacterium of the genus Dehalogenimonas, which has the capacity to transform toxic organochlorine compounds into others that are harmless. These experts have succeeded in characterising and cultivating these bacteria for the first time in Europe, which opens the door to their production and application to contaminated aquifers.
Scents and sense ability: Diesel fumes alter half the flower smells bees need
Published Oct 19, 2015 - 9:31:22 AM
In polluted environments, diesel fumes may be reducing the availability of almost half the most common flower odours that bees use to find their food, research has found.
Larger protected areas in the tropics and sub-tropics face higher risk of downgrading
Published Oct 19, 2015 - 9:23:17 AM
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Conservation International, found that larger protected areas, especially those in high population density regions, are more likely to undergo a downgrading, downsizing and degazettement (PADDD) event.
Sex and Sea Turtles: New FAU Study Reveals Impact of Climate Change, Sea Level Rise
Published Oct 15, 2015 - 10:25:13 AM
Marine turtles deposit their eggs in underground nests where they develop unattended and without parental care. Incubation temperature varies with environmental conditions, including rainfall, sun, shade and sand type, and affects developmental rates, hatch and emergence success, and embryonic sex. Although the loggerhead turtle has been around for more than 60 million years, drought, heavy rainfalls and climatic changes are impacting hatchling sex ratios and influencing future reproduction. Because sea turtles don’t have an X or Y chromosome, their sex is defined during development by the incubation environment. Warmer conditions produce females and cooler conditions produce males.
3 percent of the protected forest lost during 2000-2012
Published Oct 15, 2015 - 9:32:42 AM
Protected and intact forests have been lost at a rapid rate during the first 12 years of this century. According to researchers at Aalto University, Finland, 3% of the protected forest, 2.5% of the intact forest, and 1.5% of the protected intact forest in the world were lost during 2000 - 2012. These rates of forest loss are high compared to the total global forest loss of 5% for the same time period.
New concept to help set priorities in water management
Published Oct 14, 2015 - 10:08:37 AM
The basic principle behind most strategies aimed at renaturalising ecosystems is to increase biodiversity by restoring natural habitat structure, which should lead to improved ecosystem services in the process. These projects often do not result in the success researchers had hoped for because the complexity of ecological relationships is so vast that it is difficult to detect the precise ecological factors that have priority over the many others in a particular case. Researchers working at the University of Montana and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) have now developed a theoretical framework - the concept of ecological simplification - aimed at closing this gap. They tested it in two iconic river landscapes: the Missouri River in the U.S. state of Montana and in the Elbe River in Saxony-Anhalt. The results were recently published in the BioScience journal.
New gorgeous coffee tree species from Honduras is critically endangered
Published Oct 13, 2015 - 7:54:06 AM
Amid the challenging terrain of north-western Honduras, where Dr. Kelly's team faced rugged and steep forest areas cut across here and there by a few trails, a gorgeous tree with cherry-like fruits was discovered. Being about 10 metres (33 ft) high and covered with cream-colored flowers, it was quickly sorted into the Coffee family (Rubiaceae), but it was its further description that took much longer. Eventually, it was named Sommera cusocoana, with its specific name stemming from its so far only known locality, the Cusuco National Park. The study is available in the open-access journal PhytoKeys.
Smithsonian scientists say vines strangle carbon storage in tropical forests
Published Oct 12, 2015 - 12:45:16 PM
Although useful to Tarzan, vines endanger tropical forests' capacity to store carbon. In a major experimental study in Panama, Smithsonian researchers showed that woody vines, or lianas, slow tropical forest tree growth and may even cause premature tree death. Lianas reduced aboveground carbon uptake by more than three-quarters, threatening the forests' ability to buffer climate change.
New study projects that melting of Antarctic ice shelves will intensify
Published Oct 12, 2015 - 11:17:31 AM
New research published today projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and that by 2100 melting may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continue at the present rate.
Everglades Walks Back Big Python Hunt
Published Oct 6, 2015 - 8:17:57 AM
Everglades National Park will not open its doors to hundreds of python hunters early next year, according to its parent agency the National Park Service (NPS) in a letter to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Instead, the park will limit its participation in the state-run invasive snake bounty contest to a handful of existing “Python Removal Authorized Agents.”
Greenpeace urges consumers and investors around the globe to avoid Thai Union Group/Chicken of the Sea canned tuna
Published Oct 6, 2015 - 7:55:23 AM
Greenpeace today launched a global campaign demanding that the world’s largest canned tuna company, Thai Union Group (TU), take urgent and far-reaching steps to eliminate labour abuse and destructive, wasteful fishing practices from its supply chains. TU owns tuna brands in major markets around the world, which have also faced mounting pressure from both consumers and concerned environmental, labour and human rights advocates to clean up their acts.