Tag Archives: biodiversity

Extinctions during human era worse than thought

The gravity of the world’s current extinction rate becomes clearer upon knowing what it was before people came along. A new estimate finds that species die off as much as 1,000 times more frequently nowadays than they used to. That’s 10 times worse than the old estimate of 100 times.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — It’s hard to comprehend how bad the current rate of species extinction around the world has become without knowing what it was before people came along. The newest estimate is that the pre-human rate was 10 times lower than scientists had thought, which means that the current level is 10 times worse. (more…)

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Galápagos Hawks Hand Down Lice Like Family Heirlooms, Study Finds

A UA-led study provides some of the first evidence for the hypothesis of co-divergence between parasites and hosts acting as a major driver of biodiversity.

Say what you will about the parasitic lifestyle, but in the game of evolution, it’s a winner. (more…)

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Major turtle nesting beaches protected in one of the UK’s far flung overseas territories

Sea turtles are not a species one would normally associate with the United Kingdom. But on the remote UK overseas territory of Ascension Island, one of the world’s largest green turtle populations is undergoing something of a renaissance.

Writing in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, scientists from the University of Exeter and Ascension Island Government Conservation Department report that the number of green turtles nesting at the remote South Atlantic outpost has increased by more than 500 per cent since records began in the 1970s. (more…)

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Global solutions

Vargas hosts Borlaug Fellow to study carbon cycle science, policy in Mexico

Karla Toledo of the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) in Mexico arrived at the University of Delaware to conduct research with Rodrigo Vargas, assistant professor in UD’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (PLSC), to review the state-of-the-art carbon cycle science and policy in Mexico.  (more…)

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NASA Finds Drought May Take Toll on Congo Rainforest

A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows Africa’s Congo rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, has undergone a large-scale decline in greenness over the past decade.

The study, led by Liming Zhou of University at Albany, State University of New York, shows between 2000 and 2012, the decline affected an increasing amount of forest area and intensified. The research, published Wednesday in Nature, is one of the most comprehensive observational studies to explore the effects of long-term drought on the Congo rainforest using several independent satellite sensors. (more…)

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Salamander Population Size Helps Predict Health of Forest Ecosystems and Inform Forest Management Decisions, MU Study Finds

Researchers suggest a balance between timber harvest and conservation biology

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Woodland salamanders are small, lungless amphibians that live in moist, forest habitats throughout the U.S. and the world. Salamanders often serve as vital links in forest food chains; their population size and recovery from major disturbances can help predict the health of forest ecosystems. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that salamander population size reflects forest habitat quality and can predict how ecosystems recover from forest logging activity. MU researchers believe these findings can be translated to other species within forest ecosystems throughout the world.

“One of our primary interests is in conservation of amphibians and the habitats that they utilize,” said Ray Semlitsch, Curators’ Professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU. “We are trying to understand how land use, and particularly forest management, affects the survival of amphibians on the landscape. We also determined that salamander recovery—or the amount of time it takes for salamanders to repopulate a cut forest area—can help forest managers determine appropriate logging schedules.” (more…)

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MU Researcher’s Study of African Forest Elephants Helps Guide Research Efforts in the U.S.

Study finds that human occupation of an area may not contribute to population decline of an endangered species

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Conservation of a protected or endangered species requires frequent monitoring and the dynamic techniques biologists utilize to ensure the survival of threatened animals. Often, scientists study biodiversity at all levels—from genes to entire ecosystems. Currently, researchers at the University of Missouri are employing genotyping to study movement patterns of African forest elephants in protected and unprotected regions of Gabon to better understand how human occupation of these areas might affect elephants on the African continent. Genotyping is helping conservation biologists determine the best course of action to ensure biodiversity and the preservation of various species in the U.S. and abroad. (more…)

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With Fewer Hard Frosts, Tropical Mangroves Push North

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Cold-sensitive mangrove forests have expanded dramatically along Florida’s Atlantic Coast as the frequency of killing frosts has declined, according to a new study based on 28 years of satellite data from the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md.

Between 1984 and 2011, the Florida Atlantic coast from the Miami area northward gained more than 3,000 acres (1,240 hectares) of mangroves. All the increase occurred north of Palm Beach County. Between Cape Canaveral National Seashore and Saint Augustine, mangroves doubled in area. Meanwhile between the study’s first five years and its last five years, nearby Daytona Beach recorded 1.4 fewer days per year when temperatures fell below 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius). The number of killing frosts in southern Florida was unchanged. (more…)

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