Tag Archives: environmental change

Hippo teeth reveal environmental change

Changed plant types associated with loss of elephants in Ugandan national park

Loss of megaherbivores such as elephants and hippos can allow woody plants and non-grassy herbs and flowering plants to encroach on grasslands in African national parks, according to a new University of Utah study, published September 12 in Scientific Reports. The study used isotopes in hippopotamus teeth to find a shift in the diet of hippos over the course of a decade in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park following widespread elephant poaching in the 1970s. (more…)

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Climate Change Winners and Losers

The Antarctic Peninsula, the northern most region of Antarctica, is experiencing some of the most dramatic changes due to climate warming, including population declines of some penguin species.

This is not the first time that region has felt the effects of climate warming. How did penguins respond to the melting of snow and ice cover 11,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age? (more…)

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Even Adaptable Viruses Have Trouble Surviving Erratic Temperatures

Viruses such as those that cause the common cold are some of the most hardy and adaptable things on earth, but even they have trouble surviving the unpredictable and sudden temperature changes predicted by climate change models.

A simple RNA virus subjected to random temperature fluctuations within a window of just 8 degree C showed inability to adapt to this environmental change, according to research by Yale University and University of Florida scientists published Jan. 31 in the journal Evolution. (more…)

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Controlling the Spread of Diseases Among Humans, Other Animals and the Environment

New NSF-NIH-USDA-BBSRC grants fund research on how infectious diseases are transmitted

West Nile virus, Lyme disease and hantavirus are all infectious diseases spreading in animals and in people. Is human interaction with the environment somehow responsible for the increase in incidence of these diseases?

A joint National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program is providing answers.

It supports efforts to understand the underlying ecological and biological mechanisms behind human-induced environmental changes and the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases. (more…)

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Researchers Share Surprising Discovery about Coral Reef Ecology

Researchers at the UH Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) made a discovery that challenges a major theory in the field of coral reef ecology.

The general assumption has been that the more flexible corals are, regarding which species of single-celled algae (Symbiodinium) they host in coral tissues, the greater ability corals will have to survive environmental stress. In their paper published August 29, 2012, however, scientists at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at SOEST and colleagues documented that the more flexible corals are, the more sensitive to environment disturbances they are. (more…)

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Impulsive Micromanagers Help Plants to Adapt, Survive

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Soil microbes are impulsive. So much so that they help plants face the challenges of a rapidly changing climate.

Jen Lau and Jay Lennon, Michigan State University biologists, studied how plants and microbes work together to help plants survive the effects of global changes, such as increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations, warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns. The results, appearing in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that microbes in the ground not only interact with plants, but they also prompt them to respond to environmental changes.

“We found that these changes in the plants happen primarily because of what global changes do to the belowground microbes rather than the plant itself,” said Lau, who works at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station. “Drought stress affects microbes, and they, in turn, drive plants to flower earlier and help plants grow and reproduce when faced with drought.” (more…)

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Humans Have Love-Hate Relationship With the Environment

James Watson, a UA anthropologist, has published chapters describing how long-term environmental trends encourage stable adaptations within local environments.

Human/environment interactions have a history as long as the existence of our species on the planet.

Hominid ancestors began polluting their environment nearly 700,000 years ago with the control of fire, and humans have not looked back since.

The modern phenomenon of global warming is very likely the direct result of human pollution and destruction of the environment, said James Watson, a University of Arizona assistant professor in the School of Anthropology. (more…)

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Scientists Reconstruct Pre-Columbian Human Effects on the Amazon Basin

Findings overturn idea that the Amazon had large populations of humans that transformed the landscape

Small, shifting human populations existed in the Amazon before the arrival of Europeans, with little long-term effect on the forest.

That’s the result of research led by Crystal McMichael and Mark Bush of the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). The finding overturns the idea the Amazon was a cultural parkland in pre-Columbian times with large human populations that transformed vast tracts of the landscape.

The Amazon Basin is one of the highest biodiversity areas on Earth. Understanding how it was modified by humans in the past is important for conservation and for understanding the ecological processes in tropical rainforests. (more…)

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