Tag Archives: grassland

In Financial Ecosystems, Big Banks Trample Economic Habitats and Spread Fiscal Disease

Like the impact of an elephant herd grazing on grassland, multinational banks shape the financial environment to an extent that far outweighs their small number. And like a contagious person on a transnational flight, when these giant, interconnected banks succumb to financial ills, they are uniquely positioned to infect wide swaths of the financial system.

Researchers from Princeton University, the Bank of England and the University of Oxford applied methods inspired by ecosystem stability and contagion models to banking meltdowns and found that large national and international banks wield an influence and potentially destructive power that far exceeds their actual size. (more…)

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Biodiversity: The most common issues

Biodiversity can be considered as an imperative factor that plays a crucial role in poverty reduction owing to its basic goods and the ecosystem services it provides. Over three billion people rely on coastal and marine biodiversity and about 1.7 billion people depend upon non-timber forest products and forests for biodiversity.

Common issues relating to biodiversity can be classified as:

Biodiversity as a source of income and food

World’s poor population, especially living in rural areas are dependent on biological resources for meeting most of their needs. At least, 90 percent of their needs relating to fuel, shelter, medicines and food come from biological resources. (more…)

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Why Are Coastal Salt Marshes Falling Apart?

Too many nutrients can cause extensive loss of marshes

Salt marshes have been disintegrating and dying over the past two decades along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and other highly developed coastlines without anyone fully understanding why.

This week in the journal Nature, scientist Linda Deegan of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., and colleagues report that nutrients–such as nitrogen and phosphorus from septic and sewer systems and lawn fertilizers–can cause salt marsh loss.

“Salt marshes are a critical interface between the land and sea,” Deegan says. “They provide habitat for fish, birds and shellfish, protect coastal cities from storms and take nutrients out of the water from upland areas, which protect coastal bays from over-pollution.” (more…)

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Native Plants in Urban Yards Offer Birds “Mini-Refuges”

Landscaping with native vegetation helps local bird species

Yards with plants that mimic native vegetation offer birds “mini-refuges” and help to offset losses of biodiversity in cities, according to results of a study published on August 22, 2012 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Native” yards support birds better than those with traditional grass lawns and non-native plantings.

Researchers conducted the study through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 26 such sites around the globe in ecosystems from coral reefs to deserts, from forests to grasslands. (more…)

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Mapping Grasslands for Biofuel Potential

USGS scientists have developed a new method for mapping grasslands that demonstrate high potential for growing biofuel crops with relatively little energy input and environmental impact.

The pioneering investigation used remote sensing data from satellites to identify detailed areas of the Greater Platte River Basin (most of Nebraska, parts of adjacent states) that are best suited for producing cellulosic (from the cell walls of plants) biofuel derived from hardy switchgrass, a native plant that grows wild or is easily cultivated. (more…)

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Mesquite Trees Displacing Southwestern Grasslands

Mesquite trees and woody shrubs are better adapted than grasslands to a Southwestern climate predicted to shift toward higher temperatures and greater variability in rainfall, UA ecologists have discovered.

As the desert Southwest becomes hotter and drier, semi-arid grasslands are slowly being replaced by a landscape dominated by mesquite trees, such as Prosopis velutina, and other woody shrubs, a team of University of Arizona researchers has found.

In a “leaf-to-landscape” approach, the team combined physiological experiments on individual plants and measurements across entire ecosystems to quantify how well grasslands, compared to mesquite trees and woody shrubs, cope with heat and water stress across seasonal precipitation periods. (more…)

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NASA: Climate Change May Bring Big Ecosystem Changes

PASADENA, Calif. – By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth’s land surface and will drive the conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type – such as forest, grassland or tundra – toward another, according to a new NASA and university computer modeling study.

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., investigated how Earth’s plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries as Earth’s climate changes in response to rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases. Study results are published in the journal Climatic Change. (more…)

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