Tag Archives: rainforest

Fungi are the rainforest ‘diversity police’

A new study has revealed that fungi, often seen as pests, play a crucial role policing biodiversity in rainforests.

The research, by scientists at Oxford University, the University of Exeter and Sheffield University, found that fungi regulate diversity in rainforests by making dominant species victims of their own success.

Fungi spread quickly between closely-packed plants of the same species, preventing them from dominating and enabling a wider range of species to flourish. (more…)

Read More

UCLA Professor Leads Effort to Protect Africa’s Rainforests from Ravages of Climate Change

UCLA professor Thomas B. Smith will head an international research project investigating the effects of climate change on biodiversity in Central Africa’s rainforests, under a $4.95 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

UCLA will receive $3 million through the NSF’s Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program, the agency announced this week. Smith, the director of UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research and a professor with joint appointments at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, will lead the team of U.S. and international researchers. (more…)

Read More

Study Finds Severe Climate Jeopardizing Amazon Forest

PASADENA, Calif. – An area of the Amazon rainforest twice the size of California continues to suffer from the effects of a megadrought that began in 2005, finds a new NASA-led study. These results, together with observed recurrences of droughts every few years and associated damage to the forests in southern and western Amazonia in the past decade, suggest these rainforests may be showing the first signs of potential large-scale degradation due to climate change.

An international research team led by Sassan Saatchi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., analyzed more than a decade of satellite microwave radar data collected between 2000 and 2009 over Amazonia. The observations included measurements of rainfall from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and measurements of the moisture content and structure of the forest canopy (top layer) from the Seawinds scatterometer on NASA’s QuikScat spacecraft. (more…)

Read More

Collaring Tapirs – Elephant look-alikes – to Help Them Survive

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A team of Michigan State University researchers will soon be heading into the rainforests of Nicaragua to help an endangered species known as a Baird’s tapir co-exist with local farmers whose crops are being threatened by the animals.

The animals were thought to be extinct in that part of the world until just two years ago when the MSU team discovered them still living there through the use of “camera trapping” – the setting up of still and video cameras in order to “capture” the animal. (more…)

Read More

Salt Seeds Clouds in the Amazon Rainforest

It’s morning, deep in the Amazon jungle. In the still air innumerable leaves glisten with moisture, and fog drifts through the trees. As the sun rises, clouds appear and float across the forest canopy … but where do they come from? Water vapor needs soluble particles to condense on. Airborne particles are the seeds of liquid droplets in fog, mist, and clouds.

To learn how aerosol particles form in the Amazon, Mary Gilles of the Chemical Sciences Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and David Kilcoyne of the Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) worked with Christopher Pöhlker of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC) as part of an international team of scientists led by MPIC’s Meinrat Andreae and Ulrich Pöschl. They analyzed samples of naturally formed aerosols collected above the forest floor, deep in the rainforest. (more…)

Read More

Highway Through Amazon Worsens Effects of Climate Change, Provides Mixed Economic Gains

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Paving a highway across South America is providing lessons on the impact of road construction elsewhere.

That’s what a University of Florida researcher and his international colleagues have determined from analyzing communities along the Amazonian portion of the nearly 4,200-mile Interoceanic Highway, a coast-to-coast road that starts at ports in Brazil and will eventually connect to ones in Peru. (more…)

Read More

A Whole New Meaning for Thinking on Your Feet

Smithsonian researchers report that the brains of tiny spiders are so large that they fill their body cavities and overflow into their legs. As part of ongoing research to understand how miniaturization affects brain size and behavior, researchers measured the central nervous systems of nine species of spiders, from rainforest giants to spiders smaller than the head of a pin. As the spiders get smaller, their brains get proportionally bigger, filling up more and more of their body cavities.

“The smaller the animal, the more it has to invest in its brain, which means even very tiny spiders are able to weave a web and perform other fairly complex behaviors,” said William Wcislo, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. “We discovered that the central nervous systems of the smallest spiders fill up almost 80 percent of their total body cavity, including about 25 percent of their legs.” (more…)

Read More