conservation news and environmental science news.
Fast-growing coral may help reefs survive global warming
(03/13/2008) Two fast-growing coral species may hold the key to Caribbean reefs surviving global warming, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Dams mask sea level rise
(03/13/2008) Water held in man-made reservoirs is masking the true extent of sea level rise from melting ice and thermal expansion, report scientists writing in the journal Science. The researchers, from the National Central University in Taiwan, calculate that sea levels would be 30 mm (1.2 inches) higher without water stored behind dams.
DEET repellent works by blocking human odor from mosquitoes
(03/13/2008) DEET, a potent insect repellent, works by blocking the aroma of human sweat, report researchers writing in the journal Science. The discovery could lead to the development of new repellents that have fewer health risks.
India has 1400 tigers -- not 3500
(03/13/2008) A census of India's reserves found 1,411 tigers rather than the 3,508 estimated previously, according to the State Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Rare jewel-colored frog rediscovered in Colombia
(03/13/2008) A brilliantly-colored frog has been rediscovered 14 years after its last sighting in a remote mountainous region in Colombia.
Predator of the world's largest macaw key to its survival
(03/13/2008) In a bizarre biological twist, a new study shows that the Hyacinth Macaw depends on its greatest predator, the Toco Toucan, for continued survival.
Merrill Lynch invests $9M in rainforest conservation, expects profit
(03/12/2008) Merrill Lynch's investment in a rainforest conservation project in the Indonesian province of Aceh is worth $9 million over four years, reports Thomas Wright of The Wall Street Journal.
Industry-driven road-building to fuel Amazon deforestation
(03/12/2008) Unofficial road-building will be a major driver of deforestation and land-use change in the Amazon rainforest, according to an analysis published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Improved governance, as exemplified by the innovative MAP Initiative in the southwestern Amazon, could help reduce the future impact of roads, without diminishing economic prospects in the region.
Photos of rare pygmy hippo in Liberia
(03/12/2008) It's almost as though this normally shy mammal were posing for the camera. The black-and-white image of a pygmy hippopotamus half-facing the camera is the first ever of a pygmy hippopotamus in Liberia. Perhaps even more astonishing EDGE, the organization that accomplished the photo, believes the image to be only the second photographic evidence of the animal in the wild (the first was taken in 2006 in Sierra Leone). This incredibly secretive animal is usually known through its prints and dung.
Cellulosic energy may trigger dramatic collapse in the Amazon
(03/11/2008) Next generation biofuels may trigger the ecological collapse of the Amazon frontier and could have profoundly unexpected economic consequences for the region, warns a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Dr. Donald Sawyer writes that "interacting with climate change and land use, the upcoming stage of cellulosic energy could result in a collapse of the new frontier into vast degraded pasture." The shift could increase the incidence and severity of fires, reduce rainfall in key agricultural zones, exacerbate forest die-back and climate change, and worsen social instability. Sawyer says that while difficult to anticipate, the worst outcomes could likely be avoided be promoting "intensified and more sustainable use" of already cleared areas, minimizing new deforestation, and encouraging "sustainable use of natural resources by local communities."
China's emissions growth 2-4 times greater than expected
(03/11/2008) China's carbon dioxide emissions are growing far faster than anticipated according to according to a new analysis by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Diego. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, estimates China will see an 11 percent annual growth rate in CO2 emissions between 2004 and 2010, two to four times the 2.5 to 5 percent growth rate estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
New review system helps companies adapt to ecosystem degradation
(03/11/2008) A new accountability initiative will help companies factor ecosystem degradation into their business decisions.
Deforestation causes snake invasion in the Amazon
(03/11/2008) An official with Brazil's environmental protection agency Ibama claims that snakes are invading the city of Belem due to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Half of Madagascar's amphibians may still await discovery
(03/11/2008) Madagascar is one of the most unique places on Earth for wildlife. When the public thinks of Madagascar's fauna most likely they think of one of the fifty species of lemur. Yet, Madagascar possesses a wealth of endemic wildlife outside of these unique prosimians. For example, to frog-lovers Madagascar is a paradise. The only amphibians living on Madagascar are frogs; the island is devoid of toads, salamanders, or newts. But what it lacks in other amphibians it makes up for in the number and beauty of its frogs. Currently, 240 frogs have been catalogued in Madagascar, 99 percent of which are endemic. Yet, amphibian expert Dr. Franco Andreone believes that, according to recent field studies, this may only be half of the frogs that actually live in Madagascar. Dr. Andreone believes the final tally could reach 500 species!
Skoll Foundation puts $1M toward indigenous groups, conservation in the Amazon
(03/11/2008) The Skoll Foundation has awarded the Amazon conservation Team, an innovative organization the promotes biocultural conservation among indigenous groups in the Amazon, $1,015,000 to map, manage, and protect 100 million acres of rainforest. The award is one of 11 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship presented by the Skoll Foundation in 2008.
Madagascar's deforestation rate drops 8-fold in parks
(03/10/2008) Madagascar's deforestation rate in protected areas has fallen by eight-fold since the 1990s according to conservation International and the Malagasy government.
Emissions from deforestation offset by increased tree growth in the Amazon
(03/10/2008) An increase in carbon sequestration by trees in the Amazon has roughly offset total emissions from deforestation in the region since the 1980s. A new study, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, this trend may slow in the future, causing the world's largest rainforest to become a net source of carbon emissions and therefore contributing to climate change.
Eastern Europe could counter high food prices
(03/10/2008) Expansion of agriculture in Eastern Europe could help counter surging food prices said a top official from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Accurate forest data will help guide climate policy
(03/10/2008) As forests are increasingly seen as a means for fighting climate change, proper forest assessment becomes all the more important. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) says it will call on member states to provide "accurate data". FAO data has been criticized by analysts for offering an incomplete picture of forest cover and trends.
New rule grants rainforest to mining firms in Indonesia for $80/acre
(03/10/2008) A new Indonesian rule will grant concessions to mining companies operating in rainforests for as little as $200 per hectare ($80/acre) according to Mining Advocacy Network, a conservation group.
Biochar fund to fight hunger, energy poverty, deforestation, and global warming
(03/10/2008) Biopact, a leading bioenergy web site, has announced the creation of a "Biochar Fund" to help poor farmers improve their quality of life without hurting the environment.
Corn ethanol is worsening the Gulf dead zone
(03/10/2008) Proposed legislation that will expand corn-ethanol production in the United States will worsen the growing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and hurt marine fisheries, report researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Humans are appropriating 20% more resources than Earth can provide
(03/10/2008) Mankind is appropriating 20 percent more resources each year than Earth can produce, according to a report from environmental group WWF.
Scientists target safe-climate future
(03/10/2008) Friends of the Earth, Australia, working in conjunction with many of the world's foremost climate scientists recently published a report which should have quickly pervaded into mainstream media. It is a detailed, 100-plus page manifesto imploring immediate, radical action beyond not only the proposed climate change responses by the IPCC, mainstream environmental agencies, and world governments but outside the procedures and proceedings of our national and international authorities. Coverage of the ground-breaking report, however, remains mostly in the realm of climate sites and blogs, absent not only from major sources such as Reuters and Associated Press, but even from major conservation and environmental new sites.
Can snow leopards be saved?
(03/06/2008) conservationists and officials from twelve Asian countries are meeting in Beijing next week to discuss the fate of the endangered snow leopard. Less than 7,000 snow leopard remain in the wild.
How Old Is the Grand Canyon?
(03/06/2008) The Grand Canyon began to open at least 17 million years ago, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Biomimicry of sea cucumber skin may help stroke treatment
(03/06/2008) Using sea cucumber skin for design inspiration, scientists have developed a new material that may improve treatment for Parkinson's disease, stroke and spinal chord injuries. The research is published in the journal Science.
Climate change leave Arctic tundra vulnerable to fire
(03/06/2008) Research from ancient sediment cores indicates that a warming climate could make the world's arctic tundra far more susceptible to fires than previously thought. The findings are important given the potential for tundra fires to release organic carbon -- which could add significantly to the amount of greenhouse gases already blamed for global warming.
Record food prices to climb through 2010
(03/06/2008) The U.N. expects record high food prices to continue through 2010, driving hunger and poverty in the world's poorest countries, said a top U.N. official Thursday.
Audubon bird watercolors on display for last time until 2018
(03/06/2008) More than 40 original Audubon watercolors depicting birds that once flourished but are now gone forever or threatened with extinction -- along with species that have come back from the brink -- will go on display as part of Audubon's Aviary: Portraits of Endangered Species, the fourth installment of the New-York Historical Society's five-year Audubon exhibition series, from February 8 through March 16, at the N-Y Historical Society, 170 Central Park West.
Cretaceous sea levels were 550 feet higher than today
(03/06/2008) Sea levels were 550 feet (170 m) higher in the late Cretaceous period, about 80 million years ago, than today, shows a new reconstruction of historic ocean basins published in the journal Science. The authors say the work may help model current global warming-driven sea level change.
Toyota, GM: Hydrogen fuels cells are not viable
(03/05/2008) Executives from General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor cast doubts yesterday about the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for mass-market production in the near term, reports The Wall Street Journal. The executives said electric cars will be a better way to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
Scientists seek to understand how climate will impact forest carbon
(03/05/2008) Forests contain nearly 40 percent of the world's carbon--more than the atmosphere contains--but too little is known about forest carbon dynamics to predict whether anthropogenic global change will increase or decrease forest carbon pools. Helene Muller-Landau, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, announced a major global research effort to quantify forest carbon pools and fluxes. She announced the new effort at the Climate Change in the Americas Symposium, held Feb. 25-29 at the institute's headquarters in Panama.
Feds flood the Grand Canyon to save endangered fish
(03/05/2008) Federal government officials unleashed a flood of water from Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona to help restore the Grand Canyon's ecosystem which has suffered as a result of changes caused by the dam.
Photo: baby walrus getting its teeth checked
(03/05/2008) Pacific walrus calf Akitusaaq, just a mere 8 1/2 months old, has just grown in his first "teeth" at The Wildlife conservation Society's New York Aquarium.
Why Europe torpedoed the REDD forests-for-carbon credits initiative
(03/05/2008) Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has been widely lauded as a mechanism that could fund forest conservation and poverty alleviation efforts while fighting climate change. At the December U.N. climate meeting in Bali, delegates agreed to include REDD in future discussions on a new global warming treaty — a move that could eventually lead to the transfer of billions of dollars from industrialized countries to tropical nations for the purpose of slowing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation rates. conservationists and scientists applauded the decision.
Fighting illegal logging to be a top G8 priority in 2008
(03/05/2008) As it assumes the chair of the G8, Japan will make sustainable forest management a top priority, said a top Japanese government official.
Mercury from coal-burning hurts the common loon
(03/04/2008) A long-term study by the Wildlife conservation Society, the BioDiversity Research Institute, and other organizations has found and confirmed that environmental mercury--much of which comes from human-generated emissions--is impacting both the health and reproductive success of common loons in the Northeast.
Global warming to worsen crop damage from frost
(03/03/2008) Global warming could worsen frost damage in the United States according to a new study published in the journal Bioscience.
Human impacts on primate conservation in central Amazonia
(03/03/2008) Deforestation in the Amazon is a serious concern. In the Brazilian Amazon, forests are cleared for cattle ranches, soybean cultivation, and selective logging practices. A new plan to settle approximately 180 families north of Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas, has created widespread controversy. The land plots would be located within the study site of the longest-running study of forest fragmentation, the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP). Therefore, the plan would threaten scientific research at the BDFFP and other nearby research sites operated by the Instituto Nacional da Pesquisas de Amazônia (INPA) and Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), as well as the future of the Central Amazonian conservation Corridor.
China's tropical rainforests decline 67% in 30 years
(03/03/2008) Tropical rainforest cover in southern Yunnan decreased 67 percent in the past 30 years, mostly due to the establishment of rubber plantations, according to a new assessment of tropical forests in southwestern China.
Fragmentation puts Mexican howlers at risk
(03/03/2008) Forest fragmentation is putting mantled howler monkeys in southern Mexico at risk, reports a new study, published in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Belize's world famous coral reefs and rainforests at risk
(03/03/2008) Belize's world famous coral reefs and tropical forests are increasingly vulnerable to environmental problems which could impact its tourism-dependent economy, argues a Belizean ecologist writing in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Screaming elephant-cousin threatened by logging
(03/03/2008) A small screaming mammal that may be the closest living relative of the elephant is threatened by logging and bushmeat hunting in East Africa, according to a study published in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
New 'red list' seeks to stave off global seafood collapse
(03/03/2008) Over-fishing and destructive fishing practices have had a considerable effect on oceanic ecosystems. In 2006 a highly-reported study found that without drastic measures all wild seafood will disappear from the oceans in 50 years. Greenpeace, working against such a crash, has started a campaign that highlights 'red fish'. The twenty-two 'red' species are seafood that consumers and suppliers (including supermarkets) should avoid due to their plummeting populations and/or the damage caused by harvesting them.
Fewer wolves may mean fewer pronghorn in Yellowstone
(03/03/2008) As western states debate removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a new study by the Wildlife conservation Society cautions that doing so may result in an unintended decline in another species: the pronghorn, a uniquely North American animal that resembles an African antelope.
Rare frog breeds in captivity for the first time
(03/03/2008) A rare species of frog has been found breeding in captivity in New Zealand, reports the Associated Press. The finding offers hope that the species' vulnerability to extinction can be reduced.
American demand for gas, big cars begins to wane
(03/03/2008) With crude oil today setting an inflation-adjusted record high, the Wall Street Journal reports that Americans are cutting back on gasoline consumption.
'CAT scan' shows Hawaiian forests invaded by alien species
(03/03/2008) Invasive plant species are altering the ecology of Hawaiian rain forests, reports a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Photos: pair of kissing saki monkeys
(03/03/2008) The Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) has unveiled a new pair of saki monkeys at Prospect Park Zoo in New York.
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