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Photos of world's tiniest owl, recently found in Peru

(03/23/2007) One of the world's smallest owls was spotted for the first time in the wild by researchers monitoring the Area de Conservacion Privada de Abra Patricia -- Alto Nieva, a private conservation area in northern Peru, South America. Biologists consider the Long-whiskered Owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) "a holy grail of South American ornithology."


20 species of grouper fish are endangered

(03/21/2007) 20 of the world's 162 known species of grouper are threatened with extinction according to a survey by conservation groups. Grouper are popular food fish throughout the world, but due to their slow reproductive rates they are particularly vulnerable to overharvesting.


Sudanese activist to discuss deadly attacks tied to dam project

(03/21/2007) A new dam on the Nile River will displace more than 50,000 people and inundate historical sites in Sudan, reports International Rivers Network (IRN), a Berkeley-based environmental group. IRN says that once completed, the $1.8 billion Merowe Dam could worsen already poor health conditions in the area and cause significant environmental impacts.


Global warming may cause biodiversity extinction

(03/21/2007) Extinction is a hotly debated, but poorly understood topic in science. The same goes for climate change. When scientists try to forecast the impact of global change on future biodiversity levels, the results are contentious, to say the least. While some argue that species have managed to survive worse climate change in the past and that current threats to biodiversity are overstated, many biologists say the impacts of climate change and resulting shifts in rainfall, temperature, sea levels, ecosystem composition, and food availability will have significant effects on global species richness.


Intellectual property rights reach indigenous communities in the Amazon

(03/21/2007) In an era where bio-tech companies and their patents grow twice as fast as the world economy, indigenous communities in Brazil start to think about patenting their cultural heritage to be protected from misappropriation.


70% of new drugs come from Mother Nature

(03/20/2007) Around 70 percent of all new drugs introduced in the United States in the past 25 years have been derived from natural products reports a study published in the March 23 issue of the Journal of Natural Products. The findings show that despite increasingly sophisticated techniques to design medications in the lab, Mother Nature is still the best drug designer.


Fruit-eating birds at particular risk from Indonesian deforestation

(03/20/2007) A new study on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia confirms the critical importance of fig trees to the rainforest ecosystem. The research has implications for wildlife conservation in an area of high rates of forest loss from agricultural conversion and logging.


Amazon, Madagascar, Borneo are top plant biodiversity hotspots

(03/20/2007) A new map devised by biologists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the University of Bonn in Germany, shows that the Andes-Amazon region of South America, Madagascar, Borneo, and New Guinea reign as the world's hotspots for plant diversity. The researchers say the map will help both prioritize areas for biodiversity conservation and forecast the impact of climate change on plant communities and the ecological services they provide.


Fires burn across Burma; pollution levels rise in Thailand

(03/20/2007) Fires are raging across Myanmar (Burma) causing 'haze' pollution in neighboring Thailand, Laos, and southern China according to new satellite images release by NASA. The fires are set annually during the dry season for clearing brush and scrub for agriculture. In especially dry years the fires often spread into adjacent forest areas.


Invasive predators more harmful to biodiversity than native predators

(03/20/2007) Alien predators are more harmful to prey populations than native predators finds a study published in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.


Newly discovered burrowing dinosaur loved its offspring

(03/20/2007) The first known burrowing dinosaur has been discovered in southwest Montana, according to a paleontologist at Montana State University. The finding, published in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, may shed light on parental care among dinosaurs as well as fuel controversy over what caused the extinction of the prehistoric beasts.


Bush administration seeks to cull Endangered Species Act

(03/20/2007) After losing a series of lawsuits to protect endangered species, the Bush administration moved to reinterpret the Endangered Species Act so that it would only apply to areas where species are at risk, not areas where they are thriving or have already disappeared.


Prehistoric lizard glided through air using ribs

(03/19/2007) An extinct species of lizard used a wing-like membrane supported by the animal's elongated ribs for gliding through the air according to Chinese researchers. The 6-inch (15.5 cm) lizard, found in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China, lived during the Early Cretaceous period. The specimen is described in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Genetically engineered mosquitoes fight malaria

(03/19/2007) Globally, governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to reduce the impact of the malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that affects around 400 million people each year and kills one to three million die. While most of the focus to date have been on developing drugs that boost immunity to malaria or counteract the malaria parasite once it is in the victim's bloodstream, scientists have now developed a treatment that focuses on the mosquito itself. The research, described in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), uses a genetically engineered strain of malaria-resistant mosquitoes to out-compete natural mosquitoes when fed malaria-infected blood.


Poisonous tree frog brings hope to indigenous community in the Amazon

(03/19/2007) Used for centuries as a natural disease prevention and physical stimulant, an Amazonian tree frog has become a symbol of Brazil's fight to benefit the Indigenous from scientific developments based on their knowledge.


Past winter (2006-2007) was warmest on record

(03/16/2007) This winter was the warmest on record according to the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA also reported that precipitation was above average in much of the United States.


Global warming reduced crop yields over past 20 years

(03/16/2007) Global warming has already caused crop losses according to a new study by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University. The study, published March 16 in the online journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that warming temperatures have reduced the combined production of wheat, corn, and barley by 40 million metric tons per year between 1981-2002. The authors, David Lobell of Lawrence Livermore and Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution, estimate the annual losses at $5 billion.


Evolution is faster in temperate zones

(03/15/2007) A new study argues that temperate zones are hotbeds of evolution, not tropical areas as conventionally held.


Melting Antarctic glaciers could trigger sea level rise

(03/15/2007) Scientists have identified four melting Antarctic glaciers that could trigger a rapid rise in global sea levels according to a study published in the journal Science.


Earth may be near global warming tipping point

(03/15/2007) Earth could be reaching a tipping point that could trigger rapid climate change according to scientists studying declining sea ice in the Arctic.


Timber industry teams with greens on new anti-illegal logging bill

(03/15/2007) A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill to ban the use of illegally-harvested timber and wood products. Led by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Robert Wexler (D-FL), and Jerry Weller (R-IL) the legislation would make it a crime to import, export, possess, purchase or sell illicit timber.


Asian pollution contributes to California warming

(03/14/2007) Pollution from Asia may cause warmer spring temperatures on the West Coast of the United States according to a new study led by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California San Diego.


New green biofuels process could meet all U.S. transportation needs

(03/14/2007) Purdue University chemical engineers have proposed a new environmentally friendly process for producing liquid fuels from plant matter - or biomass - potentially available from agricultural and forest waste, providing all of the fuel needed for "the entire U.S. transportation sector."


Pigeon beaks have navigation system

(03/14/2007) Birds may use sensors in their beaks to navigate long distances without getting lost according to a new study published in the scientific journal Naturwissenschaften. German scientists found iron-containing structures in the beaks of homing pigeons that might enable the birds to use the earth's magnetic field for navigation.


Clean coal is a vital energy source for the future says MIT report

(03/14/2007) Coal is a cheap and widely available energy source that will be continue to be used in the future despite its impact on global climate. For this reason, says a new report by MIT, it is essential to develop cleaner technologies for harnessing coal.


Ivory-billed Woodpecker sighting may be a mistake

(03/14/2007) A new study casts doubt on the apparent rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas. J. Martin Collinson, a researcher at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, says that the sighting of the thought-to-be-extinct bird is a case of mistaken identity. Using video analysis, Collinson argues that ornithologists have confused the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) with the similar Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus).


New cat species discovered in Borneo

(03/14/2007) Scientists have declared that the clouded leopard found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is an entirely new species of cat, genetically distinct from the clouded leopard that lives in mainland southeast Asia. The scientists say that the two species of clouded leopard appear to have diverged about 1.4 million years ago. They also note that the results of the genetic study are supported by separate research on geographical variation in the coat color of the clouded leopard.


Amazon rainforest fires date back thousands of years

(03/14/2007) Fires are nothing new to the Amazon reports a study published in the journalBiotropica. Analyzing soils in the eastern Amazon, a team of scientists led by David S. Hammond of NWFS Consulting, has found evidence of forest fires dating back thousands of years. While the origin of these fires is unclear, the authors propose intriguing scenarios involving pre-Colombian human populations and ancient el Nino events which could have so dried rainforest areas that they became more prone to forest fires.


Rich countries gain, poor countries lose forest cover

(03/13/2007) Tropical deforestation rates continue to accelerate according to a bi-annual report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released Tuesday.


Bush administration cuts funding for geothermal energy

(03/13/2007) The Bush Administration is seeking to eliminate federal funding for geothermal energy research according to a report from Reuters. Oddly, the move comes as the White House has made a push for renewable energy to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports. Apparently the administration appears to be focused on biofuels as liquid fuels and nuclear for electricity generation.


Newly discovered ocean genes could help address world problems

(03/13/2007) An expedition lead by genome pioneer Craig Venter has turned up more than 6 million unknown genes among ocean microbes, some of which could be used to help fight climate change and develop clean sources of energy, according to a study published in PLoS Biology, an open-access journal.


New bamboo species discovered in U.S., first in 200 years

(03/13/2007) Botanists have discovered a previously unknown species of North American bamboo in the hills of Appalachia. It is the third known species of bamboo in the United States, but the first new species in more than 200 years. The species is named Arundinaria appalachiana.


World population to peak at 9.2 billion in 2050

(03/13/2007) World population is expected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050 according to a new study by the United Nations. Virtually all growth will occur in developing countries, with their population growing from 5.4 billion today to 7.9 billion mid-century. The population of developed regions is expected to remain unchanged at 1.2 billion, and would have declined, were it not for the anticipated net migration from developing to developed countries.


UK to cut CO2 emissions by 60%

(03/13/2007) Tony Blair pledged Wednesday to cut Britain's carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent by 2050 in an effort to fight global warming. In announcing the Climate Change Bill, Britain becomes the first country to set legally binding targets.


Caribbean coral reefs result of mass extinction, rise of isthmus

(03/12/2007) Extinctions that resulted from the formation of the Panamanian isthmus were delayed two million years according to a new study by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and London's Natural History Museum. The findings may have implications for global species extinction and evolution.


Ancient humanoids were short and nasty for kung fu fighting, not climbing

(03/12/2007) Ancient ape-like human ancestors called as australopiths were short-legged to help them fight, not to climb trees, argues a new study from a researcher at the University of Utah.


Wind energy speculation jumps in Texas, but Exxon on sidelines

(03/12/2007) While speculative energy ventures are nothing new in Texas, today companies are taking risky gambles in wind power argues an article that appears in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The WSJ reports that energy firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in some of the most remote -- and windy -- parts of Texas, but notes that the investments will only pay off with government subsidies.


Plug-in cars could help fuel Austin power grid

(03/12/2007) The city of Austin, Texas hopes to launch an ambitious plan using plug-in electric cars to reduce pollution and improve power grid management, reports an article in today's Wall Street Journal. Under the initiative put forth by Roger Duncan, deputy manager of Austin Energy, the city-owned electric utility, and backed by mayor Will Wynn, the plug-in electric cars would serve as sort of giant battery from which the city grid could draw power during peak demand.


Can new loan really bring sustainable cattle ranching to the Amazon?

(03/12/2007) Brazil's second largest exporter of beef has won approval of a controversial loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private equity lender of the World Bank, according to a report from the Associated Press. Environmentalists say the deal will drive further deforestation in the biologically rich Amazon rainforest. Cattle ranching is responsible for more than half of forest loss in the region.


Amazon rainforest does have rainy and dry seasons

(03/12/2007) A new study using NASA satellite images found evidence of seasonality in the Amazon rainforest. The results, published in the March 20 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the Amazon had 25 percent more leaf coverage in the dry season and 25 percent less in the rainy season.


Biodiversity extinction crisis looms says renowned biologist

(03/12/2007) While there is considerable debate over the scale at which biodiversity extinction is occurring, there is little doubt we are presently in an age where species loss is well above the established biological norm. Extinction has certainly occurred in the past, and in fact, it is the fate of all species, but today the rate appears to be at least 100 times the background rate of one species per million per year and may be headed towards a magnitude thousands of times greater. Few people know more about extinction than Dr. Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is the author of hundreds of scientific papers and books, and has an encyclopedic list of achievements and accolades from a lifetime of biological research. These make him one of the world's preeminent biodiversity experts. He is also extremely worried about the present biodiversity crisis, one that has been termed the sixth great extinction.


New Snapper Species Discovered in Brazil

(03/09/2007) A new species of snapper was discovered off the coast of Brazil. The popular game fish had long been mistaken for a more common species, according to scientists with conservation International (CI) and Environmental Defense. The description of the Lutjanus alexandrei snapper is published in the journal Zootaxa.


Birds follow racoon-like coati to find food

(03/08/2007) A number of rainforest bird species are known to follow columns of army ants eating insects and other animals as they try to escape the marauding ants. Now the behvaior has been documented in birds that follow the coatimundi, a racoon-like mammal, as it forages in the rainforest.


Human hunting causes changes in monkey behvaior

(03/08/2007) Human hunting pressure causes significant behvaioral changes in Central Africa monkeys and duiker according to a paper published in the March issue of the journal Biotropica.


Air pollution can reduce rainfall

(03/08/2007) Air pollution can reduce rainfall in mountainous areas according to research published in Friday's issue of the journal Science. 50 years of measurements at Mt. Hua near Xi'an, in central China, show that precipitation levels can be decreased by 30 to 50 percent during hazy conditions. The researchers say this is the result of high concentrations of particulates in the air which cause cloud droplets to be smaller and less likely to become raindrops.


Carbon dioxide levels threaten oceans regardless of global warming

(03/08/2007) Rising levels of carbon dioxide will have wide-ranging impacts on the world's oceans regardless of climate change, reports a study published in the March 9, 2007, issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Jumbo squid and sperm whales tagged

(03/08/2007) Scientists have simulatenously tagged sperm whales and jumbo squid off Mexico's Pacific coast, allowing them to be tracked by satellite even as they dive to depths exceeding 3000 feet. Details of the effort are published in in the March 12 edition of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS).


Bush administration issues gag order on polar bear discussions

(03/08/2007) The Bush administration has banned discussion of polar bears, sea ice, and global warming among officials traveling overseas according to environmental groups and the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Government pledges $385M for cellulosic ethanol

(03/08/2007) The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will invest up to $385 million over the next four years for six biorefinery projects capable of producing more than 130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually.


Deforestation causes species extinction in Madagascar

(03/07/2007) Deforestation has already caused the extinction of a large number of endemic insect species on the island of Madagascar, according to new research published in the March edition of the journal Biology Letters. The work suggests that only half the species confined to these forest areas will survive.


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