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News articles on biodiversity
Mongabay.com news articles on biodiversity in blog format. Updated regularly.
(08/23/2008) DNA analysis has revealed a previously unknown species of bird in the Central African country of Gabon.
DNA study reveals new 1,000-pound grouper species
(08/21/2008) DNA analysis has revealed that a 1,000-pound grouper found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is actually two different species.
Presidential candidate John McCain's love-hate relationship with bears
(08/21/2008) Senator John McCain has frequently cited an earmark to a bill proving funds for a study of grizzly bears in Montana as an example of the worst pork-and-barrel spending in Washington. The study was included in an ad for McCain entitled "Outrageous" during the primaries. However, according to FactCheck.org, Senator McCain voted for the earmark he now derides.
French birds on the move due to climate change—just not fast enough
(08/21/2008) French ornithologists have discovered, year by year, that French birds are moving north due to the affects of climate change. A recent study of such movements in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B concludes that the birds are not moving fast enough, leading to concern among conservationists.
The long-ignored ocean emergency and what can be done to address it
(08/18/2008) This year has been full of bad news regarding marine ecosystems: one-third of coral species threatened with extinction, dead-zones spread to 415 sites, half of U.S. reefs in fair or bad condition, increase in ocean acidification, tuna and shark populations collapsing, and only four percent of ocean considered pristine. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of California, San Diego, synthesizes such reports and others into a new paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the Naional Academy of Sciences, that boldly lays out the scope of the oceanic emergency and what urgently needs to be done.
Markets could save rainforests: an interview with Andrew Mitchell
(08/17/2008) Markets may soon value rainforests as living entities rather than for just the commodities produced when they are cut down, said a tropical forest researcher speaking in June at a conservation biology conference in the South American country of Suriname. Andrew Mitchell, founder and director of the London-based Global Canopy Program (GCP), said he is encouraged by signs that investors are beginning to look at the value of services afforded by healthy forests.
No scientists necessary: Bush administration's new plans regarding endangered species
(08/13/2008) I would have thought it difficult after eight years to still be surprised by any presidential administration, but the Bush administration has proven unique. After years of delisting endangered species, refusing to list others, and slowly watering down the landmark Endangered Species Act, the Bush administration has finally come out and said it: scientists are superfluous when it comes to saving endangered species. Despite eight years of belittling scientists, I was still surprised they would insult them so blatantly.
Investors seek profit from conserving rainforest biodiversity
(08/13/2008) An investment firm has launched the first tropical biodiversity credits scheme. New Forests, a Sydney, Australia-based company, has established the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank in Malaysia as an attempt to monetize rainforest conservation. The "Malua BioBank" will use an investment from a private equity fund to restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of formerly logged forest that serves as a buffer between biologically-rich forest reserve and a sea of oil palm plantations. The conservation effort will generate "Biodiversity Conservation Certificates", the sales of which will endow a perpetual conservation trust and produce a return on investment for the Sabah Government and the private equity fund.
Humans - not climate - drove extinction of giant Tasmanian animals
(08/11/2008) Humans — not climate change — were responsible for the mass extinction of Australia's megafauna, according to a new study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
7 steps to solve the global biodiversity crisis
(08/11/2008) Many biologists believe Earth is entering a sixth mass extinction event, one that has is the direct of human activities, including over-exploitation, habitat destruction and introduction of alien species and pathogens. Climate change — largely driven by anthropogenic forces — is expected to soon increase pressure on Earth's biodiversity. With population and per-capita consumption expected to grow significantly by the mid 21st century, there seems little hope that species loss can be slowed. Nevertheless, writing in the journal PNAS, Stanford biologists Paul R. Ehrlich and Robert M. Pringle suggest seven steps to help improve the outlook for the multitude of species that share our planet.
Amphibians face mass extinction
(08/11/2008) Amphibians are in big trouble. At least one third of the world's 6,300 known species are threatened with extinction, while at least 200 species have gone extinct over the past 20 years. Worryingly the outbreak of a deadly fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, is spreading throughout the tropics leaving millions of victims. A new study, published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, warns that there is "little time to stave off a potential mass extinction" of frogs, salamanders, and caecilians.
Three American mussel species lost to extinction
(08/10/2008) After a five year review, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has asked to take three mussels species off the Endangered Species List due to the belief that the mussels are extinct. The three species were all native to the Tennessee River and are thought to have gone extinct due to drastic changes in water conditions, including pollution and dams.
Aquarium fish trade linked to cocaine, timber smuggling in Brazil
(08/10/2008) Smugglers are using the ornamental fish trade to traffic cocaine and illegally logged timber according to a report from Sérgio Abranches of O Eco, a leading Brazilian environmental web site.
Pope Benedict XVI says environment has been undervalued by Catholics
(08/07/2008) Pope Benedict XVI, who has arguably been the most vocal Pope on environmental concerns, told 400 priests in a closed meeting in Northern Italy that "God entrusted man with the responsibility of creation".
Researchers evacuated due to polar bear trapped on land by melting sea ice
(08/07/2008) The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) evacuated five of its scientists from a remote camp in northern Alaska because of a new and unusual threat: a polar bear stuck on land due to climate change. Polar bears would normally be out on sea ice this time of year, but with recent warming the ice is miles from shore and bears are becoming increasingly trapped on land well away from their usual seal prey.
Fossils grant new insight into the Antarctica's natural history
(08/07/2008) At one time an alpine lake was inhabited by mosses and diatoms; insects such as beetles and midges crawled among sparse ferns and various crustaceans lived amid the lake's calm waters. This tundra-like landscape was the last stand of life in Antarctica, and it existed up to 14 million years ago before suddenly vanishing.
New mapping system shows how detailed climate changes will affect species
(08/06/2008) A new computer simulation from the Nature Conservancy shows greater detail than ever before on how climate change will affect the world's biodiversity, according to an article in New Scientist. In worst case scenarios—using the example of Bengal tigers in Sundarbans mangrove forest—the article's author, Peter Aldhous, writes that some species will be forced into a "condemned cell", literally having no-where to go while their region becomes inhabitable.
Dell becomes carbon neutral by saving endangered lemurs
(08/06/2008) Dell, the world's largest computer maker, announced it has become the first major technology company to achieve carbon neutrality.
Human-testing for animal medications?
(08/06/2008) Medical advances for humans have largely been dependent on other species: deriving chemical compounds from plants, employing molds for vaccines, or testing drugs on mammals. However, in an intriguing twist the Wildlife Conservation Society has adapted a test used on humans for primates in the Bronx Zoo.
Australia declares its largest tropical rainforest park
(08/06/2008) Autralia will protect its most pristine rainforest a nearly twenty year battle between conservationists and land owners, according to a statement from the government of Queensland.
Private equity firm to sell biodiversity offsets from rainforest conservation
(08/06/2008) An investment firm has launched the first tropical biodiversity credits scheme. New Forests, an Australia-based company, has established the Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank in an attempt to monetize rainforest conservation. The "Malua BioBank" will use an investment from a private equity fund to restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of formerly logged forest that serves as a buffer between biologically-rich forest reserve and a sea of oil palm plantations.
48% of primates threatened with extinction
(08/05/2008) 48 percent of the world's primate species are at risk of extinction, according to the first comprehensive review of the world's primates since 2003. The results were released as an update to the IUCN Red List at the 22nd International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Massive gorilla population discovered in the Congo
(08/05/2008) The world's known population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas has more than doubled following a new census that revealed some 125,000 in the Republic of Congo.
Often overlooked, small wild cats are important and in trouble
(08/05/2008) While often over-shadowed by their larger and better-known relatives like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars, small cats are important indicators of the health of an ecosystem, says a leading small cat expert who uses camera traps extensively to document and monitor mammals in the wild. Dr Jim Sanderson, a scientist with the Small Cat Conservation Alliance and Conservation International, is working to save some of the world's rarest cats, including the Andean cat and Guigna of South America and the bay, flat-headed, and marbled cats of Southeast Asia. In the process Sanderson has captured on film some of the planet's least seen animals, including some species that have never before been photographed. He has also found that despite widespread criticism, some corporate entities are effectively protecting remote wilderness areas.
Developing the world's most sophisticated program for mapping endangered species
(08/04/2008) It was big news in April when a comprehensive map of Madagascar's rich and unique biodiversity was unveiled. The project managed to map ranges of 2,315 species across an island larger than France. Such detailed mapping could not have happened without the aid of Steve Phillips. A researcher at AT&T, Phillips developed the software that made such detailed and expansive mapping possible.
Scientists discover world's smallest snake species
(08/03/2008) If one wanted to overcome their fear of snakes, they may want to start with the newly discovered Leptotyphlops carlae. Measuring less than four inches long, even stretched out this new species of threadsnake can't compete with the average pen or pencil.
African elephants being poached at record rate
(08/01/2008) African elephants are being killed for their ivory at a record pace, reports a University of Washington conservation biologist.
Chevron lobbies Bush Administration for bail out on lawsuit by Amazon tribes
(07/31/2008) Lobbyists for big oil are working feverishly to persuade the Bush Administration and Congress to let Chevron off the hook for a potential $16 billion liability in an environmental lawsuit.
Cane toads are killing crocodiles in Australia
(07/30/2008) The cane toad has been a scourge to Australian wildlife for decades. An invasive species, the cane toad competes with local endemic frog species and due to its high toxicity kills any predator who preys on it, including snakes, raptors, lizards, and the carnivorous marsupial, northern quoll. New research has uncovered another victim of the toad. The freshwater crocodile has suffered massive population declines due to consuming the irascible toad.
Ocean acidification may hurt reproduction in marine life
(07/30/2008) Ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be putting the reproductive capabilities of some marine species at risk, reports a new study published in Current Biology by Swedish and Australian scientists.
Researchers discover "artistic" moth in Panama
(07/29/2008) Researchers have discovered a new species of Bagworm Moth that wraps its eggs individually in "beautiful cases" fashioned from its golden abdominal hairs, according to a new paper published in the Annals of the Entomology Society of America. The behavior is unique among insects.
Adaptation to climate change will be difficult for Madagascar
(07/29/2008) Madagascar's high levels of endemism coupled with its extensive loss and degradation of ecosystems leave its species particularly vulnerable to climate change. A new paper evaluates these risks and sets forth conservation priorities to best maintain the ecological resilience of the island nation.
Island biogeography theory doesn't explain biodiversity changes in forest fragments
(07/28/2008) Island biogeography theory, the idea that fragmented ecosystems have lower species richness per unit of area compared with contiguous habitats, has served as a useful conceptual model to understand the effects of habitat fragmentation but fails to explain the complexities of change in isolated forest fragments, according to a synthesis published last month in the journal Biological Conservation.
Newly discovered monkey is critically endangered by logging, poaching
(07/28/2008) A newly discovered species of monkey may already be threatened with extinction, according to a study published in the journal Oryx.
Climate change will increase the erosion of coral reefs
(07/28/2008) Coral reefs are particularly susceptible to climate change. Warming waters have been shown to bleach coral, killing off symbiotic algae that provide them with sustenance, and often leading to the death of the coral itself. Much attention has been placed on bleaching coral, but now scientists have discovered an additional danger to coral reefs in a warming world: erosion.
Unlike humans, tree shrews don't get drunk
(07/28/2008) The pentailed treeshrew, sporting a mouse-like body and feathery tail, seems an unlikely drinker. Yet, new research shows that this one-and-half ounce creature's main food source, the nectar of the bertam palm, is highly fermented. The nectar can contain a peak alcohol concentration of 3.8 percent. This is a little less than a Bud Light.
The end of migrations: wildlife's greatest spectacle is critically endangered
(07/28/2008) If we could turn back the clock about 200 years, one could watch as millions of whales swam along their migration routes. Around 150 years ago, one could witness bison filling the vast America prairie or a billion passenger pigeons blotting out the sky for days. Only a few decades back and a million saiga antelope could be seen crossing the plains of Asia.
Monster manta ray species discovered
(07/25/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of manta ray. Previously there was believed to be only a single species of ray but genetic analysis now shows there are at least two, and possibly three, species.
Population of critically endangered lemurs discovered in Madagascar
(07/22/2008) Scientists in Madagascar have discovered a population of greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus), a critically endangered species of primate, in an area more than 400 kilometers away from its only known refuge, reports conservation International.
Half of the Philippines' endemic wildlife is with extinction
(07/22/2008) More than half the birds, amphibians and mammals endemic to the Philippines are threatened with extinction, according to a statement released by the country's environment and natural resources department and reported by AFP.
Coral susceptibility to bleaching due to small differences in symbiotic relationship
(07/22/2008) Coral reefs are now considered the second most threatened group of animals in the world, with nearly one-third of corals listed as endangered (amphibians retain the dubious honor of being number one). Although corals face many threats, the greatest is bleaching caused by warming oceans due to climate change. However, some coral populations are more susceptible to bleaching than others, even including corals of the same species. New research has uncovered that the reason lies in small differences in the symbiotic relationship between corals and their symbionts, small marine animals and protozoa. Such differences, however miniscule, have a huge impact on the likelihood of a coral's ability to survive warming oceans.
600 species of mushrooms discovered in Guyana
(07/21/2008) In six plots of Guyanese rainforest, measuring only a hundred square meters each, scientists have discovered an astounding 1200 species of macrofungi, commonly known as mushrooms. Even more surprising: they believe over 600 of these are new to science — that's equivalent to a new species every square meter.
Moving species may be only way to save them from climate change
(07/17/2008) Desperate times call for desperate measures, according to a new paper in Science. conservation scientists from the US, the UK, and Australia are calling for the consideration of a highly controversial conservation technique: assisted migration. According to the policy piece, species would be relocated to sites "where they do not currently occur or have not been known to occur in recent history".
Madagascar villagers vote to protect sea turtles, see first hatchlings
(07/15/2008) The first hatching of Green Turtles recorded as a direct result of efforts to protect the species in southwest Madagascar has been witnessed by marine conservationists working for British charity, Blue Ventures conservation.
Discovery of new leatherback migration route may help save species
(07/15/2008) Scientists have discovered a new migration route for the world's largest turtle, the leatherback. The route takes the 2,000-pound marine turtle from the Playa Grande beaches in Costa Rica to an area deep in the South Pacific.
Researchers fit Bornean elephants with satellite collars to track social behvaior
(07/14/2008) Three Bornean Elephants were fitted with satellite collars over the past week in the Kinabatangan marking the beginning of the first study on their social structure.
Fruit bats frequent clay-licks in the Amazon rainforest
(07/14/2008) In the Peru new research finds that female fruit bats are frequent visitors to clay-licks.
Birds face higher risk of extinction than conventionally thought
(07/14/2008) Birds may face higher risk of extinction than conventionally thought, says a bird ecology and conservation expert from Stanford University. Dr. Cagan H. Sekercioglu, a senior research scientist at Stanford and head of the world's largest tropical bird radio tracking project, estimates that 15 percent of world's 10,000 bird species will go extinct or be committed to extinction by 2100 if necessary conservation measures are not taken. While birds are one of the least threatened of any major group of organisms, Sekercioglu believes that worst-case climate change, habitat loss, and other factors could conspire to double this proportion by the end of the century. As dire as this sounds, Sekercioglu says that many threatened birds are rarer than we think and nearly 80 percent of land birds predicted to go extinct from climate change are not currently considered threatened with extinction, suggesting that species loss may be far worse than previously imagined. At particular risk are marine species and specialists in mountain habitats.
Tasmanian devil reproduction adapts to devastating, contagious cancer
(07/14/2008) Tragic circumstances have led to some astounding behvaioral changes in Tasmanian devils. A contagious form of face cancer has engulfed the population, causing the species to be listed as endangered in May. The cancer, which is characterized by large facial tumors, often leads to death by starvation. Casualty rates for infected areas are nearly 90 percent. However, a new study shows that the Tasmanian devils are not taking the disease lying down. The devils, which usually wait until two years for sexual maturity, have begun to breed within their first year of life.
Tiny lemur species discovered in Madagascar
(07/14/2008) Researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of mouse lemur on the island of Madagascar. The find brings the global number of mouse lemurs to 16.
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