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News articles on biodiversity
Mongabay.com news articles on biodiversity in blog format. Updated regularly.
(05/21/2008) Climate change is making it more difficult for plant-eating animals in highly seasonal environments like as the Arctic to locate food, according to a new study published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Marauding kangaroos may drive extinction of earless dragons in Australia
(05/21/2008) A plague of kangaroos overgrazing sensitive grasslands near Australia's capital city Canberra is jeopardizing habitat critical for the survival of endangered species including the golden sun moth (Synemon plana) and the grassland earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla), one of the world's rarest lizards, according to German and Australian. Culling the kangaroos may be the only option for saving some of these grassland species from extinction.
Half of oil palm expansion in Malaysia, Indonesia occurs at expense of forests
(05/20/2008) More than half of the oil palm expansion between 1990 and 2005 Malaysia and Indonesia occurred at expense of forests, reports a new analysis published in the journal conservation Letters. Analyzing data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Lian Pin Koh and David S. Wilcove of Princeton University found that 55-59 percent of oil palm expansion in Malaysia and at least 56 percent of that in Indonesia occurred at the expense of forests. Given that oil palm plantations are biologically impoverished relative to primary and secondary forests, the researchers recommend restricting future expansion to pre-existing cropland and degraded habitats.
Dying of cancer, Tasmanian devils to be listed as endangered
(05/20/2008) A deadly form of contagious face cancer has forced the Tasmanian devil on to the endangered species list.
Defaunation, like deforestation, threatens global biodiversity
(05/20/2008) Loss of wildlife is a subtle but growing threat to tropical forests, says a leading plant ecologist from Stanford University. Speaking in an interview with mongabay.com, Dr. Rodolfo Dirzo says that the disappearance of wildlife due to overexploitation, fragmentation, and habitat degradation is causing ecological changes in some of the world's most biodiverse tropical forests. He ranks defaunation — as he terms the ongoing biological impoverishment of forests — as one of the world's most significant global changes, on par with environmental changes like global warming, deforestation, and shifts in the nitrogen cycle.
Frog chooses whether to lay eggs on land or in water
(05/19/2008) Researchers in Panama have discovered a frog that can choose whether it lays its eggs on land or in water. It is the first time such "reproductive flexibility" has been found in a vertebrate.
Invasive Species: Toad-ally out of control
(05/18/2008) Throughout warm, wet climates around the world lurks a camouflaged combatant seldom known beyond those who experience first hand its awesome destructive powers. It is an ingeniously crafted destroyer equipped with a host of specially developed chemical toxins, a lightening fast attack, and the ability to easily navigate across both water and land. This devious tool is not a creation of human engineering or military research and development but a product of a much more ancient and refined process: evolution. And until human intervention it was neither ecologically harmful nor an invasive pest but a well-integrated part of ecosystems throughout South and Central America. Meet Bufo marinus — the cane toad: exemplary proof of how human short-sightedness and misuse of biological control agents often leads to the catastrophic mismanagement of our natural world in the form of a large, squat, hungry toad.
U.S. government bans oil development in Alaskan Arctic area
(05/16/2008) A large swathe of Alaska will be off-limits to oil development under a decision today by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). conservationists welcomed the move.
Global wildlife declines 30% in 30 years
(05/16/2008) In honor of Endangered Species Day, the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) has released a list of twelve critically endangered species, which it considers the 'rarest of the rare'. The list spreads widely throughout the animal kingdom, including insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
Insect diversity in the tropics greater than previously believed
(05/15/2008) The tropics are more biodiverse than previously believed, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Nitrogen pollution harming ecosystems and contributing to global warming
(05/15/2008) Nitrogen pollution of the world's oceans is harming marine ecosystems and contributing to global warming, report two reviews published in the journal Science.
U.S. lists the polar bear as threatened, but decision won't affect emissions rules
(05/14/2008) The U.S. Interior Department has decided to list the polar bear as a threatened species due to declining sea ice cover in the Arctic, according to the The Associated Press. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to announce the action.
New research shows wild sloths sleep less than captive sloths
(05/14/2008) Wild sloths are considerably more active than their counterparts in captivity, reports the first electrophysiological study of sleep in a wild animal.
Indonesian palm oil firms pledge to stop clearing rainforests
(05/13/2008) Palm oil companies operating in Indonesia pledged to stop clearing forests for new plantations reports The Jakarta Post. The move is a response to growing criticism that oil palm expansion is destroying biologically-rich rainforests and contributing to global warming.
2 billion trees planted in 18 months
(05/13/2008) A campaign to plant one billion trees has planted more than 2 billion trees in just 18 months and now aims for seven billion, according to the UN Environment Programme, one of the backers of the initiative.
Eight individuals of one of the world's rarest cats caught on film
(05/09/2008) Recent photographs have brought hope to conservationists regarding the world's rarest large cat, the Amur leopard. They were taken in the Primorisky Region of Russia by a camera trap.
Sustainability conference reveals a rift in the Malaysian Palm Oil Council
(05/01/2008) Last month's sustainability conference sponsored by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) revealed a rift between some planters and the industry marketing organization.
Unilever calls for ban on rainforest destruction for palm oil
(05/01/2008) Unilever, the world's largest consumer good company, will start using palm oil from certified sustainable sources this year and aims to have all its palm oil certified by 2015, according to a speech delivered today by CEO Patrick Cescau.
Photos of newly discovered species in Brazil's Cerrado
(04/29/2008) An expedition to Brazil's Cerrado has turned up more than a dozen undiscovered species. conservationists say the discoveries add urgency to protecting the grassland habitat which is rapidly being converted for agriculture.
Biodiversity key to fighting climate change
(04/29/2008) Scientists from Brown University have discovered that an ecosystem's productivity is directly linked to its diversity of plant species. The discovery has granted biodiversity new importance in the fight against climate change: the more productive the ecosystem the more carbon it captures.
Endangered species status of the polar bear to be decided May 15
(04/29/2008) A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to stop delaying its decision on whether to list the polar bear as an endangered species. Environmentalists say the bear is threatened by melting sea ice in its Arctic habitat.
Photos - researchers study largest squid ever captured
(04/29/2008) Marine biologists in New Zealand are thawing the corpse of the largest squid ever caught in order to learn more about one of the ocean's most mysterious creatures.
The Arctic's most threatened marine mammals due to climate change
(04/25/2008) A recent study has measured the sensitivity to Arctic marine mammals to climate change. The study found that the three species most vulnerable to climate change are the hooded seal, the polar bear, and the narwhal: the common thread between these species being the loss of sea ice.
New cures for human ailments under threat by global extinction crisis
(04/24/2008) In the film Medicine Man, a researcher in the Amazon discovers a cure for cancer in a rare ant. However, a logging company arrives at the wrong moment and, despite protestations from the main characters, the company destroys the tract of rainforest where the ant once survived.
Fruit-eating bats ingest dirt to counter toxic plant compounds
(04/23/2008) Pregnant and lactating frugivorous bats ingest dirt in order to detoxify plant compounds in the fruit they eat, report researchers writing in the journal PLoS ONE.
Cache of rare and undiscovered species under threat in Panama
(04/21/2008) Rare and previously undiscovered species are under threat by loggers, ranchers, and poachers in an isolated patch of cloud forest in Panama, a prominent group of scientists has warned. The group, the Association for Tropical Biology and conservation (ATBC), has called on the Panamanian government to immediately provide protected-area status to the region.
Borneo's pygmy elephants are an alien species
(04/18/2008) A new study suggests that the Borneo pygmy elephant -- one of Borneo's best known and charismatic animals -- is actually an invasive species introduced from a neighboring island by a former sultan. The finding offers hope that in Borneo, the elephant can avoid the fate that befell it in its native Java: extinction.
World's rarest gorilla gets its own forest reserve
(04/18/2008) The government of Cameroon has established the first sanctuary exclusively for the world's rarest type of ape: the Cross River gorilla, according to the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS), which helped support the project.
Malaysian palm oil industry puts sustainability in the spotlight
(04/17/2008) Seeking to differentiate its palm oil from that produced less responsibly in other countries, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) sponsored a three-day meeting this week in Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo.
Mobile game to help save embattled gorillas in the Congo
(04/16/2008) For mobile users a new mobile game hopes to raise awareness of the plight of the mountain gorilla and funds for their conservation. Silverback takes gamers through eight levels, following the life-span of a gorilla from childhood to adult. The game was originally developed in 2003 by Fauna & Flora International. Ken Banks, creator of www.kiwanja.net, helped develop the game. In 2006 the game was taken off-line where as Banks says it "sat on a virtual shelf, gathering virtual dust". He has now brought the game back in the hope that it will renew interest, and awareness, in the plight of the mountain gorilla.
New expedition seeks evidence for survival of the 'extinct' Baiji
(04/16/2008) The EDGE program, apart of the London Zoological Society, has sent an expedition to the Yangtze River to survey local fishermen for any evidence that the Baiji may still survive.
Palm oil boycott an unrealistic approach to conserving biodiversity
(04/15/2008) Boycotting palm oil produced in Southeast Asia in an "unrealistic" and "ineffective" approach to conserving the region's fast-disappearing rainforests, said a Princeton University researcher speaking at a conference on the sustainability of palm oil. Instead, NGOs should focus on engaging and working with the palm oil industry to reduce its impact on the environment. Addressing the first International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Princeton biologist Dr. David S. Wilcove said that the palm oil industry is too important to the economies of Indonesia and Malaysia to justify blanket import bans on the edible oil used in food, cosmetics, industrial products, and biodiesel. The palm oil industry contributes to health, education, and infrastructure in rural areas.
Lungless frog discovered in Borneo
(04/11/2008) A lungless frog has been discovered on the island of Borneo. Scientists say the species may shed light on the process of evolution in some organisms.
Saving the world's most recently discovered cat species in Borneo
(04/10/2008) Last year two teams of scientists announced the discovery of a new species of clouded leopard in Borneo. The news came as conservationists launched a major initiative to conserve a large area of forest on an island where logging and oil palm plantations have consumed vast expanses of highly biodiverse tropical rainforest over the past thirty years. Now a pair of researchers are racing against the clock to better understand the behvaior of these rare cats to see how well they adapt to these changes in and around Danum Valley in Malaysia's Sabah state. Andrew Hearn and Joanna Ross run the Bornean Wild Cat and Clouded Leopard Project, an effort that aims to understand and protect Borneo's threatened wild cats, which include the flat-headed cat (Prionailurus planiceps), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) the endemic bay cat (Catopuma badia) and the Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa).
First wolves killed in Wyoming after species loses ESA protection
(04/02/2008) In one of a series of controversial decisions regarding the Endangered Species Act recently, the federal government has dropped the Rocky Mountain grey wolf from the program. The announcement of the de-listing was made in mid-February, but did not go into effect until Friday when the reins of control were handed over from the federal government to the individual states. Over the weekend wolf-hunting began in Wyoming.
Giant sea creatures discovered in Antarctica
(03/21/2008) An eight week long survey of New Zealand's Antarctic waters has turned up giant creatures including jellyfish with 12-foot tentacles and 2-foot-wide starfish, as well as up to eight previously undiscovered species of mollusc, reports the Associated Press (A.P.).
Markets could save forests: An interview with Dr. Tom Lovejoy
(03/20/2008) Market mechanisms are increasingly seen as a way to address environmental problems, including tropical deforestation. In particular, compensation for ecosystem services like carbon sequestration — a concept known by the acronym REDD for "reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation" — may someday make conservation a profitable enterprise in which carbon traders are effectively saving rainforests simply by their pursuit of profit. Protecting rainforests and their resident biodiversity would be an unintentional, but happy byproduct of profit-seeking endeavors.
Ecosystems in the Philippines bounce back from the brink
(03/19/2008) The Philippines has often been an example for the worst-case-scenario in environmental degradation. Some scientists have even concluded that environmental efforts should put elsewhere, claiming the Philippines to be a lost cause. In his book Requiem for Nature John Terborgh writes the "overpopulated... Philippines are already beyond the point of no return." However, a recent paper entitled "Hope for Threatened Tropical Biodiversity: Lessons from the Philippines" argues that there are enough positive environmental and conservation trends in the Philippines to have hope and continue working for a better tomorrow.
Illegal wildlife trade worth $20B/yr
(03/19/2008) The illegal wildlife trade generates $5 to $20 billion annually, making it the largest illicit market after guns and drugs trafficking, reports a study released by the Congressional Research Service.
Do parks worsen deforestation through 'leakage'?
(03/17/2008) The creation of protected reserves may be pushing development to neighboring areas, confounding overall conservation efforts in regions where development pressures are high. Such "leakage" -- as the displacement is called -- makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of protected areas strategies.
How falling a gecko lands on its feet
(03/17/2008) According to new research the gecko may have the most dynamic tail in the natural world. Two researchers from UC Berkley have discovered that the gecko uses its tail to keep itself from falling off slippery vertical surfaces and when falling to rapidly right itself. So, like a cat, it always lands on four feet.
Rwanda launches reforestation project to protect chimps, drive ecotourism
(03/17/2008) conservationists in Rwanda have launched an ambitious reforestation project that aims to create a forest corridor to link an isolated group of chimpanzees to larger areas of habitat in Nyungwe National Park. The initiative, called the Rwandan National conservation Park, is backed by the Rwandan government, the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, and Earthpark, a group seeking to build an indoor rainforest in the U.S. Midwest.
New bird species discovered in Indonesia
(03/14/2008) A previously unknown species of bird has been discovered near a remote archipelago in Indonesia, reported a taxonomist writing in the March edition of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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