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News articles on biodiversity
Mongabay.com news articles on biodiversity in blog format. Updated regularly.
(12/05/2007) Following the first documented cases of the Cross River gorillas -- world's most endangered gorilla -- throwing sticks and clumps of grass when threatened by people, the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) has announced new research to better protect the species from poaching and encroachment.
Earthquake triggers decline in a frog species
(12/03/2007) In 1999 a 7.3 earthquake struck Nantou County at the center of quake-prone Taiwan. The earthquake caused considerable damage: over 2,000 people died and just under 45,000 houses were destroyed. It was Taiwan's strongest quake in a hundred years. The quake also devastated a subpopulation of riparian frogs, Rana swinhoana, which had been under scientific study for three years prior. This devastation allowed scientists the opportunity to study the population changes in a species affected suddenly and irretrievably by natural disaster.
Can wildlife conservation banking generate investment returns?
(11/27/2007) A commercial venture in the Malaysian rainforest will seek to generate competitive returns on investment by protecting wildlife. The scheme -- signed by the Sabah government and Sydney-based New Forests Pty Ltd -- will establish a wildlife habitat conservation bank to manage the 34,000 ha Malua Forest Reserve on the island of Borneo.
Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges
(11/27/2007) While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation.
Biodiversity conservation will only work if local people benefit
(11/19/2007) Biodiversity loss is already having an economic impact in Africa according to a 7-year monitoring project underwritten by Europeans and African governments. The project, known as the Biodiversity Monitoring Transect Analysis in Africa (BIOTA), relies on a network of biodiversity observatories equipped with weather stations, sensors and a monitoring program that includes remote sensing, data on soil fertility and agricultural indicators. Dr. Nina Farwig, a scientist at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz and a participating member of BIOTA-East Africa, says that conservation efforts in the tropics will only be effective if the local people benefit. Her work with BIOTA shows that even in the absence of extensive forest cover, a patchwork of agricultural landscapes can contribute to the biodiversity conservation.
Large-scale agriculture 'compromises' forest's ability to recover
(11/19/2007) As deforestation of tropical forests continues unhindered, one of the future hopes for these damaged ecosystems is regeneration in secondary forests. Some areas that were once slash-and-burned for cattle ranching or subsistence agriculture have been abandoned, allowing scientists to study the possibility of recovery in the rainforest. If anyone has a clear idea of the potential of secondary forests it is Robin L. Chazdon. Dr. Chazdon, a full professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, has been studying the regeneration of secondary forest for over twenty-five years. She has published over 50 papers on tropical ecology, currently she serves as an active member of the Biotropica editorial board and is a member of the Bosques Project, which measures secondary forest recovery in Northern Costa Rica.
Only 150 vaquita remain
(11/19/2007) Only 150 individual vaquita, the world's smallest cetacean, remain, according to a new study published in conservation Biology. The species has been decimated as accidental bycatch in fishing nets in its Gulf of California habitat. Researchers--who say there may be only a two-year window to save the species from extinction--have launched a last-ditch conservation effort.
Physicists join fight to save amphibians from extinction
(11/19/2007) Physicists have joined the fight to save amphibians from extinction by using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to investigate the properties of frogs skin.
7-year old nature guide becomes Belize environmental hero as adult
(11/16/2007) Each year hundreds of thousands of nature-oriented tourists visit Belize to see the Central American country's spectacular coral reefs, biodiverse rainforests, and ancient Mayan ruins. However few visitors realize that Belize's natural resources are at risk. Timber and oil extraction, agricultural encroachment, coastal development, pollution and unrestrained tourism are all increasing threats to Belizean ecosystems. Unless something is done to address these concerns, within a generation these pressures could present considerable problems for Belize. Dr. Colin Young, head of the environmental science program at Galen University in Belize, says that while he is greatly concerned about these issues, there is still time to ensure healthy forests and reefs in Belize.
In the Amazon, primary forest biodiversity tops that of secondary forest, plantations
(11/12/2007) Plantations and secondary forests are no match for primary Amazon rainforest in terms of biodiversity, reports the largest ever assessment of the biodiversity conservation value in the tropics.
Subtle threats could ruin the Amazon rainforest
(11/07/2007) While the mention of Amazon destruction usually conjures up images of vast stretches of felled and burned rainforest trees, cattle ranches, and vast soybean farms, some of the biggest threats to the Amazon rainforest are barely perceptible from above. Selective logging -- which opens up the forest canopy and allows winds and sunlight to dry leaf litter on the forest floor -- and 6-inch high "surface" fires are turning parts of the Amazon into a tinderbox, putting the world's largest rainforest at risk of ever-more severe forest fires. At the same time, market-driven hunting is impoverishing some areas of seed dispersers and predators, making it more difficult for forests to recover. Climate change -- an its forecast impacts on the Amazon basin -- further looms large over the horizon.
New peccary species discovered by embattled Amazon scientist
(11/04/2007) A new species of peccary has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest by a scientist recently charged with biopiracy by the Brazilian government.
Amphibian extinction may be worse than thought
(10/31/2007) Amphibian extinction rates may be higher than previously thought, according to new DNA analysis that found more than 60 unrecognized species in the Guiana Shield of South America.
Parasites a key to the decline of red colobus monkeys in forest fragments
(10/25/2007) Forest fragmentation threatens biodiversity, often causing declines or local extinctions in a majority of species while enhancing the prospects of a few. A new study from the University of Illinois shows that parasites can play a pivotal role in the decline of species in fragmented forests. This is the first study to look at how forest fragmentation increases the burden of infectious parasites on animals already stressed by disturbances to their habitat.
Global warming puts primates at greater risk
(10/25/2007) 29 percent of the world's primate species are in danger of going extinct warns a new report from the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN's Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS).
Mass extinctions happen when temperatures are the warmest
(10/24/2007) Warming temperatures could trigger a mass extinction event, warn scientists writing in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Comparing ancient records of marine and terrestrial diversity with historical temperature estimates, researchers from the Universities of York and Leeds found a close correlation between Earth climate and extinctions over the past 520 million years: higher extinction rates occur at higher temperatures.
Google Earth adds endangered species info
(10/24/2007) Google Earth users can now learn about 100 of the world's most endangered species through a new KML developed by the Zoological Society of London's EDGE of Existence program.
Amazon plant diversity still a mystery
(10/21/2007) The Amazon is one of the few places on the earth that still evokes an accurate sense of mystery. While the Taiga, Antarctica, and Sahara may compare to the Amazon in wilderness size, none hold the same mystique of unknown species. It is believed that one third of the world's species inhabits this tropical rainforest. The only region comparable in mystery (though not in species) may be the world's oceans.
Black jellyfish, strange marine species discovered in deep ocean
(10/17/2007) An expedition to an unexplored deep ocean basin south of the Philippine Islands has turned up a trove of previous undiscovered species including a black jellyfish, a transparent sea cucumber, and a tentacled worm that resembles a squid.
Mexican fishing villages work to change practices to preserve loggerhead turtles
(10/17/2007) Industrial fishing operations take plenty of blame for both depleting fish stocks and inadvertently catching innocent bystanders such as dolphins, sharks, seabirds, and sea turtles--a phenomenon known as "bycatch.".
Scientists find fish that literally lives in trees
(10/17/2007) Scientists have found a fish that literally lives in trees, according to research published in The American Naturalist and highlighted in New Scientist Magazine.
Snake uses trick to avoid poisoning from toxic frogs
(10/16/2007) An Australian snake employs a special feeding behvaior to avoid poisoning by toxic frogs, reports The American Naturalist.
First photos of a wild South China Tiger in 34 years
(10/14/2007) While there has been proof that the South China Tiger still lives in the Shaanxi province--sightings by locals, findings of footprints, hair, and teeth--there has been no photographic evidence of this species since 1964. But on October 3rd a local farmer, Zhou Zhenglong, took a total of 71 pictures of a South China Tiger in the wild. For his efforts the farmer received a payment of 20,000 yuan.
11 new species discovered in Vietnam's Green Corridor
(09/29/2007) On September 26th, scientists from World Wildlife Fund announced the discovery of eleven new species: one snake, two butterflies, five orchids, and three other plants in Vietnam's biologically rich Green Corridor. The discoveries were made between 2005 and 2006.
16,306 species threatened with extinction
(09/12/2007) 16,306 of 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction, reports the World conservation Union (IUCN). The total number of known extinct species now stands at 785, while a further 65 are only found in captivity or in cultivation. One in four mammals, one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70% of the world's assessed plants on the 2007 IUCN Red List are considered at risk.
Two new species of salamander discovered in Panama
(09/09/2007) Scientists have discovered two new species of salamanders from the mountainous Costa Rica-Panama border region. The findings, published by David B. Wake, Jay M. Savage, and James Hanken in the journal Copeia, push the number of salamanders known in the region to 24, making it a hotspot in terms of salamander biodiversity.
Education key to financial support for biodiversity
(09/06/2007) On the coast of south-western Spain, Coto Donana National Park posses a unique wealth of wildlife; its proximity to Africa has allowed for several African species to mix with a wide variety of European: Egyptian Mongooses and the Greater Flamingo live alongside wild boar and Spanish Red Deer. The coastal and wetland park provides a continual respite for hundreds of species of African and European birds. As well, the park is home to several endangered species including the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Andalusian toothcarp, the Sabine (a variety of juniper pine), and the world's most endangered cat, the Iberian Lynx.
Malaysia suffers big drop in shorebird populations
(09/05/2007) Malaysia suffered a big drop in shorebirds, reports a new study by Wetlands International. The environmental group attributes the 22 percent decline between 1983-1986 and 2004-2006 to destruction of habitat for aquaculture, agriculture, industry, housing and recreation.
Chinese demand takes toll on wildlife in Burma (Myanmar)
(09/04/2007) If the market of Mong La is anything to go by, the remaining wild elephants, tigers and bears in Myanmar's forests are being hunted down slowly and sold to China.
Loss of livestock breeds put food supplies at risk in poor countries
(09/03/2007) A number of rare livestock breeds face extinction, a prospects the weakens genetic diversity and could be the food supply at risk in some parts of the world, warns a new report from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The group calls for the immediate establishment of genebanks to conserve reproductive material from the most threatened breeds.
Rare Chinese river dolphin sighting in doubt
(09/01/2007) A prominent researcher is skeptical of last week's reported sighting of the baiji, the Chinese river dolphin declared extinct earlier this year, according to the New York Times. The sighting near Tongling city in Anhui Province -- widely reported in Chinese and Western media -- was captured on video.
Large mammals disappearing from Africa's parks
(08/31/2007) Large mammals are disappearing from Africa's national parks, warn researchers writing in the September 2007 issue of the African Journal of Ecology.
Saving beautiful - and ugly - species from extinction
(08/30/2007) Allow me to wax poetic about the world's newest wildlife organization, EDGE. I must admit I'm a little in love. This singular organization was founded in January as a part of the London Zoological Society. Its basic tenants remain similar to other endangered species programs: survey populations, set up conservation programs, work with local governments and communities to ensure protection. However, what is unique about EDGE is not their approach to saving species, but rather the species they choose to focus their efforts on. This year they have selected ten mammalian species: the Yangztee River Dolphin, Attenborough's Long-Beaked Echidna, Hispaniolan Solenodon, Bactarian Camel, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Slender Loris, Hirola, Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Bumblebee Bat, and the Long-eared Jerboa.
"Extinct" baiji river dolphin spotted alive in China
(08/29/2007) An "extinct" baiji has been spotted alive in the Yangtze River, reports Chinese state media.
Meeting seeks to save Sumatra's tigers and elephants from extinction
(08/29/2007) Over 100 wildlife experts and government officials will meet in Indonesia Wednesday to draft an action plan to save Sumatran elephnts and tigers from extinction, reports Reuters.
Largest-ever Endangered Species Act lawsuit filed
(08/29/2007) An environmental group plans the largest ever legal action in the history of the Endangered Species Act.
New poison frog species discovered in Colombia
(08/28/2007) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of poison frog in a remote mountainous region in Colombia. The tiny frog has been dubbed the "golden frog of Supata" and lives only in a 20 hectare area in Colombia's Cundinamarca region.
Scientists meet in Hungary to discuss saving dying frogs
(08/27/2007) Scientists are meeting this week in Budapest, Hungary to discuss last-ditch efforts to save the world's most threatened frogs from extinction.
U.S. to spend $27M on possibly extinct bird
(08/26/2007) The U.S. government plans to spend $27 million on the recovery efforts for a bird species that may already be extinct, reports the Associated Press.
European blood-sucker falls victim to global warming
(08/26/2007) Europe's only known land leech may be on the brink of extinction due to shifts in climate, report researchers writing in the journal Naturwissenschaften. The findings are significant because they suggest that "human-induced climate change without apparent habitat destruction can lead to the extinction of populations of cold-adapted species that have a low colonization ability," according to the authors.
U.S. military attacks illegal wildlife trade in Afghanistan
(08/22/2007) The U.S. military has teamed with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) to attack the illegal wildlife trade in Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.
'New continent' and species discovered in Atlantic study
(08/18/2007) A scientist from the University of Aberdeen is leading a team of international researchers whose work will continue our understanding of life in the deepest oceans, and contribute to the global Census of Marine Life.
Group seeks salvation for 189 endangered bird species
(08/15/2007) BirdLife International has launched an appeal to save 189 endangered bird species over the next 5 years. The U.K.-based conservation group is seeking to raise tens of millions of dollars through its Species Champions initiative, by finding "Species Champions" among individuals, private foundations, and companies who will fund the work of identified "Species Guardians" for each bird.
Legless lizard retracts eyes to avoid retaliatory prey bites
(08/14/2007) For creatures without legs, snakes are remarkable predators. Pythons can capture and eat animals well over twice their size, while a mere drop of venom injected by an Australian death adder can kill a person. Scientists believe the main purpose for these adaptations is to help snakes avoid injury when pursuing and eating prey. However, snakes are not the only legless reptiles -- there are more than a dozen species of legless lizard distributed around the world. A new paper examines how these reptiles subdue their prey without venom or constriction.
Squirrels communicate with rattlesnakes using heated tail
(08/13/2007) Ground squirrels heat their tails to defend their young against predatory rattlesnakes, reports a study published in the early online edition of Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
New flycatcher bird species discovered in Peru
(08/13/2007) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of bird in dense bamboo thickets in the Peruvian Amazon.
Climate change claims a snail
(08/12/2007) The Aldabra banded snail (Rachistia aldabrae), a rare and poorly known species found only on Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean, has apparently gone extinct due to declining rainfall in its niche habitat. While some may question lamenting the loss of a lowly algae-feeding gastropod on some unheard of chain of tropical islands, its unheralded passing is nevertheless important for the simple reason that Rachistia aldabrae may be a pioneer. As climate change increasingly brings local and regional shifts in precipitation and temperature, other species are expected to follow in its path.
New shrew species, orchid discovered in the Philippines
(08/10/2007) An unknown shrew species has been discovered on Palawan, a large island in the Philippines, by a conservation International-led expedition.
U.N. sends team to investigate gorilla killings
(08/10/2007) The U.N. said it will send a team of experts to probe the killings of critically endangered mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Four gorillas were shot "execution-style" last month, while three others have been killed so far this year. Rangers believe illegal charcoal harvesters from Goma are to blame.
Wild ferrets, America's most endangered mammal, recover
(08/09/2007) Black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes), North America's most endangered mammal species, are recovering in their native Wyoming, reports a study published in the current issue of the journal Science.
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