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News articles on biodiversity
Mongabay.com news articles on biodiversity in blog format. Updated regularly.
(11/03/2006) All stocks of currently fished wild seafood species are projected to collpase by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of the journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.
Tropical biodiversity results from age of species argues new theory
(11/02/2006) Why are there more species in the tropics than in the temperate regions of the globe? Many of the world's species live in the tropics (perhaps more than half), but the reason has been debated for more than 100 years.
Hotspot conservation may not save endangered species
(11/02/2006) New research suggests conservation efforts based on biological hotspots might need to be re-prioritized since threatened species across different groups of animals -- mammals, birds and amphibians -- don't necessarily occur in the same areas. The study, published in the current edition (Nov. 2) of the journal Nature, shows a geographical discrepancy in hotspots of endangered species from different groups: geographical areas with a high concentration of endangered species from one group, do not necessarily have high numbers from other groups.
Low-use and abandoned logging roads negatively impact wildlife in the United States
(11/01/2006) A new study says that forest roads adversely affect wildlife populations. Writing in an article to be published in the journal conservation Biology, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that low-use and abandoned logging, mining, and oil access roads create a significant ecological footprint in heavily forested areas.
Global warming could cause insect population explosion
(10/30/2006) Global warming may prove to be a boon to insects according to new research published in the October edition of the journal The American Naturalist.
100 species discovered in Hawaii
(10/30/2006) A three-week scientific expedition to America's newest marine park, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, may have discovered 100 species of marine creatures including crabs, corals, sea cucumbers, sea quirts, worms, sea stars, snails, and clams. While some of these species are known from other areas, this will be the first time they have been recorded in the French Frigate Shoals of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Biodiversity extinction crisis will disrupt important ecological services warns study
(10/25/2006) Loss of biodiversity will have an ecologically-costly impact according to a study published in the journal Nature this week. The new study, headed by a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), found that species extinction will reduce nature's ability to maintain ecological balance and "services" such as water filtration, nutrient cycling, and pollination.
Animal pollinators responsible for 35 percent of world food crop
(10/25/2006) A new study calculates that 35 percent of the world's crop production is dependent on pollinators, like bats, bees, and birds. The research suggests that biodiversity loss could directly impact global food crops.
Pet trade and habitat loss decimating wild macaw populations
(10/23/2006) Macaws, the world's largest parrots, are declining in the wild due to over-zealous collecting for the pet trade, poaching, and habitat loss according to a researcher at Texas A&M University. Dr. Don Brightsmith, a bird specialist at Texas A&M University's Schubot Exotic Bird Center, says that of the world's 17 species of macaws, one is extinct, another is extinct in the wild, and seven are endangered. All are suffering population declines in the wild.
Grey whales missing from traditional feeding grounds
(10/23/2006) Researchers found few grey whales in their traditional feeding grounds in the North Pacific last summer according to a scientist at the University of Bath. Dr. William Megill, a professor of mechanical engineering with special interest in biomimetics at the University of Bath, said that the absence of the 17,000 grey whales from traditional summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific could be cause for concern, despite the species' recent removal from the endangered species list.
Population of bizarre Mongolian antelope plunges 95% in 15 years
(10/19/2006) A group of scientists led by the New York-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) working in Mongolia's windswept Gobi Desert recently fitted high-tech GPS (Global Positioning System) collars on eight saiga antelope in an effort to help protect one of Asia's most bizarre-looking -- and endangered -- large mammals.
In search of rare, high elevation monkeys in China
(10/19/2006) High in the cloud-shrouded Yunling mountains of northwestern Yunnan and southeastern Tibet (southwestern China) lives one of the world's most elusive monkeys, the Yunnan golden or snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti). Despite dwelling the most extreme environment of any monkey species -- high-altitude evergreen forests at elevations from 3000 - 4500 m (9800 - 14,800 feet) where temperatures may fall below freezing for several months in a row -- today there are less than 2000 of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys remaining. Hunting and habitat loss has brought the species, which is limited to a single mountain range and fragmented into 15 small sub-populations at risk to genetic bottlenecks and inbreeding depression, to the brink of extinction.
Commercial fishing can cause fish population imbalance
(10/18/2006) New research has found that commercial fishing can cause significant fluctuations in marine fish populations. Writing in Nature, scientists from several institutions and agencies argue that fishing can amplify the highs and lows of natural population variability.
Higher oxygen levels could produce monster insects
(10/11/2006) Higher concentrations of oxygen could produce giant insects according to a paper presented at the Comparative Physiology conference currently meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The paper, 'No giants today: tracheal oxygen supply to the legs limits beetle size,' based on research by a team of American researchers, offers evidence that Paleozoic insects were substantially larger because they had a richer oxygen supply. During the late Paleozoic period, about 300 million years ago, the air's oxygen content was around 35 percent, compared to 21 percent today. As a result some dragonflies had two-and-a-half-foot wing spans, while giant spiders roamed the ancient forests.
Photo of new bird species discovered in Colombia
(10/10/2006) A bird species new to science has been discovered on a remote mountain range in northern Colombia according to conservation International. The Yariguies Brush-Finch (Atlapetes latinuchus yariguierum), a large and colorful finch with black, yellow and red plumage, is described in the June issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club.
A look at the biodiversity extinction crisis
(10/07/2006) As tropical forests -- the world's biological treasure troves -- continue to dwindle, biologists are racing to devise ways to save them and their resident biodiversity. While many conservation biologists talk about population viability analysis and intricacies of reserve layouts, David L. Pearson, a research professor at the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona, focuses on a different approach: education.
New bird species discovered in Colombia
(10/05/2006) A bird species new to science has been discovered on a remote mountain range in northern Colombia according to conservation International.
Farmers fight FDA over pet turtle ban
(10/04/2006) Farmers are battling the FDA over the legality of turtles that were once commonly kept as pets according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.
Up to 73 million sharks killed per year for their fins
(10/04/2006) Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins according to a new paper published in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters. The estimates are three times higher than those projected by the United Nations.
Albatrosses at risk due to fishing
(10/04/2006) About 1 percent of world's waved albatrosses were killed by fisherman in a one-year period according to a new study published online Sept. 26 in the journal Biological conservation
Salmon Farms Kill Wild Fish
(10/03/2006) New research confirms that sea lice from fish farms kill wild salmon. Up to 95 per cent of the wild juvenile salmon that migrate past fish farms die as a result of sea lice infestation from the farms. The results of the research have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America.
Tiger fur trade thrives in China
(09/28/2006) The illegal tiger and leopard fur trade continues to thrive in China according to recent investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). The organizations say that the trade is "operating without any hindrance from the Chinese government" and endangers surviving wild tiger populations in India
Spiderman ability? Tarantulas spin silk from their feet
(09/28/2006) Researchers have found for the first time that tarantulas can produce silk from their feet as well as their spinnerets, a discovery with profound implications for why spiders began to spin silk in the first place.
Photos of newly discovered species in Brazil's Amazon rainforest
(09/28/2006) Brazil has announced the creation of a Amapa State Forest, a 5.7 million acre Amazon protected area larger than the state of New Jersey. According to conservation International (CI), "the designation protects a crucial section of the Amapa Biodiversity Corridor of northern Brazil, which includes some of the most pristine remaining Amazon forest." The Amapa Biodiversity Corridor -- which includes a variety of ecosystems including tropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannah, and wetlands -- is home to more than 1,700 species of animals and plants, including 430 species of birds, 104 species of amphibians, 124 reptile species and 127 mammal species, including 62 bat species, according to biological surveys conducted by conservation International (CI) and the Amapa State Institute for Research. At the core of the Amapa Biodiversity Corridor is Tumucumaque National Park, the world's largest tropical forest park.
Not extinct? Ivory-billed Woodpecker may live in Florida
(09/26/2006) Researchers found evidence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird once believed to be extinct, in a remote river basin in the panhandle of Florida. The discovery, announced in Avian conservation and Ecology, was made in May 2005 by a research team led by Auburn University professor Geoff Hill. The bird was sighted on the Choctawhatchee River and though the team captured no photographs of the species.
Rare, 90-million-year-old tree for sale
(09/20/2006) IThe National Geographic Society announced it will sell the Wollemi Pine, one of the world's oldest and rarest trees, to consumers in the United States this holiday season. Fewer than 100 tree exist in the wild.
$230B for moon return but only $30M for deep ocean research?
(09/19/2006) Unless you're a space buff, you probably missed the latest news from Mars. The Rover mission has now determined that a promontory scientists call "McCool Hill" is 85 feet taller than nearby "Husband Hill." Stop the presses! Exploring new frontiers in the quest for knowledge has inspired humans for centuries, and today's extraterrestrial search for alien life forms and clues to our origin, captures the public's imagination like few others.
New species of 'walking' shark discovered
(09/18/2006) Two recent expeditions led by conservation International (CI) to the heart of Asia'Coral Triangle' discovered dozens of new species of marine life including epaulette sharks, 'flasher' wrasse and reef-building coral, confirming the region as the Earthapos;s richest seascape.
Recovery of biodiversity after dinosaurs was chaotic
(08/24/2006) The recovery of biodiversity after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was much more chaotic than previously thought, according to paleontologists. New fossil evidence shows that at certain times and places, plant and insect diversity were severely out of balance, not linked as they are today. The extinction took place 65.5 million years ago. Labeled the K-T extinction, it marks the beginning of the Cenozoic Era and the Paleocene Epoch.
Tropical rain forest insects have diet similar to temperate insects
(08/24/2006) A study initiated by University of Minnesota plant biologist George Weiblen has confirmed what biologists since Darwin have suspected - that the vast number of tree species in rain forests accounts for the equally vast number of plant-eating species of insects.
Orangutan population plunges 43% in Indonesia
(08/14/2006) The Wildlife conservation Society-Indonesia Program said that Indonesia's population of orangutans fell nearly 43 percent in the past decade, from 35,000 in 1997 to 20,000 today. The decline has been caused by ongoing forest destruction and poaching in Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sumatra, the only two islands that still support wild orangutans. Environmental groups have warned that red ape could be extinct in the wild without urgent conservation measures.
Researchers seek controls to save coral reefs from live fish trade
(08/04/2006) Researchers are calling for tighter controls on the live reef fish trade, a growing threat to coral reefs, in letters to the international journal Science.
NASA helps search for "exinct" woodpecker
(08/03/2006) Unlike its more famous cartoon cousin Woody the Woodpecker, the ivory-billed woodpecker is thought to be extinct, or so most experts have believed for over half a century.
Coral reef parks established by locals more effective than government reserves
(07/31/2006) Coral reef marine protected areas established by local people for traditional use can be far more effective at protecting fish and wildlife than reserves set up by governments expressly for conservation purposes, according to a study by the New York-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) and other groups.
New Chili Sauce Promotes Elephant conservation
(07/25/2006) First there was dolphin-safe tuna, then came fair-trade coffee. Now, hot sauce lovers can get into the act with a line of Elephant Pepper chili products that help protect elephants in southern Africa, and are available in the United States for the first time, according to the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS).
Global Warming Threatens Australia's Tropical Biodiversity
(07/25/2006) Global climate change will pose serious challenges for wildlife populations around the world in the coming decades. The findings of Dr. Stephen Williams (Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, James Cook University) suggest that endemic wildlife populations in Australia's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area will be particularly vulnerable to the local warming trend.
Invasive purple flower impacts Iceland's biodiversity
(07/24/2006) A common sight throughout much of Iceland is large fields of vibrant purple nootka, or Alaskan lupine. The flower looks at home in this landscape, but was actually introduced in 1945 to lowland areas as a means to add nitrogen to the soil and also to function as an anchor for organic matter. Lupine has since flourished here, spreading like a wildfire, in almost effortless competition with the other species already in residence. Critics of this initiative view the flower as an invasive species that is threatening low-growing mosses and other native plants.
Tropical Asia needs to act to save biodiversity, say scientists
(07/22/2006) A group of scientists urged governments of tropical Asia to take steps to stem biodiversity loss across the region. At the annual meeting for the Association for Tropical Biology and conservation, hosted at the Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Yunnan province of China, scientists said that population growth and booming economic expansion are fueling illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and habitat destruction. The scientists noted that populations of elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, sun bears, orangutans, and other species unique to tropical Asia have fallen significantly in recent years as a result of these activities.
Multispecies conservation Plans Have Scientific Flaws
(07/21/2006) A new San Diego State University-led study found that many multispecies habitat conservation plans -- a cornerstone of modern efforts to balance development and ecological preservation -- have significant informational flaws that limit or overestimate the plans' conservation potential.
Tiger habitat declining
(07/20/2006) The most comprehensive scientific study of tiger habitats ever done finds that the big cats reside in 40 percent less habitat than they were thought to a decade ago. The tigers now occupy only 7 percent of their historic range.
Insect diversity in rainforests results from plant biodiversity
(07/18/2006) The high diversity of leaf-eating insect species in tropical forests results from the large number of plant species that exist in these ecosystems, according to new research published in the current issue of the journal Science.
West African black rhino may be extinct
(07/17/2006) Recent surveys conducted by IUCN in northern Cameroon found no evidence of the West African black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes). The organization fears the sub-species is now extinct in the wild.
Logging resumes in Liberia
(07/17/2006) As former US president Bill Clinton arrives in Liberia to meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it's time to take a look at the state of the forests in the country. While Liberia's brutal civil war delayed the commercial exploitation of its tropical forests during the 1990s, 'conflict timber' was a key source of revenue for warring factions. The harvesting of this wood, combined with collateral damage from military operations and wildlife poaching, took a heavy toll on Liberia's forests. With the end of the war, Liberia's new government--which took power at end of the war in 1998--immediately established forestry as a national priority and instituted a five-year tax holiday on timber industries. This policy, combined with the return of commercial interests to the country, repopulation, and reconstruction efforts, has put pressure on Liberia's remaining forest resources. Since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by 17 percent, and primary forest cover in the country has fallen to just over 1.3 percent of the total land area (or 4.1 percent of the forest cover).
Rare indri lemur born in forest reserve in Madagascar
(07/13/2006) A rare lemur known for its haunting whale-like call has given birth in a reserve outside its native forest. The news is significant because the Indri, as the world's largest living lemur is known, has traditionally done poorly when kept in captivity or introduced to outside its montane forest in Madagascar. The birth occurred at Palmarium, a small private reserve of lowland tropical forest established by a tour operator in Madagascar, and provides further hope for the successful conservation of the endangered species.
Yellowstone May Lose Pronghorn Antelope
(07/10/2006) A mammal that embarks on the longest remaining overland migration in the continental United States could vanish from the ecosystem that includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, according to a study by the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) and National Park Service. The pronghorn antelope, which travels more than 400 miles between fawning grounds and wintering areas could disappear because of continued development and human disturbance outside the parks according to the study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Biology Letters.
Saving the world in six "easy" steps
(07/06/2006) General ideas toward a future where I won't have to apologize to my grandkids. Lots of people more intelligent than I am have theorized ways to "save the world" in terms of the preserving the environment in its current condition for future generations. Without getting too specific I believe there are six key concepts to address in achieving this goal.
Venture capitalists fund tiger conservation program
(07/06/2006) A new program that calls for a 50 percent increase in tiger numbers in key areas over the next decade blends a business model with hard science and has already attracted $10 million from venture capitalists according to an article published in the current issue of the journal Nature. The new initiative, backed by the Wildlife conservation Society, involves a dozen the conservation organization's field sites that are home to an estimated 800 tigers. The plan projects that these tiger populations can climb to an approximately 1,200 individuals across these sites within ten years.
Frog extinction crisis requires unprecedented conservation response
(07/06/2006) The world's leading amphibian experts are calling for dramatic steps, including the formation of an Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), to prevent the massive extinction of amphibians worldwide. Scientists say amphibians -- cold-blooded animals that include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians -- are under grave threat due to climate change, pollution, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease, which has been linked to global warming. According to the Global Amphibian Assessment, a comprehensive status assessment of the world's amphibian species, one-third of the world's 5,918 known amphibian species are classified as threatened with extinction. Further, at least 9, and perhaps 122, have gone extinct since 1980.
Bushmeat from African apes sold in American markets
(07/06/2006) Bushmeat from wild primates in Africa is ending up on plates in North America and western Europe according to an article published in the current issue of New Scientist. Justin Brashares, a wildlife biologist at the University of California at Berkeley who carried out a survey of clandestine markets in seven major cities, says that the meat, which includes chimpanzee and gorilla parts, makes up nearly a third of the illegal international trade in bushmeat killed in Africa.
Birds Face Extinction Risk Due To Human Activities
(07/05/2006) Human activities have caused some 500 bird species worldwide to go extinct over the past five millennia, and 21st-century extinction rates likely will accelerate to approximately 10 additional species per year unless societies take action to reverse the trend, according to a new report. Without the influence of humans, the expected extinction rate for birds would be roughly one species per century.
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