tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:/xml/Caribbean%20islands1 Caribbean islands news from mongabay.com 2014-10-23T21:41:09Z tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/13938 2014-10-23T14:45:00Z 2014-10-23T21:41:09Z Next big idea in forest conservation? Recognize the value of novel forests <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/14/1022.Ariel-Lugo.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Think first before you eradicate non-native species says Dr. Ariel E. Lugo, the current director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry within the USDA Forest Service, based in Puerto Rico. Lugo, an accomplished ecologist, supports the idea that both native and non-native plants have important roles to play in conservation efforts. Jeremy Hance 18.213006 -66.532471 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/13839 2014-09-26T03:15:00Z 2014-09-27T12:37:06Z Hitchhiking Caribbean lizard upends island biogeography theory <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://mongabay-images.s3.amazonaws.com/cr/150/costa_rica_4418.JPG" align="left"/></td></tr></table>The biggest factor determining species diversity and distribution on islands is not size and isolation, as traditional island biogeography theory states, but economics. Simply put, the more trade an island is engaged in, the more boats visit it, and with more boats comes more hitchhikers. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/13225 2014-05-14T13:04:00Z 2014-12-30T22:46:03Z Scientists uncover new marine mammal genus, represented by single endangered species <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/14/0514.hawaiianmonkseal.sullivan_-(48).150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>This is the story of three seals: the Caribbean, the Hawaiian, and the Mediterranean monk seals. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the Caribbean monk seal was a hugely abundant marine mammal found across the Caribbean, and even recorded by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage, whose men killed several for food. Jeremy Hance 21.725869 -160.086787 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12699 2014-01-29T13:28:00Z 2014-01-29T14:27:38Z A series of oil spills sully Caribbean paradise, coating mangroves and wildlife (photos) <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/14/0129.tandt.IMG_0266.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>On December 17th, officials first discovered a massive oil spill in the Caribbean-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Since then, a series of oil spills have been discovered, coating beaches, sullying mangrove forests, and very likely decimating wildlife in Trinidad's Gulf of Paria. The oil spills have been linked to the state-owned oil company, Petrotrin, which has claimed that sabotage is behind at least two of the spills. However Trinidad and Tobago's Environmental Management Authority has recently slapped the company with a $3.1 million fine by for the damage, while some politicians have called for an independent investigation into the slew of spills. Jeremy Hance 10.243641 -61.620655 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12194 2013-10-14T14:34:00Z 2015-02-11T23:44:25Z Meeting the mammal that survived the dinosaurs <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/Hispaniolan_Solenodon_crop.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>So, here I am, running in a forest at night over 2,000 miles from home. This forest&#8212;dry, stout, and thorny enough to draw blood&#8212;lies just a few miles north of a rural town in the western edge of the Dominican Republic on the border with Haiti. I'm following&#8212;or trying to keep pace with&#8212;a local hunter and guide as we search for one of the world's most bizarre mammals. It's an animal few people have heard of, let alone actually seen; even most Dominicans don't readily recognize its name or picture. But I've been obsessed with it for six years: it's called a "solenodon," more accurately the Hispaniolan solenodon or its (quite appropriate) scientific name, Solenodon paradoxus. Jeremy Hance 18.052704 -71.726671 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12074 2013-09-13T02:34:00Z 2013-09-13T03:52:20Z Mesoamerican Reef needs more local support, says report <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://mongabay.com/images/yucatan/thumbnails/web/PICT0008.JPG" align="left"/></td></tr></table>From massive hotel development through the agriculture industry, humans are destroying the second largest barrier reef in the world: the Mesoamerican Reef. Although global climate change and its effects on reefs via warming and acidification of coastal waters have made recent headlines, local human activities may destroy certain ecosystems before climate change has a chance to do it. The harmful effects of mining, agriculture, commercial development, and fishing in coastal regions have already damaged more than two-thirds of reefs across the Caribbean, in addition to worsening the negative effects of climate change. Rhett Butler 17.579721 -88.067635 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12023 2013-09-05T18:04:00Z 2015-02-11T23:40:13Z Scientists outline how to save nearly 70 percent of the world's plant species In 2010 the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) pledged to set aside 17 percent of the world's land as protected areas in addition to protecting 60 percent of the world's plant species&#8212;through the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC)&#8212;by 2020. Now a new study in Science finds that the world can achieve both ambitious goals at the same time&#8212;if only we protect the right places. Looking at data on over 100,000 flower plants, scientists determined that protecting 17 percent of the world's land (focusing on priority plant areas) would conserve 67 percent of the world's plants. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11960 2013-08-26T12:38:00Z 2015-02-11T23:16:32Z Trinidad and Tobago: a biodiversity hotspot overlooked <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/0825.400px-Blue-crowned_Motmot_back_2.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>The two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean (just off the coast of Venezuela) may be smaller than Delaware, but it has had an outsized role in the history of rainforest conservation as well as our understanding of tropical ecology. Home to an astounding number of tropical ecosystems and over 3,000 species and counting (including 470 bird species in just 2,000 square miles), Trinidad and Tobago is an often overlooked gem in the world's biodiversity. Jeremy Hance 10.441897 -61.227036 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11951 2013-08-22T19:25:00Z 2013-08-22T19:28:53Z Are 'novel' tropical forests nature’s response to global change? We now live in a world dominated by humans (the Anthropocene), whose activities on Earth are resulting in new habitats and new environmental conditions including climate change. To many, the Anthropocene is an era of environmental doom that unless reversed, will result in catastrophic reductions in biodiversity. An alternate view is that the biota will adjust to the new environmental conditions and through processes of species mixing and self-organization will form sustainable novel communities of organisms. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11947 2013-08-20T20:58:00Z 2013-08-20T21:06:16Z Google Earth presents fish-eye view of coral reefs You can now visit up-close and personal some of the world's most imperiled ecosystems on Google Earth: coral reefs. The Google team is working with scientists to provide 360 degree panoramas, similar to Google street-view, to give armchair ecologists a chance to experience the most biodiverse ecosystems under the waves. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11863 2013-08-01T14:24:00Z 2015-02-11T23:13:04Z The iguana man: saving the reptilian kings of the Bahamas <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/0801.figginsi_Bitter-Guana.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Before the arrival of humans&#8212;with their dogs, cats, and wild pigs&#8212;the northern Bahamian rock iguana ruled its home range, being pound-for-pound among the biggest land animals on the islands. In these ecosystems, the iguana's were the mega-grazers, the bison and elk of the Caribbean one might say. But hunting by humans, invasive species, and habitat loss knocked the king from its throne: pushing it into smaller habitats and decimating its population. Today the three subspecies of the northern Bahamian rock iguana (Cyclura cychlura) hang by a thread. And now a new threat is rising: poorly-regulated tourism, including iguana feeding. Jeremy Hance 23.739332 -77.853459 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11813 2013-07-23T16:59:00Z 2013-07-24T14:09:27Z Dominican Republic sends bulldozers to destroy wildlife reserve, home to endangered species <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/0723.ricordisiguana.049.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Last Wednesday, bulldozers entered the Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve (LCABR) in the Dominican Republic and began clearing vegetation for agricultural development. The move stunned local conservationists who had not been notified ahead of time of the project. Although Charco Azul Biological Reserve is home to a wealth of threatened species&#8212;including the world's largest population of the Critically Endangered Ricordi's iguana (<i>Cyclura ricordi</i>)&#8212;the destruction of the reserve was signed off by the Dominican Republic's Minister of the Environment, Bautista Rojas Gómez. Jeremy Hance 18.466584 -71.35643 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11787 2013-07-18T15:49:00Z 2015-02-11T23:12:21Z The hidden Caribbean: sustainable tourism arrives in the Dominican Republic <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://mongabay.s3.amazonaws.com/jlh/dominican-republic/150/DR-jlh-648.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Finding true ecotourism companies isn't easy. While the tourism industry worldwide has latched onto the term 'ecotourism,' in many cases it's more propaganda than reality. Especially in heavily-touristed areas&#8212;like the Caribbean Islands&#8212;it's difficult to find efforts that are actually low impact, sustainable as possible, and educational. However, some companies are beginning to make headway in a region known for all-inclusive resorts and big cruises. One such company is the relatively young Explora! Ecotour in the Dominican Republic, run by passionate naturalists, Manny Jimenes and Olyenka Sang. Jeremy Hance 18.018324 -71.725287 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11500 2013-05-29T14:54:00Z 2013-05-29T15:00:25Z Local economy ruined by pesticide pollution in the Caribbean <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/0529.800px-Plage_Feuillere.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>On 15 April more than 100 fishermen demonstrated in the streets of Fort de France, the main town on Martinique, in the French West Indies. In January they barricaded the port until the government in Paris allocated €2m ($2.6m) in aid, which they are still waiting for. The contamination caused by chlordecone, a persistent organochlorine pesticide, means their spiny lobsters are no longer fit for human consumption. The people of neighboring Guadeloupe are increasingly angry for the same reason. After polluting the soil, the chemical is wreaking havoc out at sea, an environmental disaster that now threatens the whole economy. Jeremy Hance 16.254231 -61.529388 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10779 2013-01-29T17:28:00Z 2015-02-09T22:27:30Z Beyond the resorts: traveling the real and wild Dominican Republic (photos) <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/0129.DR-jlh-142.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>For its stunning variety of ecosystems, the Dominican Republic is like a continent squished into half an island. Lowland rainforests, cloud forests, pine forests, dry forests, mangroves, savannah, coastal lagoons, salt lakes, a rift valley, karst land formations, four mountain ranges&#8212;including the highest mountain in the Caribbean&#8212;and not to mention some of the best beaches, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the hemisphere can all be reached within just a few hours drive of the capital, Santo Domingo. Yet, bizarrely, most tourists who visit the Dominican Republic never venture out of their all-inclusive resort, missing out on some of the most stunning landscapes&#8212;and accessible wildlife viewing&#8212;in the Caribbean. Jeremy Hance 19.017887 -69.621502 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10547 2012-12-10T15:02:00Z 2012-12-10T15:15:14Z Measuring nutrient pollution in pristine waters: Puerto Rico's Vieques Island Life in the ocean require nutrient, but too much of a good thing can be hugely detrimental. Nutrient pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff causes serious ecological harm in the world's marine waters, at times producing massive "dead zones" where much of the dissolved oxygen has been stripped making it difficult for most marine animals to live there. A new study by scientists with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attempts to establish a baseline of nutrient levels in the largely pristine waters around the island of Vieques off of Puerto Rico. Jeremy Hance 18.131496 -65.416088 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10379 2012-11-12T20:14:00Z 2012-11-12T20:24:25Z Hurricane Sandy pushes Haiti toward full-blown food crisis Although Haiti avoided a direct hit by Hurricane Sandy, the tropical storm caused severe flooding across the southern part of the country decimating agricultural fields. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs now warns that 1.5 million Haitians are at risk of severe food insecurity, while 450,000 people face severe acute malnutrition, which can kill. Jeremy Hance 18.547325 -72.323113 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10301 2012-10-23T23:42:00Z 2015-02-09T22:10:12Z Remarkable comeback: blue iguana downgraded to Endangered after determined conservation efforts The wild blue iguana population has increased by at least 15 times in the last ten years, prompting the IUCN Red List to move the species from Critically Endangered to just Endangered. A targeted, ambitious conservation program, headed by the Blue Iguana Recovery Team, is behind this rare success for a species that in 2002 only numbered between 10 and 25 individuals. Jeremy Hance 19.316915 -81.166769 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10247 2012-10-08T18:04:00Z 2013-03-28T18:31:40Z Parrots of the Caribbean: extinction looms in the Bahamas <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/12/800px-Cuban_Amazon_Parrot_in_the_Cayman_Islands.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>I think about extinction a lot. It’s only natural for someone in my line of work. On my way to work I drive past the Colorado National Monument. Even from a distance it’s impressive: piles of dark schist 1,500 million years old; Wingate sandstone from the age of dinosaurs, all of it formed into cliffs, carved into spires. I can see Independence monument from the highway; a tall tower of tan sandstone that John Otto climbed near the beginning of the 20th century without rope. The monument is a display of the massive changes in the world. I often think about the rainforests and the oceans that once covered the land. Ecosystems have come and gone, the planet destroyed and rebuilt over and over. Jeremy Hance 26.315575 -77.121735 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10120 2012-09-11T19:15:00Z 2012-09-11T19:49:45Z Coral reefs in Caribbean on life support Only 8 percent of the Caribbean's reefs today retain coral, according to a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). With input and data from 36 scientists, the report paints a bleak picture of coral decline across the region, threatening fisheries, tourism, and marine life in general. Jeremy Hance 19.062118 -75.329591 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10061 2012-08-24T19:23:00Z 2012-08-24T19:36:09Z Bird uses hurricane winds to accelerate flight speed to 100 MPH Migrating Whimbrels &#8212; a type of shorebird &#8212; may struggle for hours against winds when trying to cross the Caribbean during hurricane season but get a huge boost as they fly out of storms, report researchers from the Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg, Virginia. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10035 2012-08-20T03:27:00Z 2012-08-22T03:14:05Z Chart: Forest loss in Latin America <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/12/0819biomes.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Latin America lost nearly 260,000 square kilometers (100,000 square miles) of forest &#8212; an area larger than the state of Oregon &#8212; between 2001 and 2010, finds a new study that is the first to assess both net forest loss and regrowth across the Caribbean, Central and South America. The study, published in the journal <i>Biotropica</i> by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico and other institutions, analyzes change in vegetation cover across several biomes, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands. It finds that the bulk of vegetation change occurred in forest areas, mostly tropical rainforests and lesser-known dry forests. The largest gains in biome area occurred in desert vegetation and shrublands. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9854 2012-07-17T15:25:00Z 2012-08-16T17:38:02Z Animal picture of the day: flamingos take flight in the Bahamas Scientists have banded nearly 200 American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in the Inagua National Park in the Bahamas in order to monitor the long-term population. Jeremy Hance 21.069764 -73.324184 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9843 2012-07-16T14:47:00Z 2015-02-08T23:09:17Z Strangest island in the Caribbean may be a sanctuary for critically endangered coral <table align="left"><tr><td><img src=" http://photos.mongabay.com/j/Williams1.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Don't feel bad if you‘ve never heard of Navassa Island, even though it's actually part of the U.S. according to the Guano Islands Act of 1856. This uninhabited speck between Haiti and Jamaica, barely bigger than New York City’s Central Park, has a bizarre and bloody history—and may be a crucial refuge for endangered coral in the Caribbean. Jeremy Hance 18.405352 -75.013547 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9804 2012-07-10T14:35:00Z 2012-07-10T15:08:36Z Meet the world's rarest snake: only 18 left <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/2006-03-01_19-32-38-St-Lucia-Racer-(G-Guida)-(Large).150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>It's slithery, brown, and doesn't mind being picked up: meet the Saint Lucia racer (Liophis ornatus), which holds the dubious honor of being the world's most endangered snake. A five month extensive survey found just 18 animals on a small islet off of the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia. The snake had once been abundant on Saint Lucia, as well, but was decimated by invasive mongooses. For nearly 40 years the snake was thought to be extinct until in 1973 a single snake was found on the Maria Major Island, a 12-hectare (30 acre) protected islet, a mile off the coast of Saint Lucia (see map below). Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9560 2012-05-24T00:12:00Z 2015-02-05T01:21:16Z Less than 100 pygmy sloths survive <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/Sloth-ball_ZSL.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is one of the world's most endangered mammals, according to a detailed survey of the population, which found less than 100 sloths hanging on in their island home. Only described by researchers in 2001, the pygmy sloth lives on a single uninhabited island off the coast of Panama. But human impacts, such as deforestation of the island's mangroves, may be pushing the species to extinction. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9457 2012-04-30T15:30:00Z 2015-02-05T01:16:08Z Skink biodiversity jumps 650 percent in the Caribbean <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/Anguilla_Bank_Skink-credit_Karl_Questal.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>In a single paper in Zootaxa scientists have rewritten the current understanding of lizard biodiversity in the Caribbean. By going over museum specimens of skinks, scientists have discovered 24 new species and re-established nine species previously described species, long-thought invalid. The single paper has increased the number of skinks in the Caribbean by 650 percent, from six recognized species to 39. Unfortunately, half of these new species may already be extinct and all of them are likely imperiled. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/8494 2011-10-03T17:02:00Z 2011-10-03T17:02:16Z Colombian president: no oil drilling in award-winning Seaflower marine reserve Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, announced over the weekend that there will be no oil exploration in the award-winning Seaflower Biosphere Reserve and Marine Protected Area (MPA). Spreading over 65,000 square kilometers (6,500,000 hectares), Seaflower MPA is home to over a hundred coral species, over 400 fish, some 150 birds, four marine turtles species, and the magnificent mollusk, the queen conch (Strombus gigas). Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/8382 2011-09-11T19:34:00Z 2011-09-11T20:10:44Z Featured video: the Caribbean's last mammals Although they are little-known, the hutia and solenodon are some of the last surviving mammals of the Caribbean. A hefty rodent, the hutia spends its time grazing in trees like a giant arboreal hamster. While, the solenodon may be one of the world's oddest creatures: a 'living fossil', the solenodon's evolutionary origins goes back all the way to the time of dinosaurs. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/8319 2011-08-23T23:32:00Z 2011-09-06T13:21:24Z Reducing Disaster Risks: Progress and Challenges in the Caribbean Region Disaster management is a global policy problem with a critical land-use change component related to settlement patterns, deforestation, and agriculture development. This is further exacerbated by climate change. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/8180 2011-07-18T19:24:00Z 2015-01-28T23:41:25Z Blue iguana back from the dead <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/5_Julie-Larsen-Maher-0271-Grand-Cayman-Blue-Iguana-6-11.150.jpg " align="left"/></td></tr></table>The blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) was once king of the Caribbean Island, Grand Cayman. Weighting in at 25 pounds, measuring over 5 feet, and living for over sixty years, nothing could touch this regal lizard. But then the unthinkable happened: cars, cats, and dogs, along with habitat destruction, dethroned Grand Cayman's reptilian overlord. The lizard went from an abundant population that roamed the island freely to practically assured extinction. In 2002, researchers estimated that two dozen&#8212;at best&#8212;survived in the wild. Despite the bleak number, conservationists started a last ditch effort to save the species. With help from local and international NGOs, the effort, dubbed the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, has achieved a rarity in conservation. Within nine years it has raised the population of blue iguanas by twenty times: today 500 wild blue iguanas roam Salina Reserve. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/7928 2011-05-26T16:37:00Z 2015-01-28T23:31:44Z Photos: new bat uncovered in the Caribbean <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/newbatspeciesstvincent.150.jpg " align="left"/></td></tr></table>Researchers have declared a new species of bat from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. While the new bat had been documented before, it was long believed to be a member of a similar species that is found throughout South America and a few Caribbean Islands, that is until PhD student Peter Larsen noticed it was far larger than its relative down south. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/7132 2010-12-01T20:31:00Z 2010-12-01T20:58:32Z 'Environmental and social aggression': oil exploration threatens award-winning marine protected area <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/seaflower.landscape.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>The Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA), which recently won top honors at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Japan, is now under threat by planned oil exploration in the region, according to the Providence Foundation which is devoted to protecting the area. Proposed blocs for exploration by the Colombian government lie in the North Cays adjacent to the park, and perhaps even inside MPA boundaries. Spreading over 65,000 square kilometers (6.5 million hectares), Seaflower MPA lies within the Colombian Caribbean department known as the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina. This richly diverse Archipelago is home to a known 57 coral species, over 400 fish, and some 150 birds, as well as the ethnic and cultural minority: the Raizal people. The prospect of massive infrastructure or, even worse, oil spills in the area could devastate the park and locals' livelihoods. Jeremy Hance