tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:/xml/botany1 botany news from mongabay.com 2014-08-21T15:17:04Z tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/13696 2014-08-21T14:56:00Z 2014-08-21T15:17:04Z Next big idea in forest conservation? DNA fingerprinting trees to stem illegal logging <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/14/0821.cannon.DSC_0527.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>As a professor at Texas Tech, Dr. Chuck Cannon has been, among other things, working to create a system of DNA fingerprinting for tropical trees to undercut the global illegal logging trade. 'If we just enforced existing laws and management policies, things would be pretty good, but unfortunately, that is where things fall apart in many tropical countries,' Cannon said. Jeremy Hance 15.038075 106.306014 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12803 2014-02-21T06:29:00Z 2014-02-21T14:33:57Z Next big idea in forest conservation? Applying genomics to conservation issues <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://mongabay-images.s3.amazonaws.com/14/0221RI1_9916150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Jaboury Ghazoul uses his expertise in plant ecology to address societal issues ranging from climate change adaptation to food production. He is excited about the use of genomics-- the study of hereditary information passed down through an organism’s genetic code--for conservation. And genomics are certainly a hot topic in modern ecology. Rhett Butler -4.648974 55.421112 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12360 2013-11-12T06:11:00Z 2013-11-12T17:11:02Z Amazon’s vast rainforest dominated by few tree species <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://mongabay-images.s3.amazonaws.com/13/1112tersteege1HR150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>The Amazon rainforest is so vast, and so diverse, that seemingly simple questions— such as which species of trees are most common— remain unanswered. Researchers are finally seeing the forest <i>and</i> the trees after an international collaboration of 120 scientists teamed up to compile the largest tree survey ever assembled from the Amazon. Rhett Butler -2.480761 -60.387926 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/12354 2013-11-11T21:57:00Z 2013-11-11T22:01:04Z Characteristics of nutmeg family explored A special issue of Mongabay's open-access academic journal, <i>Tropical Conservation Science</i>, explores the state of knowledge of the nutmeg (Myristicaceae) tree family. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/11493 2013-05-27T19:31:00Z 2013-07-04T13:57:21Z Plants re-grow after five centuries under the ice While monitoring the retreat of the Teardrop Glacier in the Canadian Arctic, scientists have found that recently unfrozen plants, some of which had been under ice since the reign of Henry VIII, were capable of new growth. Rhett Butler 80.928426 -77.900394 tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/10645 2013-01-07T15:36:00Z 2013-01-07T15:49:52Z Botanists discover cave-dwelling plant <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/mongabay-images/13/0107.nettle1.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>The South China Karst region resembles a lost world with its stone forests and towering limestone formations that look like petrified skyscrapers. Standing at the edge of one of the region’s many vine-covered gorges, you could picture an apatosaurus lifting its head above the mist that blankets the gorge floor. Of course, that would be impossible, but what botanists recently found in the region was only slightly less surprising (to botanists). Near the back of a limestone cave, pink flowers bloomed on a newly discovered nettle that could survive on just a tiny fraction of the sunlight other plants receive. As Ian Malcolm in <i>Jurassic Park</i> said, "life will find a way." Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9865 2012-07-18T23:10:00Z 2012-07-19T05:17:59Z Struggling to conserve seed biodiversity: the gaps and wisdom in current research Biodiversity conservation is huge field, but at its heart we find something very small: the seed. From seeds come the plants we need and food for the animals we hope to conserve as well. Knowledge of seed dispersal, or how seeds are generated and move through the landscape, is essential if we are to understand the influence of human activity on biodiversity. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/9742 2012-06-29T17:18:00Z 2012-07-11T17:30:33Z Climate change to favor trees over grasses in Africa As the world warms, scientists are working rapidly to understand how ecosystems will change, including which species will benefit and which will falter. A new study in Nature finds that elevated CO2 concentrations should favor trees and woody plants over savannah and grasslands in Africa. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/8232 2011-08-01T15:57:00Z 2011-08-03T14:31:26Z How fruit defines Borneo <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/Rambutan.150.jpg " align="left"/></td></tr></table>Among conservationists and biologists, the mega-island of Borneo is a sort of Mecca. Its rich plant and animal biodiversity, as well as high degree of endemism (unique species found nowhere else) make it a naturalist's dream. There is one aspect of this biological richness which applies to the wellbeing and happiness of all of Borneo’s residents, human and animal, in a very direct way: fruit. From wild forest berries to juicy cultivated rambutans, fruit permeates the ecology, landscape and culture of Borneo. On the island there are over 70 wild fruit trees species and around 45 cultivated species that are consumed by people (1). Science has certainly not yet documented all the fruit consumed by wildlife, but we know that the total must be over 500 species. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/7646 2011-03-28T15:56:00Z 2011-03-28T15:58:47Z Alien plants invade Nigerian protected 'gene bank' <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/j/Chromolaena_odorata_by_Ashasathees.150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Very few studies have been conducted on invasive species in Nigeria, however a new study in mongabay.com's open access journal <i>Tropical Conservation Science</i> has discovered 25 invasive plants in a field gene bank at the National Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NASGRAB) in Ibadan. The gene bank is used to establish populations of important and, in some cases threatened, native plant species. The gene bank spans 12 hectares, but the study found that 18% of the area was overtaken with invasive species that likely compete with the protected Nigerian plants for nutrients, space, and light. Among the 25 invasive species, 14 were herbs, 8 were vines, 2 were shrubs, and one was a tree. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/7074 2010-11-17T17:23:00Z 2010-11-17T17:24:18Z Botanist killed in crossfire in Philippines A local botanist was killed in crossfire between the Filipino military and suspected communist guerrillas with the New People's Army on Monday, reports the Inquirer.net. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/6862 2010-10-04T21:38:00Z 2010-10-05T01:44:08Z Losing nature's medicine cabinet <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://travel.mongabay.com/kenya/150/kenya_1079.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>In all the discussions of saving the world's biodiversity from extinction, one point is often and surprisingly forgotten: the importance of the world's species in providing humankind with a multitude of life-saving medicines so far, as well as the certainty that more vital medications are out there if only we save the unheralded animals and plants that contain cures unknown. Already, species have provided humankind everything from quinine to aspirin, from morphine to numerous cancer and HIV-fighting drugs. "As the ethnobotanist Dr. Mark Plotkin commented, the history of medicine can be written in terms of its reliance on and utilization of natural products," physician Christopher Herndon told mongabay.com. Herndon is co-author of a recent paper in the journal Biotropica, which calls for policy-makers and the public to recognize how biodiversity underpins not only ecosystems, but medicine. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/6828 2010-09-28T22:50:00Z 2010-09-29T20:51:13Z Mass extinction fears widen: 22 percent of world's plants endangered <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/10/0930plant100s.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Scientific warnings that the world is in the midst of a mass extinction were bolstered today by the release of a new study that shows just over a fifth of the world's known plants are threatened with extinction—levels comparable to the Earth's mammals and greater than birds. Conducted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; the Natural History Museum, London; and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the study is the first time researchers have outlined the full threat level to the world's plant species. In order to estimate overall threat levels, researchers created a Sampled Red List Index for Plants, analyzing 7,000 representative species, including both common and rare plants. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/6360 2010-06-28T17:19:00Z 2010-06-28T18:17:43Z Planting figs could save endangered species in Borneo In one of the most remote and undisturbed forests of Borneo, the Maliau Basin in the Malaysian state of Sabah, researchers picked a single fig tree (<i>Ficus caulocarpa</i>) and surveyed the species feeding from it over a 5-day-period. Their findings, published in <i>Tropical Conservation Science</i>, shows that a fig tree over a short period of time feeds a high percentage of endangered species, prompting researchers to recommend replanting figs in disturbed forests as a way to save Borneo's frugivores (fruit-eating species) from extinction. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/6263 2010-06-14T21:47:00Z 2010-06-14T22:15:10Z When nature saves your life If someone saves your life, you want to express your gratitude however you can -- a gesture, a "thank you,", or somehow returning the favor. Yet when you owe your life to a plant found thousands of miles away, the task becomes much harder. As a nurse, I’ve known for years that many life-saving medicines come from plants and animals found around the world. But I never thought that one day I would have to rely on the bark of a rare Asian tree to survive. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5884 2010-03-29T02:55:00Z 2010-03-29T03:09:28Z Women in Bangladesh help biodiversity with homegardens Overpopulated, largely poor, and environmentally degraded, the nation of Bangladesh has known its share of woes. Yet even in face of struggles, including a forest loss of over 90 percent, the women of Bangladesh are aiding the country's struggling people and biodiversity through the establishment of some 20 million homegardens. Long-neglected by the government and NGOs, these homegardens provide food, firewood, and medicine. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5710 2010-02-23T01:38:00Z 2010-02-23T01:51:17Z Local vegetation can point to the consequences of climate change, Israeli scientists say after extensive studies A recent study by a team of researchers from Bar Ilan University suggests that endangered plants in water-saturated habitats can be taken as indicators for climate change in the Levant region. They present a picture particularly of the consequences of changes in precipitation. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5255 2009-12-09T14:51:00Z 2009-12-11T02:23:14Z New tree species discovered in Guyana is rich source of oil Botanists working have described a new species of tree with commercial significance in Guyana. The discovery is published in <i>Brittonia</i>, a journal put out by the New York Botanical Garden. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5182 2009-11-30T16:42:00Z 2009-11-30T16:47:27Z World’s smallest orchid discovered in Ecuador Measuring just 2.1 millimeters wide, the world’s smallest orchid has been discovered hiding in the roots of another plant, reports <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/smallest-orchid-in-the-world-is-found-1831104.html">the Independent</a>. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5040 2009-10-18T23:48:00Z 2009-10-19T00:44:12Z Present day tropical plant families survived in warmer, wetter tropics 58 million years ago <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g94/troufs/co02-0107.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Fifty eight million years ago the tropical rainforests of South America shared many similarities with today's Neotropical forests, according to research published in the <i>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</i>. Looking at over 2,000 fossils in Colombia from one of the world's largest open pit coal mines, scientists were able to recreate for the first time the structure of a long vanished rainforest. One inhabited by a titanic snake, giant turtles, and crocodile-like reptiles. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5035 2009-10-16T01:52:00Z 2009-10-18T18:34:57Z Plants recognize that family comes first People like to say 'blood is thicker than water'. But plants may actually treat ther siblings better than many of us: although lacking in blood, scientists have found that plants not only recognize family, but respect their space. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/5010 2009-09-24T15:45:00Z 2009-09-24T17:42:02Z Will tropical trees survive climate change?, an interview with Kenneth J. Feeley <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g94/troufs/2008_0709Julio080006-2.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>One of the most pressing issues in the conservation today is how climate change will affect tropical ecosystems. The short answer is: we don't know. Because of this, more and more scientists are looking at the probable impacts of a warmer world on the Earth's most vibrant and biodiverse ecosystems. Kenneth J. Feeley, tropical ecologist and new professor at Florida International University and the Center for Tropical Plant Conservation at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, is conducting groundbreaking research in the tropical forests of Peru on the migration of tree species due to climate change. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/4596 2009-06-02T23:11:00Z 2009-12-16T00:20:16Z Tropical East Asian forests under great threat <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/09/0602corlett150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Tropical East Asia's rapid population growth and dramatic economic expansion over the past half century have taken a heavy toll on its natural resources. More than two-thirds of the region's original forest cover has been cleared or converted for agriculture and plantations, while its flora and fauna have suffered dearly from a burgeoning trade in wildlife products&#8212;several charismatic species have gone extinct as a direct consequence of human exploitation. Nevertheless tropical East Asia remains a top global priority for conservation, supporting up to a quarter of the world's terrestrial species. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/4424 2009-03-29T17:25:00Z 2009-03-30T04:13:36Z Plant communities changing across the globe, says scientist Sasha Wright <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g94/troufs/sashaDBH_GR-1-1.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Having studied plant communities across three continent and within widely varied ecosystems—lowland tropics, deciduous forests, grasslands, and enclosed ecosystems on hill-tops—graduate student Sasha Wright has gained a unique understanding of shifts in plant communities worldwide as they respond to pressures from land use and global climate change. “Plant communities are certainly changing,” Wright told Mongabay.com in a March 2009 interview. “These changes are undoubtedly affected by an increased occurrence of extreme weather events, temperature fluctuations, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, human land use, and in some cases urbanization of populations.” Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/4402 2009-03-23T00:45:00Z 2009-03-24T01:37:17Z Loss of genetic diversity hurts agriculture <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/09/0323plant150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Agriculture has long been dependent on the ability of plant species to adapt to varying environmental conditions &#8212; without this diversity agriculture development would not have been possible. But human activities are putting this diversity at risk through habitat destruction and introduction of alien species, especially in parts of the world where such diversity is particularly critical: tropical developing countries. This threat has spurred increased efforts to find and conserve plants with special traits adapted to the marginal farming systems of tropical smallholders. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/4246 2009-02-02T21:58:00Z 2009-02-02T22:10:12Z Chocolate has been a delicacy north of Mexico for a thousand years <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g94/troufs/08-02817L-1.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Chocolate, produced from cacao beans, has been a part of American culture for a thousand years according to new paper published in the <i>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</i>. Analyzing chemical residue from jars of native peoples in New Mexico, researchers Patricia Crown and Jeffrey Hurst discovered theobromine, a chemical signature of cacao. The jars have been dated from 1000 to 1125 AD, well over three hundred years before Columbus and the earliest recorded discovery of cacao north of Mexico. The cacao jars are from Pueblo Bonito, an archaeological site in Chaco Canyon, which is located in northwestern New Mexico. Chaco Canyon, once home to 2,000-5,000 inhabitants, was composed of a dense group of pueblos, of which Bonito was the largest. Incorporating 800 rooms, Pueblo Bonito was the center of a number of towns and villages in Chaco Canyon. Jeremy Hance tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3573 2008-12-22T16:32:00Z 2009-02-21T23:08:21Z Photos: Google Earth used to find new species <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/08/1222chameleon150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Scientists have used Google Earth to find a previously unknown trove of biological diversity in Mozambique, reports the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Scouring satellite images via Google Earth for potential conservation sites at elevations of 1600 meters or more, Julian Bayliss a locally-based conservationist, in 2005 spotted a 7,000-hectare tract of forest on Mount Mabu. The scientifically unexplored forest had previously only been known to villagers. Subsequent expeditions in October and November this year turned up hundreds of species of plants and animals, including some that are new to science. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/17 2008-12-10T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:06:03Z Tropical species face high extinction risk Tropical plant species face an inherently high extinction risk due to small populations and restricted ranges relative to temperate species, reports research published in <i>PLoS ONE</i>. These traits leave them vulnerable to habitat disturbance and climate change. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/18 2008-12-10T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:06:06Z What allows rainforests to grow so wildly? Molybdenum, a rare trace element, is the secret to rainforests' lush growth, reports research published in the journal <i>Nature Geoscience</i>. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3474 2008-11-28T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:15:50Z Invasive ant interferes with gecko's role in pollinating endangered plant Invasive ants are destroying the symbiotic relationship between a colorful gecko and a critically endangered flower on the island of Mauritius, reports <i>New Scientist</i> citing research published by Dennis Hansen and Christine M&uuml;ller in the journal <i>Biotopica</i>. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3390 2008-10-22T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:15:34Z Rainforest biodiversity results from habitat specialization rather than chance The rich diversity of trees in tropical forests may be "the result of subtle strategies that allow each species to occupy its own ecological niche" rather than random dispersal, report researchers writing in the journal <i>Science</i>. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3414 2008-10-16T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:15:39Z Breakthrough may enable reforestation using mahogany Brazilian researchers are closer to developing a way to establish large-scale mahogany plantations, reports the ITTO in its bi-monthly update. Scientists at the Federal Rural University of Amazonia (UFRA) have found that planting a matrix of mahogany with cedar reduces the incidence of the Hypsipyla grandella caterpillar, a chief pest of mahogany that has doomed previous attempts to reforest with the valuable hardwood species. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3319 2008-09-15T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:15:21Z Loss of wildlife is threatening biodiverse forests in northeastern India Logging, agricultural expansion, and hunting of large birds and mammals in the tropical forests of northeastern India may be reducing the capacity of the biologically-rich ecosystem to regenerate itself, report researchers writing in the open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3318 2008-09-15T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:15:20Z Regrowing the Amazon rainforest will require help from bats and birds As large tracts of Amazon rainforest are degraded by industrial logging and cleared for cattle pasture and agriculture, other deforested areas are abandoned and being reclaimed by forest. Understanding this recolonization of degraded forest lands by pioneer species will critical to efforts to rehabilitate restore forests around the world. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3222 2008-08-17T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:55Z New tree species discovered in Amazon biodiversity hotspot I was walking down the Anaconda Trail at the Madre Selva Biological Station with botanist Rodolfo Vasquez when he suddenly stopped, stared at the bark of a 120-foot tree, and started searching the ground. Odd behavior? Perhaps, but when you're with Peru's top field botanist, odd behavior is forgivable, since it means that something interesting is probably afoot. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3244 2008-08-11T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:15:01Z Account of 18th century Amazon adventurer to be published for the first time <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/08/0811Piso_150.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>After establishing his ingenious classification system in 1735, Carl Linnaeus, the greatest naturalist of his era, sent young and eager followers to all parts of the world to help him in the goal of collecting and cataloguing the world's species. It was a project unlike any before; Swedish naturalists, often referred to as Linnaeus's apostles, roamed as far as Japan, South America, Australia, and the Arctic with the same goal in mind&#8212;describing species according to Linnaeus's system. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3242 2008-08-11T14:30:00Z 2012-12-15T00:27:15Z 20% of the Brazilian Amazon's tree species to go extinct A new study estimates the number of trees that will go extinct in the Brazilian Amazon due to habitat loss. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3027 2008-06-25T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:18Z Elephants may explain Mount Kilimanjaro's bamboo enigma At nearly 6,000 meters in height, Mount Kilimanjaro is both Africa's tallest mountain and the world's highest solitary peak, home to a diverse range of habitats that support a large variety of plant species. Yet, unlike any other mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro contains no bamboo. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3028 2008-06-24T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:18Z Global warming threatens California's native plants Two-thirds of California's native plants could suffer an 80 percent or more reduction in geographic range by the end of the century due to changing climate warns a study appearing tomorrow in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3042 2008-06-14T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:20Z Hunting, deforestation wipe out 6 of 7 hornbill species in Borneo park Logging, forest conversion for palm oil, and hunting have triggered a precipitous drop in key wildlife populations in Malaysia's Lambir Hills National Park, on the island of Borneo, said a biologist speaking at a scientific conference in Paramaribo, Suriname. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3053 2008-06-12T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:22Z New discoveries about past forest changes may help predict future ones in a changing climate There is no better method to understand the future than to look to the past. Several new studies of the earth's glacial history are transforming the way scientists look at tree behvaior during extreme changes in climate. Scientists Remj Petit, Feng Sheng Hu, and Christopher Dick described such changes in relation to current global warming in the new issue of the journal Science. They report that already "in some parts of the world, tree species have started to shift their distributions in response to anthropogenic climatic warming", thus raising the stakes for understanding how tree species will adapt to coming changes. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/3055 2008-06-11T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:24Z Colombia creates rainforest reserve to protect medicinal plants Colombia today announced the creation of a rainforest reserve dedicated to the protection of medicinal plants. The Orito Ingi-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary encompasses 10,626 hectares of biologically-rich tropical rainforest ranging in altitude from 700 to 3300 meters above sea level. The sanctuary is based on an initiative launched by local indigenous communities with the support of the Amazon conservation Team (ACT), an innovative NGO working with native peoples to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests. Members of the communities &#8212; which include the Kof&aacute;n, Inga, Siona, Kamts&aacute;, and Coreguaje tribes &#8212; combined their rich knowledge of medicinal plants with cutting-edge technology to determine the placement and extent of the reserve. Their contributions to the effort are reflected in the name of the reserve, according to ACT. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2968 2008-05-20T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:07Z Defaunation, like deforestation, threatens global biodiversity <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/08/0518dirzo100.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>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 &#8212; as he terms the ongoing biological impoverishment of forests &#8212; 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. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2983 2008-05-15T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:14:09Z Insect diversity in the tropics greater than previously believed The tropics are more biodiverse than previously believed, report researchers writing in the journal <i>Science</i>. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2858 2008-03-03T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:48:35Z 'CAT scan' shows Hawaiian forests invaded by alien species Invasive plant species are altering the ecology of Hawaiian rain forests, reports a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2623 2008-01-17T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:13:06Z Giant exploding palm tree discovered in Madagascar A gigantic palm that flowers itself to death and exists as part of an entirely unique genus has been discovered in Madagascar; its name will be published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society on 17 January 2008. The mystery palm has a huge trunk which towers over 18m high and fan leaves which are 5m in diameter - among the largest known in flowering plants. This is the most massive palm ever to be found in Madagascar. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2533 2007-12-13T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:47:25Z Prehistoric Carnivorous Fungi Lassoed its Prey Scientists have discovered the oldest known carnivorous fungus, according to a study published in Science. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2449 2007-11-26T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:12:34Z Transgenic plant may thrive under global warming-induced drought Researchers have created a drought-resistant tobacco plant through genetic engineering, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The work could eventually lead to the development of crops that are better able to survive higher temperatures and reduced rainfall associated with global warming. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2466 2007-11-19T14:30:39Z 2008-12-16T10:12:36Z Large-scale agriculture 'compromises' forest's ability to recover <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/07/Robin_measuring_tree100.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>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. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2467 2007-11-19T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:47:12Z Biodiversity conservation will only work if local people benefit <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/07/1111NinaFarwig100.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>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. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2481 2007-11-13T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:47:14Z Law enforcement key to saving Borneo's rainforests <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/07/1113Rhett_fieldcourse100.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>In an interview with mongabay.com, Dr. Rhett Harrison, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) associate researcher and Secretary for the Asia-Pacific Chapter of ATBC, says that law enforcement could be the key to safeguarding biodiversity contained in Borneo's lowland parks. Harrison says there may be opportunities for conservationists to work with oil palm to developers to ensure that existing forests are not converted for plantations and that palm oil can be produced in a sustainable manner. He also adds that carbon offsets may eventually offer a means to fund conservation and sustainable development efforts in areas that still have standing forest. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2400 2007-10-21T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:46:58Z Amazon plant diversity still a mystery 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. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2172 2007-08-31T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:46:12Z "Weird" algae key to survival of coral reefs A team of coral researchers has taken a major stride towards revealing the workings of the mysterious "engine" that drives Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and corals the world over. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2185 2007-08-29T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:46:15Z Orchids may have co-existed with dinosaurs Orchids are old enough to have co-existed with dinosaurs, report Harvard University scientists. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/2200 2007-08-27T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:46:18Z U.S. grazing lands at risk due to rising CO2 levels Rising carbon dioxide levels could cause significant changes to open grazing lands and rangelands around the world, reports a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1992 2007-06-26T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:37Z Climate change is making poison ivy worse New research shows that climate change is making poison ivy more potent, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1996 2007-06-24T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:38Z Rainforest trees colonized Africa from the Amazon A giant rainforest tree is helping scientists understand similarities between African and South American rainforests, reports research published in the journal Molecular Ecology. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1930 2007-05-13T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:26Z Carnivorous plants invade San Francisco <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://travel.mongabay.com/us/sf_conservatory/150/IMG_1710.JPG" align="left"/></td></tr></table>While most plants derive nutrients from soil, some trap and consume living creatures for their primary source of sustenance. Now a special exhibit at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers offers a journey into the strange world of carnivorous plants. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1959 2007-05-07T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:31Z Tropical plants may be more adaptable to climate change Tropical plants may be more adaptable to environmental change by extracting nitrogen from a variety of sources, reports a study published in the May 7 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1976 2007-05-02T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:34Z Climate change could dramatically change forests in Central America <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://travel.mongabay.com/panama/150/pan01-0657.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Drought could cause dramatic shifts in rainforest plant communities in Central America, reports a new study published in the May 3 issue of Nature. The research shows that many rainforest plants are ill-equipped to deal with extended dry periods, putting them at elevated risk from changes in climate projected for the region. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1795 2007-04-17T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:01Z Neon green gecko key to preventing Mauritian plant extinction <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/07/0417gecko1.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>A vibrantly colored gecko plays a key role in a highly threatened ecological community in Mauritius reports new research published in American Naturalist. Studying plant-animal interactions in Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island famous for its extinct dodo bird, researchers found that a rare plant, Trochetia blackburniana, benefits from its proximity to Pandanus plants because they house high densities of geckos responsible for pollination. The findings, which unusually identify a lizard as a key pollinator, are significant because they provide "valuable management insights for ongoing conservation efforts to save the highly endangered flora of Mauritius. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1812 2007-04-09T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:45:04Z Maize cultivated at least 7,300 years ago in Mexico Anthropologists have found the earliest known evidence of maize cultivation in Mexico. The discovery, published in the April 9-13 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, pushes back farming of the ancestor of modern corn to about 7,300 years ago. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1670 2007-03-20T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:44:37Z Amazon, Madagascar, Borneo are top plant biodiversity hotspots A new map devised by biologists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the University of Bonn in Germany, shows that the Andes-Amazon region of South America, Madagascar, Borneo, and New Guinea reign as the world's hotspots for plant diversity. The researchers say the map will help both prioritize areas for biodiversity conservation and forecast the impact of climate change on plant communities and the ecological services they provide. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1691 2007-03-13T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:44:40Z New bamboo species discovered in U.S., first in 200 years Botanists have discovered a previously unknown species of North American bamboo in the hills of Appalachia. It is the third known species of bamboo in the United States, but the first new species in more than 200 years. The species is named Arundinaria appalachiana. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1701 2007-03-12T14:30:00Z 2012-08-23T01:30:31Z Biodiversity extinction crisis looms says renowned biologist <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://photos.mongabay.com/12/0307raven_2t.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>While there is considerable debate over the scale at which biodiversity extinction is occurring, there is little doubt we are presently in an age where species loss is well above the established biological norm. Extinction has certainly occurred in the past, and in fact, it is the fate of all species, but today the rate appears to be at least 100 times the background rate of one species per million per year and may be headed towards a magnitude thousands of times greater. Few people know more about extinction than Dr. Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is the author of hundreds of scientific papers and books, and has an encyclopedic list of achievements and accolades from a lifetime of biological research. These make him one of the world's preeminent biodiversity experts. He is also extremely worried about the present biodiversity crisis, one that has been termed the sixth great extinction. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1514 2007-02-28T14:30:39Z 2008-12-29T06:44:13Z Indigenous populations deforested New World rainforests before European contact <table align="left"><tr><td><img src="http://travel.mongabay.com/colombia/brodie-150/br_co-0370.jpg" align="left"/></td></tr></table>Indigenous populations used fire to clear large areas of tropical forest well before the arrival of Europeans reports a new study published in Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The research has important implications for understanding the impact of present forest development on biodiversity and forest regeneration in the tropics. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/1272 2006-11-29T02:00:39Z 2008-12-29T06:43:36Z Rainforest tree diversity may be tied to seed dispersal A new study says tree distribution in the rainforest is highly dependent on species' method of seed dispersal. The research could help explain how a large number of rainforest trees can coexist in a small area. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/756 2006-01-26T15:19:39Z 2008-12-29T06:42:34Z Mother nature encourages diversity in rainforest trees Older forests have a greater diversity of trees than younger forests according to research published in Friday's issue of the journal Science. The study -- conducted by 33 ecologists from 12 countries -- found that nature encourages diversity by selecting for less common trees as the trees mature, indicating that diversity has ecological importance to tropical forests. Rhett Butler tag:news.mongabay.com,2005:Article/739 2006-01-16T15:19:39Z 2008-12-29T06:42:33Z Plants face extinction threat due to lack of sex The decline of birds, bees and other pollinators may be putting plants at risk of extinction according to a new study. Rhett Butler