Jun 20

Scientists were alarmed at the amount of dissolved mercury they found in rivers and fjords. The heavy metal raises concerns for the health of indigenous communities. And with global warming, the problem may get worse.

The animals face threats from climate change, fishing, and a tourism boom, but their biggest advocate remains hopeful.

Armed with traditional knowledge and modern science, a small team hunts for the sweet spot that could save oysters from a parasite that has decimated populations in Cape Breton and beyond.


The MV X-Press Pearl sinks as it is towed into the deep sea off Colombo, Sri Lanka, spilling tonnes of acid into the waters. June 3rd 2021.

Indigenous-managed landscapes retain higher biodiversity than surrounding areas a century after the people who kept them were displaced.

At least 25 times over the past 120,000 years, the temperature in Greenland swung dramatically. Now, scientists have a better understanding of why.

Researchers want to combat climate change by chemically converting carbon dioxide into rock on a grand scale.

A drama 150 years in the making is playing out as logging companies and police clash with First Nations and protesters over one of British Columbia’s last remaining stands of unprotected old-growth forest.

Scoop up a shovelful of healthy soil, and you’ll likely be holding more living organisms than there are people on the planet Earth.

Like citizens of an underground city that never sleeps, tens of thousands of subterranean species of invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi are constantly filtering our water, recycling nutrients and helping to regulate the earth’s temperature.

But beneath fields covered in tightly knit rows of corn, soybeans, wheat and other monoculture crops, a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is wreaking havoc, according to our newly published analysis in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science.

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From city centres to rural fields, human activity has decimated populations of France’s most common bird species, scientists warned on Monday, citing data collected over 30 years by volunteer ornithologists.

Between 1989 and 2019 over 2,000 French bird lovers participated in monitoring the nation’s 123 most common bird species through the Tracking Common Birds Over Time (STOC) program.

The effort is sponsored by the French National Museum of Natural History, whose president Bruno David called the findings “unrelenting”.

Over a third of common French bird species are in decline, including the European goldfinch, the European turtle dove, the common house martin and 40 others, the museum reported.

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When we think of Australia’s threatened corals, the Great Barrier Reef probably springs to mind. But elsewhere, coral species are also struggling—including a rare type known as “cauliflower soft coral” which is, sadly, on the brink of extinction.

This species, Dendronephthya australis, looks like a purple cauliflower due to its pink-lilac stems and branches, crowned with white polyps.

The coral primarily occurs at only a few sites in Port Stephens, New South Wales, and is a magnet for divers and underwater photographers. But sand movements, boating and fishing have reduced the species’ population dramatically.

Recent flooding in NSW compounded the problem—in fact, it may have reduced the remaining coral population by 90%. Our recent research found cauliflower soft coral may become extinct in the next decade unless we urgently protect and restore it.

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Like the keystone in an arch that holds all the others in place, the endangered pygmy hog of North India is the keystone species of the Terai grasslands, and while those other large mammals can live elsewhere, the hog cannot. Therefore you have a situation where protecting a 10-inch tall pig has the added benefit of protecting the 300-pound tigers and 8-ton elephants.

Presumed extinct until it was discovered in 1971 in the Indian state of Assam by a tea plantation worker, it wasn’t until the 1990s that conservationists began breeding the pygmy hogs in captivity.

Fortunately the hogs, which represent the last living species in the genus porcula, breed like, well, pigs, and now between 300-400 are roaming the Terai grasslands again—while another 74 stay in captivity awaiting reintroduction.

This is all down to the work of the Pygmy Hog Conservation Program, (PHCP) established in the ’90s by Gerald Durrell of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

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Once on the verge of extinction, the Iberian lynx population in Spain and Portugal has risen more than 10-fold over the past 18 years, the Spanish government said Friday.

A total of 414 lynx were born in 2020 bringing their total number in the two countries to 1,111, a record high since monitoring of the species began, the ministry for ecological transition said in a statement.

That is up from fewer than 100 in 2002, when the first census of the spotted nocturnal cat was carried out, thanks to a programme of captive breeding and release of the animals into the wild.

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May 29

Centuries-old smoke particles preserved in the ice reveal a fiery past in the Southern Hemisphere and shed new light on the future impacts of global climate change, according to new research published in Science Advances.

“Up till now, the magnitude of past fire activity, and thus the amount of smoke in the preindustrial atmosphere, has not been well characterized,” said Pengfei Liu, a former graduate student and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and first author of the paper. “These results have importance for understanding the evolution of climate change from the 1750s until today, and for predicting future climate.”

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The biggest hint nature ever gave humanity was when it sequestered fossil fuels underground, locking their carbon away from the atmosphere. Only rarely, like when a massive volcano fires a layer of coal into the sky, does that carbon escape its confines to dramatically warm the planet.

But such catastrophes hint at a powerful weapon for fighting climate change: Let nature do its carbon-sequestering thing. By restoring forests and wetlands, humanity can bolster the natural processes that trap atmospheric carbon in vegetation. As long as it all doesn’t catch on fire (or a volcano doesn’t blow it up), such “nature-based solutions,” as climate scientists call them, can help slow global warming.

Earlier this month, scientists put a number on how much of a reduction in global heating these solutions might buy us. Writing in the journal Nature, they used a previous calculation of how much carbon such campaigns could sequester and married that with global warming scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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With global warming decreasing the size of New Zealand’s alpine zone, a University of Otago study found out what this means for our altitude-loving kea.

The study, published in Molecular Ecology, analyzed whole genome DNA data of the kea and, for the first time, its forest-adapted sister species, the kākā, to identify genomic differences which cause their habitat specializations.

The researchers found the kea is not an alpine specialist, but rather one that adapted to using such an open habitat because it was least disturbed by human activity.

Co-author Associate Professor Michael Knapp, of the Department of Anatomy, says that is not likely to surprise people who know the wide altitudinal range in which kea can be found, but it does not mean the species is out of the woods in terms of threats from a warming climate.

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In 2011, a covert trade in sea cucumbers exploded on the island nation of Palau, nearly decimating the animal population. Women are still paying the price 10 years later.


A community for discussions about the environment, and humanity's effects on climate change.

Created on Sep 18, 2020
By @gurlic