Posted on October 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A northern rainbow star afflicted with sea star wasting disease. This species had virtually disappeared from central California kelp forests as of February 2014. Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA MBNMS.
Unique student research project tracks immune response to virus at genetic level
Biological sleuthing by a group of young marine-disease researchers from around the country may help solve the mystery of a massive sea star die-off along the West Coast.
Millions of the animals have died the past few years. Scientists still don’t why. They suspect a common ocean virus is at fault, and the new study, published this week in PLOS ONE, has contributed key information about the sea stars’ immune response when infected with this virus, which causes the marine creatures to develops white lesions on its limbs and within days dissolve or into a gooey mass. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: marine biology, ocean conservation, sea star wasting disease | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 7, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Extensive stand of severely bleached coral at Lisianski Island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, documented during an August 2014 NOAA research mission. (Credit: NOAA).
Up to 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs may be affected
Global warming is causing global coral bleaching, ocean scientists said today, confirming that rising ocean temperatures are resulting in massive and widespread impacts to reefs around the world.
“The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world,” NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator, Mark Eakin, said in a statement. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, El Niño, Environment, global warming | Tagged: global warming, El Nino, coral reefs, Coral bleaching | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 7, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
‘This doesn’t mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation … are a lot worse’
A family of moose in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Credit: Valeriy Yurko/Polessye State Radioecological Reserve.
Wildlife is thriving in the area around Chernobyl, researchers said in a new study tracking the number of moose, roe deer, red deer, wild boar and wolves in the 1,621-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
The census data shows there are seven times as many wolves in the area than in nearby uncontaminated reserves, along with growing populations of other species. The area was cleared of humans after a 1986 nuclear reactor disaster that polluted the immediate area, as well as distant fallout zones, with radioactive particles.
“This doesn’t mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming and forestry, are a lot worse,” said Jim Smith, a professor of environmental science at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Chernobyl, Environment, nuclear contamination, wildlife | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 6, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A new marine park off the coast of Chile will help protect important ocean resources. Photo courtesy Enric Sala/National Geographic.
‘A gift to the world …’
The creation of the world’s largest marine park in the Americas could help rebuild fish stocks off the coast of South America, ocean experts said this week, hailing Chile’s announcement that it will protect 297,518 square kilometers as a no-take zone. With the formation of Nazca-Desventuradas, Chile will now protect 12 percent of its marine surface area
“Chile is one of the world’s primary fishing countries,” said Alex Muñoz, vice president for Oceana in Chile. “With the creation of this large marine park, Chile also becomes a world leader in marine conservation.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Chile, Environment, marine conservation, National Geographic Society, Nazca-Desventuradas, Oceana, oceans | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Himalayan balsam was introduced as an ornamental and quickly spread throughout the northern hemisphere where it’s considered an invasive plant that displaces native flora in some areas. Photo courtesy Royal Horticultural Society.
Swiss study tracks online sales of potential invaders
Online commerce is accelerating the invasive species threat worldwide, Swiss reasearchers said last week after taking a close look at at the unbridled market for buying and selling plants on the internet.
These days, all it takes is one click to spread potentially invasive plants from continent to continent – and unintentionally encouraging biological invasions, the researchers said, referring to invaders like goldenrod, Himalayan balsam and the Chinese windmill palm — all of which now threaten native biodiversity in the Alpine republic.
The assess the extent of the problem, ETH Zurich researchers monitoried online trades of about two-thirds of the world’s flora on eBay plus nine other online trading platforms for 50 days, tracking which plant species were offered for sale in various countries, and how often. Continue reading
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Posted on October 3, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Wyoming toad has been on endangered species list since 1984
After more than a quarter century on the Endangered Species List, Wyoming toads may have a chance at recovery under a new plan that sets specific targets and requires long-term monitoring.
The once-common toads died off in massive numbers starting in the 1970s, succumbing to a deadly fungal disease that has afflicted amphibians around the world.
Listed as endangered in 1984, the Wyoming toad is considered one of the four most endangered amphibian species in North America and is currently classified as “extinct in the wild” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Approximately 500 individuals are currently held in captivity for breeding and reintroduction efforts. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, global amphibian decline | Tagged: ambhibian decline, biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Wyoming toad | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 1, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Federal biologists have designated about 46,000 acres of critical habitat for two endangered prairie butterflies. Photo courtesy USFWS.
Preserving prairie remnants could help species survive
With most of their prairie habitat sliced and diced by agricultural development, the Dakota skipper and Poweshiek skipperling have long been in trouble.
The butterflies were put on the Endangered Species List in 2014, and this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated about 46,000 acres of critical habitat for the two species.
“That these butterflies have survived at all is because of the good stewardship of some of the region’s landowners,” said USFWS Midwest regional director Tom Melius. “We will continue to work with these and other landowners to ensure the conservation of remnant prairie habitat and these prairie butterflies.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, critical habitat, Dakota skipper, endangered species, Poweshiek skipperling, prairie ecosystems | Leave a comment »