Climate: Genetic study shows some corals may have fighting chance to survive warmer oceans

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Can a genetic ‘mix-and-match effort save some coral species from global warming? Photo courtesy NOAA.

Mixing and matching corals from different latitudes may boost reef survival

Staff Report

FRISCO — If global warming can be capped at a reasonable level, some coral reefs may have a fighting chance to adapt to warmer ocean waters, according to new genetic research.

The new study suggests some coral species already have genetic variants necessary to tolerate warm ocean waters, and humans can help to spread these genes, said a team of scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Oregon State University. Continue reading

Science behind the scenery at Rocky Mountain NP

Aspen ecology, boreal toad presentation coming up

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Rocky Mountain National Park from Trail Ridge Road. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — National Parks aren’t just places to spend a great vacation. Because they’re relatively untouched by development, they also serve as living laboratories where scientists can study plants and animals in an undisturbed setting.

Researchers who have specialized in understanding Rocky Mountain ecosystems will be sharing their expertise as part of Rocky Mountain National Park’s centennial Science Behind The Scenery Programs in the next few weeks every Thursday evening (7:30 p.m.) at the Beaver Meadows visitor center. The talks are free and open to the public. Continue reading

Can floodplain restoration help endangered salmon in Oregon’s Tillamook Bay?

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Cooperative project aims to reduce flood risks and improve salmon habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — A proposed floodplain restoration project in Oregon’s Tillamook Bay will reduce flood risks to local communities, increase resiliency of the ecosystem, and restore endangered salmon habitat, according to scientists and planning officials, who touted the cooperative nature of the proposed project.

Salmon are severely impacted by the loss of floodplain habitats all along the West Coast and Tillamook Bay has been hit especially hard.The Southern Flow Corridor project will reconnect over 500 acres of floodplain habitat to two of the Bay’s most productive salmon-bearing streams, the Wilson and Trask Rivers. Continue reading

Climate change threatens native plant diversity in California grassland ecosystems

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Global warming is likely to cut native plant diversity in California, with cascading ecosystem effects, a new UC Davis study suggests. @bberwyn photo.

UC Davis study documents ‘direct loss’ of native wildflowers

Staff Report

FRISCO — California scientists say they’ve documented a loss in native wildflower diversity after with a string of dry winters, showing how climate change will affect the state’s grassland ecosystems.

The study is based on 15 years of monitoring on about 80 sampling plots at McLaughlin Reserve, part of the natural reserve system at the University of California at Davis. Continue reading

Alaska’s coastal wolves facing multiple threats

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Alexander Archipelago wolf, Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Wildlife advocates say proposed hunt on Prince of Wales Island is unsustainable

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare breed of wolves living on coastal islands in southeast Alaska is under the gun more than ever before, according to wildlife advocates who are protesting a state plan to allow hunting and trapping of an Alexander Archipelago wolf population on Prince of Wales Island.

The hunt is being permitted even though scientific data shows a 60 percent decline in the population in just one year. Based on the report, wolf advocates say there may only be about 50 wolves remaining on the island. Continue reading

Vaquita population may be down to 50

Illegal fishing drives species toward extinction

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A vaquita in the Gulf of California. Photo courtesy NOAA/Paula Olsen.

vaquita habitat map

Vaquitas live only in the northern end of the Gulf of California, where they are threatened by illegal fishing.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Illegal gillnet fishing in the northern Gulf of California continued to take a toll on endangered vaquita porpoises the past few years, according to a new report suggesting that as few as of 50 vaquitas remain.

The report, from the Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), is based on acoustic detection surveys, which is the best way to count the small porpoises. Based on the most recent survey, the scientists concluded an apparent 42 percent drop in the vaquita population from 2013 to 2014, when scientists estimated the population at less than 100. Continue reading

Environment: Biologists say new snake pathogen is ‘eerily similar’ to bat-killing white-nose syndrome

Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus that is afflicting snakes across the Midwest and Eastern US, shares many traits with Pseudogymnoascus destructans the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats, researchers report. Credit Julie McMahon

Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus that is afflicting snakes across the Midwest and Eastern US, shares many traits with Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats, researchers report.
Map courtesy Julie McMahon.

Numerous species, including rattlesnakes, affected by emerging fungal disease

Staff Report

FRISCO — Biologists say they’re tracking an emerging new fungal disease afflicting snakes that’s “eerily similar” to the fungus that has wiped out millions of bats across the eastern U.S.

The snake and bat pathogens emerged in North America in the mid-2000s. Both are moving from east to west across the United States and into parts of Canada. Continue reading

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