Biologists mark huge step in fight against amphibian-killing fungus


Boreal toads in Colorado, and other amphibians around the world, may benefit from the results of a new treatment that can eliminate a deadly fungus.

New treatment could help protect vulnerable species

Staff Report

Scientists in the UK and Spain say they’ve developed a way to tackle the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus in a way that could help protect wild populations of amphibians.

Their research is a major breakthrough in the battle against the deadly disease, which has affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide; driving population declines, extirpations and species extinctions across five continents. Continue reading

Study: Doubling of CO2 may warm Earth by 3 degrees Celsius


New data shows climate may be more sensitive to CO2 than previously thought.

New chemical analysis sends climate warming signal

Staff Report

A study of ancient carbonate crystals in Colorado suggests that the Earth’s climate is more sensitive to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide than believed.

Based on the chemical analysis of rocks from the Green River formation, scientists think that a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial times could raise the global temperature by a whopping 3 degrees Celsius. Continue reading

Forest Service OKs Breck summer expansion plan


Summer is about to get busier on the slopes of the Tenmile Range.

Summer attractions expected to draw 150,000 new tourists

Staff Report

The U.S. Forest Service is giving Vail Resorts a green light for more development on the slopes of the Tenmile Range, at Breckenridge Ski Area.

In a final decision released this week, White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams approved a significant expansion of recreation infrastructure, including zip lines and canopy tours, as well as more off-highway vehicle tours and an expansion of the Peak 7 hut. Continue reading

Nevada fossil records offer global warming clues

Bones of a juvenile mammoth spilling out of the ground in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). USGS scientists are currently investigating geologic deposits exposed throughout TUSK to determine how the springs and marshes that attracted the animals responded to climate change in the past.

Bones of a juvenile mammoth spilling out of the ground in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). USGS scientists are currently investigating geologic deposits exposed throughout TUSK to determine how the springs and marshes that attracted the animals responded to climate change in the past. Photo courtesy Eric Scott/USGS.

Abrupt climate change ripples through desert ecosystems

Staff Report

Freshwater springs outside Las Vegas offer some clues about how global warming will affect desert ecosystems, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

New research shows the seeps and springs expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm.

“This is a story of water,” said Springer. “Water was plentiful in the desert at times in the past, but when climate warmed, springs and wetlands dried up, and the plants and animals living in the harsh desert environment were out of luck,” said USGS scientist Kathleen Springer. Continue reading

Watchdogs say Western Governors’ Association is trying to weaken endangered species protections


Not much love for endangered species like lynx at a recent Western Governors’ Association workshop. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Recent workshop focused on industry gripes

Staff Report

For the apparent lack of anything productive to do, the Western Governors’s Association is apparently trying to cook up new ways to weaken the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of developers and extractive industries.

The association held a workshop last week, ostensibly to “encourage bipartisan conversations to improve the Endangered Species Act,” but that is just more Orwellian doublespeak, according to watchdog groups, who pointed out that speakers during the meeting “overwhelmingly represented industries and political interests opposed to protections for endangered species.” Continue reading

Climate: Study tracks loss of biodiversity near melting Antarctic glaciers


How will global warming affect marine ecosystems around the Antarctic Peninsula? @bberwyn photo.

Increasing sediment load affects bottom-dwelling sea creatures

Staff Report

A series of research dives around the Antarctic Peninsula suggest that melting glaciers are diminishing the region’s biodiversity. Scientists think the main cause may be increased levels of sediment in the water.

Over the past five decades, temperatures have risen nearly five times as rapidly on the western Antarctic Peninsula than the global average. Yet the impacts of the resulting retreat of glaciers on bottom-dwelling organisms remain unclear. Continue reading

Study IDs Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk

Sea turtles as most vulnerable species

Gulf Coast sunset.

Rising sea level and warming ocean temps are putting Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk, according to a new study. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Sea turtles breeding along the Gulf Coast are among the species deemed most vulnerable to climate change and rising sea level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in a new vulnerability assessment that looked at four Gulf ecosystems and 11 species dependent on them.

The ecosystems are mangrove, oyster reef, tidal emergent marsh and barrier islands. The species are roseate spoonbill, blue crab, clapper rail, mottled duck, spotted seatrout, eastern oyster, American oystercatcher, red drum, black skimmer, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and Wilson’s plover.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is thought to be the most vulnerable species across the Gulf Coast. The report identified the main threat as loss of nesting habitat to sea level rise, erosion, and urbanization. Continue reading


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