Global warming to drive massive ocean biodiversity shift

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Where will fish go as the oceans warm?

Changes will come at unprecedented pace

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean biodiversity is set to change at an unprecedented pace, a team of researchers said in a new study after modeling how global warming will affect some 13,000 ocean species.

The findings reinforce a large body of previous research showing that, in general, many fish will move toward toward the poles looking for cooler water. The researchers pointed out that similar redistributions have happened before — but always on a geological timescale spanning millions of years. Continue reading

Protecting fish populations seen as key to coral reef conservation

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Coral reefs need abundant and diverse fish populations to survive. Photo via NOAA.

Fishing regulations around coral reef hotspots must be enforced

Staff Report

FRISCO — Protecting fish populations around coral reefs may be the key to helping sustain coral ecosystems, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society that has major implications for coral reef management.

The study focused on coral reef diversity ‘hotspots’ in the southwestern Indian Ocean, finding that they rely more on the biomass of fish than where they are located. Continue reading

California reports first wolf pack in almost 100 years

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Wolf pups at play in northern California. Photo via CDFW.

California wildlife agency documents five wolf pups and two adult wolves

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — OR-7, the lone wolf that enthralled wildlife lovers when he wandered through northern California a few years was the trailblazer.

Earlier this spring another lone wolf wandered into the state, and now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says there’s a new wolfpack forming. The agency has photographically documented five pups and several individual adults that have taken up residence in the state.

“This news is exciting for California,” said Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW Director. “We knew wolves would eventually return home to the state and it appears now is the time.” Continue reading

U.S. pushes Mexico to strengthen sea turtle protection

A loggerhead sea turtle off the coast of New England. Photo courtesy NOAA/Matthew Weeks.

Loggerhead sea turtles need more protection from gillnet and longline fishing off the coast of Baja. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Failure to protect loggerhead sea turtles could lead to seafood sanctions

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Mexico isn’t doing enough to protect sea turtles, U.S. officials said last week, issuing a formal warning that could ultimately lead to a ban on seafood imports from Mexico.

At issue are endangered North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles in the Gulf of Ulloa. Mexico earlier this year adopted new regulations aimed at protecting the sea turtles with a fishery reserve, a mortality limit and  fishing gear restrictions.

But according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service, those regulations don’t go far enough to address the bycatch of loggerhead turtles. As a result, the U.S. for the first time ever has issued a “negative certification” for bycatch of a protected living marine resource under the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act. Continue reading

Study sees huge climate threat to tropical cloud forests

No place to go …

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Tropical mountain forests in Australia could be nearly wiped out by global warming before the end of the century. Photo via the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Australia.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists have long warned that mountain ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change, because as temperatures warm, species adapted to living atop mountains just won’t have anywhere to go.

A new study by Australian scientists appears to confirm those fears, concluding that the cloud forests in tropical forests are the most at risk. Many tropical, mountaintop plants won’t survive global warming, even under the best-case climate scenario. Continue reading

New fungus threatens North American salamanders

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The Ensatina salamander, a lungless salamander common along the west coast of the US, is one of hundreds of species of salamanders endemic to North America threatened by a new fungal pathogen from Asia. Photo via Tiffany Yap.

Scientists call for ban on imports

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal wildlife officials are dragging their feet by failing to implement a ban on salamander imports from Asia, scientists said this week, explaining that a devastating fungus is likely to spread into the U.S. via the pet trade.

The new malady is closely related to chytrid fungus, which has been implicated in the massive die-off of frogs and toads around the world. The salamander fungus has already spread across parts of Europe, where it has resulted in a 96 percent fatality rate among the European salamander species that it infected.

Salamanders are an important part of forest ecosystems but also a popular pet worldwide. Nearly three quarters of a million salamanders were imported into the U.S. between 2010 and 2014, 99 percent of them from Asia, where the fungus likely originated. Recent studies have shows that at least two U.S. salamander species are very susceptible to the new pathogen. Continue reading

Environment: Feds extend comment period on controversial Endangered Species Act changes

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Can the Endangered Species Act be improved?

Proposed changes would make it harder for citizen groups to petition for protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — The feds will give the public an extra two months to weigh in on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, with a new comment deadline set for mid-September.

In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service published draft regulations, saying that the changes are aimed at improving transparency and inclusiveness. The move to freshen up the Endangered Species Act reflects “advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.” Continue reading

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