Posted on October 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New database to help assess impacts of planned dams
FRISCO — An emergent global hydropower boom will help meet the demand for low-carbon energy, but also poses environmental risks, according to experts compiling a new data base on global hydropower.
The boom is expected to double production of hydropower, but could also reduce the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.
A new database has been developed to support decision making on sustainable modes of electricity production. An unprecedented number of dams for electricity production is currently under construction or planned worldwide, mainly in developing countries and emerging economies in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, that also hold some of the world’s most important sites for freshwater biodiversity. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, Hydropower, renewable energy | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can a recovery plan save rare yellow-legged frogs in California? Photo courtesy Adam Backlin, USGS.
Critical habitat designation and active restoration efforts could bolster populations
FRISCO — After 12 years on the endangered species list, a dwindling population of California frogs will finally get some much-needed attention from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Under a settlement agreement reached last week, the agency will develop a recovery plan for Southern California’s mountain yellow-legged frogs by December 2018
“I’m so glad these severely endangered frogs will finally get a recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center of Biological Diversity attorney and biologists dedicated to protecting rare amphibians and reptiles. “Recovery plans really need to be developed soon after species are protected, because they give us a roadmap of exactly what we need to do to ensure those species won’t go extinct.”
There are only nine known populations of the frogs, all living in isolated headwaters streams where they rely on snowmelt and freshwater springs for habitat. Most of the frogs were wiped out by the introduction of non-native trout, and habitat degradation is another factor in their decline. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: amphibian decline, biodiversity, endangered species, yellow-legged frogs | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Yet another study describes cascading ecological impacts of declining predator populations.
Plant communities change as herbivoves spread
FRISCO — The global decline of large predators is leading to a loss of plant and tree diversity, scientists said after studying ecosystem changes in Africa. Recent research shows more than 75 percent of the world’s large carnivore species are in decline, with 17 of those species occupying less than half of their historical distributions.
The research by University of British Columbia zoologist Adam Ford and his colleagues involved tracking Africal impalas with GPS units to see how they respond to the presence (and absence) of predators, specifically whether the predators scare impala so much that impala will avoid areas where they are likely to be killed. They combined the tracking data with a high-resolution satellite image of tree cover and located carcasses to determine where impala are being killed. Continue reading
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Posted on October 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Cardinals have become more common in the Northeast.
‘Climate change should not be viewed as the sole driver of changes in winter bird communities, but this signal is a pretty strong one for climate change’
FRISCO — Global warming is reshaping backyard bird communities in eastern North America, as once-rare birds are now common in the Northeast.
Cardinals, chipping sparrows and other warm-adapted species have greatly expanded their wintering range in a warmer world, a change that may have untold consequences for North American ecosystems, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife biologists Benjamin Zuckerberg and Karine Princé.
In a new paper published in Global Change Biology, Zuckerberg and Princé analyzed more than two decades of data on 38 species of birds gathered by thousands of citizen scientists through the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch. They found that birds typically found in more southerly regions are gradually pushing north, restructuring the communities of birds that spend their winters in northern latitudes. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, birdwatching, climate change, global warming, Project FeederWatch, wildlifeeder | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 8, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Whooping crane chicks, hatched and raised by their parents at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, were released on Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.
Project aims to restore migratory flock in eastern U.S.
FRISCO — Efforts to boost a self-sustaining flock of migratory whooping cranes in the eastern U.S. got a boost last month with the release of four chicks that were raised in captivity at a U.S. Geological Survey research center in Maryland. The crane chicks were released on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the six-month-old birds are part ofan experimental rearing and release method referred to as “parent-rearing.” The parent-reared whooping crane chicks were hatched and raised by captive adult whooping cranes. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Birds, endangered species, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, whooping cranes, wildlife restoration | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Native ecoystems at risk
Bullfrogs, native to eastern North America, have gained a firm foothold in the Yellowstone River, where they could put native species at risk. Photo courtesy USGS.
FRISCO — Big and pushy, invasive bullfrogs are expanding their range in the Yellowstone River floodplain in Montana at the expense of other native animals, biologists reported in a new study released in “Aquatic Invasions.”
“The impacts of bullfrogs on native amphibians in the Yellowstone River are not yet known, but native Northern leopard frogs are likely to be most vulnerable to bullfrog invasion and spread because their habitats overlap,” said Adam Sepulveda, USGS scientist and lead author of the study.
Bullfrogs are thought to be a cause in the declines of multiple amphibian and reptile species around the globe. They are big, mobile, omnivores with a voracious appetite, ability to reproduce rapidly, and carriers of amphibian diseases. This makes them an extremely successful invader and a threat to biodiversity. The study is the first of its kind to describe the rapid extent of bullfrog spread, as well as their preferred habitat along the Yellowstone River near Billings, Montana. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, invasive species | Tagged: biodiversity, bullfrogs, Environment, invasive species, Yellowstone River | Leave a comment »