Climate: Not a lot of options for polar bears

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Polar bear photo courtesy Eric Regehr, USFWS.

New study shows food shortages will catch up to the Arctic predators

Staff Report

FRISCO — When it comes to finding food as Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears don’t exactly have a lot of options.

That’s one of the main reasons the Arctic predators are under the global warming gun, and a new study of how the bears respond metabolically during lean times underscores the existing science. Continue reading

Feds post draft recovery plan for rare Nebraska beetle

Salt Creek tiger beetles have been pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development

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There are only a few hundred Salt Creek tiger beetles remaining. Photo via USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare insect that lives only in a few pockets of saline wetlands and streams in eastern Nebraska is getting some much-needed attention. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week published a draft recovery plan for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle.

Biologists are hopeful that a collaborative conservation effort, including habitat protection, captive breeding and reintroductions, can keep the insect from going extinct. Salt Creek tiger beetles have declined due to habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development. Continue reading

Study maps biodiversity in Bering Sea canyon

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New research reveals biodiversity secrets deep beneath the surface of the Bering Sea.

Protection could benefit entire Bering Sea ecosystem

Staff Report

FRISCO — An undersea canyon in the Bering Sea is a biodiversity hotspot, scientists said in a new report that reinforces a push to establish protection for the area.

The study, conducted by the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Greenpeace concluded that Pribilof canyon is the most significant location for deep sea corals and sponges along the entire eastern Bering Sea shelf.

With protections in place for coral and sponge habitat, Bering Sea fish and king crab populations could increase, according to conservation advocates. The study, published in Global Ecology and Conservation, also found that restricting bottom-contact fishing in Bering Sea canyons would not have significant negative impacts on the fishing industry. Continue reading

Bumblebees losing ground to global warming

Changes in southeastern forests may be contributing to the decline of bee populations, @bberwyn photo.

Bumblebees are being squeezed in a climate vice, Canadian researchers found in a new study. @bberwyn photo.

‘The result is widespread, rapid declines of pollinators across continents …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Canadian researchers say North American and European bumblebees are being squeezed in a “climate vise” that’s compressing their habitat.

In their study, the scientists found that it’s getting too warm at the southern end of their range, but the bees haven’t been able to expand northward into cooler territory.

“The result is widespread, rapid declines of pollinators across continents, effects that are not due to pesticide use or habitat loss. It looks like it’s just too hot,” said Professor Jeremy Kerr, Macroecology and Conservation chair at the  University of Ottawa. Continue reading

Biodiversity: New study finds that seabird populations have dropped 70 percent since the 1950s

Steep downward trend poses threats to marine ecosystems

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Pelagic bird populations are declining at an alarming rate. @bberwyn photo.

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A Florida pelican. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Researchers with the University of British Columbia say that global seabird populations — including penguins, albatrosses, petrels and pelicans — have declined by 70 percent since the 1950s — a clear sign that marine ecosystems are in trouble.

The findings are based on an analysis of more than 500 seabird populations , representing about 19 per cent of the global seabird population. The 70 percent decline is equivalent to the loss of about 230 million birds in 60 years, said Michelle Paleczny, a UBC master’s student and researcher with the Sea Around Us project.

“Seabirds are particularly good indicators of the health of marine ecosystems,” said Paleczny. “When we see this magnitude of seabird decline, we can see there is something wrong with marine ecosystems. It gives us an idea of the overall impact we’re having.” Continue reading

Lawsuit challenges federal plan for Mexican gray wolves

Wildlife advocates say arbitrary caps on population and habitat won’t allow for full recovery of the species

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

A Mexican gray wolf in the wilds of the Blue Range wolf recovery area. Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say a federal plan to cap the Mexican gray wolf population at 300 to 325 animals won’t ensure the long-term survival of the species, and they’re going to court to make sure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that give endangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S. range.

At issue is a final federal rule issued early this year that would likely prevent the wolves from recolonizing suitable habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolf plan,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorney representing the advocacy groups in the lawsuit. “Our goal in this case is to put the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.” Continue reading

Key Biscayne National Park establishes new marine reserve to try and restore coral reef ecosystem

A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A spiny lobster in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary, where protective management has helped rebuild fish stocks. Key Biscayne National Park hopes that a new protected area will help restore coral reefs. Photo courtesy NOAA.

No-fishing zone seen as key piece of new management plan

Staff Report

FRISCO — The National Park Service says a 10,000-acre no-fishing zone will help restore the heart of Key Biscayne National Park’s coral reef ecosystem and boost fish populations in surrounding waters.

The new marine reserve was announced earlier this month as part of an updated management plan for the popular park near Miami. The no–fishing zone covers about 6 percent of the park’s waters. Some other ecologically important shoreline areas will be protected by slow-speed, no-wake, and no-motor zones to benefit seagrass beds, manatees, mangroves and nesting birds. Continue reading

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