Category: biodiversity

New interior secretary begins stint by re-authorizing use of toxic lead hunting ammunition

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An endangered California condor soars over Zion National Park. As carrion eaters, condors are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Let them eat lead …

Staff Report

Toxic lead is back on the menu for many wildlife species, as newly appointed  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revoked a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service order that had banned lead hunting ammunition on federal wildlife reserves after a years-long campaign by wildlife advocates.

The USFWS order was finalized the day before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. In his reversal, Zinke made no reference to the extensive body of science showing that lead ammunition is harmful to wildlife.

His first move as Interior Secretary should make it clear that anybody who had been hoping Zinke would be a reasonable voice in the new anti-environment administration was sorely mistaken. Along with the rest of Trump’s cabinet picks, Zinke seems likely to move ahead at full speed in dismantling as many environmental protections as possible. Continue reading “New interior secretary begins stint by re-authorizing use of toxic lead hunting ammunition”

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Can ‘supersites’ anchor coral reef protection efforts?

Yellow tangs swim in a coral reef ecoystems.
Yellow tangs swim in a coral reef ecoystems. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Study says 90 percent of all predatory fish species have been lost from Caribbean coral reefs

Staff Report

Not all Caribbean reefs are created equal, say researchers with the  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who recently identified reef areas they are calling “supersites”that could help restore populations of predatory fish needed maintain an ecological balance.

That’s the good news. The bad news is their study also shows that up to 90 percent of predatory fish are gone from Caribbean coral reefs. The research suggests that these supersites should be prioritized for protection and could serve as regional models showcasing the value of biodiversity for tourism and other uses. Continue reading “Can ‘supersites’ anchor coral reef protection efforts?”

Coral bleaching threat persists in Southern Hemisphere

Uptick in tropical cyclones intensifies impacts, hampers recovery

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A recent update from NOAA’s coral watch program shows that many reefs in the Southern Hemisphere face potential bleaching events in the next several months.

Staff Report

Along with the widely reported bleaching threat from over-heated oceans, coral reefs in many parts of the world also may have to cope with intensifying tropical storms, which could make it even more difficult for them to survive the Anthropocene.

New research published in the journal Global Change Biology looked at whether predicted increases in cyclone intensity might change the nature of coral reefs, using the Great Barrier Reef as a test case with reef data going back to 1996, as well as information gathered during recent tropical cycles. The study found that tropical cyclones between 2009 and 2014  caused record destruction of corals. Continue reading “Coral bleaching threat persists in Southern Hemisphere”

Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally

Findings to help guide conservation strategies

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Many carnivore species around the world are threatened by road networks. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

The threat of roads to carnivore species around the world has been seriously underestimated, according to a new study that looked at the issue on a global scale.

After looking at 232 carnivore species around the world (out of a total of about. 270 existing species) and assessing how severely these are affected by roads cut through their habitat, the researchers concluded that some rare species are even at risk in areas with low road densities. The study, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, calculated natural mortality rates, reproduction and carnivore movement patterns, determining the maximum density of roads that a species can cope with. Continue reading “Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally”

Non-native species invade Mediterranean through newly enlarged Suez Canal

Scientists warn of ecosystem, health impacts

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Port Cros National Park, France. A new study says native marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean are at risk from non-native species invading via the Suez Canal. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Scientists say the 2015 expansion of the Suez Canal has enabled non-native species to swarm into the Mediterranean, potentially impacting fisheries and human health.

“The Mediterranean Sea is the most invaded marine basin in the world. The number of non-indigenous species greatly increased between 1970 and 2015. 750 multicellular non-indigenous species were recorded in the Mediterranean Sea, far more than in other European seas, because of the ever-increasing number of Red Sea species introduced through the Suez Canal,” said Bella Galil of the Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies. “This raises concerns about the increasing introductions of additional NIS and associated degradation and loss of native populations, habitats and ecosystem services.” Continue reading “Non-native species invade Mediterranean through newly enlarged Suez Canal”

Endangered Indiana bats face twin threat from wind turbines and white-nose syndrome

Indiana bats hibernating in a cave. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/ANDREW KING.
Indiana bats hibernating in a cave. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/ANDREW KING.

Small hibernating bat colonies need protection to prevent extinction

Staff Report

Between collisions with wind turbines and deadly white-nose syndrome, endangered Indiana bats may not have much of a chance of recovering, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

The researchers used a scientific model to compare how wind turbine mortality and WNS may singly and then together affect Indiana bat population dynamics throughout the species’ U.S. range. Continue reading “Endangered Indiana bats face twin threat from wind turbines and white-nose syndrome”

Feds eye grizzly reintroduction in North Cascades

Draft plan posted for public comment

A grizzly boar on the Brooks River in Alaska. Photo by Kim Fenske.
A grizzly boar on the Brooks River in Alaska. Photo by Kim Fenske.
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Re-establishing a self-sustaining population of grizzlies in the North Cascades ecosystem could help reach overall recovery goals for the predators, which have been on the endangered species list since 1975.

Staff Report

Federal biologists say they can boost the population of grizzly bears in the North Cascades ecosystem by relocating the predators from other areas. The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week released a draft plan (open for public comment), for increasing the total number of bears in the region to 200. Bt current estimates, only about 10 remain, too small a population to sustain itself. According to the draft plan, grizzly bears could be relocated from either northwestern Montana or south-central British Columbia.

“We’re happy to see the agencies taking a step in the right direction to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Without a helping hand, grizzly bears are likely to disappear from the Pacific Northwest.” Continue reading “Feds eye grizzly reintroduction in North Cascades”