Category: Environment

Queen bees exposed to neonicotinoids lay fewer eggs

Systemic pesticides seen to affect hives in various ways

honeybees neonicotinoids
A wild bumblebee foraging for pollen. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A new study led by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist reinforces the link between neonicotinoid pesticides and declining honeybee colonies. The researchers experimentally fed queen bees with a syrup laced with imidacloprid, finding that queens laid significantly fewer eggs than queens in unexposed colonies.

“The queens are of particular importance because they’re the only reproductive individual laying eggs in the colony,” said lead author Judy Wu-Smart, assistant professor of entomology. “One queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day. If her ability to lay eggs is reduced, that is a subtle effect that isn’t (immediately) noticeable but translates to really dramatic consequences for the colony.” Continue reading “Queen bees exposed to neonicotinoids lay fewer eggs”

For the third time in ten years, a judge orders the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider critical habitat for lynx in Colorado

‘The Service’s own representations suggest that parts of Colorado constitute suitable critical habitat, appropriate for designation’

A lynx in the wild counry of Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO DIVISION OF PARKS AND WILDLIFE.TANYA SHENK.
A lynx in the Colorado high country. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife/Tanya Shenk.
This Colorado Division of Wildlife map gives a general idea of the distribution of lynx in the Rockies through 2007.
A Colorado Division of Wildlife map gives a general idea of the distribution of lynx in the Rockies through 2007.

*For more detailed info, visit the Summit Voice lynx archive

Staff Report

A federal judge in Montana has once again ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act when it excluded Colorado from a critical habitat designation for threatened lynx. In the end, the rare cat may yet get some protected sanctuaries in the Colorado high county.

In a Sept. 7 ruling, Chief District Judge Dana L. Christensen said the agency’s decision is arbitrary and capricious, and “offends the ESA.” The court ordered the USFWS to develop a new critical habitat designation that complies with the law. The order also covers parts of Montana and Idaho. Continue reading “For the third time in ten years, a judge orders the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider critical habitat for lynx in Colorado”

Climate change may be factor in spread of tree fungus

Signs of hope? A single Douglas-fir grows at the base of the clearcut area along Swan Mountain Road. It'll be interesting to watch the area during the next few years to see how it regenerates.
Global warming may be promoting growth of a tree-damaging fungus in the Pacific Northwest. @bberwyn photo.

Commercially valuable tree stands take hit in Pacific Northwest

Staff Report

Global warming may be a factor in the spread of a fungus affecting valuable Douglas fir forests in the Pacific Northwest. Needle cast disease has recently spread across 590,000 acres in Oregon,  quadrupling since the start of surveys in 1996. The annual economic loss has been estimated at $128 million.

“The correlation between disease severity and climate factors, such as spring moisture and warm winter temperatures, raises the question of a link between disease expansion and climate change,” said  researcher Gabriela Ritokova. “Those factors, in combination with lots of Douglas fir and with large springtime fungal spore production, have us where we are now.” Continue reading “Climate change may be factor in spread of tree fungus”

Sunday set: High country

Salzkammergut

A late summer sojourn in the always sparkling mountain and lake country of the Salzkammergut yielded some good research material for our journalism project on climate change in the Alps and we had the opportunity to spend a night atop the Krippenstein, at an elevation of about 2,000 meters. One of the old alpine huts near the summit has been converted into a snazzy alpine lodge, The Lodge at Krippenstein, and there’s even a Colorado connection — seems Chris Davenport enjoyed a good ski session here a few years ago, and it turns out that Warren Miller has also filmed short segment in the area. The lodge is also operated as a climate friendly green business, and has won awards for its sustainable practices, and it is, of course, a great base camp for exploring this wonderful slice of the Alps.

All the pictures except one show lakes of the region, intricately tied to the Hallstattt Glacier in the upper right, which feeds the system, in turn a major headwaters tributary to the mighty Danube. The country’s glaciers are shriveling at an accelerated rate, as are it’s lakes, heating up at twice the global average. Earlier spring melt and longer, hotter summers have warmed streams, and larger rivers, even more, leading to increased fish disease and blooms of algae. Similar issues have been documented around the Alps and worldwide as clear global warming impacts. Learn more here.

 

Study IDs threats to North Atlantic right whales

A North Atlantic right whale and calf. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
A North Atlantic right whale and calf. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Birth rate decline, fish net entanglements threaten recovery

Staff Report

Some whale populations have recovered strongly since end of the whaling era, but North Atlantic right whales are still struggling and their recovery is in doubt. More and more, the marine mammals are getting entangled in nets, and their overall birth rate has declined by 40 percent since 2010, marine researchers reported this week in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

About 500 North Atlantic right whales still survive after two decades period of modest annual growth, but even that was slow compared to other species —  2 to 3 percent a year compared to 6 to 7 percent in other regions, the study found. One recent study found that a different species of right whale is currently making a comeback around New Zealand, with pioneers from Antarctic waters once again visiting the island’s sandy bays to reestablish breeding grounds.

“Right whales need immediate and significant management intervention to reduce mortalities and injuries from fishing gear,” the authors concluded in the study. “Managers need a better understanding about the causes of reduced calving rates before this species can be considered on the road to recovery. Failure to act on this new information will lead to further declines in this population’s number and increase its vulnerability to extinction.” Continue reading “Study IDs threats to North Atlantic right whales”

Biofuel production threatens Dakotas honeybee habitat

Colorado bumblebee on a thistle.
Declining in populations of wild bees, commercial honeybee colonies and bumblebees have raised concerns about food security. @bberwyn photo.

New USGS study tracks impacts of land-use conversions

Staff Report

After pollinating almonds, melons, apples and cherries during the spring, millions of honeybees have been spending their summer vacations in the wide-open landscapes of the Northern Great Plains.

The region has supported more than 40 percent of the country’s commercial honey bee colonies, but large-scale land-use changes, including conversion to biofuel crops, is making the area  less conducive to commercial beekeeping , according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published this week. Continue reading “Biofuel production threatens Dakotas honeybee habitat”

Study tracks Colorado ‘frack-quakes’

asg
A recent earthquake map from the Colorado Geological Survey shows a cluster of tremors along the northern Front Range.

Findings can help oil and gas operators minimize seismic risks

Staff Report

For nine months, oil and gas companies pumped 250,000 barrels of industrial wastewater deep underground in the fossil fuel sacrifice zone around Greeley, Colorado — and then, the Earth burped.

On the last day of May, 2014, the wastewater triggered a magnitude 3.2 earthquake that for some area residents felt like a truck hitting their house. The quake was the first in the area in about 40 years, fitting a regional pattern of earthquakes linked with fracking.

Now, a new study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado shows it may be possible to lessen the risk of frack-quakes by controlling the amount of wastewater being pumped into the ground, and by carefully monitoring seismic activity in fossil fuel development areas. Continue reading “Study tracks Colorado ‘frack-quakes’”