Tag: biodiversity

Milkweed shortage not the only reason for monarch decline

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.
Monarch butterflies at their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Photo courtesy Gene Neiminen/USFWS.

‘We have to get the science right’

Staff Report

The decline of milkweed may not be the main factor driving monarch butterflies toward oblivion, according to a new study by Cornell University scientists. Weather, habitat fragmentation and dwindling sources of nectar in the autumn are also critical, the new study reports.

“Thanks to years of data collected by the World Wildlife Fund and citizen-scientists across North America, we have pieced together the monarch life cycle to make inferences about what is impacting the butterflies,” said Cornell University Prof. Anurag Agrawal.

“Given the intense interest in monarch conservation, the blame being put on herbicide use and the national dialog about potentially listing monarchs under the endangered species act, we have to get the science right,” Agrawal said. Continue reading “Milkweed shortage not the only reason for monarch decline”

Watchdog group keeps door open for endangered species petitions

Two of the five lynx dens documented this spring by CDOW are in Summit County. PHOTO BY TANYA SHENK, COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE.
Two of the five lynx dens documented this spring by CDOW are in Summit County. Photo by Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Feds dial back proposed regs that would have made it harder to seek endangered species protection

Staff Report

Many plants and animals that are protected as endangered species in the U.S. got that status because conservation groups — representing concerned citizens — petitioned the federal government. It’s a process that’s explicitly mandated by the Endangered Species Act, but that has led to serious frustration among government biocrats and various extractive industries that specialize in exploiting public land resources.

In an attempt to try and cripple citizen groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed making the petitioning process much more difficult by requiring pre-clearance from state agencies and limiting petitions to a single species. All in all, the proposal was aimed at trying to avoid giving protection to species that need it. Continue reading “Watchdog group keeps door open for endangered species petitions”

Fishing still a big threat to loggerhead turtles in Mediterranean

More protection needed in feeding areas

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Thousands of loggerhead sea turtles are dying in fishing nets in the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Photo via the Creative Common and Wikipedia.

Staff Report

Although key loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas around Cyprus, Greece and Turkey are relatively well-protected, the species is still vulnerable to small-scale fishing operations around Syria, Libya and Egypt and Tunisia. Thousand of the sea turtles, on the IUCN Red List, are killed each year when they travel to to those regions in search of food, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Exeter. Continue reading “Fishing still a big threat to loggerhead turtles in Mediterranean”

Study says beefing up beaches with offshore sand can harm coastal ecosystems

Coastal managers may need to rethink beach replenishment

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Pumping sand to replenish beaches may help tourism, but it can also kill off tiny but plentiful invertebrates at the base of the coastal ecosystem food web. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Pumping sand ashore to beef up beaches appears to have long-lasting effects on coastal ecosystems, according to UC San Diego biologists who studied the issue across eight different beaches in San Diego County from Oceanside south to Imperial Beach.

Moving sand from offshore caused a twofold reduction in the abundance of certain invertebrate species living in the intertidal zone. That means less food for shorebirds and small fish that live near the shoreline, the scientists said. Continue reading “Study says beefing up beaches with offshore sand can harm coastal ecosystems”

Feds want to take grizzlies off Endangered Species List

Grizzlies were declared a threatened species in Alberta last week. PHOTO COURTESY THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.
Grizzlies may be taken off the Endangered Species List. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Conservation groups, Native Americans not keen on delisting plan

By Bob Berwyn

A federal claim that grizzly bears no longer need endangered species protection has been met with great skepticism from wildlife advocates and from Native Americans who consider the species sacred.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the restoration of grizzles in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho is a success story, but the bears only live in about 4 percent of their historic range — which means a proposal to delist the species can’t possibly meet the intent of the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading “Feds want to take grizzlies off Endangered Species List”

Is the USDA suppressing science on pesticide impacts?

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Is the U.S. Department of Agriculture silencing scientists who speak openly about how neonicotinoid pesticides are harming pollinators? @bberwyn photo.

Activist groups claims scientists are being silenced and harassed; new petition calls for resignations

By Bob Berwyn

A broad coalition of food safety, consumer, and environmental groups is pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come clean on its research into the environmental impacts of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

According to a petition being delivered to the USDA on March 10, high-level officials in the USDA have been censoring their agency’s own scientific reports when the findings don’t align with the interests of the pesticide industry. The groups also say the USDA is silencing and harassing scientists who are warning of the dangers of neonicotinoids. Continue reading “Is the USDA suppressing science on pesticide impacts?”

Are ravens ravishing greater sage-grouse populations?

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Greater sage-grouse might have a better shot at recovering if raven populations are controlled. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study shows link between cattle grazing, ravens and greater sage-grouse

Staff Report

As a generalist species that can take advantage of ecosystem disturbances, raven numbers have tripled across the West in the last few decades, and a new study shows that they are  almost fifty percent more likely to use sagebrush habitat if cattle are present.

And that’s not all — according to the research, published in Ecosphere, ravens will set up camp near greater sage-grouse breeding areas, where the big black birds prey on the eggs and chicks of the endangered sage-grouse. Since predation is the main cause of sage-grouse nest failure, the researchers suggest that  reducing ravens access to food and water could help with sage-grouse conservation. Continue reading “Are ravens ravishing greater sage-grouse populations?”