The establishment of protected areas is influenced more by economics than the needs of threatened species

While the aim of creating protected areas is to conserve habitat that is necessary for the survival of threatened wildlife, historically these protected areas have been established on land that is deemed “economically marginal” — meaning that it is not especially valuable for activities that drive the economy, like agriculture or other human development. However, economically marginal land may not be where the greatest number of threatened species exist, actually the reality is quite the opposite.

Read more

How hot is too hot for humans?

As my fellow Floridians know, the only way to survive a humid summer day is to find air conditioning, fast. Humidity makes us uncomfortable because we sweat in order to cool off, but this cooling is less efficient when it’s humid. Past a certain threshold of heat and humidity, our bodies can no longer cool off by sweating, and the results can be lethal. A recent study by Coffel et al. suggests that, by the end of the century, climate change may expose millions of people to life-threatening heat stress.

Read more

Are Warmer Waters More Toxic?

Cyanobacteria are an aquatic microorganism that releases a toxin known as microcystin, which can negatively impact water quality and endanger human health. They need sunlight and nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) to grow, but are dependent on other environmental factors such as water temperature. A research team in Ohio focused their research on how water temperatures affect cyanobacteria abundance and microcystin concentration in water. The results demonstrate that water temperature can be used to forecast cyanobacteria growth and toxin severity.

Read more

Ocean acidification in the face of many environmental stressors

Greenhouse gas emissions are acidifying the ocean. The progressive decrease in ocean pH, or ocean acidification, is impacting ecosystems across the globe. Despite our understanding of the severity of ocean acidification’s impacts on individual species, the story is more complicated. We must also consider more broadly how ocean acidification affects ecosystems that are also exposed to a variety of other stressors such as changes in temperature and oxygen, coastal nutrient input, fishing, and ocean commercial transportation. It is critical that future adaptation and mitigation strategies consider how these co-occurring stressors interact with one another.

Read more

Marine Snow & Muddy Megacoring on the Southern Ocean

Our polar oceans and diatoms, a kind of microalgae, in particular play a major role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. Led by oceanographers Dr. Rebecca Robinson and Dr. Mark Brzezinski, our SNOWBIRDS Transect team has been studying how the influence of nitrogen and silicon on the productivity of diatoms is recorded in sediments.

Read more

The environmental impact of the world’s most famous weed killer

Glyphosate is the world’s most heavily used pesticide and arguably one of the most controversial. Questions have been raised on how safe the pesticide is to non-target organisms, like fish, birds, insects and animals, including humans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently released draft reports that address these issues. This post summarizes their findings.

Read more

Mercury rising. How the climate is driving recent increases in the mercury levels of freshwater fishes

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is present in many fishes that we eat. Although environmental regulations have cut down on mercury emissions in developed nations, the level of mercury in many top predator fish including large mouth bass has been increasing in recent decades. A complex mix of many different factors including local weather conditions and global climate patterns affect the levels of mercury in fish.

Read more