Chocolate beans and Brazilian birds

Global popularity of chocolate has led to intensive cacao bean cultivation, creating far-reaching environmental and social consequences. Agroforestry is a sustainable cultivation method that can reduce environmental impact. It is known to sustain native plants and animals more effectively than monocultures; but how do agroforestry areas compare to pristine forests?

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Dead trees and utility poles partially offset the impacts of deforestation on birds

Mature trees serve as important habitats for a variety of species including insects and birds. Birds use trees for many purposes including nesting, perching, and foraging. Conservationists are exploring strategies to maintain bird populations in areas where mature trees are being lost due to agricultural expansion, wood production, and increased urbanization. In a recent study, scientists in Australia measured how utility poles and erected dead trees impacted the number and abundance of bird species in urbanized regions. The results suggest that artificial structures can offset some, but not all, of the bird loss due to deforestation.

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Tweet tweet: Using social media to help bird conservation

Conservation areas are vital to maintaining biodiversity, and as a result, it’s important to know which conversation areas humans are most likely to visit. Looking at publicly available social media data, researchers analyzed how many people posted on Twitter and Flickr in over 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas across the globe. Understanding how many people visit what areas is important for funding, and eco-tourism, but also to see which areas may have higher threats with so many visitors.

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Can we increase agricultural production without threatening biodiversity?

The world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. This increase in population will put pressure on agriculture to produce more food. Many studies have reported that land-use changes, such as cutting down forest to make new farmland, can lead to a loss in the number of species living in an area, known as the biodiversity. It is important to maintain biodiversity because it supports healthy ecosystems and ultimately a healthy planet. A recent analysis of previously published scientific articles suggests that when farming efforts are intensified, agricultural production increases but the number of species supported by the farm decrease. This means that increasing agricultural production comes at a cost.

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Islands and Alleles: How genetics can help protect endangered species

When talking about diversity in the natural world, we often think of the bright colors and bold patterns of fish gliding among a reef, or the variety of flying, creeping, and crawling critters found in the layers of a rainforest canopy. However, diversity even within a single species is an important indicator of a population’s health and stability. This type of diversity can be invisible to us when contained in the form of genes that control which traits organisms possess. In this study, scientists helped us to see the invisible diversity of an endangered skink and learn how to more effectively conserve this diversity.

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Spring flowers are arriving earlier

In recent decades, trees and plants have begun to flower earlier in the spring. Many studies have shown that this advancement in timing is due to climate change, particularly increases in air temperature. However, these studies have generally been conducted in small areas. A recent study conducted across Europe reports that the timing of spring flowering and other events in 16 tree species has been advancing. More importantly, the timing of flowering trees in warmer and cooler regions of Europe is becoming more similar, which has wide spread ecological consequences.

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Using Genetics to Inform Conservation: Spring-Run Chinook Salmon in the Klamath-Trinity River Basin

The same species of Chinook salmon in the Klamath-Trinity basin return to the river each year in two groups: the fall-run and the spring-run. Spring-run Chinook in the Klamath River have drastically declined from historical levels, and are at much lower abundances than fall-run Chinook there. A key genetic difference between these two runs may determine how they are protected (and hopefully restored) under the Endangered Species Act. Read on to learn more!

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The human-leopard conflict in India… who are the victims?

Conflicts between humans and leopards in India have increased in frequency over the past few decades, due to habitat fragmentation and a decrease in human tolerance towards wildlife. To assess the long-term effects of this conflict, researchers studied two distinct regions in India to track the opinions of local communities on leopards. The researchers compared local sentiment about leopards to records and found that local opinions are related to distance from leopard habitat and history of attacks: the region in which humans live in closest proximity to the leopards’ habitat (Pauri), has had many more attacks and people hold much more negative views towards leopards.

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Global monitoring shows regulated atmospheric pollutants are not decreasing

PFAS and VMS are man-made chemicals that have been used for decades in products that we all use on a daily basis, including personal care products, cookware, and food packing. However, there is growing evidence that these chemicals, which are widespread throughout the globe, can have negative impacts on living organisms and human health. A recent study compared concentrations of these chemicals in the atmosphere at sites across the world from 2009 to 2015. Their findings suggest that there has been a significant increase in PFAS in the atmosphere over this time period, while certain types of VMS chemicals also increased. Future monitoring efforts across the globe are necessary to determine the changes in these chemicals in the air we breathe.

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