Preserving Culturally-Important Xochimilco Wetlands Requires Policy and Personal Change

Created by the Aztecs in 500 CE for agriculture, Xochimilco is an area of culturally important wetlands in southern Mexico City. Despite its cultural and economic importance, this area is experiencing wetland degradation and loss due to urban development and water quality issues. Even with a high level of local concern about wetland degradation, little effort will be made toward conservation without a change in public policies regarding local infrastructure and development.

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The Novel Axolotl: A Conservation Paradox

The axolotl is a special kind of salamander. Unlike other salamanders, this species maintains its juvenile morphology and remains aquatic its entire life. This unique “forever-young” feature is one reason axolotls are so widely popular. In fact, the axolotl is the most widely distributed amphibian worldwide because of its attraction as a pet and its status as a model organism in biomedical research. At the same time, this species is on the verge of extinction in its native habitat, giving it the unique status of a “conservation paradox”.

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Using Big Data Analytics to Enhance Conservation Efforts

“Big data” is a term that is on the rise as the amount of data that is being collected increases at an ever growing rate across all fields. The wildlife and conservation biology field is no exception, especially as technology, such as camera trap imagery, is being more widely used. With vast data collection comes the need to analyze it in an effective manner, especially as the growth of data can far surpass the traditional resources available for analysis. Technology has emerged that is able to tackle big data and produce analyses faster than previously possible, providing opportunities to enhance conservation efforts.

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Your resolution to eat healthy is saving the earth (more than you realize)

How much energy went into your last meal? According to a recent study, probably way more than you think. Food is responsible for 20-30% of global carbon emissions, but most people are terrible at judging the environmental cost of what they eat. Why is this? And what can we do?

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Sinking Rails

Coastlines and estuaries are often densely populated with a wide diversity of birds. Many species have adapted to the salty coast and thrive in its waves, beaches and marshes. However, sea-level rise is changing the coast. Researchers, representatives from both universities and governmental agencies of southern California collaborated to predict what habitat for the Ridgway’s rail may look like in the next ten, twenty, thirty years all the way until the year 2110 with several predicted rates of sea-level rise. As sea levels increase, more habitat may become available; but too much flooding could destroy habitat as well.

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Burning Desire to Forage

During the fall of 2018, California had some of the worst and deadliest fires to date, with devastating costs to human communities. Communities of plants and animals are also greatly impacted by fires. But how does wildlife respond to wildfires? Burns alter the environment and open up new habitats allowing smaller shrubs to recolonize in areas that were dominated by tall trees. A recent study in Oregon suggests that elk utilize a wide array of habitats and that burned forests are critical areas for food for many herbivores.

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The resilience of coastal wetlands – an optimistic look to the future

Loss estimates for coastal wetlands by the end of the century are severe. Coastal communities depend on these critical systems for the services they provide. With rising sea levels and encroaching human populations, the fate of coastal wetlands remains uncertain. However, a new study suggests that there is hope for these habitats even if the direst rates of sea-level rise occur. As long as coastal wetlands are given space to build upwards and migrate inland, we could preserve these habitats and the benefits they provide.

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Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Satellites have changed our ability to see the globe. We can now use satellite data is to monitor change in the amount of land covered by forests, and determine the reasons for that change. In this article, we discuss recent findings global forest monitoring and the impact of supply chain decisions by corporate actors.

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