This website helps ordinary people collect data to save snakes

With a limited amount of time and money available for conservation efforts, it’s critical to know which species are the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, that assessment requires a virtually impossible amount of data. Citizen scientists from North and South Carolina have filled this critical gap by collecting 7,684 snake observations from every county in the two states over the course of eight years. Here’s what they found.

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Left on REDD: International conservation policies fail to respond to local context

What happens when a groundbreaking international conservation program causes national inequity? As one participant states,
“we all have a common interest in keeping trees. The question is how? And for that we need to recognize the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples.”

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Last call for African forest elephants

African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are in trouble; this may not be news to you. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as well as poaching for the ivory trade. Rather than beat this information over everyone’s heads, scientists are trying to get us to understand why we will miss the elephants when they are gone.

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182 Years in the Making: Invertebrate Communities of Narragansett Bay

Benthic invertebrates support various ecosystem functions and services such as shellfish production and biogeochemical cycling. Historical data spanning 182 years permitted Hale and colleagues to determine the trends and current conditions of invertebrate communities in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. From the 104 studies, the authors detected over 1,000 different taxa that have been observed within the esturary and suggest human influence has greatly impacted the overall biodiversity of the invertebrate community.

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Endangered Species Act: Headed for Extinction?

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a law designed to protect and recover endangered species of plants, animals, and ecosystems, and in turn, preserve our nation’s ecological history and functionality. However, there has been a recent push to overhaul the ESA in favor of economic opportunities. This would relieve the burden carried by landowners and industries who have been hampered by ESA restrictions, but would strip protections on species already listed on the ESA and make it more difficult to add species to the list. Left unprotected, those endangered species would be left to go extinct, and the ecological functions they serve within their ecosystem could collapse or irreversibly shift their biomes. With human activity responsible for current accelerated extinction rates, this is the time for urgent action on conservation, not a time to overhaul the law designed to protect our nation’s species and ecosystems.

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The hidden value of coral reefs

Coral reefs act as natural breakwaters reducing wave energy along coasts and, thus, can mitigate flooding. Reef structures currently avert more than $4 billion of flood damage annually. The viability of coral reefs is threatened by rising ocean temperatures, changing seawater chemistry, and physical anthropogenic disturbances. The expected damages to coastal infrastructure from flooding would at least double if reef height is reduced by only one meter. The reduction in flood protection services underscores the importance of investments in reef management, protection, and restoration.

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Intertidal Examination: Competition Between an Invasive and Endemic Species

Coastal New England isn’t independent from the world of invasive species. The Asian shore crab has encroached on many crustaceans habitats in the last few decades and recently this includes the American lobster. Work done by Baillie and colleagues suggest that specific life stages of the lobster may be negatively impacted by the invasion of the crab. Not only will understanding the interactions between these two species aid in preservation of one of North America’s most important fisheries, it may also provide critical insight into the fascinating relationship between endemic and invasive species.

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