Tag Archives: Ecology

Views: The Bonneville Salt Flats In Northwest Utah

The Bonneville Salt Flats are perfect for speed. Every year, cars and motorcycles break land speed records on the flat expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s been a tradition for more than a century, and racers have built a thriving community around the salt races. But how did these salt flats form, and why are they disappearing now?

Ecology: Scientists Breed Plants With Fast-Growing Roots To Revitalize Land

Humanity faces major challenges. Could roots hold the answers? It’s possible: Research shows that roots have the potential to provide food for the world’s population, stop climate change and help extract resources in an environmentally friendly way. Plants must withstand periods of drought and heat, as well as flooding, and they use their roots to do this. Roots also help them actively search for nutrients in the soil, while warding off dangers such as pathogens and toxins.

Now, scientists at the research institute Forschungszentrum Jülich are investigating root growth using high-tech methods. The goal is to breed stress-resistant seeds for plants with robust roots. They are not alone: In Sweden, Professor Linda Maria Mårtensson is conducting research on a perennial wheat variety that will ensure higher yields while protecting the soil. Along the world’s coasts, too, roots are a lifesaver.

Coastal ecologist Professor Tjeerd Bouma has discovered that if special grasses are planted in front of dikes, they create a salt marsh that acts as a natural breakwater. Meanwhile, geochemist Dr. Oliver Wiche of the Technical University of Freiberg is researching something known as “phytomining.” He wants to know which plants are best suited for mining metals from the soil. Could this root research give rise to a new, environmentally friendly branch of industry?

Ecology: ‘The Great Green Wall’ Of Africa (Video)

Development banks and states pledged a total of $14.32 billion over the next four years to build a “Great Green Wall” to help contain desertification in Africa’s northern Sahel region. But what exactly is it and how much progress has been made?

The Great Green Wall or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel is Africa’s flagship initiative to combat the increasing desertification. Led by the African Union, the initiative aims to transform the lives of millions of people by creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes across North Africa. 

Ecology: Benfits Of 50% Of Serengeti Grasslands Burning Each Year (Video)

After receiving twelve hours of solar energy every day, the Serengeti grasslands become a tinderbox, just waiting to be lit.

The vast majority of the African fires currently burning seem to be in grasslands, in exactly the places we expect to see fires at this time of year. These fires are usually lit by cattle farmers as part of their traditional management of the savannahs where their animals graze. Some fires are started to stimulate new growth of nutritious grass for their animals, others are used to control the numbers of parasitic ticks or manage the growth of thorny scrub.

Without fires, many savannahs (and the animals they support) wouldn’t exist, and lighting them is a key management activity in many of the iconic protected areas of Africa. For instance the Serengeti in Tanzania is known worldwide for its safari animals and awe-inspiring wildebeest migration – and our work shows that around half of its grasslands burn each year.

Travel Journeys: ‘Ashio, Japan’ – Return To Forests

Dig deeper into the story of Ashio, a former mining town in Tochigi Prefecture that’s returning to nature with the passage of time and contributions of hard-working residents.

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The Ashio Copper Mine (足尾銅山, Ashio Dōzan) was a copper mine located in the town of Ashio, Tochigi, (now part of the city of Nikkō, Tochigi), in the northern Kantō region of Japan. It was significant as the site of Japan’s first major pollution disaster in the 1880s and the scene of the 1907 miners riots. The pollution disaster led to the birth of the Japanese environmental movement and the 1897 Third Mine Pollution Prevention Order. The pollution incident also triggered changes in the mine’s operations that played a role in the 1907 riots, which became part of a string of mining disputes in 1907. During World War Two the mine was worked by POW forced labour.

Top Short Films: ‘Treeline’

Directed by Jordan Manley

Patagonia Films presents: Treeline. Follow a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists and healers to the birch forests of Japan, the red cedars of British Columbia and the bristlecones of Nevada, as they explore an ancient story written in rings.

Producers: Laura Yale, Monika McClure

Executive Producers: Alex Lowther, Jimmy Hopper, Josh Nielsen

Cinematography, editing, principal sound design: Jordan Manley

Additional Cinematography: Scott Secco

Associate Producers: Garrett Grove, Lisa Ida, Soichiro Uchino, Mie Sawatari

Editorial Advisors: Daniel Irvine, Chad Manley

Motion Graphics: Daniel Irvine

Additional Sound Design and Mix: Jeff Yellen / Ridgeline Sound

Cast & Athletes

Taro Tamai
Hidehiko Wajima
Kazushi “Orange Man” Yamauchi
Yuki Miyazaki
Alex Yoder
Leah Evans
Carston Oliver
Laura Yale
Connie Millar
Diane Delaney
Michael Cohen
Deb MacKillop
Suzanne Simard
Akihiko Tamaki
Konami Tsukamoto

Still Photographer: Garrett Grove

Additional Audio Recordings: Travis Rummel / Felt Soul Media

Science Podcast: Ecology Study Replication, Return Of The Tasmanian Devil

The field of psychology underwent a replication crisis and saw a sea change in scientific and publishing practices, could ecology be next? News Intern Cathleen O’Grady joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about the launch of a new society for ecologists looking to make the field more rigorous.

Sarah also talks with Andrew Storfer, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University, Pullman, about the fate of the Tasmanian devil. Since the end of the last century, these carnivorous marsupials have been decimated by a transmissible facial tumor. Now, it looks like—despite many predictions of extinction—the devils may be turning a corner.