Tag Archives: Ecosystems

Micronesia Views: Marine Sanctuaries In Palau

CBS Mornings – As small island developing states make their case for climate awareness at COP27 in Egypt, one member of the group is reconsidering a historic act of preservation it undertook two years ago. Lee Cowan reports.

Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. Koror Island is home to the former capital, also named Koror, and is the islands’ commercial center. The larger Babeldaob has the present capital, Ngerulmud, plus mountains and sandy beaches on its east coast. In its north, ancient basalt monoliths known as Badrulchau lie in grassy fields surrounded by palm trees.

Ecology: Planting Trees To Cool Scotland’s Rivers

The Woodland Trust – River woodland is key to tackling

the twin climate and biodiversity crises – reducing flooding, improving river health and restoring the ecosystem. We’re working in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to plant and restore river woodland for people and wildlife.

In Scotland, this particularly means fish. Salmon, to be exact. Whole upland river catchments devoid of trees are seeing Scotland’s rivers warm to a point that could see salmon disappear in just 20 years. These fish need clean, cold water to thrive, and river woodland is the way to return it to them. The Woodland Trust is working across river catchments to expand native woodland alongside rivers and burns.

Trees provide shade and cover for young salmon and trout, stabilize riverbanks, slow the flow of water downstream and create wildlife corridors. A key part of this work involves working with landowners to plant and restore river woodland on their land, advising on the initial planting and empowering them to monitor their river woods into the future.

Ecosystems: Plastic Waste Spoils Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unspoiled nature in the world. But even here plastic waste is a problem, and biodiversity is under threat. Marine biologists and conservationists are campaigning for the expansion of protected zones. The fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean is a treasure trove for marine biologists.

They still know very little about many of the fish, rays and sea turtles that can be found here. But these days, their work is focused primarily on conservation, because many of these species are endangered due to threats such as overfishing and boat strikes. Efforts to protect local wildlife include attaching tracking devices to juvenile hammerhead sharks to determine their migration routes, which can then be designated as protected areas.

Other research teams are focused on the problem of plastic waste in the Pacific – identifying where it comes from and exploring its impact on marine life. Meanwhile, local fishermen are under pressure: Large fishing fleets from China and elsewhere ply the waters near the Galapagos Islands, severely depleting fish stocks. As a result, local fishing boats are forced to move into designated conservation zones. If the delicate marine environment surrounding the Galapagos Islands is to survive, fishing needs to become more sustainable.

Scotland Views: The Beltie Burn – A River Restored

The Easter Beltie Restoration project returned a straightened agricultural stream to a natural meandering course, to improve habitats for nature and boost climate resilience.

The project was the only one of its kind in the north east of Scotland, and has created a new, two-kilometre stretch of meandering river corridor flowing through ten hectares of floodplain, rich in habitats where nature can thrive.

The Beltie Burn is a burn in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which below Torphins and Glassel is known as the Burn of Canny. It begins in the hill of Benaquhallie, and flows for 25 km south-east through Torphins before joining the River Dee about 4 kilometres west of Banchory.

Costa Rica Views: Hiking In Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica is the backpacking experience of a lifetime. It encompasses the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, and 13 major ecosystems including lowland rain forest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, and mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats.

There is a good chance of spotting some of Costa Rica’s shyest and most endangered inhabitants here; Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars, Scarlet Macaws, Harpy Eagles, Red-backed squirrel monkeys and White-lipped Peccaries. It is wet, remote and rugged, but the trails are relatively good, and the camping areas near the ranger stations are grassy and well drained.

Views: Turtle Hatchlings Great Barrier Reef Beach

Evolution: How Nature Is Adapting To Urban Sprawl

It’s a new and surprising chapter in the theory of evolution. According to recent studies, it’s in our cities, of all places, that animals and plants adapt particularly quickly to changing living conditions.

Nature’s response to the spread of cities is astonishing: Why do catfish in the river of a French city systematically prey on urban pigeons on the banks? Why do female birds on a university campus in California suddenly change their mating behavior? How do mice in New York’s Central Park cope with an altered diet of human food waste? How have killifish in the Atlantic built up resistance to deadly chemical waste?

And, is it possible for moths to adapt to nighttime light pollution? New research provides surprising new insights into Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nowhere else do animals and plants adapt so quickly to new living conditions as in cities. Biologists have long known that animals and plants occupy new habitats in the vicinity of humans.

But now, new genetic analyses show that these adaptations are accompanied by significant changes in DNA. Even more surprising: these evolutionary changes have not occurred over periods of millennia, but within just a few decades. The process has amazed scientists, who watch as nature transforms even our most hostile man-made interventions — pollution, light pollution, noise, garbage and dense development — into creative energy for new adaptations. Some researchers believe that our cities may soon develop their own, brand-new life forms. What are the implications of these developments for the balance between humans and nature on our planet?

Droughts: Competing With Nature For Water

Climate change is causing rising temperatures, extreme weather events and more and more drought. And, in this changing reality, everyone needs more water. Humans are competing with the natural world for water. What does this mean for biodiversity? Fewer and fewer countries still have an abundance of water. The climate crisis, overpopulation and overexploitation are the root of this global problem. And, in a warming world, everyone is using more water: people, agriculture and industry. In Germany, streams and ponds are disappearing, forests and soils are drying out. What does this mean for biodiversity? And how do people cope with drought in countries that have even less water — for example, in the USA or Mexico? What happens when our water dries up?

Droughts: The ‘Shrinking’ Of The Colorado River

August 2022 Cover
  • “Tier Drops,” by Lisa Owens Viani.
    Regulations and apportioning that were set up 100 years ago are under pressure as the Colorado River shrinks. As climate change accelerates and record-breaking drought worsens, cities, tribes, and industries must prepare for a future with less water. (Online  August 10)

The Coming Crisis Along the Colorado River

It’s past time to get real about the Southwest’s hardest-working river.

About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River as it flows from Wyoming to Mexico. But overuse and climate change have contributed to its reservoirs drying up at such a rapid rate that the probability of disastrous disruptions to the deliveries of water and hydroelectric power across the Southwest have become increasingly likely. Now the seven states that depend on the river must negotiate major cuts in water use by mid-August or have them imposed by the federal government.

Those cuts are merely the beginning as the region struggles to adapt to an increasingly arid West. The rules for operating the river’s shrinking reservoirs expire in 2026, and those seven states must forge a new agreement on water use for farmers, businesses and cities.

Read more at The New York Times

Science: Biofuels For Planes, Biodiversity In Ecosystems, Conservation

On this week’s show: Whether biofuels for planes will become a reality, mitigating climate change by working with nature, and the second installment of our book series on the science of food and agriculture.

First this week, Science Staff Writer Robert F. Service talks with producer Meagan Cantwell about sustainable aviation fuel, a story included in Science’s special issue on climate change. Researchers have been able to develop this green gas from materials such as municipal garbage and corn stalks. Will it power air travel in the future?

Also in the special issue this week, Nathalie Seddon, a professor of biodiversity at the University of Oxford, chats with host Sarah Crespi about the value of working with nature to support the biodiversity and resilience of our ecosystems. Seddon emphasizes that nature-based solutions alone cannot stop climate change—technological approaches and behavioral changes will also need to be implemented.

Finally, we have the second installment of our series of author interviews on the science of food and agriculture. Host and science journalist Angela Saini talks to Jessica Hernandez, an Indigenous environmental scientist and author of Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science. Hernandez’s book explores the failures of Western conservationism—and what we can learn about land management from Indigenous people.

This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.

[Image: USDA NCRS Texas; Music: Jeffrey Cook]

[alt: cows in a forest]

Authors: Meagan Cantwell; Robert Service, Sarah Crespi, Angela Saini