Category Archives: Ecology

Protecting endangered species necessitates protecting threatened cultures

Science News reports: In shallow coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, a seagrass-scrounging cousin of the manatee is in trouble. Environmental strains like pollution and habitat loss pose a major threat to dugong (Dugong dugon) survival, so much so that in December, the International Union for Conservation of Nature upgraded the species’ extinction… Read More »

Native seed banks in the U.S. have insufficient supplies to mitigate the effects of climate change

NPR reports: In the wake of wildfires, floods and droughts, restoring damaged landscapes and habitats requires native seeds. The U.S. doesn’t have enough, according to a report released Thursday. “Time is of the essence to bank the seeds and the genetic diversity our lands hold,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) report… Read More »

Elephants, the gardeners of Africa’s rainforests, play a vital role in promoting carbon retention

Anthropocene magazine reports: Elephants been called a lot of things: the world’s largest land creatures, imperiled, majestic, charismatic. Now scientists have a few more terms for describing them: foresters and climate champions. In the jungles of equatorial Africa, scientists report that forest elephants play an important role in shaping the forest around them as they… Read More »

How gut bacteria are controlling your brain

Miriam Frankel and Matt Warren write: Your gut is a bustling and thriving alien colony. They number in their trillions and include thousands of different species. Many of these microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea and eukarya, were here long before humans, have evolved alongside us and now outnumber our own cells many times over. Indeed, as… Read More »

Why we will never be able to live on another planet

Arwen E Nicholson and Raphaëlle D Haywood write: For decades, children have grown up with the daring movie adventures of intergalactic explorers and the untold habitable worlds they find. Many of the highest-grossing films are set on fictional planets, with paid advisors keeping the science ‘realistic’. At the same time, narratives of humans trying to… Read More »

Nearly 200 countries approve a biodiversity accord enshrining human rights and the ‘rights of nature’

Inside Climate News reports: Nearly 200 countries have signed off on an agreement that embeds the promotion of human rights and the “rights of nature” into a plan to protect and restore biodiversity through 2030. The 14-page document, while nonbinding, was adopted on Dec. 19, 2022 at COP15, a 12-day conference convened in Montreal under… Read More »

An ancient partnership has helped both plants and fungi thrive over much of Earth

Science reports: As a motley medley of mycologists climbed the basalt slopes of the Lanín volcano earlier this year, the green foliage at lower elevations gave way to autumnal golds and reds. Chile’s famed Araucaria—commonly called monkey puzzle trees—soon appeared, their spiny branches curving jauntily upward like so many cats’ tails. Beneath the majestic trees,… Read More »

As a climate change-induced drought wears on, wildlife, livestock and people face deadly consequences

Georgina Gustin writes: A wildebeest has toppled into a ditch at the edge of a dusty track, its shoe-box-shaped head twisted upward, a single gaping chomp out of its flank. Isack Marembe and Kisham Makui study the animal’s body and everything around it, doing a roadside postmortem. “A hyena,” Marembe says. But the culprit wasn’t… Read More »

Microorganisms that expand their range by absorbing organelles

Veronique Greenwood writes: Nature, red in tooth and claw, is rife with organisms that eat their neighbors to get ahead. But in the systems studied by the theoretical ecologist Holly Moeller, an assistant professor of ecology, evolution and marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the consumed become part of the consumer in… Read More »

Degrowth can work — here’s how science can help

Jason Hickel et al, write: The global economy is structured around growth — the idea that firms, industries and nations must increase production every year, regardless of whether it is needed. This dynamic is driving climate change and ecological breakdown. High-income economies, and the corporations and wealthy classes that dominate them, are mainly responsible for… Read More »

Preventing the collapse of biodiversity, demands the development of a new planetary politics

Stewart Patrick writes: The planet is in the midst of an environmental emergency, and the world is only tinkering at the margins. Humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels and voracious appetite for natural resources are accelerating climate change and degrading ecosystems on land and sea, threatening the integrity of the biosphere and thus the survival of… Read More »