Time to End Invasive-Species Persecution

Brandon Keim They’re treated as outsiders, as opportunity-stealing intruders who ought be greeted with government crackdowns rather than open arms. They’re immigrants — immigrant species, that is. And some ecologists say it’s time to declare amnesty, demilitarize our environmental borders and accept the inevitable reality of non-native invasion. “People like to have an enemy, and … Continue reading

Termites are the farmer’s friend

Wendy Zukerman, Asia-Pacific reporter Never mind fertilisers and pesticides: for a natural solution to boosting crop yields in arid regions, turn to termite power. Theodore Evans at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences in Canberra, Australia, has shown that the insects can increase the yield of wheat crops by 36 per cent. Earthworms improve soil health in cool … Continue reading

Fruit-eating fish does far-flung forestry

Species’ seed-dispersal skills go the distance By Susan Milius TREE PLANTERA tambaqui, a kind of fruit-eating fish, turns out to carry seeds a respectable distance from their mother plants as the fish feasts in flooded Amazonian forests.Tino Strauss/Wikimedia Commons In the Amazon, Johnny Appleseed may be a fish. When rivers in the Amazon Basin flood … Continue reading

The Chinese Eco-Disaster

Why the green revolution in China has barely begun. By Johann Hari When Jonathan Watts was a child, he was warned: "If everyone in China jumps at exactly the same time, it will shake the earth off its axis and kill us all." Three decades later, he stood in the gray sickly smog of Beijing, … Continue reading

Atmosphere’s Self-Cleaning Capacity Surprisingly Stable

An international, NOAA-led research team took a significant step forward in understanding the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of air pollutants and some other gases, except carbon dioxide. The issue has been controversial for many years, with some studies suggesting the self-cleaning power of the atmosphere is fragile and sensitive to environmental changes, while others … Continue reading

China to control rare earth extraction, pollution

China will step up its controls over the mining of rare earths and release new industry standards to cut pollution, a minister and media said on Friday, after the world’s biggest supplier cut export quotas for the minerals. China to control rare earth extraction, pollution A worker waters the site of a rare earth metals … Continue reading

Research Looks at Beavers’ Role in River Restoration

When engineers restore rivers, one Kansas State University professor hopes they’ll keep a smaller engineer in mind: the North American beaver. Beavers are often called ecosystem engineers because they can radically alter stream or valley bottom ecosystems, said Melinda Daniels, an associate professor of geography who recently studied the connection between beavers and river restoration. … Continue reading

Diseases thrive where biodiversity is low

Kate Shaw Species loss may be one of the most pressing global issues of our time, impacting everything from the climate to our vulnerability to natural disasters. But how might decreasing biodiversity affect disease transmission among the species left? The answer—as it nearly always is to complex scientific questions—is "it depends." A new review in … Continue reading

How Are China and the U.S. Building a Clean-Energy Workforce?

Compared with Europe and the U.S., China has a key advantage in aiming to deliver a generation of new professionals and workers who are literate in the demands of clean energy By Coco Liu and Climatewire FUTURE WORKFORCE: China has been moving full-speed toward creating more clean energy professionals, from PhD-level engineers to well-trained technical … Continue reading

Is salmon farming bad for the oceans?

Anne Casselman There are 95 salmon farms in New Brunswick’s waters that produce 26,000 metric tones of salmon each year. Together they stock enough smolt, roughly 12 million, to outnumber people in New Brunswick 16 to one. The waters that Brown has fished for 47 years show signs of malcontent. "The microorganisms seem to be … Continue reading

Margaret Atwood shares her dystopian vision

Catherine de Lange Atwood feels strongly that being outdoors is better for children’s health. They benefit from playing outside, she says, and when they don’t, they can suffer from "NDD": nature deficit disorder. As I listened to Atwood discuss these issues in central London last week, I checked the latest, and at the time unpublished, … Continue reading

The advantages of obscurity

By Joshua Keating At the end of last week, with relatively little international media coverage, the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity, meeting in Nagoya, Japan, adopted a new set of protocols on the protection of natural diversity. The deal was struck at the last minute, with a dispute between developed and developing nations over … Continue reading

Hungarian toxic sludge spill threatens Eastern Europe

By Joshua Keating Top news: Rescue workers are struggling to contain the damage from a toxic sludge spill that killed at least four people and injured hundreds more. An estimated 185 million gallons of toxic waste spilled after a reservoir burst at an aluminum refining plant, sweeping cars off the roads, damaging bridges and buildings, … Continue reading

Who’s to Blame for the Superweed Invasion?

By Tiffany Stanley On Thursday, the House oversight committee held the second of two hearings on a critical question: “Are ‘Superweeds’ an Outgrowth of USDA Biotech Policy?” Evidently, farmers are up against a Superweed invasion, and it’s not pretty. These mutant, herbicide-resistant plants are choking up to 10 million acres—and growing—of U.S. farmland, and farms … Continue reading

A fifth of all wild plant species face extinction

Cycads need love too (Image: John Cancalos/Ardea) By Andy Coghlan They’re not as photogenic as pandas, nor as captivating as tigers: among conservationists, plants have tended to attract rather less attention than animals. That could start to change with the publication this week of the first list of extinction risks for the world’s plants. The … Continue reading

Receding gums: What ails Australia’s iconic trees?

By Wendy Zukerman  Eucalyptus trees are dying all over Australia. To save them, we might have to learn to play with fire A friendly fire might help (Image: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty) PICTURE an Australian landscape and the scene you conjure up will almost certainly be one graced by gum trees. Eucalyptus has colonised just about … Continue reading

The future looks weedy

By Tim De Chant nerdegutt There’s an old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And for many species, climate change is set to make things a whole lot tougher. The question on ecologists’ minds is, which species will be able to get going? Plants are of particular concern, given that … Continue reading

Green machine: Why our walls really should have ears

Would you decorate your roof with lamb’s or elephant ears? By Helen Knight  Nature’s AC (Image: Ray Tang/Rex Features) It’s not an unusual form of taxidermy – these are plants, and some of the best suited to coat our roofs and walls and so make cooler, greener cities. Green roofs help to reduce the heat … Continue reading

Wee ants protect African savanna trees from elephants

By Nicholette Zeliadt  It’s a David versus Goliath kind of story, with an ecological twist: In African savannas (regions with both trees and grass), acacia-dwelling ants can repel voracious, tree-eating elephants, according to new research by published online September 2 in Current Biology. This ant-driven tree protection has large-scale implications for savanna landscapes, report zoologists … Continue reading

Hard Summer for Corals Kindles Fears for Survival of Reefs

Dennis Normile Coral reefs are reeling from extensive bleaching in the Indian Ocean and throughout Southeast Asia. And although some hard-hit areas have cooled—offering hope that some reefs may rebound—other regions are just now heating up. Based on current sea surface temperatures, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued an alert for the … Continue reading

A world without mosquitoes

Eradicating any organism would have serious consequences for ecosystems — wouldn’t it? Not when it comes to mosquitoes, finds Janet Fang. Janet Fang Every day, Jittawadee Murphy unlocks a hot, padlocked room at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, to a swarm of malaria-carrying mosquitoes (Anopheles stephensi). She gives millions … Continue reading