Environment & Sustainability
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Research published in the scientific journal Palaeontology.
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Bats are natural reservoirs of several important emerging viruses, and because cross-species transmission appears to be quite common among bats, it’s important to study bats in a community context rather than concentrating on individual species.
Methylmercury, a toxic form of mercury that is readily absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract and can cause in a variety of health issues, poses a significant threat to marine animals at the top of the food web. A new study confirms that Artic species of these animals have higher concentrations of methylmercury in their tissues compared with animals lower in the food web; however, it also shows similar trends in selenium, which could help play a protective role against the toxic effects of mercury.
Studies have unequivocally shown a consistent decline in bee populations over the last decade, and experts are diligently working to find ways to reverse the trend. But is it too late to save our bees, which are responsible for pollinating a staggering 150 different crop plants, and our bee-dependent lifestyle?
Many studies have been conducted on the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals that mimic or block estrogen, the primary female hormone. Now new research shows that similar harm can be done by chemicals that affect male hormones, or androgens.
A new Animal Conservation study shows that sports stadium lighting can alter patterns of bat species activity and feeding, which may in turn have cascading effects on other organisms and the ecosystem as a whole.
Both prescription and illegal drugs that are abused have been found in Canadian surface waters. New research shows that wastewater discharges flowing downstream have the potential to contaminate sources of drinking water with these drugs at relatively low concentrations.
California-grown almonds dominate the global market, providing over 80% of the world’s commercial almonds. Two new articles published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology examine the environmental impacts of California’s almond production, focusing on greenhouse gas emissions and energy.
In Eastern Australia, the ocean has been warming at a rate that’s 4-times that of the global average. Many marine species have been appearing further south than they ever have before, while others have stayed put. A new study identifies which characteristics seem to be important for species to shift their ranges so quickly
Researchers have provided a new roadmap for tackling future agricultural production issues by using solutions that involve crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), a specialized type of photosynthesis that enhances the efficiency by which plants use water.
By studying climate data in the British-Irish Isles over a 142-year period, researchers have confirmed the important role of cyclones. Seasonal precipitation totals were strongly related to cyclone frequency, especially during summer.
In a study of the effects of increasing climate temperatures on the toxicity of 3 contaminants in different fish species, researchers found that all pesticides and industrial contaminants studied—endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, and phenol—became toxic in the upper 5oC range of species’ temperature tolerance.
The harlequin ladybird, officially known as Harmonia axyridis, was widely introduced across continental Europe as a way to limit the population of small sap-sucking insects called aphids. While it was never intentionally introduced into Britain, H. axyridis was discovered there in 2003, and people across the region have been tracking its spread since 2005.
Noise from pile driving during offshore wind turbine construction could be damaging the hearing of harbour seals around the UK, according to ecologists who attached GPS data loggers to 24 harbor seals while offshore wind turbines were being installed in 2012. Data on the seals' locations and their diving behaviour was combined with information from the wind farm developers on when pile driving was taking place. Models revealed that half of the tagged seals were exposed to noise levels that exceeded hearing damage thresholds.
Male Callosobruchus chinensis seed beetles have spines on their genitalia, which increase their fertilization success but injure a female’s reproductive tract—especially a female of a related species called Callosobruchus maculatus.
Living in a social group has many benefits for wildlife but is often assumed to come at the cost of increased disease risk. However, new research on the effects of mange on gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park reveals that infection risk does not appear to increase with the size of the pack. Also, while solitary wolves with mange had a 5-times higher death rate compared with solitary healthy wolves, infected wolves surrounded by five or more healthy pack-mates survived just as well as uninfected wolves. In addition, while the mortality rates of infected wolves increased as more wolves in their pack were also infected, both uninfected and infected wolves still accrued a net survival benefit from living in a social group.
Explanations for why the same plant groups occur in Australia, New Zealand, and South America have been deeply controversial. By comparing broad patterns of climatic history to age and habitat information for more than 70 plant taxa, or groups, investigators have provided important new insights.
Toxins known as perfluoroalkyl substances have become virtually ubiquitous throughout the environment, and various national and international voluntary phase-outs and restrictions on these compounds have been implemented over the last 10 to 15 years.
In a study that compared three sites within the Dja Conservation Complex in Cameroon, Africa, investigators found that the presence of a conservation research project acts as a deterrent to chimpanzee and gorilla poachers, and community awareness and involvement in research lead to an increased value of apes and intact forests to local people, thus limiting hunting practices.
Hyalella azteca are invertebrates that are widely used for sediment and water toxicity studies. Investigators have found that H. azteca collected from sites influenced by agricultural/urban runoff are as much as 2-times less sensitive to pyrethroid insecticides than lab-grown H. azteca. In contrast, the insecticide sensitivities of H. azteca collected from undeveloped sites beyond the influences of agricultural/urban runoff were similar to those of lab-grown populations.
Sustainable rooftop technologies—including green roofs, white roofs, and solar photovoltaic panels—can provide great environmental benefits, but studies of these technologies often look only at their use in hot climates and do not assess their full environmental consequences.