Recently, we talked about the problems New York’s native turtles have during their mating season as they cross roads and highways seeking places to lay their eggs. The state Department of Environmental Conservation even issued recommendations for how people can help turtles avoid getting crunched by cars.
Sea lions in California are under duress from a rather unassuming source: algae. Driven by higher water temperatures and pollution, toxic algae is leading to fatal brain damage in many California sea lions.
Invasive species are a great concern for the health and stability of ecosystems. They are defined as plants, animals or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm. It is that latter consideration that isn’t always obvious.
High levels of an element found in coal ash have been detected in fish in two lakes where Duke Energy coal-fired power plants are located, according to a peer-reviewed study at Duke University. The element, selenium, occurs naturally but is concentrated in coal ash.
Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere and is the largest body of water in the United States after the five Great Lakes. When the pioneers first arrived in the area back in the middle of the 19th century, the lake spread across about 1,600 square miles. Now, the lake covers an area of only about 1,050 square miles, a reduction of about 35%.
Coastal floodplains across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States are at the leading edge of climate change’s effect on what were largely freshwater ecosystems. Because of the low elevation and flat or gently sloping characteristics of coastal forests in these areas, they are among the most vulnerable globally to saltwater intrusion.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of plastic debris in our oceans. In fact, scientists estimate that there is more than 165 million tons of plastic trash swirling about in our oceans today, with an additional 8.8 million tons flowing in every year. And as the oceans swell with plastic litter, hundreds of marine species are ingesting the stuff – often with dire consequences.
One of the crowning achievements for wildlife protection in the US was the establishment of the National Wildlife Refuge system in the 1930s, when the populations of waterfowl were perilously low. Refuges provided breeding and migratory habitat that has allowed a remarkable recovery of many species of ducks and geese.
At night our planet is now bathed in artificial light, ranging from streetlights and floodlights to burning gas flares in oil fields. There are few places that are truly dark at night.
For more than half a century, scientists have converged on Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to explore how forest ecosystems work. The site was established by the U.S. Forest Service to study the relationship between forests and New England’s water supply. In the 1960s, inquiry was expanded to include ecology, biogeochemistry, and studies of birds and other animals.
We have talked before about the increasing problem of microplastics polluting the oceans. Much of the small plastic particles result from the breakdown of plastic litter such as plastic bags, packaging and other materials. Another source is microbeads, which are often found in health products such as face scrubs and even some toothpastes.