Most of the planet’s freshwater stores are found in the northern hemisphere, a region that is changing rapidly in response to human activity and shifting climate trends. A recent study analyzed 147 northern lakes and found that many rely on nutrients from tree leaves, pine needles, and other land-grown plants to feed aquatic life.
One of the arguments some people make when discussing human causes of climate change is that people can’t cause such massive changes. However, there is a long historical record of human-driven ecological and climatic change in Europe, North America and New Zealand, among other places.
Most of the world has accepted the analysis of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists that shows that our planet is warming and that our actions are the primary cause. However, some people – notably a number holding high office – reject this analysis. What exactly does it imply to say that climate change is not happening or is not caused by us?
Increasingly, conservation organizations are increasingly relying on satellite imagery to help save wildlife. The Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit focused on chimpanzee conservation, uses NASA’s and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite images to guide their chimpanzee conservation strategies.
According to the FDA, approximately three-quarters of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are fed to livestock for non-therapeutic purposes. This routine administration of antibiotics promotes the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can spread to animals and humans. And as antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreads, medicines used to treat human diseases can become less effective. Antibiotic resistant infections kill 90,000 Americans each year.
It is widely thought that we are in the midst of the 6th great mass extinction of species on Earth and, unlike the previous ones that were caused by things like asteroid impacts or ice ages, this one is caused by us. Our impact on the climate, on natural resources, on landscapes and habitats, and more, has wreaked havoc on ecosystems across the globe.
According to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s animal populations have suffered widespread population declines in the last half century. And thousands of species are now scrambling to survive.
Snow leopards are majestic animals native to Central Asia. They roam the region’s rugged terrain, from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan and Russia in the north, and to India and China in the east. Snow leopards are known for their thick white coat of fur with ringed black and brown spots. These markings help camouflage the animals from their prey. But the camouflage does little to protect snow leopards from one of their biggest threats: humans.
We recently highlighted the plight of orangutans. Following years of failed conservation measures, all orangutans are now listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The Sumatran orangutan had been listed as critically endangered for nearly two decades, but the Bornean orangutan was a recent addition. According to the IUCN, all orangutans have an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.”
Most recent news about coral reefs around the world has been bad news. There has been unprecedented coral bleaching in places like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The effects of climate change – including warming temperatures and rising seas – as well as the recent El Niño event have led to damaged reefs across the globe.
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.
Ebola. Hantavirus. Lyme disease. What do they have in common? Like most emerging infectious diseases, they originated in mammals. So many debilitating pathogens make the jump from wildlife and livestock to humans, yet at the global scale little is known about where people are most at risk of outbreaks.
Nobody really knows how many alligators live in Florida. It’s estimated that there are anywhere from 1.3 million to 2 million alligators in the Sunshine State, which means there’s one gator for every 10-15 Floridians. It’s this ratio that makes it just about impossible for someone living in Florida not to encounter an alligator at some point. And if you have seen one recently and thought it looked a little bigger, you may be onto something.
Most people listening to this have seen a saltwater aquarium before, and many of those likely owned one at some point. Maybe you still do. The bright coral and even brighter fish can be found in offices, restaurants, hotels, and homes all over the world.
Snow season is here. The chances are good you’ll find yourself behind a truck spreading salt on the roads in an attempt to deice them. You may even try a little salt on your own front porch. Annually we spread about 20 million tons of road salt in the U.S., and we’ve been doing it since the late 1930s.
When most people hear the word ‘ecology’ – chances are it conjures up images of scientists working in distant, wild landscapes, such as old growth forests or remote mountain lakes. Increasingly, however, ecological studies are focused on urban and suburban areas.