The Ecologist

 

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The sacred water of Gosainkunda Lake at the headwaters of the Trishuli River, soon to be changed forever by the construction fo a succession of high dams. Photo: Yosarian via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY).

In Nepal's next big quake, hydropower dams threaten catastrophe

Michael Buckley

4th May 2015

A spate of hydroelectric dam building in Nepal means that future earthquakes could send inland tsunamis flooding down the steep mountain valleys, writes Michael Buckley. Disaster was averted in last month's quake - a badly damaged dam was not yet filled. But despite the risks and the damage to river ecology, tourism and rural livelihoods, there's no sign of any policy shift. more...
Oil wells in the Bakken Oil Field of North Dakota, USA. Photo: Alan Graham McQuillan PhD ARPS via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Future dustbowl? Fracking ravages Great Plains land and water

Tim Radford

4th May 2015

The fracking boom has caused massive vegetation loss over North America's rangelands, writes Tim Radford, as 3 million hectares have been occupied by oil and gas infrastructure and 34 billion cubic metres of water have been pumped from semi-arid ecosystems. more...
To pollinate California's huge monocultural almond farms bees are trucked in from all over the US, even flown in from Australia, because there's not the quantity or diversity of plants to sustain wild bee colonies or wild pollinators. Photo: Steve Corey v

Bee collapse is the result of their enslavement in industrial monocultures

Allan Stromfeldt Chris­tensen

2nd May 2015

Bee 'colony collapse disorder' cannot be ended by easy technofixes, writes Allan Stromfeldt Christensen. The real problem is the systematic abuse of bees in vast industrial monocultures, as they are trucked or flown thousands of miles from one farm to the next, treated with insecticides and antibiotics, and fed on 'junk food'. more...
A Eurasian lynx captured on film by Erwin von Maanen in its native Scandinavian setting.

Lynx could be reintroduced to Britain 'this year'

Oliver Tickell

27th April 2014

Lynx could be re-introduced to sites in England and Scotland before the end of 2015, according to the Lynx UK Trust, which has just issued polling and survey results that show strong support for the idea among the UK population. more...
A polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Susanne Miller / USFWS via Flickr (CC BY).

Polar bears at risk from pollution as well as warmth

Tim Radford

24th April 2015

As if melting ice in Polar bears' Arctic habitat was not enough, Norwegian scientists have found that organic pollutants such as pesticide residues are disrupting their thyroid and endocrine systems, adding a further threat to the species' survival. more...
Transformed! An early summer riot of Ox-eye Daisies, Red Clover and Meadow Buttercups. Photo: Jo Cartmell.

Nearby wild - how I turned my lawn into a mini-meadow

Jo Cartmell

27th April 2015

Decades of regular mowing left my front lawn looking bare and sterile, writes Jo Cartmell. But in fact, the exhausted, infertile soil made it the perfect place for a host of wild flowers to take up residence - some from planted seed, others blown-in, or from long buried seed lying dormant in the soil. And after that, the butterflies ... more...
View from the Goodnoe Hills near the Columbia River Gorge, Washington. A small settlement with a school once existed below the abandoned farm house. Photo: gary via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Agroecology and the people's struggle for land and freedom

Blain Snipstal

23rd April 2015

Everyone in this society is caught up in the battle between two models of agriculture, writes Blain Snipsta - industrial agribusiness for profit, control and domination; and small-scale agroecological farming for good food, health, people and planet. more...
Small fishing boats at Lyme Regis, Dorset, where England's first big marine Protected Area was designated. Photo: Sue Hasker via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

To protect our seas, first we must reclaim them from 'Big Fishing'

Horatio Morpurgo

10th April 2015

There's strong public support for protecting marine wildlife, writes Horatio Morpurgo - so why aren't politicians championing the cause? Labour and Tories alike fear to challenge the big fishing companies that have come to believe they own Britain's offshore waters and seabed. Now it's up to use to prove they're wrong. more...
A female Eurasian Lynx (Lynx Lynx Lynx) in her summer coat in a Norwegian forest near Liaset, Buskerud Fylke. Photo: Tom Bech via Flickr (CC BY).

Reintroduce lynx? Fine - but we must control the apex predator

Niki Rust

27th April 2015

The return of the lynx to the British Isles could bring many benefits, writes Niki Rust, not least to the ecology of our woodlands, ravaged by too many deer. But we must not forget the human factor: livestock farmers may fear the arrival of a top-level predator, and their support will be essential to the success of any reintroduction. more...
As ocean acidity rises, diatoms stuggle to gow in variable light conditions. Photo: Mixed diatom frustules by Carolina Biological Supply Company via Flickr (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0).

Keystone plankton 'go slow' as ocean acidity rises

Tim Radford

1st March 2015

Increasing acidity in the Southern Ocean is slowing the growth of diatoms, reports Tim Radford. Why worry? Because these tiny plankton sustain essential marine ecosystems, and are highly effective at drawing CO2 down into the deep ocean. more...
Beaver dam above Lundy Lake, California. Photo: Fred Moore via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Beavers are saving California’s wild salmon

Miria Finn / onEarth

1st March 2015

With California's wild Coho salmon populations down to 1% of their former numbers, there's growing evidence that beavers - long reviled as a pest of the waterways - are essential to restore the species, writes Maria Finn. In the process, they raise water tables, recharge aquifers and improve water quality. What's not to love? more...
Bonobo group hug. Photo:  LaggedOnUser via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Make 2015 the Year of the Bonobo!

Dr Susan Block

5th January 2015

We humans have much to learn from our kissing cousins, the peaceful, empathic, playful, sensual and highly sexual Bonobos, writes Susan Block. Rather than play out the myth of ancestral 'killer apes', better follow the 'Bonobo Way', and extend our love to all living beings and Earth herself. more...

ecology: 1/25 of 89
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Murder most foul - a porpoise carcass bearing cruel bite marks. Photo: Johan Krol.

Murder most foul - who killed all the porpoises?

Ken Collins

9th December 2014

Since 2010 porpoise carcasses have been washing up on our shares, writes Ken Collins - displaying horrific wounds and bite marks that many thought a sign of Great White sharks in Britain's coastal waters. But now scientists have identified an improbably cuddly culprit ... more...
Wolves - to reduce farm animal predation, don't shoot them! Photo: USFWS Midwest, CC BY.

Shot in the foot? Killing wolves, lynx, cougar increases farm predation

Niki Rust

4th December 2014

Farmers who shoot wolves and other predators to save their animals from predation are actually having the opposite effect, writes Niki Rust. The disruption that killing predators has on the stability of their families and packs actually causes more, not less predation. Ultimately, we're better off learning to live with predators. more...
Coming to honeybees in North America and Europe, a new parasite helped on its way by warmer summers. Photo: Smudge 9000, CC BY-SA.

Bee crisis: warmer summers will help new parasite

Robert Paxton

30th December 2014

An exotic parasite is spreading through the world's honey bees and global warming is making it worse, writes Robert Paxton. A new study that shows it will soon be causing widespread colony collapse in North America and Europe. more...
Charred, burned trees after the Ham Lake fire, Minnesota, 2007. Photo: Eli Sagor via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

In the American West, a burnt forest is a healthy forest

George Wuerthner

6th March 2015

Fire is an essential part of the life-cycle of the forests of the American West, writes George Wuerthner, and the complex, biodiverse habitat that burning creates sustains hundreds of species that cannot survive without it. So please - no more talk of forests 'recovering' after fire - OK? more...
Marine parks need to be big enough to safeguard wide-ranging species, like the sharks being studied here. Photo: Manu San Felix / National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition, Author provided.

Now is our chance to deliver on the 30% ocean protection target

Jessica Meeuwig

15th November 2014

In 2003 nations pledged to place 20-30% of the world's oceans into no-take marine parks, writes Jessica Meeuwig - but more than ten years on, such areas now cover just 1% of ocean area. Now the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, provides an opportunity to drive marine protection forward, and benefit both ecology and economy. more...
Is this the kind of Arctic you want, cross-crossed by shipping, complete with oil rigs, mining, industrial fishing and pollution? If not, get behind the Arctic Declaration! Photo: epsdave via Pixabay.

We must keep the Arctic clean, wild and free!

Professor Robert Spicer

17th November 2014

The Arctic is a special place, teeming with life, but it is under threat like never before, writes Robert Spicer - not just from climate change, but from oil drilling, industrial fishing and shipping, as receding ice creates now commercial opportunities. We must designate an Arctic Sanctuary where nature can reign undisturbed. more...
Over 50% of an iguana shipment found dead. Photo: PETA.

The exotic pet trade is a global evil that must be stopped

Clifford Warwick

10th November 2014

Behind the relatively sanitized façade of the exotic pet industry resides a vast chronicle of species decline, ecological disruption, animal suffering, mortality, and the global dissemination of pathogens, writes Clifford Warwick. We are in the midst of a profit-fueled frivolous wildlife biocide, as animal traders strive to bring the next curiosity fish, turtle or primate into our homes. more...
Cod smolts among seagrass. Photo: John Carroll.

For the love of cod, let's save our disappearing seagrass

Richard K. F. Unsworth

4th November 2014

Seagrass provides a key marine habitat, writes Richard Unsworth - it stablises the sea floor, sustains rich ecosystems, soaks up excess nutrients, sequesters carbon dioxide, feeds dugongs, and nurtures young cod. Hadn't we better stop wiping out some 1,500 sq.km of seagrass meadows every year? more...
Hunting for lugworms for fishing bait at Brighton beach. Photo: Martin Thomas via Flickr.

Lugworms suffer toxic impact of acidifying oceans

Alex Kirby

30th October 2014

A common marine worm key to the richness of many coastal ecosystems is being damaged by the increasing ocean acidification that was thought to imperil mainly shellfish and coral, writes Alex Kirby. It's an unwelcome sign of more unexpected ecological changes to come. more...
In Ghana, more than 100,000 straw coloured fruit bats are harvested as bushmeat every year. But the country is not affected by the Ebola epidemic. Photo: Diana Ranslam, CC BY-NC.

Ebola: don't blame the bats!

Alexandra Kamins, Marcus Rowcliffe & Olivier Restif

23rd October 2014

Bats serve as a natural reservoir for the Ebola - but we cannot blame them for the epidemic. In Ghana alone people eat over 100,000 fruit bats a year as 'bushmeat', yet the country has escaped the epidemic. Much more research is needed to discover the mechanisms of transmission, and to devise effective, appropriate interventions. more...

Future NOW

8 November 2014

Will Gethin

Taking place in the run up to Bristol's year as Green Capital 2015, this groundbreaking spiritual ecology conference calls for Consciousness Revolution. more...
Fish exploding from the ocean off the North Carolina coast - but global fish stocks are doing no such thing. Photo: Jared Cherup via Flickr.

Plenty more fish in the sea? Not if we follow healthy eating guidelines

Ruth H. Thurstan & Callum Roberts

6th November 2014

Until demand for fish is balanced with sustainable methods of production, write Ruth Thurstan & Callum Roberts, governments should consider the social and environmental implications of promoting greater fish consumption. Worldwide, wild fish supplies per person have been declining ever since 1970. more...
Japanese knotweed makes short work of concrete and tarmac. In its native habitat, it has learnt to crack up volcanic rock. Photo: Rob Tanner.

Japanese knotweed - could a tiny insect tame the monster?

Kate Constantine

17th October 2014

Since Japanese knotweed won a gold medal in 1847 as 'interesting new ornamental of the year', it has become far too much of a good thing, writes Kate Constantine. But could the oriental triffid be tamed following the UK introduction of a specialist pest from Japan's volcanic uplands? more...

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