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In the foreground a plesiosaur, and the left an ichthyosaur, feature in this reconstruction of a Cretaceous ocean in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. The absence of oxygen in deeper waters led to the preservation of the fossil riches we enjoy t

Ancient 'dead seas' offer a stark warning for our own future

Richard Pancost, University of Bristol

29th January 2016

For long periods animals in ancient oceans could live only in shallow surface waters, above vast 'dead zones' inhabited only by anoxic bacteria, writes Richard Pancost. Human activity is now creating immense new dead zones, and global warming could be helping as it reduces vertical mixing of waters. Could this be the beginning of something big? more...
An Amazonian Grey woolly spider monkey feeding in the treetops. As a important seed disperser, it is essential to the forest ecology - and its capacity to store carbon. Photo: UEA.

Hunting in the Amazon threatens rainforest carbon

The Ecologist

27th January 2016

The over-hunting of wildlife in the Amazon has an unexpected knock-on effect: the reduced seed dispersal reduces the forest's capacity to store carbon in its biomass, increasing emissions from apparently 'intact' rainforest areas. more...
The construction of the Xayaburi Dam. Photo: Tom Fawthrop.

Damming the Mekong - the myth of 'sustainable hydropower'

Tom Fawthrop

16th January 2016

Dam builders have a new mantra, writes Tom Fawthrop: 'sustainable hydropower'. Repeated at every opportunity, it is based on the unproven idea that large dams can be made 'sustainable' by promising future 'mitigation'. And so it is at the Don Sahong dam in Laos which is about to devastate the mighty Mekong and the 60 million people who depend on it for food and livelihood. more...
Lonesome George, the last of the pure-bred Pinta Island tortoises, photographed before his death in 2012 at the age of about 100. Photo: putneymark via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Second life for 'extinct' giant tortoises of the Galápagos Islands

Luciano Beheregaray & Adalgisa 'Gisella' Caccone

14th January 2016

The endemic giant tortoises discovered by Charles Darwin on Floreana and Pinta islands in the Galápagos are extinct, write Luciano Beheregaray & Adalgisa 'Gisella' Caccone. But scientists have found that their genes live on in newly discovered hybrids on other islands. A selective breeding programme now aims to recreate the originals, and return them to their native islands. more...
Jellyfish shall inherit the ocean ... if we keep on acidifying it. Photo: Stuart Chalmers via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Attack of the stinging jellyfish: the winners of ocean acidification

Jason Hall-Spencer, Plymouth University

16th December 2015

Rising levels of carbon dioxide don't just cause global warming, writes Jason Hall-Spencer. Another consequence is acidifying oceans - which promises to disrupt marine ecology around the world, killing off oysters and corals, while boosting 'nuisance species' like stinging jellyfish. more...
Formosan Clouded Leopard ... RIP. Despite 1,500 infrared cameras and scent traps being placed in the Taiwanese mountains since 2001, no trace of the animal has been detected. Image: Hank Conner via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Extinction is forever

Robert J. Burrowes

30th December 2015

Humanity is continuing to drive species into extinction at a terrifying rate, writes Robert J. Burrowes - not just nameless beetles and midges, but mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and trees. The biggest causes are habitat destruction, pollution and hunting ... and unless we stop soon, we too will be among the victims of our ecocidal attack on Earth. more...
Yellowstone Bison. Photo: Jitze Couperus via Flickr (CC BY).

Bloodbath in Yellowstone: the park's plan to slaughter 1,000 wild bison

George Wuerthner

14th December 2015

Yellowstone Park is home to America's last pure-bred wild bison, writes George Wuerthner. Yet the Park's management is planning to kill around a thousand of these precious animals this winter. Ostensibly it's to protect cattle on public lands near the park from brucellosis. But bison have never been known to transmit the disease to them. The real reason is to keep all the pasture for livestock. more...
Coccolith. Photo: ZEISS Microscopy via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

COP21 warned on global warming's evil twin - acidifying oceans

Tony Juniper

3rd December 2015

Increased atmospheric CO2 is doing much more than warming the Earth, writes Tony Juniper - it's also acidifying oceans, something that is already having major impacts on ocean ecology in the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic. Likely effects: more CO2 in the atmosphere, more jellyfish. more...
Drax power station in Yorskshire, England, was to host the UK's examplar of BECCS in its White Rose project, with a planned CCS add-on. In a rare moment of santity, the UK government has pulled the funding. Photo: Ian Britton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

COP21's climate technofix: spinning carbon into gold and the myth of 'negative emissions'

Rachel Smolker

3rd December 2015

Paris has been awash with hype about 'CO2 recycling' and 'carbon neutral' or even 'carbon negative' technologies based on burning millions of trees, writes Rachel Smolker. But the alchemical notion that waste carbon can be spun into corporate gold is hitting serious reality checks. It's time to ditch the fantasies and progress the real solutions: like caring for land, soils, forests and grasslands. more...
Blondie - one of a rough half dozen coyotes that freely roam Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA. She probably carries a mixture of genes from dogs and wolves as well as coyote, but that does not mean she's of a new species. Photo: Dave Inman via Flickr (CC

Who believes in the big bad coywolf?

Roland Kays, North Carolina State University

20th November 2015

Novel canids are hunting the forests of Eastern North America from Florida to Labrador, writes Roland Kays, where hybrids of coyote, dog and wolf have evolved into highly competitive forms. But is it the evolution of new species? If left in long term isolation, perhaps - but that's not about to happen. Genetic mixing and evolution still have a long way to run. more...
Front cover of 'Green Parties, Green Future' by Per Gahrton, published by Pluto Press.

Green Parties, Green Future: lessons from history for Green politics

Rupert Read & Bennet Francis

8th December 2015

How can Green parties acquire real political power? A new book by Per Gahrton, founder of the Swedish Green Party, is much more than a useful reference text on the history of Green Parties around the world, write Bennet Francis and Rupert Read. It's also a valuable manual in realpolitik that resonates here and now in the UK. more...
Dulse growing on kelp as an epiphyte: a feast fit for a king. Photo, Fiona Bird.

Seaweed on the shore, seaweed in the kitchen

Fiona Bird

26th November 2015

Fresh or dried wild seaweed may be on sale in a supermarket near you, writes Fiona Bird. But much better than supporting what may be unsustainable harvesting, gather your own at low tide on rocky shores, picking just enough for your needs. Once a poverty food, seaweed is now a sought after ingredient that expresses the 'fifth taste', umami. more...

ecology: 1/25 of 122
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This jaguar is in a zoo in French Guyana - not to be confuised with the wild jaguars of Mexico, now returning to their former range in the US. Photo: Yannick TURBE via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

From Yucatan to Arizona, from Sonora to New Mexico: the return of the jaguar

Kent Paterson

13th November 2015

Mexico is determined to restore populations of its largest native predator, the jaguar, to long term viability, writes Kent Paterson. That means creating millions of acres of ecological corridors across the country, and joining with US colleagues to secure large areas of habitat in southwestern states, where recent sightings give hope that jaguars are returning to their former range. more...

Bhaskar Save: the 'Green Revolution' ruined India; agroecology can restore her

Colin Todhunter

12th January 2016

Bhaskar Save, the 'Gandhi of natural farming', died last year after a lifetime of organic growing and determined campaigning against the destruction of India's traditional, sustainable agriculture, writes Colin Todhunter. His 2006 open letter, published here, sets out a devastating critique of industrial agriculture and its impacts, and an eloquent and timely agroecological manifesto. more...
A pair of Lappet Faced Vultures feating on a buffralo carcass in Bariadi, Shinyanga, Tanzania. Photo: jjmusgrove via Flickr (CC BY).

Vultures in crisis: poachers and poison threaten nature's undertakers

Louis Phipps, Nottingham Trent University

25th October 2015

Vultures are superbly adapted creatures for the essential role they play, efficiently disposing of the mortal remains of millions of dead animals, writes Louis Phipps. Yet we humans appear to be doing our best to kill them off - creating a vast hazardous waste problem that's costing us billions. more...
Victims of the pine bark beetle: Lodgepole pines in Summit County, Colorado. They may not look pretty, but these dead trees are an ecological godsend. Photo: V Smoothe via Flickr (CC BY).

In defense of the Bark Beetle: a keystone species of Western forest ecosystems

Chad Hanson

28th October 2015

Bark beetles are invariably presented as terrible, forest killing pests, writes Chad Hanson. But in truth forest biodiversity depends on them to create the snags for insects to burrow in, woodpeckers to feed off, and countless birds and even pine martens to nest in. So when you hear politicians calling for bark beetle 'salvage' logging, send them off with a flea in the ear! more...
Killer Whales in Monterey Bay, California - helping to sequester the carbon emissions from those smokestacks in the background. Photo: © John Krzesinski 2012 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Predators keep the oceans' carbon pump ticking

Peter Macreadie, Euan Ritchie, Graeme Hays & Trisha B Atwood

29th September 2015

By keeping marine herbivores in check, predators from sharks to crabs are essential to keep the oceanic 'carbon pump' working - with seaweed and plankton fixing atmospheric carbon and bearing it down to deep waters and sediments before getting munched. It's time to give ocean predators the protection they deserve, for climate's sake. more...
Members of the Womens' Collective of Tamil Nadu in a forest area where they are growing fruits and vegetables. Photo: WhyHunger.

Agroecology leading the fight against India's Green Revolution

Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau

29th September 2015

For the women farmers of Tamil Nadu life has long been a struggle, Sheelu Francis told Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, all the more so following the advent of 'Green Revolution' industrial agriculture. So now women's collectives are organising to restore traditional foods and farming methods, resulting in lower costs, higher yields, improved nutrition, and a rekindling of native Tamil culture. more...
Exposure to low levels of glyphosate impairs bees navigational learning. A bee in Charlotte, VA. Photo: Universal Pops via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Glyphosate harms bees' spatial learning

Beyond Pesticides

20th September 2015

A new study shows it's not just neonicotinoids that impair bees' ability to navigate to nectar and pollen sources, and to their nests: now the herbicide glyphosate has been found to have the same impact even at very low levels. more...
Another extraordinary sunset over Lake Baikal - the deep hues heightened by the ever-present forest fires. Photo: Bryce Stewart.

New dams, warming waters, forest fires - Lake Baikal in peril

Bryce Stewart

17th September 2015

Longer than England, almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, Russia's Lake Baikal is one of the world's greatest aquatic wonders, writes Bryce Stewart. But it's a fragile paradise: the limpid waters are warming much faster than the global average, with as yet unknown effects on its ecology. And it faces the danger of a huge dam on its principal tributary, Mongolia's Selenga River. more...
Felled tree in the coastal rainforest of Oregon, USA. Photo: Francis Eatherington via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Biosphere collapse: the biggest economic bubble ever

Glen Barry

14th September 2015

Worried about debt, defaults and deficits? Save up your concern for the real problem, writes Glen Barry. The systematic destruction Earth's natural ecosystems for short-term profit is the 'bubble' that underlies economic growth - and if allowed to continue its bursting will leave the Earth in a state of social, economic and ecological collapse. more...
The pine marten may look cuddly - but it's no such thing, specially if you're a grey squirrel. But lighter, more agile reds fare rather better. Photo: Thomas Broxton Jr via Flickr (CC BY).

Pine martens' return could bring a red squirrel resurgence

Emma Sheehy

28th August 2015

The return of pine martens to central Ireland has been followed by a resurgence of red squirrels, writes Emma Sheehy. Now that the predatory mammal is being seen south of the Scottish border, the same could happen in England. The heavier grey squirrel is easy prey for pine martens, and their demise could open up ecological space for the native red to recolonise. more...
Gardens by the Bay with Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. Photo: Uwe Schwarzbach via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Setting aside half the Earth for 'rewilding': the human question

William Lynn

9th September 2015

Biologist E O Wilson's grand idea of setting aside half of the planet for nature to thrive is both appealing and deeply challenging, writes William Lynn. But it's missing a key element: an urban vision of how people can live ecologically, joyously in the half we make our own. more...
A beetle on a male corn flower. Photo: Flávio Jota de Paula via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Biodiversity is the best defence against corn pests

Jonathan Lundgren & Scott Fausti

14th August 2015

Farmers' first line of defence against pests is the ecosystem in and around their fields, write Jonathan Lundgren & Scott Fausti. With widespread or indiscriminate use of pesticides essential biodiversity is lost - and the result is more frequent and serious infestations, and a decline in food security. more...
Daily life in Conakry, Guinea on 3rd December 2014. Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Neoliberal Ebola: palm oil, logging, land grabs, ecological havoc and disease

Rob Wallace

27th July 2015

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa had everything to do with logging, deforestation and the disruption of traditional agro-forestry by large scale industrial agriculture, writes Rob Wallace. The only long term solution to this terrible disease may lie in forest conservation, the restoration of agroecological farming systems, and the exclusion of agribusiness investment. more...

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