Biodiversity & Conservation

Aquaculture is main driver of mangrove losses

Mangroves provide coastal protection and habitat for several species. Shahnoor Habib Munmun | Wikimedia Commons

By Dyna Rochmyaningsih

Expanding aquaculture in South-East Asia over the last two decades has been the main driver of mangrove loss in the world, says a study published in PLOS One this month (June 2017).
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Neonicotinoid insecticides linked to wild bee decline across England

English oil seed rape field (© Heather Lowther / Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

Exposure to neonicotinoid seed treated oilseed rape crops has been linked to long-term population decline of wild bee species across the English countryside, according to research published in Nature Communications. Read more »

Greater biodiversity in grasslands leads to higher levels of ecosystem services

A meadow in Thuringia: one of the 150 grasslands where research was carried out. (credit: WWU/Klaus Vakentin)

The more it swarms, crawls and flies the better for humans, who benefit from the varied services provided for free by nature. This is the finding of a study by more than 60 researchers from a number of universities, including the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, in Germany. Read more »

‘Ecosystem canaries’ provide early warning signs of catastrophic changes to ecosystems

Study co-author Enlou Zhang collecting a sediment core in Lake Erhai for analysis of midges

New research, led by the University of Southampton, demonstrates that ‘ecosystem canaries’ can provide early warning signals of large, potentially catastrophic, changes or tipping points in ecosystems.

Like canaries that coal miners used to check for poisonous gasses deep underground, ‘ecosystem canaries’ are species that are often the first to disappear from a stressed ecosystem. Their vanishing can be linked to changes in the functioning of ecosystems, which can serve as a warning that a tipping point is approaching. Read more »

Unexpected Complexity in Coral

Underwater photo of the coral Acropora tenuis

Coral reefs are delicate ecosystems, which are endangered by climate change and human activities. The restoration of these underwater environments is typically carried out by transplanting corals from healthy reefs to compromised ones. This practice can be problematic, as it overlooks the local characteristics of each reef, and may reduce genetic diversity. Read more »

China’s honey bee losses are low compared with West

Honeybee (credit Steve Burt - Flickr)

Since concern about widespread honey bee colony losses began ten years ago, there have been surveys carried out to assess winter losses in North America and many European countries. So far, the picture in China, the largest beekeeping country in the world, has been unclear. Now for the first time, information about winter losses from a large-scale survey carried out from 2010-13 has been published. Read more »

Forest and watercourse interplay important for restorations

Riparian forests at Bjurbäcken – a tributary to the Vindel River. The forest in the foreground is flooded in spring. Photo: Christer Nilsson.

Humans utilise forests and watercourses in a way that depletes ecosystem habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Many areas are restored to break the trend, but to succeed you need to consider not only the ecosystem in mind, but also surrounding ecosystems. This is according to researchers at Umeå University in Sweden in an article published in BioScience. Read more »

Logged rainforests can be an ‘ark’ for mammals, extensive study shows

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Bearded pigs. Credit: Oliver Wearn

Research reveals that large areas of ‘degraded’ forest in Southeast Asia can play an important role in conserving mammal diversity. Mammals can be one of the hardest-hit groups by habitat loss, and a lot of research has been carried out to find the best ways to conserve mammal diversity.

Much of this research has focussed on very large-scale changes in land use and the impacts this will have on overall mammal diversity. However, many important decisions about land use are made at much more local scales, for example at the level of individual landowners. Read more »

Researchers successfully breed critically endangered coral species to full sexual maturity

Elkhart coral (image via Tsuji, FlickrCC)

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam, SECORE International and the Carmabi Marine Research Station have for the first time successfully raised laboratory-bred colonies of the critically endangered Caribbean coral species elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) to sexual maturity. This event marks the first ever successful rearing of such a Caribbean coral species to its reproductive age. Read more »

Human impact has created a ‘plastic planet’, research shows

A future fossil: Keyworth plastic bottle

Planet Earth’s oceans and lands will be buried by increasing layers of plastic waste by the mid-century due to human activity, according to research led by the University of Leicester. Read more »

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