Biodiversity & Conservation

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 »

New research shows that honey bee queens are highly vulnerable to two neonicotinoid insecticides

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A marked honey bee queen used during the study. She is shown on a wax comb with adult workers, capped cells containing maturing workers, and open cells containing eggs that will develop into workers. (Photo: Geoffrey Williams, University of Bern)

Throughout the northern hemisphere beekeepers have struggled to maintain adequate numbers of honey bee colonies for crop pollination and honey production due to dramatic increases in colony deaths each year. Recent surveys of beekeepers suggest that poor queen health is an important reason for these losses, but why queen health is now being affected is not understood. Read more »

Crisis in global oceans as populations of marine species halve in size since 1970

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White tip reef shark, Triaenodon obesus, close-up. Phoenix Islands, Kiribati. (© Cat Holloway / WWF)

WWF’s Living Blue Planet report, an updated study of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, shows a decline of 49 per cent in the size of marine populations between 1970 and 2012. As well as being disastrous for ecosystems, these findings spell trouble for all nations, especially people in the developing world who depend heavily on the ocean’s resources. Read more »

Paying farmers to help the environment works, but ‘perverse’ subsidies must be balanced

Vast pivot irrigator shows farming encroaching on wilderness in New Zealand. Credit: Peter Scott (www.abovehawkesbay.co.nz)

New research suggests that offering financial incentives for farming industries to mitigate the impact agriculture has on the environment, by reducing fertiliser use and ‘sparing’ land for conservation, for example, actually has a positive effect on critical areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and increased biodiversity. Read more »

Mangroves help protect against sea level rise

Mangrove forests could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change, according to new research involving the University of Southampton. A joint study between researchers at the University of Southampton along with colleagues from the Universities of Auckland and Waikato in New Zealand used leading-edge mathematical simulations to study how mangrove forests respond to elevated sea levels. Read more »

Ocean travellers are best able to adapt to warming waters and climate change

The urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii, has moved into the waters of Tasmania, forming extensive rock barrens, leading to large-scale community change. © Rick Stuart-Smith

Marine species that already roam far and wide throughout our oceans are extending their territories further and faster in response to climate change, according to new research involving the University of Southampton and an international team of biodiversity experts.

The study found that while species that have large ranges are able to make their way to cooler waters, small-ranging species are in increased jeopardy as our planet’s oceans continue to warm. Read more »

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