Biodiversity & Conservation

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 »

Wildlife in built-up areas: an undervalued part of our urban ecosystems

Urban wildlife such as deer, foxes and badgers should be cherished for the ecological benefits they bring to towns and cities, rather than feared as potentially harmful pests, scientists argue in a new report. The review, published in the scientific journal Wildlife Research, states that in order for humans and animals to live successfully side-by-side in built-up areas, a cultural shift is required for the public to fully appreciate the integral role that wildlife performs in urban ecosystems. Read more »

Rapid decline in bumblebee species caused by climate change, study finds

Bumblebee (UFZ)

In the most comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts on critical pollinators, researchers have found that rapid declines in bumblebee species across North America and Europe have a strong link to climate change. The study was published in Science. It was conducted by scientists from University of Ottawa and other North American institutions. Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), as one of the major partners from Europe, were responsible for coordinating basic data collection. Read more »

Global freshwater consumption crossing its planetary boundary

Planetary boundaries have been proposed to describe a safe operating space for humanity and human consumption of freshwater is used as the control variable for the freshwater planetary boundary. But new research from Stockholm University shows that global freshwater consumption has already pushed beyond its safe limit. Read more »

Aluminium contamination suggested as a new factor in the decline of bee populations

A new scientific study has found very high amounts of aluminium contamination in bees, raising the question of whether aluminium-induced cognitive dysfunction is playing a role in the decline of bumblebee populations. Read more »

Leading European research institutes launch unique Freshwater Information Platform

Four European research institutes have launched an online platform to make information from a large set of freshwater ecosystem research activities accessible to all. The Freshwater Information Platform offers a forum for information exchange and open-access publishing of maps and data, and aims to stimulate cutting-edge research and collaborations in the field. The Platform provides a unique and comprehensive knowledge base for sustainable and evidence-based management of our threatened freshwater ecosystems and the resources they provide. Read more »

Amazon’s carbon uptake declines as trees die faster

Amazon canopy at dawn, Brazil. (© Peter van der Sleen)

The most extensive land-based study of the Amazon to date reveals it is losing its capacity to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has halved and is now for the first time being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.

The results of this monumental 30-year survey of the South American rainforest, which involved an international team of almost 100 researchers and was led by the University of Leeds, are published today in the journal Nature. Read more »

Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit publishes a review of tropical forests

The Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit (ISU) has commissioned and published a wide-ranging review of the state of the world’s tropical forests and efforts to protect them.

Its key findings encompass the latest science on climate change mitigation, forest degradation, biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate regulation. The report also contains a series of policy recommendations on REDD+, landscape restoration, commodity supply chains and sustainable forest management. Read more »

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