Biodiversity & Conservation

Bottom trawling causes deep-sea biological desertification

Microscopic view of nematodes © Cristina Gambi, Marche Polytechnic University

A study led by scientists from the Polytechnic University of Marche (Ancona, Italy) involving researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM, CSIC) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), has determined that fishing trawling causes intensive, long-term biological desertification of the sedimentary seabed ecosystems, diminishing their content in organic carbon and threatening their biodiversity. Read more »

Plastic found to account for the majority of marine microlitter accumulating in the food chain

Fluorescent polystyrene microspheres in the intestines of a water flea. (Photo © Outi Setälä)

Researchers at the Finnish Environment Institute have for the first time successfully demonstrated that microplastics are transferred in the marine food web. The study also provided additional support to suspicions that many plankton organisms are unable to separate plastic particles from their natural food and that they therefore also ingest plastic. Read more »

New study shows that protected marine reserves enhance resilience to climate change

Species such as the blue-throated wrasse were observed in greater numbers in a marine reserve southeast of Tasmania following protection from fishing, which led to greater community stability and resilience. (Picture credit Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)

A new study, led by a University of Southampton scientist, highlights the potential for fish communities in marine reserves to resist climate change impacts better than communities on fished coasts. Read more »

World Rhino Day marked by shocking increase of 5000% in poaching since 2007

For the sixth year in a row the number of rhinos poached in South Africa has risen resulting in a 5000% increase. In 2007 13 rhinos were killed while in 2013 so far the total is 618.

A recent study by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC found that buyers and users of rhino horn primarily consider it a status symbol and often gift it to family members, business colleagues or people in positions of authority. Read more »

FoE report shows why we need a National Action Plan to save British bees

Friend of the Earth has published new research into the decline of bees in England. The project, carried out the University of Reading, shows that the use of pesticides increased by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010. Pesticides are a factor in the recent decline in British bee populations. Read more »

Four prominent botanical institutions announce plans to create first online World Flora

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Kew’s iconic Palm House, built between 1844 and 1848. Photo courtesy Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew), and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) have announced plans to develop the World Flora—the first modern, online catalog of the world’s plants—by the year 2020. Read more »

More than 1000 new species found in New Guinea

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Orchid (Dendrobium limpidum), Papua New Guinea. The forests of New Guinea harbour a rich variety of flowering plants, and 100 new orchid species from New Guinea were officially described between 1998 and 2008 alone. © WWF/Bob Bowser / B2 Photography

[slideshow] Read more »

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