Two research teams independently used vacuums to measure biodiversity

Two research teams independently used vacuums to measure biodiversity

Enlarge (credit: Surapong Thammabuht / EyeEm)

Just as the pandemic hit, Christina Islas Lynggaard—a postdoc researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Globe Institute—sat in her apartment surrounded by vacuums and filters. She tested them, eventually landing on a water vacuum, which was, for her purposes, pretty good. The rest didn’t quite make the cut—they had good suction, but the second you put a filter in them, it messed with their power supplies. “It just dies, and then the motor comes to overheat, and it was very difficult,” Lynggaard said.

All this testing was done for an interesting case, one that seems obvious in hindsight but could have valuable ecological applications. In short, Lynggaard and other researchers on her team were looking for a way to collect environmental DNA (eDNA) from the air to measure biodiversity or look for the presence of rare or invasive species.

Out of thin air

“We had no idea the best way to collect DNA from air,” Kristine Bohmann told Ars. Bohmann is an associate professor at the Globe Institute and one of the researchers involved in the effort.

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#biodiversity, #biomonitoring, #dna, #edna, #environmental-dna, #science, #vacuum

Chasing the Night Parrot: The ‘Ghost Bird’ of Australia’s Outback

An elusive, nocturnal parrot disappeared for more than a century. An unlikely rediscovery led to ornithological scandal — and then hope.

#audubon-magazine, #australia, #biodiversity, #birds, #birdwatching, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #indigenous-australians, #parrots, #science-and-technology, #university-of-queensland

Thomas Lovejoy, Wide-Ranging Ecologist and Amazon Rescuer, Dies at 80

His ambitious, long-running project in Brazil explored the impact of deforestation on animals and plants — and how to deal with it.

#amazon-jungle, #amazon-river-basin, #biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #deaths-obituaries, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #forests-and-forestry, #lovejoy-thomas-e, #nature-tv-program, #wilderness-areas

Donating to Environmental Nonprofits in the South

Our collective efforts can make a huge difference.

#biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #environment, #nonprofit-organizations, #southern-states-us, #tennessee

Vaquitas Could Soon Be Extinct. Mexico Will Largely Determine Their Fate.

Only about 10 vaquitas remain, but scientists say there’s still hope for the elusive porpoises. Their fate largely depends on the Mexican government.

#baja-california-mexico, #biodiversity, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #dolphins-and-porpoises, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fishing-commercial, #gulf-of-california-mexico, #lopez-obrador-andres-manuel, #politics-and-government, #san-felipe-mexico, #sea-shepherd-conservation-society, #totoaba, #vaquitas

Women’s Role in Conservation Lags, Despite Success

When women lead in conservation, indicators of success often go up — yet they are routinely excluded. Could a group of local leaders in the Philippines provide a model?

#biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #discrimination, #philippines, #sexual-harassment, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #women-and-girls

A Biography of E.O. Wilson, the Scientist Who Foresaw Our Troubles

In Richard Rhodes’s “Scientist,” a portrait emerges of Wilson’s ability to focus on the smallest details in nature and recognize the ways in which they connect to larger ecosystems.

#biodiversity, #biology-and-biochemistry, #books-and-literature, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #rhodes-richard, #science-and-technology, #scientist-e-o-wilson-a-life-in-nature-book, #wilson-edmund-o

How a mass extinction resulted in the rise of the snakes

Image of a snake on a branch.

Enlarge / Today’s diverse snake populations may trace back to a single ancestral species that survived the dinosaur-killing mass extinction. (credit: Alan Tunnicliffe Photography / Getty Images)

The doom of the dinosaurs was good news for snakes. According to new research, snake biodiversity began increasing shortly after the Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinction—you know, the one brought about by a huge asteroid impact 66 million years ago. The asteroid caused around 75 percent of all species, and all of the non-avian dinosaurs, to go extinct.

But the impact gave primordial snake species opportunity and space to flourish, and they did. Currently, there are around 4,000 species of the elongated, legless reptiles. To study this evolutionary change, a team of researchers examined the diets of existing snake species to get a glimpse into the past. “After the K–Pg extinction, [snakes] just underwent this massive ecological explosion,” Michael Grundler, one of the paper’s authors and a post-doc researcher at the University of California Los Angeles, told Ars.

Rare fossils

As it turns out, snake fossils are hard to come by. It’s rare to find any great snake because their bodies are loosely articulated and can fragment quickly. “They’re really rare in the fossil record. And when we do see them in the fossil record, it’s usually just a bit of vertebrae, often not really a skull, so we can’t get a sense of their ecology,” Grundler said. “It’s not something like a big mammal or a big dinosaur that has four limbs and the bones are pretty robust. With snakes, you have all these fragile vertebrae… their skull is pretty loosely articulated as well.”

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#biodiversity, #evolution, #mass-extinction, #science, #snakes

Why the U.N.’s Biodiversity Conference Is So Important

Countries are gathering in an effort to stop a collapse of the natural world that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.

#biodiversity, #carbon-dioxide, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #intergovernmental-science-policy-platform-on-biodiversity-and-ecosystem-services, #kunming-china, #united-nations, #united-nations-convention-on-biological-diversity, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change

Halting Extinction Is an Issue We Actually Agree On

People on both sides of the aisle can work together to prevent future calamities from unfolding.

#biodiversity, #conservatism-us-politics, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #tennessee, #united-states

Hank Paulson: The World’s Biodiversity Is in Peril

The growing damage to the world’s biodiversity presents dire risks to human societies.

#biodiversity, #birds, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #food, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #great-barrier-reef-australia, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #india, #intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change, #rabies, #reefs, #united-nations-convention-on-biological-diversity, #united-states, #wetlands

Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions

The animals and one plant had been listed as endangered species. Their stories hold lessons about a growing global biodiversity crisis.

#biodiversity, #birds, #birdwatching, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #global-warming, #ivory-billed-woodpecker, #mussels

The Biologist Who Fell to Earth

At 17, Juliane Diller was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Amazon. Fifty years later she still runs Panguana, a research station founded by her parents in Peru.

#aguirre-the-wrath-of-god-movie, #airlines-and-airplanes, #amazon-jungle, #animals, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #bavaria-germany, #biodiversity, #germany, #herzog-werner, #insects, #lightning, #peru, #your-feed-science

How to protect species and save the planet—at the same time

How to protect species and save the planet—at the same time

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Humanity is struggling to contain two compounding crises: skyrocketing global temperatures and plummeting biodiversity. But people tend to tackle each problem on its own, for instance by deploying green energies and carbon-eating machines while roping off ecosystems to preserve them. But in a new report, 50 scientists from around the world argue that treating each crisis in isolation means missing out on two-fer solutions that resolve both. Humanity can’t solve one without also solving the other.

The report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop attended by researchers of all stripes and is a collaboration between the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In light of the Paris Agreement, it’s meant to provide guidance on how campaigns that address biodiversity might also address climate change, and vice versa.

The plain-language report should prove to be hugely influential not only among governmental policymakers and conservation groups, but also among corporations, says Betsy Beymer-Farris, a sustainability scientist at the University of Kentucky, who wasn’t involved in the report but did peer review it. “It’s hard for companies or even nation states to really distill academic literature,” Beymer-Farris says. The report both lays out the climate and biodiversity science and the social science of how to effect change with the help of the people who actually rely on the land for farming and grazing. “I definitely got excited when I reviewed the report,” Beymer-Farris adds. “I thought: OK, this is definitely different from what I’ve seen before because it’s a conscious and serious engagement with a more equitable and just way forward.”

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#biodiversity, #climate-change, #ecosystems, #policy, #science

Zoos Are Bad for Animals

Many of them aspire to be good civic institutions that care for animals on their grounds and in the wild. But is it really worth their captivity?

#animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animal-behavior, #animals, #assn-of-zoosaquariums, #biodiversity, #breeding-of-animals, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #zoos

Our Response to Climate Change Is Missing Something Big, Scientists Say

Yes, planting new trees can help. But intact wild areas are much better. The world needs to treat warming and biodiversity loss as two parts of the same problem, a new report warns.

#biodiversity, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions

Indigenous forest gardens remain productive and diverse for over a century

Image of a section of the Pacific Northwest coast.

Enlarge / From some perspectives, the forest garden doesn’t stand out from the landscape. (credit: Chelsey Armstrong)

In the 1930s, an archeologist from the Smithsonian wrote a short paper remarking on the exquisite vegetation around First Nation villages in Alaska. The surroundings were filled with nuts, stone fruit, berries, and herbs—several non-native to the area and many that would never grow together naturally. Apart from this brief mention, however, the significance of these forest gardens went largely overlooked and unrecognized by modern archeology for the next 50-plus years.

In the last decades, archeologists have learned that perennial forest management—the creation and care of long-lived food-bearing shrubs and plants next to forests—was common among the Indigenous societies of North America’s northwestern coast. These forest gardens played a central role in the diet and stability of these cultures in the past, and now a new publication shows that they offer an example of a far more sustainable and biodiverse alternative to conventional agriculture.

In a collaboration with the Tsm’syen and Coast Salish First Nations, this research shows that these gardens have become lasting hotspots of biodiversity, even 150 years after colonists forcibly removed the inhabitants from their villages. In a project combining archeology, botany, and ecology, this work is the first to systematically study the long-term ecological effects of Indigenous peoples’ land use in this region. Beyond the impressive longevity of these gardens, they offer ideas for farming practices that might restore, rather than deplete, local resources to create healthier, more resilient ecosystems.

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#agriculture, #archeology, #biodiversity, #biology, #ecology, #forestry, #science

Mozambique Mints a New National Park — and Surveys Its Riches

In the wake of wars, natural disasters and insurgencies, Mozambique is experiencing an environmental renaissance. One of the results is a new and stunningly beautiful national park.

#biodiversity, #birds, #conservation-of-resources, #mozambique, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #photography, #travel-and-vacations, #wilderness-areas

The Long History of Those Who Fought to Save the Animals

In “Beloved Beasts,” Michelle Nijhuis tells the stories of the men and women who have fought to rescue endangered animals from extinction.

#animals, #beloved-beasts-fighting-for-life-in-an-age-of-extinction-book, #biodiversity, #books-and-literature, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #nijhuis-michelle, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching

Tropical Forest Destruction Accelerated in 2020

There were bright spots, but the total lost acreage increased by 12 percent over all from the year before, according to new research.

#agriculture-and-farming, #amazon-jungle, #biodiversity, #brazil, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indonesia, #logging-industry, #pantanal-brazil, #rural-areas, #wildfires, #world-resources-institute

Why That Salmon on Your Plate Might Have Been a Vegetarian

Pescatarians take note: Farmed fish are eating more veggies and less wild fish, according to new research. That’s good news for nature.

#biodiversity, #clams, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #fish-farming, #food, #nature-journal, #oysters, #research, #salmon, #trout

That Salmon on Your Plate Might Have Been a Vegetarian

Pescatarians take note: Farmed fish are eating more veggies and less wild fish, according to new research. That’s good news for nature.

#biodiversity, #clams, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #fish-farming, #food, #nature-journal, #oysters, #research, #salmon, #trout

Looking for Climate Solutions? Protect More Ocean, Researchers Find.

Among the surprising findings in a new paper on marine ecosystems: Trawling releases as much planet-warming carbon each year as global aviation.

#biodiversity, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #fishing-commercial, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #nature-journal, #oceans-and-seas, #research, #sala-enric

This Endangered Bird Lost Its Song in Australia

New generations of a critically endangered species of songbird are failing to learn the tunes they need for courtship. It could lead to extinction.

#australia, #biodiversity, #birds, #evolution-biology

Protecting Lions Helps the Whole Food Chain? Actually, We Don’t Know.

The assumption that adding apex predators to wildlife parks in South Africa benefits smaller animals is in need of more testing, scientists say.

#biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #lions, #mammals, #proceedings-of-the-royal-society-b-journal, #research, #south-africa, #travel-and-vacations, #wildlife-sanctuaries-and-nature-reserves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

There’s a Global Plan to Conserve Nature. Indigenous People Could Lead the Way.

Dozens of countries are backing an effort that would protect 30 percent of Earth’s land and water. Native people, often among the most effective stewards of nature, have been disregarded, or worse, in the past.

#biodiversity, #brazil, #canada, #conservation-of-resources, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indigenous-people, #papua-new-guinea

California Condors Get an Assist From an Unlikely Source: A Wind Power Company

Federal wildlife authorities in California are working with a wind energy company to breed the endangered birds in captivity to replace any that may be killed by turbine blades. Conservationists are skeptical.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #avangrid-renewables-llc, #biodiversity, #birds, #breeding-of-animals, #california, #condors, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #energy-and-power, #fish-and-wildlife-service, #wind-power

The Secret Life of a Coronavirus

An oily, 100-nanometer-wide bubble of genes has killed more than two million people and reshaped the world. Scientists don’t quite know what to make of it.

#almeida-june-1930-2007, #animals, #bats, #biodiversity, #dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #genetics-and-heredity, #microbiology, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #rna-ribonucleic-acid, #science-and-technology, #smallpox, #van-leeuwenhoek-antonie-1632-1723, #viruses

In the Oceans, the Volume Is Rising as Never Before

A new review of the scientific literature confirms that anthropogenic noise is becoming unbearable for undersea life.

#acoustics, #animals, #biodiversity, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #law-of-the-sea-un-convention, #noise, #oceans-and-seas, #reefs, #ships-and-shipping, #united-nations-convention-on-biological-diversity, #whales-and-whaling, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Nature Doesn’t Get a Paycheck. Now, There’s a Movement to Change That.

Ignoring the value of nature threatens humanity itself, according to a new British report on biodiversity and economics.

#biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #dasgupta-partha, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #environment, #global-warming, #great-britain

New Bat Species With Orangutan Hue Discovered in West Africa

Scientists hope the rare discovery could be a catalyst for conserving the region’s biodiversity.

#american-museum-novitates, #bats, #biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #guinea, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Biden Plans to Conserve 30 Percent of America’s Lands

That’s how much land Biden wants to conserve over the next decade. But is it possible?

#agriculture-department, #babbitt-bruce, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #federal-lands, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #interior-department, #land-use-policies, #united-states, #western-states-us, #wilderness-areas

Georgina Mace, Who Shaped List of Endangered Species, Dies at 67

She rewrote the global Red List, which describes which species are in trouble, and warned that the world must restore its ecological balance or pay a steep price.

#animals, #biodiversity, #deaths-obituaries, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #environment, #international-union-for-conservation-of-nature, #mace-georgina-1953-2020

Could Listening to the Deep Sea Help Save It?

In the abyss, everyone can hear you scream.

#acoustics, #animal-behavior, #biodiversity, #chen-chong, #dolphins-and-porpoises, #fish-and-other-marine-life, #japan, #noise, #oceans-and-seas, #recording-equipment, #ships-and-shipping, #volcanoes, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

In Madagascar, Endangered Lemurs Find a Private Refuge

Climate change is shifting the habitats of endangered species and requiring conservation scientists to think outside traditional park boundaries.

#africa, #agriculture-and-farming, #animals, #biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #land-use-policies, #lemurs, #madagascar, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #vanilla, #wilderness-areas, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Europe Moves to Protect Nature, but Faces Criticism Over Subsidizing Farms

The proposal would protect 30 percent of the continent’s land and water by 2030.

#agriculture-and-farming, #biodiversity, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #land-use-policies, #united-nations-convention-on-biological-diversity

Restoring Farmland Could Drastically Slow Extinctions, Fight Climate Change

Returning strategic parts of the world’s farmlands to nature could help mitigate both climate change and biodiversity loss, a new study found.

#agriculture-and-farming, #biodiversity, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #united-nations-convention-on-biological-diversity, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change

Are Exotic Skins Out of Fashion?

Covid-19 may be the tipping point when it comes to crocodile, python, ostrich, and clothes.

#agriculture-and-farming, #alligators, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animals, #biodiversity, #convention-on-international-trade-in-endangered-species, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #fashion-and-apparel, #fur, #kering-sa, #luxury-goods-and-services, #lvmh-moet-hennessy-louis-vuitton-sa, #minks-animals, #people-for-the-ethical-treatment-of-animals, #phillips-van-heusen-corporation, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #reptiles, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #your-feed-fashion

A ‘Crossroads’ for Humanity: Earth’s Biodiversity Is Still Collapsing

Countries have made insufficient progress on international goals designed to halt a catastrophic slide, a new report found.

#biodiversity, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #environment, #global-warming, #united-nations, #wildfires

Extinction Is Not Inevitable. These Species Were Saved.

Conservation efforts have saved up to 48 mammal and bird species since 1993, but scientists say much more is needed to stem biodiversity loss.

#biodiversity, #birds, #conservation-letters-journal, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #horses, #mammals, #research, #united-nations-convention-on-biological-diversity, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

As waters warm, these species are stuck going the wrong way

These clams are fighting an uphill battle.

Enlarge / These clams are fighting an uphill battle. (credit: Kyle Hartshorn)

As the world warms and climate zones shift, species that are able may alter their range to try to keep themselves at a comfortable temperature. Although the oceans are generally warming more slowly than the land, migrations of marine species are well documented already. For organisms like fish, mobile adults can dynamically track suitable conditions. But many seafloor-dwelling critters primarily move in their wandering youth—as larvae that (mostly) passively ride the currents. Changing your destination isn’t so easy when you’re not in the driver’s seat.

Unfortunately, some of those species have been seen migrating the wrong way, toward even higher-temperature waters rather than away from them. We’ve seen this happen in the coastal northwest Atlantic, including in some commercially harvested species like clams. Seeing these species shift requires something unusual, since they’re adapted to their current-catching lifestyle. So what gives?

A team led by Heidi Fuchs at Rutgers University wanted to test the hypothesis that earlier spring warmth could explain things. These organisms take their spawning cue from warm temperatures, so long-term warming can push that springtime cue earlier and earlier. If the currents are different in early spring, that could lead to larvae drifting toward new locations simply because they’re ahead of schedule.

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#biodiversity, #climate-change, #science

How to Stop the Next Pandemic

It’s not just Covid-19. Pathogens once confined to nature are making their way into humans on a more regular basis. And it’s our fault.

#biodiversity, #china, #congo-democratic-republic-of-congo-kinshasa, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #daszak-peter, #ecohealth-alliance, #epidemics, #forests-and-forestry, #land-use-policies, #lyme-disease, #nipah-virus, #quammen-david, #sars-severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome, #walzer-christian, #wildlife-conservation-society, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching

With an Internet of Animals, Scientists Aim to Track and Save Wildlife

Using tiny sensors and equipment aboard the space station, a project called ICARUS seeks to revolutionize animal tracking.

#animal-behavior, #animal-migration, #animals, #biodiversity, #computers-and-the-internet, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #international-space-station, #mobile-applications, #poaching-wildlife, #research, #sensors, #space-and-astronomy, #wikelski-martin, #your-feed-science

11 Great Alternatives to the Top National Parks

Whether you like hiking, fishing, volcanoes, trees or even fossilized trees, there is a less-traveled and still awe-inspiring national park for you.

#arches-national-park-utah, #big-bend-national-park-tex, #biodiversity, #canoes-and-canoeing, #canyonlands-national-park-utah, #congaree-national-park, #coronavirus-reopenings, #deserts, #dunes, #forests-and-forestry, #fossils, #glaciers, #great-basin-national-park, #great-sand-dunes-national-park-and-reserve-colorado, #gunnison-colo, #hikes-and-hiking, #lakes, #lassen-volcanic-national-park-calif, #national-park-service, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #north-cascades-national-park-wash, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #petrified-forest-national-park-ariz, #shutdowns-institutional, #travel-and-vacations, #trees-and-shrubs, #volcanoes, #voyageurs-national-park-minn, #wilderness-areas

Mass Extinctions Are Accelerating, Scientists Report

Five hundred species are likely to become extinct over the next two decades, according to a new study.

#animals, #biodiversity, #ceballos-gerardo, #conservation-of-resources, #ehrlich-paul-r, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #international-union-for-conservation-of-nature, #missouri-botanical-garden, #national-autonomous-university, #population, #proceedings-of-the-national-academy-of-sciences, #your-feed-science

Madagascar: A Cornucopia of Beauty

Join us for a visual tour of the island nation of Madagascar, about 90 percent of whose flora and fauna is found nowhere else on Earth.

#africa, #biodiversity, #islands, #lemurs, #madagascar, #photography, #travel-warnings