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Ecosystem Current Events and Ecosystem News from Brightsurf



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Biodiversity loss raises risk of 'extinction cascades'

Mon, 19 Feb 18 00:10:30 -0800

New research shows that the loss of biodiversity can increase the risk of 'extinction cascades', where an initial species loss leads to a domino effect of further extinctions.



The more kinds of bees, the better for humans, Rutgers-led study finds

Thu, 15 Feb 18 00:07:30 -0800

The bigger the area to pollinate, the more species of wild bees you need to pollinate it.



More squid, less fish: North Pacific seabirds alter their prey preferences

Wed, 14 Feb 18 00:08:10 -0800

Over the last 125 years, and particularly after an uptick in industrial fishing since 1950, North Pacific seabirds -- typically fish consumers -- have shifted their prey preferences, a new study reports; they are eating lower on the food chain, consuming more squid.



UA scientist studies effects of wildfire management on bird populations

Wed, 14 Feb 18 00:11:00 -0800

On the tail of California's most destructive and expensive year of firefighting ever, it might seem obvious that vegetation removal would reduce the risk of such a year happening again. But scientists from the University of Arizona and the University of California, Berkeley, are showing that in chaparral, California's iconic shrubland ecosystem, management can devastate wild bird populations and that fire-risk reduction is only temporary.



Lithuanian researchers: Wastewater treatment plants could generate electricity

Mon, 12 Feb 18 00:01:50 -0800

Researchers of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania are working on improving the efficiency of microbial fuel cells (MFC) by using modified graphite felt. Primary results show that the new MFC can generate 20 percent higher voltage than usual cells.



Middle Earth preserved in giant bird dung

Mon, 12 Feb 18 00:07:40 -0800

While the giant birds that once dominated New Zealand are all extinct, a study of their preserved dung (coprolites) has revealed many aspects of their ancient ecosystem, with important insights for ongoing conservation efforts.



FSU researchers: Savanna fires pump Central African forests full of nitrogen

Thu, 08 Feb 18 00:10:40 -0800

Florida State University researchers are part of a global team of scientists revealing the unexpected role that large-scale fires and high nitrogen deposition play in the ecology and biogeochemistry of these lush Central African forests.



Snacking snakes act as 'ecosystem engineers' in seed dispersal

Thu, 08 Feb 18 00:13:40 -0800

Despite the bad rap snakes often get, they are more central to ecology than most people realize. New research reveals that snakes might even play a key role in dispersing plant seeds.



Simple rules can help fishery managers cope with ecological complexity

Thu, 08 Feb 18 00:15:30 -0800

A team of ecologists and economists are the first to test whether real-life ecological interactions produce economic benefits for the fishing industry. The results were published online Jan. 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



Influence of increasing carbon dioxide levels on the seabed

Wed, 07 Feb 18 00:12:40 -0800

Subseabed CO2 storage is a potential future climate change mitigation technology. In a holistic approach, this study presents how leaking CO2 affects sandy seabed habitats and their inhabitants. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen discovered that increased CO2 levels drastically alter the ecosystem. Most of the animals inhabiting the site disappeared due to the effect of the leaking CO2. The functioning of the ecosystem was disrupted also in the long-term.



Substances used in household goods affect the immune system of a coastal mussel

Mon, 05 Feb 18 00:09:30 -0800

In a study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, researchers from National University of Singapore have determined how perfluoalkyl substances (PFAS) affect the immune system of green mussels. Mussels, and other invertebrates, play an essential role in their ecosystem, and the ocean is the final sink for many pollutants like PFAS, so it is important to monitor regions that may have higher environmental concentrations due to unregulated discharges of these substances.



Ninety-six scientists co-author paper on rainforest mammals

Thu, 01 Feb 18 00:14:00 -0800

The Atlantic Forest, the second most biodiverse forest system in South America (after the Amazon), once covered roughly 463,000 square miles of habitat. Today, only 8-12 percent of this original habitat space remains. Ninety-six co-authors compiled trait information on 39,850 individuals from 279 different mammal species and 388 separate populations into a single, comprehensive study on Atlantic Forest mammals to advance zoological research and to emphasize the urgency of protecting this area's biodiversity.



Even small changes within an ecosystem can have detrimental effects

Thu, 01 Feb 18 00:07:30 -0800

A mutualistic relationship between species in an ecosystem allows for the ecosystem to thrive, but the lack of this relationship could lead to the collapse of the entire system. New research from Binghamton University, State University of New York reveals that interactions between relatively small organisms are crucial to mutualistic relationships in an ecosystem dominated by much larger organisms, including trees and elephants.



Taking the long view: US scientists affirm value of long term research

Wed, 31 Jan 18 00:13:00 -0800

A new Yale-led study provides a detailed glimpse into how the US ecological community views the direction of long-term research, its critical role in the advancement of knowledge, and research areas that scientists believe should be prioritized in the future.



Entomologist discovers millipede that comes in more color combinations than any other

Fri, 26 Jan 18 00:07:50 -0800

The thumb-sized millipede that crawls around the forest floor of Southwest Virginia's Cumberland Mountains has more color combinations than any other millipede discovered.



Mammals move less in human-modified landscapes

Thu, 25 Jan 18 00:13:20 -0800

On average, mammals move only half to one third of the distance in human-modified landscapes than they do in the wild. These findings have been published today by an international team lead by researchers at the Senckenberg Nature Research Society and Goethe University Frankfurt in the journal Science.



Researchers use wild rice to predict health of Minnesota lakes and streams

Wed, 24 Jan 18 00:00:20 -0800

By studying wild rice in lakes and streams, a team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota has discovered that sulfate in waterways is converted into toxic levels of sulfide and increases other harmful elements. This includes methylmercury, the only form of mercury that contaminates fish.



New study: Industry conservation ethic proves critical to Gulf of Maine lobster fishery

Mon, 22 Jan 18 00:08:00 -0800

A new study demonstrates how conservation practices championed by Maine lobstermen help make the lobster fishery resilient to climate change.



Not just commodities: World needs broader appreciation of nature's contributions to people

Thu, 18 Jan 18 00:09:50 -0800

In Science, 30 experts with the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) advocate consideration of a fuller, more comprehensive range of 'nature's contributions to people' in policy- and decision-making. Says IPBES Chair Sir Robert Watson: 'This new inclusive framework demonstrates that while nature provides a bounty of essential goods and services, such as food, flood protection and many more, it also has rich social, cultural, spiritual and religious significance -- which needs to be valued in policymaking as well.'



A handful of bacteria dominate the Earth's soil globally

Thu, 18 Jan 18 00:09:00 -0800

An assessment of soils across six continents reveals that very few bacterial taxa are consistently found in soils globally. The work represents the first global atlas of soil bacteria - comparable to atlases of plants and animals that have been available for decades.



Bacteria under your feet

Thu, 18 Jan 18 00:08:10 -0800

In cooperation with Universidad Rey Juan Carlos - URJC An international team of researchers, including ERC grantee Fernando T. Maestre from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC), pieced together a global atlas of soil bacteria. The study, published today in Science, identifies some five hundred species of dominant bacteria living in soils worldwide. The findings, based on EU-funded research, could open new paths to improve soil fertility and increase agricultural production.



California sea lion population rebounded to new highs

Wed, 17 Jan 18 00:00:30 -0800

California sea lions have fully rebounded under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with their population on the West Coast reaching carrying capacity in 2008 before unusually warm ocean conditions reduced their numbers, according to the first comprehensive population assessment of the species.



New research to help reduce number of algae blooms that form annually

Wed, 17 Jan 18 00:00:50 -0800

The study shows that sampling headwaters where streams form can identify which landscapes are resilient enough to handle the rigors of farming and which are vulnerable to leaching toxic residue into waterways.



Declining trust in facts, institutions imposes real-world costs on US society, RAND report finds

Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:02:20 -0800

Americans' reliance on facts to discuss public issues has declined significantly in the past two decades, leading to political paralysis and collapse of civil discourse.



Europe's lost forests -- study shows coverage has halved over 6,000 years

Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:09:00 -0800

Research led by the University of Plymouth shows more than half of the forests across Europe have been lost over the past 6,000 years.



New study suggests shark declines can lead to changes in reef fish body shapes

Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:05:10 -0800

Scientists studying nearly identical coral reef systems off Australia discovered something unusual on the reefs subjected to nearly exclusive fishing of sharks--fish with significantly smaller eyes and tails. The study is the first field evidence of body shape changes in fish due to human-driven shark declines from overfishing. These findings shed new light on the cascading effects the loss of the ocean's top predators is having on marine ecosystems.



The size of marine plankton is key to its global dispersal and distribution

Wed, 10 Jan 18 00:03:20 -0800

In a paper published in the latest issue of Nature Communications a group of international researchers, led by AZTI scientists, shows that the size of marine plankton is key to its global dispersal and distribution. It is an important discovery because plankton form the base of the food chain in the sea, produce 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and also remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These functions depend on the distribution of the different plankton species and on their body size.



Research outlines the interconnected benefits of urban agriculture

Wed, 10 Jan 18 00:11:20 -0800

A team of researchers led by Arizona State University and Google has assessed the value of urban agriculture and quantified its benefits at global scale. They report their findings in 'A Global Geospatial Ecosystems Services Estimate of Urban Agriculture,' in the current issue of Earth's Future.



Soil freeze-thaw stimulates nitrous oxide emissions from alpine meadows

Tue, 09 Jan 18 00:13:30 -0800

Soil freeze-thaw is a common natural phenomenon in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, which can not only change the water and heat conditions, and the physical and chemical properties of soil, but also influence greatly the biosphere-atmosphere exchanges of greenhouse gases.



In urban streams, pharmaceutical pollution is driving microbial resistance

Tue, 09 Jan 18 00:16:00 -0800

In urban streams, persistent pharmaceutical pollution can cause aquatic microbial communities to become resistant to drugs. So reports a new study published today in the journal Ecosphere.



Dead trees are alive with fungi

Tue, 09 Jan 18 00:01:20 -0800

So far, little research has been conducted on fungi that live on dead trees, although they are vital to the forest ecology by breaking down dead wood and completing the element cycle between plants and soil. Soil biologists from the UFZ have now discovered that the number of fungus species inhabiting dead trees is 12 times higher than previously thought. Once trees die they are also colonized by different fungal communities depending on their species.



Portland State study illustrates the combined effects of climate change and forest fires

Tue, 09 Jan 18 00:01:00 -0800

A new study co-authored by Portland State University geographer Andrés Holz, tracked the ebb and flow of ecosystem changes over the last 10,000 years, showing patterns that could shed light on current climate change and its role in shaping the world's forests.



In Antarctic dry valleys, early signs of climate change-induced shifts in soil

Fri, 05 Jan 18 00:15:20 -0800

In a study spanning two decades, a team of researchers found declining numbers of soil fauna, nematodes and other animal species in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the world's driest and coldest deserts.



Researchers use 'global thermometer' to track temperature extremes, droughts

Wed, 03 Jan 18 00:01:40 -0800

Large areas of the Earth's surface are experiencing rising maximum temperatures, which affect virtually every ecosystem on the planet, including ice sheets and tropical forests that play major roles in regulating the biosphere, scientists have reported.



A virus-bacteria coevolutionary 'arms race' solves diversity by 'killing the winner'

Tue, 02 Jan 18 00:12:30 -0800

Researchers at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have shed new light on a fundamental question in ecology, by improving a popular proposed scenario for diversity known as 'Kill the Winner.' Chi Xue and Nigel Goldenfeld, supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute for Universal Biology, which Goldenfeld directs, approached the diversity paradox from the perspective of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.



Charcoal remains could accelerate CO2 emissions after forest fires

Thu, 28 Dec 17 00:12:10 -0800

Charcoal remains after a forest fire help decompose fine roots in the soil, potentially accelerating CO2 emissions in boreal forests.



Political instability and weak governance lead to loss of species, study finds

Wed, 20 Dec 17 00:03:40 -0800

Big data study of global biodiversity shows ineffective national governance is a better indicator of species decline than any other measure of 'anthropogenic impact.' Even protected conservation areas make little difference in countries that struggle with socio-political stability.



The shrinking moose of Isle Royale

Mon, 18 Dec 17 00:10:20 -0800

Climate change and predator-prey dynamics with wolves make for smaller moose. Ecologists compare skull measurements spanning four decades gathered at Isle Royale National Park. For the booming moose population of Isle Royale, a key species in the world's longest running predator-prey study on the island, skulls have shrunk by about 16 percent over a 40-year period.



Reducing how much nitrogen enters a lake has little impact on algal blooms

Mon, 18 Dec 17 00:14:30 -0800

Lakes suffering from harmful algal blooms may not respond to reduced, or even discontinued, artificial nitrogen loading. Many blue-green algae responsible for algal blooms can fix atmospheric nitrogen dissolved in the water, and therefore water stewards should focus their efforts on removing phosphorus from lakes to combat algal blooms.



UNH researchers find effects of climate change could accelerate by mid-century

Thu, 14 Dec 17 00:03:40 -0800

Environmental models are showing that the effects of climate change could be much stronger by the middle of the 21st century, and a number of ecosystem and weather conditions could consistently decline even more in the future.



Every grain of sand is a metropolis for bacteria

Wed, 13 Dec 17 00:10:40 -0800

A single sand grain harbors up to 100,000 microorganisms from thousands of species.



Study: Suburban ponds are a septic buffet

Tue, 12 Dec 17 00:14:00 -0800

A new study shows that human waste accounts for a high percentage of nutrients consumed by some animals and plants in suburban ponds. Researchers at Yale University and Portland State University found that residential, suburban land use is altering the dynamics of the food chain, as well as where nutrients originate and how they move through pond ecosystems.



Sustainable dams -- are they possible?

Mon, 11 Dec 17 00:13:20 -0800

Humans have been altering natural waterways for centuries, but only in the last several decades have dams raised ecological concerns. N. LeRoy Poff, professor of biology at Colorado State University, studies the ecological impact to rivers from human-caused changes, such as dam building, and how these modified river systems can be managed for resilience. In a Perspective piece in the journal Science, Poff writes on the state of research in sustainable dam design.



Life under the surface in live broadcast

Thu, 07 Dec 17 00:11:00 -0800

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have invented new systems to study the life of microorganisms in the ground. Without any digging, the researchers are able use microchips to see and analyze an invisible world that is filled with more species than any other ecosystem.



Dust on the wind: Study reveals surprising role of dust in mountain ecosystems

Thu, 07 Dec 17 00:02:50 -0800

Trees growing atop granite in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains rely on nutrients from windborne dust more than on nutrients from the underlying bedrock.



Study finds ways to avoid hidden dangers of accumulated stresses on seagrass

Thu, 07 Dec 17 00:13:50 -0800

A new QUT-led study has found ways to detect hidden dangers of repeated stresses on seagrass using statistical modelling. The research, published by the Journal of Applied Ecology, found cumulative maintenance dredging which affected the light on the sea floor increased risks on seagrass survival. It found, globally, seagrass meadows can be at risk of collapse from accumulated effects of repeated dredging and natural stress.



Researchers model optimal amount of rainfall for plants

Wed, 06 Dec 17 00:00:10 -0800

Researchers have determined what could be considered a 'Goldilocks' climate for rainfall use by plants: not too wet and not too dry. But those landscapes are likely to shrink and become less productive in the future through climate change.



Stress test: New study finds seals are stressed-out by sharks

Tue, 05 Dec 17 00:04:00 -0800

While a little added stress may be helpful to flee a dangerous situation, or to meet an approaching deadline, it's no secret that prolonged exposure to the stress hormone cortisol is linked to health problems. So, what effects does stress have on animals in the wild that need to navigate the same waters as the ocean's top predator -- great white sharks?



PolyU reveals high prevalence of bacteria that carry gene mcr-1 in ecosystem

Tue, 05 Dec 17 00:06:10 -0800

Food Safety and Technology Research Centre of the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, PolyU recently found that bacteria that carry the colistin resistance gene mcr-1 commonly exist in human and various types of food and environmental samples collected from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. The prevalence of mcr-1 in our ecosystem challenges the role of colistin as the last resort antibiotic to treat infections caused by carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae.



Despite city tree benefits, Calif. urban canopy cover per capita lowest in US

Mon, 04 Dec 17 00:10:10 -0800

Trees in California communities are working overtime. From removing carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air, intercepting rainfall and increasing property values, California's 173.2 million city trees provide ecosystem services valued at $8.3 billion a year. However, according to a recent study, more benefits could be realized if the Golden State's urban forests didn't have the lowest canopy cover per capita in the nation.