FOR decades scientists have known that birds’ ability to navigate with great accuracy over long distances, in some cases migrating from one side of the world to the other, relies on a magnetic sense that humans lack. Experiments with homing pigeons performed in the early 1970s found that attaching a magnet disrupted their ability to orientate themselves. Since then, research has intensified into the precise mechanism of birds’ magnetic sense. So how does it work?
Inglis-Arkell points out an important element of the question: "The first thing to consider would be the method by which they would 'be gone.'" The point is made that there would be a variety of problems presented, based on how integrated the species is in its non-native environment, and how dependent other species (ahem, humans) have become on them. If so many domestic animals -- non-native to a country but raised as livestock for hundreds, if not thousands of years -- up and disappeared, there would be a lot of very hungry people. Similarly, many food crops would no longer be available.
As a landscape designer, one of the most common complaints I hear about native plants is that they are too messy, weedy-looking, unstructured and unkempt to be used in a designed landscape. While there are plenty of native plant gardens that unfortunately live up to that reputation, it’s simple to incorporate native plants into any garden to increase it wildlife value while also adding to its overall beauty.
There are appropriate native plants for every gardening style from formal to informal, fromcottage to contemporary and any style in between. By following some simple steps – let’s call them the six S’s of wildlife garden design – you can create a lush, beautiful garden that is more than just a collection of pretty faces.
A healthy wildlife garden has about a gazillion life forms in it, and you will never see most of them — just their effects. I am speaking of the trillions and trillions of soil microbes that are needed for good growth in any garden.
Microbes are not “germs!” Microbes are simply microscopic life. And microbes are myriad —in both shear numbers and variety of species. Technically there are five kingdoms of organisms on Earth: bacteria, algae, fungi, plants, and animals. Every kingdom has a whole suite of microbes. And every microbe has an important, even momentous, role to play.
National Pollinator Week began grimly Sunday when tens of thousands of dead bumblebees, honeybees, ladybugs, and other insects were discovered blanketing a shopping plaza’s parking lot just off Interstate 5 in Wilsonville, Ore.
Bumblebees were the species hardest hit, with an estimated 25,000 dead and 150 colonies lost outside a Target store. “They were literally falling out of the trees,” said Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist with the nonprofit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumblebee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch.”
It turns out that landscapers had sprayed the lot’s 65 European linden trees on Saturday with the insecticide Safari. The insecticide is marketed by manufacturer Valent as “a super-systemic insecticide with quick uptake and knockdown.”
What does a wolf in Yellowstone National Park have in common with an ambush spider on a meadow in Connecticut? Both are predators and thus eat herbivores, such as elk (in the case of wolves) and grasshoppers (in the case of spiders). Elk and grasshoppers also have more in common than you probably imagine: they both consume large quantities of plant matter. While scientists have long-known that predators lead to carbon storage by reducing herbivore populations, a new study reveals a novel way in which top predators cause an ecosystem to store more carbon.
Wilsonville OR. — Tens of thousands of bumble bees and other pollinators were found dead under trees at the Target store in Wilsonville on Monday, June 17th. The discovery was a strange and ironic start to National Pollinator Week, a symbolic annual event intended to raise public awareness about the plight of bees.
The massive bee kill was first documented on Monday by Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist with the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Several shoppers at the store called him to report that there were dead and dying bees all over the parking lot. Specifically, the bees were clustered under dozens of European linden trees. The Xerces Society is internationally known for their work on bee conservation.
Rich Hatfield estimated there were at least 25,000 dead bumble bees at the site, a number that likely represents the loss of more than 150 colonies. There were also dead honey bees, lady bird beetles and other beneficial insects. Bumble bees are especially important to agriculture in western Oregon, where they are considered vital pollinators of many berry crops and Willamette Valley seed crops.
The following list of pest descriptions and control measures provides a good starting point for tackling pest control in gardens throughout the United States and Canada. Control solutions are listed in order of environmental friendliness. Botanical sprays, which can have detrimental effects on beneficial insects and other animals, should be used only as a last resort.
For several years now, scientists have been struggling to determine why bee colonies across the world are disappearing—a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD).
As reported by Dan Rather, the US has recently experienced the highest loss of honeybee populations so far, with most of the nation’s beekeepers losing anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of their bee population.
Honeybees are perhaps one of the least recognized workers in the agricultural industry. They contribute $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the US economy alone, as a full one-third of the American food supply depends on them pollinating crops.
Just about every fruit and vegetable you can imagine is dependent on the pollinating services of bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre in order to be adequately pollinated. So, unless the mysterious disappearance of bees is reversed, major food shortages could result.
Your first choice for such a multifunctional homestead necessity may be manufactured fencing: woven or electric wire, welded livestock panels, boards on pressure-treated posts, or even virgin or recycled plastic. As the energy and environmental crises deepen, however, such options are becoming less appealing and more expensive. The chemical preservatives, paints and galvanizing agents used in fence manufacturing and maintenance may have toxic spillover effects in the environment. Furthermore, most manufactured fencing is a “one for one” solution. A woven wire fence meant to contain livestock, for example, provides that service and nothing more. The key to a more self-sufficient homestead that imitates natural systems is finding solutions that simultaneously solve more than one problem, provide more than one service and support more than one project. Enter living fences. Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/living-fences-z10m0sto.aspx#ixzz2Xv2ZmfKE
The threat posed to bees by neonicotinoid insecticides ‘may be just the tip of the iceberg’, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Research conducted by the University of Sussex’s Professor Dave Goulson reveals that soil organisms, aquatic life and farmland birds might also be harmed by these pesticides.
The study is based upon information taken from a diverse range of sources, including that provided by the agrochemical industry’s own research. Professor Goulson found that if used regularly, neonicotinoids accumulate in soil at concentrations far higher than those required to kill bees.
Photographer Francis Prior puts insects under his macro lens and snaps portraits with amazing detail.
Prior's interest in macro insect photography stems from a source familiar to us -- a fellow photographer named Thomas Shahan. We have featured Shahan's work here on TreeHugger, and he has even been on the Today Show showing off his amazing photography. So it is no wonder that other photographers would want to try their hand at documenting this fascinating world of bugs.
Prior has taken his love of the natural world and the inspiration of other photographers and created a wonderful following of his own with his detailed portraits of a world we rarely see, let alone appreciate. Enjoy the photos in this slideshow, and learn more about how Prior creates these images.
Shrinking your lawn may be the best way to invite butterflies into your yard. Here are three strategies to convert picture-perfect turf, which provides no habitat for butterflies, into abutterfly-friendly landscape offering opportunities for your family and friends to interact with these winged wonders.
As ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea) takes hold, the indications are that the effects on our landscape could be even worse than the outbreak of Dutch elm disease in the Seventies. There are far more ash trees in Britain than there were elms – at least 125 million. Ash is the third most common tree species in the UK – only oak and birch rank higher – and it is found in just about every region from Caithness to Cornwall, Norfolk to Pembrokeshire.
Ashbourne in Derbyshire, Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, Ashford in Kent, Ashtead in Surrey and Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester all take their name from the tree and if you look at any British atlas you will find scores of other locations where this tree was predominant.
Ash is a member of the olive family, although this is not immediately obvious from its leaves, seeds and fruit. It is a large, elegant deciduous tree with light grey, relatively smooth bark and distinctive velvety black buds.
While recent research (and media attention) has focused on the alleged negative impacts of pesticides on bees, the problem may be far broader according to a new study in the Proceedings of the US Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Looking at over 50 streams in Germany, France, and Australia, scientists in Europe and Australia found that pesticide contamination was capable of undercutting invertebrate biodiversity by nearly half.
"Pesticide use has not decreased in the last decade [...] and is predicted to increase in the next decades due to climate change and thus may be a more important driver of biodiversity loss in the future," the scientists write.
Aristotle (384–322 BC) reported a mysterious light, distinct from fire, emanating from decaying wood. Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) mentioned feasting on a glowing, sweet fungus found on trees in France and, in the late fifteenth century, a Dutch consul gave accounts of Indonesian peoples using fungal fruits to illuminate forest pathways. Bioluminescent fungi have intrigued generations of observers, and a handful of scientists still carry that torch of curiosity, answering questions about how and why these mushrooms glow.
Have you ever seen a cocoon quite like this?! Looking more like a net, or open-weave basket, this cocoon has an interesting reason for its surprising structure.
This is the cocoon of the Urodid Moth, and it is entirely unlike other cocoons you're probably used to seeing. The pupa is housed within what looks like something that came off a 3D Printer. Just another example of how we're lagging behind the art already found in nature!
But why does this species prefer a cocoon that seems so, well, vulnerable? Destin from Smarter Every Day talked to a butterfly farmer to find out why the strategy of building a net, rather than a shell, works for this type of moth.
Why burn a quarter-tank of gas running out to the drugstore for Pepto when you can pluck some relief from your windowsill herb garden?
Besides adding another dimension to your cooking, freshly harvested herbs can soothe dozens of common health problems, and it’s possible to grow a selection of home remedies in a couple of pots placed in a sunny spot.
Look for seedlings of these plants and herbs at any garden store, or if you’re really ambitious, buy a packet of seeds and try sprouting your own.
With more than 1,200 different species, bats make up about a quarter of all the Earth's mammals. Their numbers, however, are declining due to threats that include deforestation, disease and hunting. Meanwhile, many people are actually seeing morebats as changes in land use, agriculture, food industry practices, climate change and human population growth actually bring the remaining animals -- and their viruses -- closer to us.
We live in a largely post-Christian age, but imagine this: what if between 1930 and 1980, nearly all the medieval churches of Britain, let us say 97 per cent of them, had been destroyed? ...
I suggest ... there was a loss that did take place in those years, of such a scale and order, yet it went almost wholly unremarked-upon; and that was the nearly-complete vanishing of a series of wonderful and ancient human-creations whose true worth we are only just beginning to recognise: our hay meadows.