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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert | forests | Scoop.it
Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
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What next? Brazil's deforestation soars by 290% in September 2014 | REDD-Monitor

What next? Brazil's deforestation soars by 290% in September 2014 | REDD-Monitor | forests | Scoop.it
What's behind the increase in deforestation in Brazil? And what does it mean for REDD?
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Artists, musicians, writers protest government plans for massive coal plant in the Sundarbans

Artists, musicians, writers protest government plans for massive coal plant in the Sundarbans | forests | Scoop.it
Over the weekend, Bangladeshi artists performed plays, sang songs, and recited poetry all in a bid to protect the Sundarbans—the world's biggest mangrove forest—from the threat of a massive coal plant. Construction is already under way on the hugely controversial Rampal coal plant, a 1,320 megawatt plant set just 14 kilometers from the edge of the Sundarbans.
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Conservation concern for South America’s remarkable endemic dogs

Conservation concern for South America’s remarkable endemic dogs | forests | Scoop.it

Last year the Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia volume titled Extinct Life appeared in print. I was asked to cover South American mammals, perhaps because they wanted me to write about borhyaenoids, toxodonts, litopterns, astrapotheres and so on (some of which have been covered on Tet Zoo in the past – I really need to get back to those animals some time soon).

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England's top 10 trees shortlisted for 'tree of the year'

England's top 10 trees shortlisted for 'tree of the year' | forests | Scoop.it
A tree where Robin Hood hid and Isaac Newton’s apple tree are among candidates picked by the Woodland Trust for England’s first tree of the year, to be voted by the public
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Christian Allié's curator insight, October 30, 3:44 AM

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Jill Butler, ancient tree specialist at the Woodland Trust, said: “Some of them really just jump out at you, you know them very well – the Ankerwycke yew is an absolutely astounding tree. The Major oak, and Old Knobbley, these are very, very well known and well-loved. Old Knobbley had the greatest number of nominations so it’s obviously a very popular tree in Essex.

“There are some that one would’ve expected, but some that are obviously well-loved in their villages such as the Whiteleaved oak and the Ickwell oak.”

The competition is designed to raise awareness of England’s unique trees and the history attached to them, and the trust is also campaigning to have a national register set up to help list and protect them.

“We are one of the richest countries in northern Europe for these characterful, important and ancient trees, so it’s about raising awareness that these are there in the landscape, don’t overlook them,” said Butler, who admitted to hoping the Ankerwycke yew wins.

 

Voting closes on 4 November.

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Success Seen for Tigers in Transboundary Landscape

Success Seen for Tigers in Transboundary Landscape | forests | Scoop.it

Tiger conservation efforts are paying off at the landscape level, even where national borders are present across tiger habitats. This good news comes from a report shared by the governments of India and Nepal together with WWF. The announcement came at a meeting of tiger range governments working together and tracking progress towards the goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022, also known as TX2.

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African lion deserves 'endangered species' protection

African lion deserves 'endangered species' protection | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: Steve Garvie

Loss of habitat and prey are putting African lions in danger of extinction, and the majestic creatures need protection in order to save their species, the US government said Monday.
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Brazil declares new protected area larger than Delaware

Brazil declares new protected area larger than Delaware | forests | Scoop.it

Earlier this week, the Brazilian government announced the declaration of a new federal reserve deep in the Amazon rainforest. The protections conferred by the move will illegalize deforestation, reduce carbon emissions, and help safeguard the future of the area’s renowned wildlife.

 

The red-nosed saki (Chiropotes albinasus), Endangered, inhabits the new federal reserve. Photo by Valdir Hobus.

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Africa’s Vultures Threatened By An Assault on All Fronts

Africa’s Vultures Threatened By An Assault on All Fronts | forests | Scoop.it
Vultures are being killed on an unprecedented scale across Africa, with the latest slaughter perpetrated by elephant poachers who poison the scavenging birds so they won’t give away the location of their activities.
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Albania’s Coastal Wetlands: Killing Field for Migrating Birds

Albania’s Coastal Wetlands: Killing Field for Migrating Birds | forests | Scoop.it
Millions of birds migrating between Africa and Europe are being illegally hunted on the Balkan Peninsula, with the most egregious poaching occurring in Albania. Conservationists and the European Commission are calling for an end to the carnage.
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Retaining forests where raptors nest can help to protect biodiversity

Retaining forests where raptors nest can help to protect biodiversity | forests | Scoop.it

Photo Credit: Daniel Burgas

Researchers in the University of Helsinki and Novia University of Applied Sciences studied two common raptor species in Finland, the goshawk and the Ural owl. Researchers visited raptor nests and surrounding forests on two large forested areas and recorded the amount of biodiversity such as birds, flying squirrel and polypores around them.


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Biodiversity, Climate Change Solutions Inextricably Linked

Biodiversity, Climate Change Solutions Inextricably Linked | forests | Scoop.it

"Our biodiversity is important for our health, our status, our attractiveness as a country and it is important that we conserve it and use it in a sustainable manner that it is there for generations to come." -- Helena Brown

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Indonesian Villagers Use Drones to Protect Their Forest

Indonesian Villagers Use Drones to Protect Their Forest | forests | Scoop.it

The villagers of Setulang in Indonesian Borneo have enlisted a new ally in their fight against the illegal clearing of their forests for oil palm plantations: aerial drones.

 

“Dayaks and Drones,” a video produced by Handcrafted Films, chronicles how the villagers teamed up with an Indonesian nonprofit to learn how to program and operate drones. Equipped with GPS technology, the small drones photograph the forest and monitor the area for illegal activities, especially plantations and mines. The villagers will use information gathered by the drones to create a detailed map of their land, which will help in future conservation efforts.

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Lizard Stowaways Revise Principle of Ecology

Lizard Stowaways Revise Principle of Ecology | forests | Scoop.it
The movement of lizards around the Caribbean is forcing an accounting for human activity in even the most basic ecological models
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A new land snail species named for equal marriage rights

A new land snail species named for equal marriage rights | forests | Scoop.it
Scientists from the Department of Life Science, National Taiwan Normal University and the Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica described a new endemic land snail species. The new species Aegista diversifamilia was long confused for the widely distributed A. subchinensis. The study was published ...
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Amazon rainforest is getting drier, confirms another study

Amazon rainforest is getting drier, confirms another study | forests | Scoop.it
Parts of the Amazon rainforest are getting considerably less rain, leading trees to absorb less carbon, finds a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Judit Urquijo's curator insight, October 31, 7:59 AM

De preocupante se puede considerar el estudio recientemente publicado por el boletín de la National Academy of Sciences de EEUU, que afirma que desde el año 2000, la selva amazónica se ha reducido en un área de 5,4 millones de km2 a consecuencia del descenso en las precipitaciones


Los científicos que han conducido este estudio consideran que este efecto puede suponer una amenaza para el efecto de sumidero de carbono que ejerce esta zona. Si se cumplen los modelos climáticos que apuntan los estudios, este hecho podría acelerar el cambio climático en el planeta.


Un problema más que se une a los que ya registra esta parte del planeta y que se manifiestan en forma de minería ilegal, talas ilegales o construcción de infraestructuras, por citar algunas de las más relevantes. Por cierto, no dejéis de visitar esta web que recoge todos los proyectos de represamientos que existen o están previstos en la Amazonía.

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Living Planet Report 2014

Living Planet Report 2014 | forests | Scoop.it

The Living Planet Report documents the state of the planet—including biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources—and what this means for humans and wildlife. Published by WWF every two years, the report brings together a variety of research to provide a comprehensive view of the health of the earth.

Population sizes of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years. In other words, those populations around the globe have dropped by more than half in fewer than two human generations.

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World is losing 2 000 hectares of farm soil daily to salt damage

World is losing 2 000 hectares of farm soil daily to salt damage | forests | Scoop.it
Salt-spoiled soils worldwide: 20% of all irrigated lands — an area equal to size of France. Extensive costs include $27 billion+ in lost crop value/year. UNU study identifies ways to reverse damage, says every hectare needed to feed world’s fast-growing population.

Every day for more than 20 years, an average of 2 000 hectares of irrigated land in arid and semi-arid areas across 75 countries have been degraded by salt, according to a study by UN University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, published October 28.

Today an area the size of France is affected - about 62 million hectares (20%) of the world's irrigated lands, up from 45 million hectares in the early 1990s.
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Bougainville Voices Say ‘No’ to Mining

Bougainville Voices Say ‘No’ to Mining | forests | Scoop.it

"We planted taro, but it wouldn’t grow like before [the mine] and the breadfruit trees didn’t have any fruits […]. In Panguna, the chemicals are still there in the river. No-one drinks the water, there is no fish there." -- Lynette Ona, a member of the Bougainville Indigenous Women Landowner Association

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Lauri's curator insight, October 30, 12:09 AM

Mining takes it's toll globally.

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Curbing the Illegal Wildlife Trade Crucial to Preserving Biodiversity

Curbing the Illegal Wildlife Trade Crucial to Preserving Biodiversity | forests | Scoop.it

Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade are a universal menace that has been causing severe threats including possible extinction of species, economic losses, as well as loss of livelihood across the world.

According to the recently released Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 (GBO-4), the latest progress report of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the current annual illegal wildlife trade stands at some 200 billion dollars annually.

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A Wild Idea: Save Tasmanian Devils While Controlling Killer Cats

A Wild Idea: Save Tasmanian Devils While Controlling Killer Cats | forests | Scoop.it

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) disappeared from mainland Australia centuries ago, probably not long after humans first brought dingoes to the continent. A new plan could bring the infamous, snarling predators back from the island of Tasmania to Oz. That would not only benefit the devils, which are dying out due to a communicable cancer, but also theoretically help control populations of feral cats and foxes that are driving much of the country’s other wildlife to extinction.

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How 60 of the weirdest birds are related - Futurity

How 60 of the weirdest birds are related - Futurity | forests | Scoop.it
Some of the loudest, oddest-looking, least-understood birds on the planet, called cotingas, just got a "family tree."

 

This circular rendition of the “tree of life” shows nearly all the sizes, colors, and adaptations for the continga family of birds radiating outward from the center and its common ancestor. Both males and females are shown except where plumage for both is the same. View larger. (Credit: Courtesy of the Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails, Lynx Edicions 2004)


Via Christian Allié
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Christian Allié's curator insight, October 19, 10:28 AM

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When Berv and Prum examined patterns of evolution for these two traits across their new tree of life, there was no significant match. There have been many more evolutionary changes in color than there have been for breeding system. Berv says these traits may be evolutionarily “decoupled” in the cotingas.

However, sexual selection appears to have played a role in the evolution of sexual differences other than color in some cotingas.

“In one case, the Screaming Piha, the males and females look alike but the male sings one of the loudest songs on the planet,” says Yale’s Rick Prum. “That means male-female plumage difference alone is not evidence for sexual selection because sexual selection is also driving other traits such as voice and behavior.”

Crazy colors

Though the researchers didn’t find a link between the coloration of males and females and the evolution of polygynous breeding systems, Prum says some form of sexual selection almost certainly did play a role in the eye-popping colors some cotingas display.

Some species have evolved a variety of colors seen only in this group of birds, such as the glowing orange cowl of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, the fluorescence of the Turquoise Cotinga, or the blue-and-maroon combo of the Banded Cotinga.

 

“Some cotinga colors are not produced by pigments,” Berv explains. “Some of these birds have evolved cool nanoscale feather structures made with feather protein molecules. The nanostructures scatter light and produce visible color the birds use in sexual signaling.”

Figuring out how these feather structures evolved is an area of future study. In fact, “the sky’s the limit,” according to Prum, who notes other areas of study could include the evolution of elaborate courtship displays, clutch sizes, or the vocal organs that produce the ear-splitting sounds of the raucous bellbirds and pihas. Even the color question can be studied on a much more refined scale.

Beyond ‘yes or no’

“Rather than just asking whether males and females of a species are dimorphic, yes or no, we will next measure various color patches and quantify brilliance,” says Prum.

“For example, male and female robins look different, so that would be a ‘yes’ for dimorphism. But they’re not as different as the male and female Scarlet Tanager. On the ‘yes-no’ scale they would be scored the same. If we actually measure the colors we’d be able to say ‘Wow, males and females of one species are really a lot more different than the other.’ That would reflect the impact of sexual selection a lot better.”

“One of the biggest analytical differences between what we’ve done and past work is that we used a ‘species tree’ approach, which is potentially more accurate than what is typically applied to genetic data,” Berv says.

“We ran our data through more traditional types of analyses as well, and all of them strongly supported a consistent evolutionary ‘tree of life.’ We hope other scientists who are interested in these birds take our phylogeny and do all sorts of great things with it.”

 

The paper appears in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

 

W. R. Coe funds from Yale University supported the work, as did the facilities and staff of the Yale University Faculty of Arts and Sciences High Performance Computing Center. The DNA work was performed at Yale; Berv did the data analysis and writing at the Cornell Lab.


Source: Cornell University

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Researchers find ferns communicate with one another to decide gender

Researchers find ferns communicate with one another to decide gender | forests | Scoop.it

(Phys.org) —A combined team of researchers from Nagoya University and the University of Tokyo has discovered that a certain type of fern plant communicates with others of its kind using pheromones as a means of choosing the gender of maturing plants. In their paper published in the journal Science, the researchers describe how their study of the Japanese climbing fern, led to a better understanding of the role that the pheromone gibberellin plays in its reproduction process. Tai-ping Sun, with Duke University offers a perspective piece in the same journal edition, providing a more in-depth analysis of the work the team has done.


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Bamboo Could Be a Savior for Climate Change, Biodiversity

Bamboo Could Be a Savior for Climate Change, Biodiversity | forests | Scoop.it

"The evidence shows that [bamboo] is being seriously undervalued as a possibility for countries to engage in biodiversity protection and protection of the natural environment.

 

The plant bamboo, and there are about 1,250 different species, has a very important role to play in environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Bamboos have very strong and very extensive root systems and are therefore amazing tools to combat soil erosion and to help with land degradation restoration."

-- Dr. Hans Friederich

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Lauri's curator insight, October 22, 9:05 PM

The idea of locking in a lot of carbon and then cutting it down and using it to build while another generation locks in even more is intriguing.

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Electric Power Rights of Way: An Unlikely Frontier for Conservation?

Electric Power Rights of Way: An Unlikely Frontier for Conservation? | forests | Scoop.it

Often mowed and doused with herbicides, power transmission lines have long been a bane for environmentalists.

 

Nobody loves electrical power transmission lines. They typically bulldoze across the countryside like a clearcut, 150 feet wide and scores or hundreds of miles long, in a straight line that defies everything we know about nature. They’re commonly criticized for fragmenting forests and other natural habitats and for causing collisions and electrocutions for some birds. Power lines also have raised the specter, in the minds of anxious neighbors, of illnesses induced by electromagnetic fields.

So it's a little startling to hear wildlife biologists proposing that properly managed transmission lines, and even natural gas and oil pipeline rights-of-way, could be the last best hope for many birds, pollinators, and other species that are otherwise dramatically declining.

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A new innovative way to fertilize through leaves

A new innovative way to fertilize through leaves | forests | Scoop.it

A new study suggests that foliar fertilization could be used as a tool to produce plants for high quality reforestation. Foliar feeding is used in agriculture to rapidly and precisely control the nutrition of plants. This technique has not been tested in the forestry area, but its application for nursery production can provide solutions to improve plant quality produced for afforestation.

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