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Featured video: The Miracle of Mangroves

Featured video: The Miracle of Mangroves | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it

JANUARY 30, 2013 - MONGABAY

Mangroves are among the most important ecosystems in the world: they provide nurseries for fish, protect coastlines against dangerous tropical storms, mitigate marine erosion, store massive amounts of carbon, and harbor species found no-where else... http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0130-hance-mangroves-video.html


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Gaia Diary
“The more we nurture the planet, the better and more natural a life we'll have.” ― Chris d'Lacey, Icefire
Curated by Mariaschnee
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Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot

It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it
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Viking horse breeders developed the ‘ambling gait’

Viking horse breeders developed the ‘ambling gait’ | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The Vikings are well known for their violent raids, but did you know that they were also expert horse breeders?
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Fish Can Be Smarter Than Primates

Fish Can Be Smarter Than Primates | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Intelligence is shaped by the survival requirements that an animal must face during its everyday life, according to cognitive ecology.…
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From concrete to coral: breeze blocks make a splash regenerating reefs

From concrete to coral: breeze blocks make a splash regenerating reefs | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
There hasn’t been much good news about coral recently, but in Grenada, one project is using towers of concrete to encourage marine life and create new reefs
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Earth set for large-scale wildlife reshuffle

Earth set for large-scale wildlife reshuffle | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Totally new climate regimes--new combinations of average rainfall and temperature--have emerged in 3.4 per cent of the Earth’s land surface during the past 100 years, shows a new study published in Nature Climate Change.
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Stunning aerial images reveal the Earth as you've never seen it before

Stunning aerial images reveal the Earth as you've never seen it before | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
EXCLUSIVE: New York-based Benjamin Grant's new book, 'Overview: A New Perspective', is a collection of photos that aims to give readers a glimpse of what the world looks like from above.
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PHOTOS: Panama begins “test-flooding” dam over indigenous protests

PHOTOS: Panama begins “test-flooding” dam over indigenous protests | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The Barro Blanco dam, backed by European banks and greenlighted to offer carbon credits through the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, has sparked deep opposition from the indigenous groups it will affect. Clashes between protesters and police on August 25 are but the latest eruption of violence over the project.
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Italian Grows Forgotten Fruit. What She Preserves Is a Culture.

Italian Grows Forgotten Fruit. What She Preserves Is a Culture. | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
There are probably few places as tranquil as the languorous hills that surround Umbria’s Città di Castello. But on her farm, Isabella Dalla Ragione pursues a personal mission — saving ancient fruit trees from extinction — with a strong sense of urgency.

Rescuing vanishing varieties is a race, she says, “and lots of times we arrived late.”

“If a plant dies, basta, it’s finished,” she adds. “You can’t preserve it.”

In that race, she picked up the baton at a young age from her father, Livio Dalla Ragione, who began scouring the surrounding countryside decades ago, searching for neglected fruit trees that no longer satisfied changing agricultural trends, market demands and modern tastes.

He collected branches with fresh buds and grafted them onto rootstock to create an orchard of endangered cherries, figs, apples, pears, peaches, quinces and other sundry species in a farmyard belonging to an abandoned church that he had bought in 1960.
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Rare crow shows a talent for tool use : Nature

Rare crow shows a talent for tool use : Nature | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Nature is the international weekly journal of science: a magazine style journal that publishes full-length research papers in all disciplines of science, as well as News and Views, reviews, news, features, commentaries, web focuses and more, covering all branches of science and how science impacts upon all aspects of society and life.
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Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia

Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The Quiver Tree Forest is located about 14 km north-east of the town of Keetmanshoop, on the road to the small village of Koës, in souther
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Christian Allié's curator insight, September 17, 8:27 AM
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The quiver tree is so named because native bushmen used to make quivers from the branches of the tree. Aloe dichotoma doesn't have real wood but a soft pulpy tissue, that can be hollowed out easily. One end of the hollow section is closed off with a piece of leather and used by the bushmen to hold arrows.

The natives also used large hollowed out trunks to store food and water. The fibrous tissue of the trunk has a cooling effect as air passes through, allowing the natives to store perishables for longer durations.
Apart from their historical use by humans for arrow-quivers, these trees hold tremendous ecological value. Many insects, animals and birds are drawn to the abundant nectar of the flowers. The tree is also an important nesting site for huge numbers of sociable weavers. The bird build their nests among the branches, which offer the nestlings protection from high temperatures, as well as from predators.
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Birds choose spring neighbors based on winter 'friendships'

Birds choose spring neighbors based on winter 'friendships' | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Great tits pick their spring breeding sites to be near their winter flockmates, according to new research into the social networks of birds from the University of Oxford.

The study shows that as mated pairs of great tits settle down to breed in the spring, they establish their homes in locations close to their winter flockmates. They also arrange their territory boundaries so that their most-preferred winter 'friends' are their neighbours.

The findings give new insights into the social behaviour of birds and demonstrate how social interactions can shape other aspects of wild animals' lives, such as the environmental conditions they will experience based on their choice of home location.

The research is published in the journal Ecology Letters.
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Ground squirrels use the sun to hide food

Ground squirrels use the sun to hide food | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Ground squirrels use information on the position of the sun when hiding their food and reuse this information to find their food stash again. The position of the sun serves as a reference point for the animals, which live in southern Africa, to orient themselves and adjust the direction they are traveling in. A study published by researchers from the University of Zurich sheds new light on the old question as to how animals find their bearings within their environment.
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Eastern forests use up nitrogen in soil during earlier, greener springs

Eastern forests use up nitrogen in soil during earlier, greener springs | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
A warming climate is causing earlier springs and later autumns in eastern forests of the United States, lengthening the growing season for trees and potentially changing how forests function. Scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have found that in years with early springs, trees use more nitrogen to grow than is naturally provided in soil, which could impact tree growth rates and the amount of carbon dioxide forests take out of the atmosphere.
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25,000-Year-Old Buildings Found in Russia

25,000-Year-Old Buildings Found in Russia | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
 

In the Caucasus mountains of Russia, not far from the cities Tzelentzchik, Touapse, Novorossiysk and Sochi, there are hundreds of megalithic monuments known as dolmens. Russian and foreign archaeologists have not yet discovered their use.

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Ice core analyses indicates atmospheric oxygen levels have fallen 0.7 percent over the past 800,000 years

Ice core analyses indicates atmospheric oxygen levels have fallen 0.7 percent over the past 800,000 years | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
A small team of researchers with Princeton University has found evidence that suggests that the amount of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere has dropped by 0.7 percent over the past 800,000 years. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes their analyses of ice core samples taken from Antarctica and Greenland and offer some possible explanations for what they found.

Scientists have suspected that atmospheric oxygen levels have fallen over the past million years or so, but have not been able to prove it, or even to offer reasonable estimates as to how much has taken place. They would like to know more about the history of oxygen levels because they have been tied very closely to life evolving on the planet and because they have had such a big impact on geochemical cycles—learning more about its history might offer clues about the future. In this new effort, the researchers sought to offer more concrete evidence. They studied a number of ice core samples that contained trapped air bubbles representing air samples going back almost a million years.

In studying their data, the researchers found that oxygen levels had fallen by 0.7 percent over the past 800,000 years—they also calculated that oxygen sinks had removed approximately 1.7 percent more oxygen over that time period than sources had added. They also point out that the change is not a cause for alarm, noting that the difference is equivalent to riding an elevator to the 30th floor of a skyscraper.
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The Harsh, Hidden Lessons of Tree School

The Harsh, Hidden Lessons of Tree School | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
If trees are capable of learning (and you can see they are just by observing them), then the question becomes: Where do they store what they have learned and how do they access this information? After all, they don’t have brains to function as databases and manage processes. It’s the same for all plants, and that’s why some scientists are skeptical and why many of them banish to the realm of fantasy the idea of plants’ ability to learn. But along comes the Australian scientist Monica Gagliano.

Gagliano studies mimosas, also called “sensitive plants.” Mimosas are tropical creeping herbs. They make particularly good research subjects, because it is easy to get them a bit riled up and they are easier to study in the laboratory than trees are. When they are touched, they close their feathery little leaves to protect themselves. Gagliano designed an experiment where individual drops of water fell on the plants’ foliage at regular intervals. At first, the anxious leaves closed immediately, but after a while, the little plants learned there was no danger of damage from the water droplets. After that, the leaves remained open despite the drops. Even more surprising for Gagliano was the fact that the mimosas could remember and apply their lesson weeks later, even without any further tests.
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China’s fancy for ‘aquatic cocaine’ could wipe out rare porpoise

China’s fancy for ‘aquatic cocaine’ could wipe out rare porpoise | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Illegal trade in the swim bladder of the totoaba fish fuels fishing practices that may drive the critically endangered vaquita to extinction
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Climate change could shrink habitat of 90pc of eucalypts

Climate change could shrink habitat of 90pc of eucalypts | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
It may be harder to spot a mountain ash in parts of Australia's mountains or some species of mallee trees in the outback within 60 years as climate change causes the range of most eucalypt species to shrink or even disappear entirely, new research suggests.
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SVS: The Rivers of the Mississippi Watershed

SVS: The Rivers of the Mississippi Watershed | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The Mississippi Watershed is the largest drainage basin in North America at 3.2 million square kilometers in area. The USGS has created a database of this area which indicates the direction of waterflow at each point. By assembling these directions into streamflows, it is possible to trace the path of water from every point of the area to the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico. This animation starts with the points furthest from the Gulf and reveals the streams and rivers as a steady progression towards the mouth of the Mississippi until all the major rivers are revealed. The speed of the reveal of the rivers is not dependent on the actual speed of the water flow. The reveal proceeds at a constant velocity along each river path, timed so that all reveals reach the mouth of the Mississippi at the same time.
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‘Ghost Forests’ Appear As Rising Seas Kill Trees

‘Ghost Forests’ Appear As Rising Seas Kill Trees | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The forests of dead trees are prevalent along the mid-Atlantic coast, where sea level rise is rapid.
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Ancient Hawaiian Farmers Offer Lessons in Sustainability

Ancient Hawaiian Farmers Offer Lessons in Sustainability | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
As global eco-summit begins in US Pacific state, spotlight shines on ancient farming system of its indigenous culture
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A Soviet scientist created the only tame foxes in the world

A Soviet scientist created the only tame foxes in the world | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
In the 1950s a Soviet geneticist began an experiment in guided evolution. He wanted to show how domestication works
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Deep-sea volcano a hotspot for mysterious life

Deep-sea volcano a hotspot for mysterious life | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
The turquoise waters became darker and darker, and squiggly glow-in-dark marine creatures began to glide past in the inky depths like ghosts.

The three-man submarine went down, down, down into the abyss and drew within sight of something no human had ever laid eyes on: Cook seamount, a 13,000-foot extinct volcano at the bottom of the sea.

Scientists aboard the vessel Pisces V visited the volcano earlier this month to examine its geological features and its rich variety of marine life, and an Associated Press reporter was given exclusive access to the dive. It was the first-ever expedition to the Cook seamount by a manned submersible.

Among other things, the researchers from the University of Hawaii and the nonprofit group Conservation International spotted such wonders as a rare type of octopus with big fins that look like Dumbo's ears, and a potentially new species of violet-hued coral they dubbed Purple Haze.

Conservation International hopes to study 50 seamounts, or undersea volcanoes, over the next five years.

"We don't know anything about the ocean floor," said Peter Seligmann, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Conservation International. "What we know is that each one of those seamounts is a refuge for new species, but we don't know what they are. We don't know how they've evolved. We don't know what lessons they have for us."
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Seaweed plays a surprisingly large role in global climate

Seaweed plays a surprisingly large role in global climate | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Macroalgae, such as seaweed that grow directly on stones at the bottom of the sea, play a previously overlooked and yet important role in global climate.
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Christian Allié's curator insight, September 17, 8:33 AM
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“Our research shows that macroalgae play just as big a role as sea grass and mangroves. Earlier studies have shown that sea grass and mangroves count for up to half of the carbon stored at the bottom of the sea, which has been taken out of the atmosphere. Macroalgae are potentially just as significant,” says Krause-Jensen.

Read More: Greenlandic fjords get their organic matter from Russia

We should protect seaweed forests

The new study is the first to emphasise the importance of macroalgae when it comes to carbon storage and this should be included in climate models and carbon budgets, says Krause-Jensen. But this requires further studies to precisely map seaweed around the world, to obtain data that can be used in climate models.
“We should protect these ecosystems.
For example, in Denmark we’ve collected stones from the bottom of the sea floor for decades,” says Krause-Jensen. “It also means that when we make new reefs out at sea, it does more than improve ocean biodiversity. It also does something for the climate,” she says.
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Can high tides during a full moon trigger earthquakes?

Can high tides during a full moon trigger earthquakes? | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Theories that the moon and tidal forces influence earthquakes are almost as old as science itself. A new study suggests there is a link between high tides produced during a full moon and an increase in large earthquakes, but how solid is the evidence?
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Calculating the role of lakes in global warming

Calculating the role of lakes in global warming | Gaia Diary | Scoop.it
Lakes bury more carbon than all the world's oceans combined. How will they respond to global warming?
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