ecolog

As Earth’s climate changes, mountain-dwelling animals have typically been viewed a universal losers. Warming temperatures force a species upward, it runs out of habitable space, and it dies off. But new research is complicating that notion – and suggesting some mountain animals might actually benefit in the near term from climate change.

In the view of traditional ecology Morgan Tingley said animals living on mountains would respond to climate change by going up.  It’s something scientists call the “escalator effect.”

“They’re climbing up and up and up,” said Tingley, who studies ecology and evolutionary biology at UConn. “And they’re doing that because the temperature is warming and as you go up mountains, it gets colder.”

Tingley said there’s a problem with that idea. For one, it’s rare for a species to live on a single mountain top. Animals and plants live stretched out over entire ranges, which are filled with all types of peaks, plateaus, and habitable valleys. Sometimes, Tingley said, that actually means more surface area is available to a species at higher elevations.

To prove this, Tingley pulled geographic data on roughly 180 different mountain ranges around the world. He used digital elevation maps to average together all the peaks and valleys in a range like the Himalayas and published his findings in the journal Nature Climate Change.

While you might picture the shape of a mountain as a giant pyramid, what Tingley found was more complex. He learned mountains demonstrate three additional types of shapes: diamond, inverse pyramid, and hourglass.

“About two-thirds of them end up being not pyramid shaped mountains,” Tingley said. “Two-thirds of the world’s mountains are not the shape that we kind of instinctively think that they are.”

In the case of the Himalayas, Tingley and his co-author Paul Elsen found the range was actually an “hourglass shape.” It has lots of area in the base and foothills, a tight bottleneck filled with steep slopes in the middle, and expansive open space higher up.

“If you’re a species that’s right below a bottleneck, then yeah, you’re going to actually be squished really, really quickly,” Tingley said. “You might be a bigger loser than we might imagine. However, if you’re already in that bottleneck and you’re about to expand out into this much bigger elevation area, than you might actually adapt to climate change quite well.”

Tingley said the message to ecologists is that they need to think about habitat distribution and how mountain species respond to climate change in much more detail.

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Green Wheel Rotary Hydroponic Garden - Design Libero

Derived from technology first developed by NASA to allow astronauts to grow food in zero-gravity, this rotary growing machine has been altered to suit modern residences. The circular growing surface allows for a maximised surface area around the light source, which is placed closer to the plants. This makes the most of the light without need for further energy input. Coco fiber is placed within the structure to function as a support for the plants and their roots.

See more at: DesignLibero

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The #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM Oregon Begins with the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Located at the crossroads of the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountain ranges, scientists have long recognized the outstanding ecological values of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The convergence of three geologically distinct mountain ranges resulted in an area with remarkable biological diversity. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail meanders 19 miles through the monument, offering challenging hikes with stunning views.

Photo by Bob Wick, BLM

The 6th Mass Extinction on Earth has Begun

Troubling evidence recently released by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology, has  show a large increase in the number of species lost over the last century. The numbers above each bar represent the estimated values for extinct vertebrates. The image above shows that since the industrial revolution, species diversity has been rapidly declining in response to human activity including:

  • Destruction of habitats
  • Introduction of invasive species
  • Climate change
  • Destruction of ecosystems because of pollutants

Erlich and his colleagues do offer hope for the future. If rapid conservation efforts are undertaken now, then  such a dramatic ecological event can be avoided. It is more than likely that if such an even were to occur, the human race would suffer itself.

Source: ScienceAdvances

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I found some Earthstars (Geastrum spp.), which like growing on rotting wood.

I thought it would be fun to “plant” some spores on my wood chip mulch. I often bring back pieces of wood or clumps of soil with fungal fruiting bodies or mycelium on them from the woods, to really get a little forest ecology going here.

It’s paid off so far: the amount of fungal diversity I am seeing since I started mulching heavily and “seeding” local species is really encouraging: there is a new species fruiting every two or three weeks (like bracket fungi in the hügelkultur mounds, jelly-like fungi on the borders of my veggie bed, big old white mushrooms some insect likes to eat, and a heavy crop of December ‘shrooms).

Mycelium is definitely running in these parts! Besides looking cool, fungi helps the bees, the trees, and soil.

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Satellites Enable Coral Reef Science Leap from Darwin to Online

With Earth-observing satellite data, scientists can now monitor the health of coral reefs, even in the most remote regions scattered around the globe where it is otherwise difficult to see changes.

Satellites fill a void by providing a more complete view of remote reefs. The information is monitored globally through Coral Reef Watch, an online tool that provides near real-time and long-term monitoring, forecasting and reporting of tropical coral reef conditions. Coral Reef Watch is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Until relatively recently, global maps of coral reefs hadn’t changed significantly from the maps produced by Charles Darwin in 1842. Darwin based his historic maps on observations from his expeditions around the world. Later, French scientist Louis Joubin updated those maps in 1912 using information he received through letters from people living near coral reefs around the world. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that coral reef mapping leapfrogged to modern times. A new global map of coral reefs was created with over a thousand Landsat 7 satellite images collected between 2000 and 2003.

Read more (via nasa.gov)

Yea, Pope Francis! He’s not wrong…

Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which he blamed apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness. The most vulnerable victims are the world’s poorest people, he declared, who are being dislocated and disregarded.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he wrote. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

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White is a rare colour in nature and only very rarely reserved for arctic or snowy environments. To see an Australia animal in the wild such as this Echidna is truly one in a million.

The below picture is one echinda found of a  a school property in Queensland Australia suffering from alinboerism. Normalyl a death sentence for any animal, the only reason this one and the above could be found around the wild would be due to it’s lack of predators that are capable of taking it down.

If you ever see a white (unnaturally ) or albino animal , especially in the wild, take a minute to appreciate it. You may never see one again.

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ECOLOGY FILES:

Why lizards need elephants to survive

by Jason G. Goldman

Somewhere in Africa, a lizard survives thanks to an elephant. Ecosystems are nuanced arrangements, and it isn’t always obvious how the different pieces of the ecological puzzle snap into place. Lizards, it turns out, rely on the debris created by elephants as they trample trees. Shards of wood and leaves haphazardly left behind by marching pachyderms provide good cover for a small lizard to escape the piercing talons of a hungry raptor. Kill the elephants, and the lizards could suffer.

Some 10,000 years ago as the Pleistocene unfolded across the planet, 80 percent of mega-herbivores – those critters larger than 1,000 kilograms, like modern elephants – would become wiped out. Some of them suffered due to climate-related changes that swept across the globe, but many of them were ultimately driven to extinction through overhunting. In the late Pleistocene, there were some 42 such mega-herbivores.

Today, only eight remain. Together with other large herbivores (between 100 and 1,000 kilograms), Earth’s plant eaters are in serious decline. Indeed, the waves of extinction and biodiversity loss that began in the Pleistocene may be continuing today in Africa and in Southeast Asia, where the very recent extinction of Western black rhinos is a salient reminder of our own species’ disproportionate affect on our planet’s wildlife.

Today, there are 74 herbivores larger than 100 kilograms still grazing and browsing the leaves, branches, and stems of our pale blue dot. Earlier this month in the journal Science Advances, a group of researchers led by Oregon State University ecologist William J. Ripple reviewed the conservation status of those mammals, outlining both the threats they face as well as the consequences of their extinction or extirpation…

(read more: Conservation Magazine)

photographs: Plains Elephant by Ikiwaner; Agama mwanzae by MC Siedlergame; Gerrhosaurus major by Haplochromis;

Shrikes are predatory songbirds that will impale their prey on sharp twigs and barbed wire to help them rip off bite sized chunks. Depicted here is a Loggerhead Shrike with three different types of prey: mammal, bird, and herp. They will also impale/eat large invertebrates.

This illustration was done with acrylic on illustration board.

www.jbatesart.com

© JBatesArt 2015

The chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) is fished unsustainably in the Philippines, so understanding the genetic diversity of populations is an important step in their management.

UK researchers used 14 microsatellite markers to evaluate the population structure of N. pompilius in four west Australian reefs, three east Australian reefs, and three sites in the Philippines.

Interestingly, nautilus in west Australia and the Philippines were genetically similar, not due to contemporary gene flow, but because genetic drift was limited by the large population sizes that persisted at both locations following their separation.

The lack of connectivity among populations suggests that immigrants from west Australia would not naturally recolonise the Philippines if the latter populations were fished to extinction.

In a corrupt culture, we cannot believe that laws will be enough to change behaviors that affect the environment.
—  Pope Francis. The pope has called for swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin, and urges a change of lifestyle in rich countries steeped in a “throwaway” consumer culture. Democracy Now! speaks to journalists Naomi Klein and Nathan Schneider about the Pope’s environmental encyclical. Tune in at democracynow.org.