A research team led by Florida State University found that sea turtles in the U.S. will have less suitable nesting habitat in the future because of climate change and coastal development.
Researchers found areas that will remain or become suitable for sea turtle nesting in the future because of climatic changes and sea-level rise will be exposed to increased coastal development, hindering the ability of turtles to adapt to these disturbances. Their work was published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.
“A reduction in available nesting habitat coupled with the pressures associated with coastal development could likely have detrimental impacts on the reproductive output of sea turtle nesting areas in the U.S. and population…
Long the face of the conservation movement, giant pandas were upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species In September 2016. The listing change followed a 17% increase in the population in China from 2004 to 2014. There are an estimated 1,800 pandas left in the wild with the numbers increasing.
The improved status shows that the government’s efforts to help conserve the panda have been somewhat effective. But there are still obstacles to overcome, including habitat loss and the impact of the climate crisis on bamboo, the panda’s main food source.
Although the giant panda has experienced a recent increase in some habitat in China, habitat loss continues to be the primary threat facing the species, according to the IUCN. Giant pandas lived in China’s bamboo forests for several million years, but their numbers were decimated as humans cleared acres of habitat for homes and agriculture, roads and mining.
In 1988, the Chinese government banned logging in the panda’s habitat. But new roads and railways are still being built in the area. That not only clears trees, but also fragments the forests, isolating small groups of panda populations.
The panda population has as many as 33 subpopulations, and more than half of those contain fewer than 10 individuals, reports the IUNC. These small groups are often cut off from habitat, food sources, and from other pandas.
Because some of these subpopulations are so small, conservation geneticists are concerned about inbreeding in these groups. It’s often linked with decreased fertility and can impact survival rates.
But bamboo may be quite vulnerable to the climate crisis. Depending on the species, some bamboo only reproduces every 15 to 100 years. Others only thrive at certain temperatures or elevations. Bamboo makes up about 90% of a panda’s diet.
The IUCN says the climate crisis is predicted to eliminate more than one-third of the panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years. As a result, they expect the panda population to decline, “reversing the gains made during the last two decades.”
Poaching was a problem in the past, as the animals were hunted for their fur. But China passed the Wildlife Protection Law, enacted in 1988 and revised in 2016, which banned the breeding, hunting, and selling of hundreds of animals including the giant panda. However, the IUCN points out that pandas are sometimes still accidentally caught in traps set out for other animals.
What We Can Do
A census in the mid-1970s found only 2,459 pandas in China, according to the WWF, which alerted the government to the species’ precarious position. Since then, the panda has been the focus of a high-profile campaign to save the species.
Since that eye-opening report, poaching has been banned, panda nature reserves have been created, and partnerships between the Chinese government and zoos around the world have assisted with breeding and research efforts.
China now has a network of 67 panda reserves, which protect more than 66% of the giant pandas in the wild and nearly 54% of their existing habitat. In partnership with the WWF, the Chinese government has developed bamboo corridors to allow pandas to more easily move to new areas, find more food, and meet more potential mates, which will also help improve genetic diversity.
Although recent population increases show that some success has been achieved, the panda still needs help. The IUCN notes that the Chinese government plans to continue to protect panda habitat and monitor population. “They recognize the challenges the future holds, and in particular will seek to address problems of habitat connectivity and population fragmentation.”
To help giant pandas, you can donate to the WWF to conserve the species and their habitats.
CLARK COUNTY, Ohio — A social media photo of a man kneeling on the back of the neck of a child is currently under investigation by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
A picture of the post was sent into News Center 7 Tuesday, showing the man with his knee on the back of a child’s neck, who appears to be crying. A second person in the photo is holding the child’s hands behind their back. The caption of the photo reads “Blm now.”
A version of the the photo, which some might find disturbing, is available at the bottom of this news story, with the faces of the child and man blurred out.
The photo resembles the action taken by Minneapolis police officers during the arrest of George Floyd May 25 that resulted in his death.
Investigators in Clark County said they are investigating the post, however no arrests have been made and charges have not been filed.
“We are looking into this case, however it is still an active investigation. At this point we are actively looking into it and we are VERY early on into this investigation,” Maj. Chris Clark said in an emailed statement.
According to emergency scanner traffic, deputies, police, and medics were called to two different addresses Tuesday morning in Clark County as a part of the investigation.
We’ll continue to update this story with new details as they become available.
Just about 400 of the whales survive in the wild, and they continue to die at an alarming rate
A North Atlantic right whale off the coast of Cape Cod in 2015 (Photo by David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
By Nora McGreevy July 16, 2020
North Atlantic right whales are facing a crisis. Just 409 survive in the world, according to data from the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, and the whales continue to die at an alarming rate.
Last week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) moved the species from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered” on their “red list” of threatened and endangered species, Jamey Keaten and James Brooks report for the Associated Press.
Most right whale deaths in the last three years have been linked to interactions with vessels and fishing operations along the coast of the United States and Canada, per the IUCN. Right whales swim with their mouths open to catch copepods, tiny zooplanktons, and other small sea creatures that make up the majority of their diet.
As they swim with mouths agape, they can easily become entangled in the fishing lines that connect lobster and crab traps to the ocean’s surface, as Tom Cheney reported for Smithsonian magazine in 2018. Ships can also strike and kill the whales, who often feed close to the surface. Entanglement and deadly collisions can cause massive, devastating injuries to the animals.
Many scientists believe that climate change is partly to blame for the uptick in right whale deaths. The whales typically migrate in the summer from their calving grounds in Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy. As the ocean warms, however, copepod populations have shifted north, causing the whales to follow their food source further north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, reports Lisa Friedman for the New York Times.
Estimates in 2018 showed that without a substantial turn for the better, the whales could be “functionally extinct” in 20 years, reported Cheney at the time.
“It’s devastating,” Regina Asmutis-Silvia, the executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, told the Atlantic’s Ed Yong in June 2019. “There’s now more people working on right whales than there are right whales left.”
Scientists suspect that an average of 17 calves per year need to be born for the population to grow, as Brigit Katz reported for Smithsonian magazine last year. However, studies show that birth rates for female right whales have declined dramatically over the last few years. Fewer than 250 sexually mature right whales were estimated to exist in the wild in 2018, according to the IUCN.
In 2017, the NOAA Fisheries declared an “Unusual Mortality Event” as right whale deaths ticked up to even higher numbers. In the last three years, 31 right whales off the coast of the U.S. and Canada have died and 10 have been seriously injured, nearly all the result of crashing into vessels or entanglement in fishing gear.
On June 25 this year, the carcass of a six-month-old calf—the first observed earlier this breeding season—was discovered floating off the coast of Elberon, New Jersey. He had likely been hit by two separate vessels, NOAA Fisheries said in a statement.
Recently, President Donald Trump vowed to defend the U.S. lobster industry, which means the administration will likely not advocate for measures to protect the whales at the expense of fisheries in the area, reports Friedman.
Right whales were severely threatened by hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries—at one point, their numbers dropped to an estimated 60 mature individuals, reports Cheney. The whales even got their names from hunters: slow and easy to kill, they were known as the “right” marks because they would float to the surface after dying. At the turn of the 21st century, right whale numbers were estimated at about 500, due in part to serious protection measures against hunting. Now, the population is once again on the decline.
“For nearly a century, North Atlantic right whales have been protected from the commercial whaling that pushed them to the brink of extinction, but they continue to be killed by human activities,” says Jane Davenport, the senior attorney for conservation nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, in a statement. “…This status change is a call to arms: unless we act decisively to turn the tide, the next time the right whale’s Red List status changes it will be to ‘extinct.’”
North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered large whale species in the world.
Hundreds of years of commercial whaling decimated the species by the early 1900s. The species got its name as the “right” whale to hunt: these animals swim slowly close to shore and are so blubber-rich they float when dead. They have a stocky, black body, no dorsal fin and bumpy patches of rough skin, called callosities, on their heads.
These massive marine mammals migrate each year between their northern feeding grounds in coastal Atlantic Canada and New England to their calving grounds in the warm waters off South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and back. It is a journey fraught with danger as the whales navigate waters where they encounter vessel traffic, millions of fishing ropes and other hazards associated with human activity.
Defenders is building support in Congress to enact the SAVE Right Whales Act, to provide much-needed funding for develop technologies to protect the species from fishing entanglements and vessel strikes. We are also fighting in court to protect right whales from deadly entanglements.
In January 2018, Defenders and our conservation allies filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for violating the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act by failing to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglements in the American lobster fishery.
We advocate for right whales as a conservation member of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team, a stakeholder group under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that advises NMFS on how to implement fishery management measures to minimize or avoid the risk of deadly entanglements. We are also litigating to stop seismic blasting in the Atlantic and working to promote responsible wildlife- and whale-friendly offshore wind development.
North Atlantic right whales are threatened by entanglement, ship strikes and offshore oil and gas exploration and development.
Endangered Species Act
IUCN Red List
What You Can Do
Tell your members of Congress to support the SAVE Right Whales Act.
about 50 feet long and weigh about 70 tons (140,000 pounds), with females larger than males
Under ideal circumstances, 50 -100 years; however, most adult whales are killed by human actions by the time they are 30-40 years old.
North Atlantic right whales are found from Atlantic Canada to the southeastern United States and migrate along the length of the east coasts of the United States and Canada.
Only about 400 North Atlantic right whales remain and of those, only 85 are reproductively active females.
Right whales are slow swimmers, averaging just six miles per hour. They are known to make brief shallow dives in succession before submerging themselves underwater for up to 20 minutes at a time. They usually travel solo or in small groups.
Females usually give birth to their first calf at 10 years. Although usually they give birth every 3-5 years thereafter, their calving intervals are now approximately 10 years because of the energy demands of dragging entangled fishing gear around. Right whale calves are 13-15 feet long at birth.
Mating season: winter Gestation: 1 year Litter size: 1 calf
North Atlantic right whales eat zooplankton and krill larvae. They take large gulps of water and then filter out their tiny prey using baleen plates.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced today that it is changing the status of the North Atlantic right whale from “endangered” to “critically endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species, recognizing that the species faces an extremely high risk of extinction. The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of species.
Botswana’s tourism ministry first said that it was investigating the deaths in mid-May, when 12 dead elephants were found over two weekends in the country’s Okavango Delta, Phys.org reported at the time.
By the end of May, 169 elephants had died, and that number had more than doubled by mid-June, The Guardian reported.
“This is totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought,” McCann told BBC News.
But despite the scale of the deaths, the government has not yet completed testing of the animals to determine the cause, earning the criticism of conservation groups.
“There is real concern regarding the delay in getting the samples to an accredited laboratory for testing in order to identify the problem — and then take measures to mitigate it,” Environmental Investigation Agency Executive Director Mary Rice told The Guardian. “The lack of urgency is of real concern and does not reflect the actions of a responsible custodian. There have been repeated offers of help from private stakeholders to facilitate urgent testing which appear to have fallen on deaf ears … and the increasing numbers are, frankly, shocking.”
The government, meanwhile, attributed the delay to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have sent [samples] off for testing and we are expecting the results over the next couple of weeks or so,” Dr. Cyril Taolo, acting director for Botswana’s department of wildlife and national parks, told The Guardian. “The Covid-19 restrictions have not helped in the transportation of samples in the region and around the world. We’re now beginning to emerge from that and that is why we are now in a position to send the samples to other laboratories.”
Taolo said the government had confirmed 280 out of 350 reported deaths and is working to confirm the rest.
Local reports indicate that animals of all ages and sexes are dying, with some spotted wandering in circles, a sign of neurological damage. The cause is likely a poison or disease, but experts are not sure which.
More than 100 elephants died in October 2019 in a suspected anthrax outbreak, Phys.org reported, but McCann told BBC News he had tentatively ruled out anthrax as the cause of the most recent deaths. Cyanide poisoning used by poachers is another possibility, but scavengers are not dying after eating the carcasses, The Guardian pointed out.
“It is only elephants that are dying and nothing else,” McCann told BBC News. “If it was cyanide used by poachers, you would expect to see other deaths.”
Botswana hosts the world’s largest elephant population at more than 135,000 animals, about a third of all the elephants in Africa, Phys.org pointed out. The Okavango Delta, meanwhile, is home to 10 percent of Botswana’s total population, or around 15,000 animals. African elephants are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Botswana was considered one of the safest countries for elephants until recently, Science Alert pointed out. But the government made a controversial decision to lift its elephant hunting ban in May of 2019, and poaching is on the rise. An Elephants Without Borders study published in Current Biology last year found that new elephant carcasses in northern Botswana had increased by 593 percent between 2014 and 2018 and that at least 385 elephants had been poached between 2017 and 2018.
By dragging a net across the ocean floor, fishers can easily catch many fish at a time. However, this practice comes with a price — it often results in larger marine creatures being unintentionally picked up by the nets as well. This unfortunate situation happened recently off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea when a fishing boat accidentally caught a pregnant female whale shark in a drag net.
Upon getting news from divers on a diving boat that the animal had been scooped up by the net, the fishing boat’s captain reportedly said that they would release the whale shark. But instead of doing so promptly, the crew left the whale shark hanging on the side of the boat for upwards of two hours, leaving the poor creature unresponsive and with severely dry skin.
By the time the fishing boat crew finally cut the ropes that the whale shark was caught in and released her back into the ocean, it was already too late — she had spent too much time out of the water, and she had died. What’s worse, the diving crew reportedly spotted an unborn baby whale shark coming out of the mother and floating away into the sea. This drag net operation took the lives of not one but two innocent whale sharks.
When he heard about this tragic incident, Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawata, a marine activist and an official counsellor for the Department of Marine and Coastal Resouces (DMCR), was understandably outraged. He reportedly posted on his personal Facebook page, “The whale shark is protected by the international Species Conservation Act. It is also classified as prohibited in the Fisheries Act. The female whale shark should not be caught or taken onto a fishing vessel. The sentence is a fine between 300,000 and 3 million baht.”
We certainly hope that the fishing crew receives a hefty fine for the murder of these two poor whale sharks.
To make sure justice is served for these whales and help more people learn about the harsh consequences of drag net fishing, a conservation group in Thailand called Go Eco Phuket is encouraging individuals to spread the word about this tragedy. Doing so is a great way to play your part in ending reckless fishing practices. Another easy thing you can do to help reduce the needless slaughter of marine life is decrease your seafood consumption. If we all work together, it’s very possible for us to enact change and preserve our planet’s precious marine animals!
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FILE – This Jan. 30, 2020, file photo, shows members of the Mexican gray wolf recovery team preparing to load a wolf into a helicopter in Reserve, N.M., so it can be released after being processed during an annual survey. One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that have died so far this year in New Mexico and Arizona. Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One Mexican gray wolf died after being caught in a trap in April and another was found dead in the wild, bringing the total to more than a dozen of the endangered predators that died in the first four months of the year in New Mexico and Arizona.
Environmentalists say a combination of lethal management by U.S. wildlife officials and private trapping is making it difficult to recover the species.
But ranchers say they face constant pressure from the wolves, pointing to the more than two dozen cattle that were killed just last month.
The latest wolf and livestock deaths come as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins wading through the process of revamping a rule that guides management of wolves in the Southwest.
The public has until June 15 to comment on the issues to be considered by officials. So far, nearly 800 comments have been submitted.
Some say it’s shaping up to be a deadly year for the wolf following an encouraging survey that found more wolves in the wild last year than at any time since efforts began more than two decades ago to reintroduce wolves along the New Mexico-Arizona border.
At least 163 wolves were counted during the survey that wrapped up in February. That marks a nearly 25% jump in the population from the previous year and puts wildlife managers about halfway to meeting the goal set for declaring the species recovered.
Monthly reports show 10 wolves have died in the first four months of 2020. That doesn’t include the alpha female of the Prieto Pack of wolves in New Mexico that died after being trapped in late April and four others that were killed in March due to livestock issues.
“It demonstrates the vagaries of the program and how quickly things can turn bad for the wolves,” Bryan Bird, the southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said Tuesday.
He said changes to the management rule now under revision could address these ups and downs by limiting the circumstances in which wolves can be lethally or non-lethally removed from the wild and addressing trapping on public lands in the wolf recovery area.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity said one problem that has been ongoing for years is the wolves feeding on live cattle after being drawn in by the carcasses of cows that die from other causes. He’s among those who have been pushing for a requirement for ranchers to remove carcasses as one way to avoid conflict.
“Though the feds claim they’re looking at the population as a whole, this recurring mismanagement is precisely why the Mexican wolf is in worse genetic shape now than when reintroduction began more than two decades ago,” he said.
Some ranchers say they have tried everything from hiring cowboys on horseback to installing flagging and other devices to scare away the wolves. But they are still having problems.
Last year marked a record year for livestock kills. Several dozen kills have been reported so far this year.
The Arizona House last week passed a Senate-approved measure that would allow a board set up to reimburse ranchers for livestock losses to also compensate ranchers for things like range riders to keep wolves away from their herds.The measure now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.
Federal officials say they conducted 24 days of hazing efforts in April, removed two carcasses, set up several food caches in hopes of diverting the wolves and talked with dozens of ranchers via phone, text and email in an effort to reduce the conflicts.
California’s giant sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years, their trunks stretching two car lengths in diameter, their branches reaching nearly 300 feet toward the clouds. But a few years ago, amid a record drought, scientists noticed something odd. A few of these arboreal behemoths inside Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were dying in ways no one had ever documented—from the top down.
When researchers climbed into the canopies, they discovered that cedar bark beetles had bored into a few branches. By 2019, at least 38 of the trees had died—not a large number, but “concerning because we’ve never observed this before,” says Christy Brigham, the park’s chief of resource management.
Beetles have ravaged hundreds of millions of pines across North America. But scientists had assumed that stately sequoias, with their bug-repelling tannins, were immune to such dangerous pests. Worried experts are investigating whether some mix of increased drought and wildfire, both worsened by climate change, have now made even sequoias susceptible to deadly insect invasions.
The largest patch of old growth redwood forest remaining stands in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California. The world’s largest trees are dying, meaning that they’re releasing their carbon back into the atmosphere instead of storing it, which has previously unknown repercussions for climate change.
The stump of a giant sequoia tree, known as the Discovery Tree, located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
Photograph by (top) and Photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, Nat Geo Image Collection (bottom)
If so, these ancient sentinels would be just the latest example of a trend experts are documenting around the world: Trees in forests are dying at increasingly high rates—especially the bigger, older trees. According to a study appearing today in the journal Science, the death rate is making forests younger, threatening biodiversity, eliminating important plant and animal habitat, and reducing forests’ ability to store excess carbon dioxide generated by our consumption of fossil fuels.
“We’re seeing it almost everywhere we look,” says the study’s lead author, Nate McDowell, an earth scientist at the U.S. Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
More old trees dying, everywhere
To paint the most detailed picture of global tree loss to date, nearly two dozen scientists from around the world examined more than 160 previous studies and combined their findings with satellite imagery. Their analysis reveals that from 1900 to 2015, the world lost more than a third of its old-growth forests.
In places where historical data is the most detailed—particularly Canada, the western United States, and Europe—mortality rates have doubled in just the past four decades, and a higher proportion of those deaths are older trees.
“We will see fewer forests,” says Monica Turner, a forest ecologist at the University of Wisconsin. “There will be areas where there are forests now where there won’t be in the future.”
With 60,000 known tree species on Earth, those shifts are playing out differently across the planet.
In central Europe, for instance, “You don’t have to look for dead trees,” says Henrik Hartmann, with Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. “They’re everywhere.”
In one recent year, following a week of excessive heat, hundreds of thousands of beech trees dropped their leaves. Bark beetles are also killing spruce, which is not unusual. But hotter weather weakens trees, making them more vulnerable and allowing the insects to multiply and survive through winter into the next year.
Even in colder regions, “You get a couple of hot years and the forests are suffering,” says Hartmann, who was not an author on McDowell’s study. “We’re approaching a situation where the forests cannot acclimate. There are individual species that are being driven beyond the threshold of what they can handle.”
That also may be true in some of North America’s treasured spots. For 10,000 years, fires have roared through Yellowstone National Park every 100 to 300 years. In 1988, such conflagrations caught the world’s attention as they charred and blackened 1.2 million acres.
Lodgepole pine forest burns in Yellowstone National Park.Photograph by Michael Quinton, Minden Pictures/Nat Geo Image Collection
Turner, the Wisconsin ecologist, has been studying the aftermath of those fires ever since. And the lessons aren’t quite what we once thought they were.
The heat from flames usually helps lodgepole pine cones release their seeds as their sticky resin melts. But in 2016, when those new forests were not yet 30 years old, a new fire raged inside an old burn site from 1988. Because we live in a hotter, drier world, the new fires burned more intensely—in some cases wiping out almost everything. The very process that usually helps create new forests instead helped prevent one from growing. “When I went back, I was just astonished,” Turner says. “There were places with no small trees left. None.”
Just last year, massive fires marched through a dry Australia, smoldered across 7.4 million acres in northern Siberia, and focused the world’s attention on blazes in the Amazon.
In parts of that rainforest, dry seasons now last longer and come more often. Rainfall has dropped by as much as a quarter and often arrives in torrents, bringing massive floods in three out of six seasons between 2009 and 2014. All that activity is altering the rainforest’s mix of trees. Those that grow fast and reach the light quickly, and are more tolerant of dry weather, are outcompeting species that require damp soils.
Moringa peregrina is an endangered tree in Jordan and Israel, where desertification is killing native trees. Photograph by Mark Moffett, Minden Pictures/Nat Geo Image Collection
The consequences of all these changes around the world are still being assessed. The first national look at tree mortality in Israel showed vast stretches disappearing, thanks largely to scorching heat and wildfires. In a country largely blanketed by stone and sand, forests mean a great deal. Trees support nests for eagles and habitat for wolves and jackals. They hold soil with their roots. Without them, plants that normally rise in trees’ shadows are suddenly exposed to higher temperatures and bright light.
“Trees are these big plants that design the ecosystems for all the other plants and animals,” says Tamir Klein at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Earlier this month Klein met with the Israeli forestry chief to talk about the country’s southern forests, which may not survive the century. “They came to me and asked, What are we supposed to do? We don’t want the desert to move north,” Klein recalls.
“We’re dealing with a very tough situation. It’s a race to the unknown.”
The seeds of the Science study were sown in the early 2000s when lead author McDowell moved to the southwestern U.S. to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Outside his office window he saw fields of dead juniper and piñon pine. An intense heat wave had wiped out 30 percent of the pines on more than 4,500 square miles of woodland. “I thought, as a tree physiologist I’m going to have a short stay here because they are all dead,” he remembers.
McDowell and several colleagues began pondering how tree loss would alter forests’ ability to sequester CO2—and how to better predict such devastation in the future. A decade later, a co-worker examined tree rings and past temperature swings and found a relationship between heat and tree deaths. Then he simulated how the forest would change based on temperature projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results suggested that by 2050, normal temperatures in the Southwest could be similar to rare past heat waves that led to severe tree-killing droughts. “That was really frightening,” McDowell says.
McDowell and other scientists began to look more broadly. Many people had assumed rising CO2 would feed tree growth. But as the planet gets hotter, the atmosphere sucks moisture from plants and animals. Trees respond by shedding leaves or closing their pores to retain moisture. Both of those reactions curtail CO2 uptake. It’s like “going to an all-you-can-eat buffet with duct tape over their mouths,” McDowell says.
In a tropical forest, the vast majority of tree mass can be in the top one percent of the largest trees. “These big old trees disproportionately hold the above-ground carbon storage,” says study co-author Craig D. Allen, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “When they die, it creates space for smaller trees, but they have much less carbon in them.”
That’s important, because most global carbon models used by the IPCC assume that forests will do far more to offset our fossil fuel use. The reality may be far less clear.
“When old trees die, they decompose and stop sucking up CO2 and release more of it to the atmosphere,” McDowell says. “It’s like a thermostat gone bad. Warming begets tree loss, then tree loss begets more warming.”
A mountainside is forested with golden larches the Italian Dolomites. Mature trees all over the world are dying off much more quickly than thought. Photograph by Martin Zwick, VISUM/Redux
While some significant change to forests is inevitable, Turner says cutting our fossil fuel emissionscan still make a huge difference. One scenario she has documented suggests that curbing CO2 in the next few decades could cut future forest loss in Grand Teton National Park by half.
In some cases, though, more radical solutions may be required.
In his meeting, Klein urged Israel’s forest leaders to consider planting acacia trees, normally found in the Sahara, in place of pine and cypress. They manage to keep growing even during the hottest days of the year.
“It is sad,” Klein adds. “It won’t look the same. It won’t be the same. But I think it’s better to do this than just have barren land.”
Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico Wolf Pack Destroyed After Alpha Female Killed, Yearling Flees
Wolf Mother’s Undisclosed Death in April Follows March Killing of Mate, Pup
SILVER CITY, N.M.— A pack of endangered Mexican gray wolves has been eliminated in the Gila National Forest through a combination of private trapping and federal shooting on behalf of the livestock industry.
Conservationists learned today that the Prieto pack’s nine-year-old alpha female died in federal custody on April 25 and that a yearling has fled dozens of miles from his natal range. These events follow the federal shooting in March of the alpha male and a pup, and the trapping, maiming and/or deaths of seven other pack members during 2018 and 2019.
“This latest incident is the cruel final blow to the Prieto pack, which struggled for two years to survive the Fish and Wildlife Service and avowed wolf-haters in the livestock industry,” said Michael Robinson at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ll do everything in our power to end the policy of looking the other way on so-called ‘accidental trapping’ of wolves. It’s crucial to stop the federal government’s sickening program of wolf trapping and shooting.”
The alpha female was caught in a privately set trap on April 24. When notified of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to take the wolf into captivity because the pack was deplored by local ranchers, even though she showed no significant injuries and no removal order was issued for her. The wolf died the next day of apparent capture myopathy, a stress response in which the body overheats.
The alpha female was the granddaughter of one of the first wolves released in 1998, who also died of capture myopathy after federal capture in 2005.
A male and a female wolf of the Prieto Pack were trapped in December 2018, resulting in the death of the female and causing the male to lose a leg and his freedom.
Following those losses, the pack began preying on livestock. In February 2019 another pack member was found dead, and in March 2019 the government trapped and removed two more; one was later released and is now a lone wolf in the wild.
In November two more wolves were trapped by private parties. One wolf was taken into federal custody, and the other was seen dragging a trap on its paw. This wolf was later seen with the trap gone but part of its paw missing, and has not been located in recent months. And in March federal agents shot the alpha male and a pup.
“The government is supposed to be recovering these endangered animals but is far too cavalier with their lives,” said Robinson. “Though the feds claim they’re looking at the population as a whole, this recurring mismanagement is precisely why the Mexican wolf is in worse genetic shape now than when reintroduction began more than two decades ago.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service currently has an open comment period through June 15, to determine the scope of issues to be considered in the course of a court-ordered revision in its 2015 Mexican wolf management rule that must conclude next May.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Shark fins are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, including China. But because sharks are endangered thanks to human behavior, we cannot afford to kill any more of them. Yet, people are still trafficking in shark fins. In fact, in April and May of 2020, officials in Hong Kong seized 26 tons of shark fins from over 38,500 endangered sharks in two different cases. Luckily, they have a suspect in custody for one of the seizures. But still no word on the other seizure or any official charges on the first suspect.
It’s critical we keep the pressure on to make sure they hold everyone involved with this massive slaughter accountable. Sign now!
The main way sharks are consumed is in a dish called shark fin soup. That means traffickers don’t even care about the rest of the shark’s body. In fact, they often slice off a shark’s fin and toss it back to the ocean to drown and die a slow and painful death. Fins from over 73 million sharks are used in this “delicacy” every single year.
The seized shark fins in Hong Kong were largely from thresher and silky sharks, both of which are endangered. Sharks are predators, playing a crucial role in maintaining sea biodiversity. Losing an entire predatory species would have dire consequences for our planet’s ecosystem. That’s why it’s so tragic to learn of 38,500 ruthlessly slaughtered sharks.
The good news is that this particular crime carries a fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years. We need to demand anyone involved in this horrible act gets that punishment. Please sign on to demand justice for all these poor sharks!moreSHARE6.5KTWEETEMAILEMBED
For those who may not be aware, there is a species of bee known as the Osmia calaminthae. This bee is as you’d expect a bit blue in color unlike your average bee and for a while now has been seemingly gone from anyone’s view.
This kind of bee is so rare to spot that many in the scientific world thought it was gone for good, however, in recent times they’ve popped back up. After being so unsure for a long period about whether or not these interesting little creatures still existed, spotting one is a serious feat. According to Weather.com the plant this kind of bee needs to survive is very rare in Florida as well which means it’s hard for this kind of bee to get by.
This species had for the longest only been recorded in four locations of about a 16 square mile area in Wales Ridge and it seems since Spring a Florida Museum of Natural History has gotten lucky in ‘rediscovering’ these little guys. While it might not sound like much to the average person, this find is remarkable. These been were thought to be gone for good and to begin with we did not know much about them. Now that we know they are still out there we have so much to learn.
Chase Kimmel a postdoctoral researcher told Florida Museum as follows about this find:
“I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that first moment when we spotted it in the field was really exciting,”
“We’re trying to fill in a lot of gaps that were not previously known,”
“It shows how little we know about the insect community and how there’s a lot of neat discoveries that can still occur.”
These researchers hope to study this specific kind of bee and get a better understanding of how it interacts with other insects, forages, and things of that nature. Lots of questions are being brought forth and perhaps in time, we will have our answers.
Weather.com wrote as follows about this marvelous find:
On March 9, Kimmel and a volunteer went to put out traps to see if they could find the bees. That’s when “we saw a blue bee bopping its head,” Kimmel said. They caught it and examined it and saw that it met all the qualifications for the ultra-rare blue calamintha bee.
Currently the bee does not have any protection status. It is considered a “species of greatest conservation need,” but has neither state nor federal protection. The main host plant that the bee utilizes, Calamintha ashei, is a state threatened species. In 2015, there was a petition to have the bee included, but it still lacks the status as there is not enough known about it for it to qualify for the endangered species list.
According to Kimmel, it is too early to know if the bee will be registered on the endangered species list, because more research needs to be done. There’s still much to learn about the blue calamintha bee. Not much is known about the bee’s biology. Does it prefer sun or shade? Such information is what Kimmel’s team will be looking into.
Kimmel added that “in an ideal world, it would be great to look at how management choices impact the plant and the population of this bee.” For example, the Florida Scrub Jays are an endangered species, and as such, conservationists and governments have tried to protect them, which includes managing wildlife to enable them to flourish. However, these management methods, which includes burning vegetation including the flowers that support the blue calamintha bees, could be damaging to the bee population, Kimmel explained. “Is the management for that bird the same as the management for this bee?” he poses. Other questions include how quickly does a bee return to an area that’s been burned, and how quickly does a plant regenerate to have the blossoms to support that bee.
The ongoing research is funded by a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This research falls under the grant’s qualifications to conserve important wildlife habitat and/or preventing species extinctions. “There was a lack of scientific information regarding the occurrence and life history of the bee[, and more] information was needed to make an informed determination regarding the classification status for this species under the Endangered Species Act,” according to a spokesperson at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
What do you think about this find? I for one think it is monumental for a number of reasons. It’s always a huge feat when we find something that was previously thought to be gone forever.
EPA: Follow the science, not GMO and agrichemical industry profits! Ban neonicotinoid insecticides. EPA: Follow the science, not GMO and agrichemical industry profits! Ban neonicotinoid insecticides. The science is clear and the evidence overwhelming. Neonics pose a grave threat to bees and other pollinators, birds, animals and humans. In 2013, the European Union placed a moratorium on three neonics widely used in the U.S. In 2018, the EU went further and banned all outdoor use because of the high risk to pollinators and soil and water contamination. In 2020, the EU went on to ban a fourth neonic, also widely used in the U.S., due to the threat to human health and the environment. Here in the United States, the EPA is poised to renew the registration of five types of neonics. Tell the EPA that it’s high time to protect America’s health and our shared environment, rather than Bayer-Monsanto and Syngenta’s poison profits. We need the bees and other important pollinators. We don’t need poison made by Bayer-Monsanto and Syngenta. Do not renew the registration for neonicotinoid insecticides. BAN NEONICS. Pesticide Registration Review: Proposed Interim Decisions for Several Neonicotinoid Pesticides Regulations.gov Document ID EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0581-0357 Agency Environmental Protection Agency Comment Period Feb 3, 2020 to May 4, 2020 Comment
Sign the Petition Lighthouse Point started this petition to The Walt Disney Company
There are plenty of places in the Bahamas where Disney can dock its cruise ships. There is only one Lighthouse Point. We are deeply concerned about Disney’s plans that threaten this unique natural place treasured by generations of Bahamians and visitors from around the world. The seas surrounding the point are so biologically rich that they have been formally proposed as a Marine Protected Area. This is NOT the place where an environmentally responsible corporation would choose to construct a massive private cruise ship port – the centerpiece of which is a half-mile-long pier cutting across coral reefs including endangered staghorn coral. The port’s construction and operation would seriously harm the environment, while the economic benefits to communities in South Eleuthera are still unclear and very questionable. Our planet’s oceans are already facing unprecedented pressures. Their future depends on the choices we make today to protect places like the proposed Lighthouse Point Marine Protected Area. Disney should follow the lead of other cruise companies that have chosen instead to rehabilitate already degraded areas for their cruise facilities. This is our last chance to protect Lighthouse Point for generations to come. Sign the petition to call upon Disney to secure a different, more suitable site for their cruise ship port and instead work with Bahamian citizen groups on a sustainable development alternative for Lighthouse Point.
Sign Petition: We Could See This Country’s Entire Rainforest Disappear in Our Lifetime 10-12 minutes by: Care2 Team recipient: The Government of Madagascar
But a new report from Nature Climate Change found that the cumulative effects of global warming and deforestation within that time will be enough to eliminate 100% of Madagascar’s rainforest. Every last inch of the island country’s rainforest will be gone. Many folks alive today would see this heartbreaking eventuality happen in their lifetime. Sign the petition today and urge the Government of Madagascar to take the strictest possible measures to protect its rainforests! While Madagascar alone is not responsible for human-induced climate change, its government can certainly take action against the potential massive loss of plant and animal life from deforestation. Contributing researchers to the shocking study suggest that “protected areas will help to mitigate this devastation while environmentalists work toward long-term solutions for ending runaway greenhouse gas emissions and resulting climate change.” To make the situation even more alarming, 80-90% of animal and plant species in Madagascar exist in its rainforest. If we fail to save this habitat, there will be a subsequent massive, irreversible loss of diversity and life. Of Madagascar’s 101 different lemur species, only 5% are not are not at risk of extinction in the near future. The ruffed lemur, described as a “cornerstone species” because of the critical role they play in bolstering the survival of other animals and plants, is critically endangered. As daunting as this may seem, we must use this study as an incentive. Please sign the petition and make the Government of Madagascar hear us – they must impose strict deforestation protections on their rainforest before it’s too late!
The desert tortoise is losing ground to off-road vehicles, development, disease, drought and animal grazing. (Kurt Moses/National Park Service) The desert tortoise is losing ground to off-road vehicles, development, disease, drought and animal grazing. (Kurt Moses/National Park Service) March 25, 2020 MOJAVE DESERT, Calif. — The desert tortoise is dangerously close to extinction in California, according to a petition filed this week by conservation groups. Advocates are asking the California Fish and Game Commission to upgrade the species’ status from threatened to endangered. Pamela Flick, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said California’s state reptile may move slowly but its decline in the wild has been a lot faster. “Adult tortoise population numbers have dropped by over 50% in some recovery areas just since 2004,” she said, “and by as much as 80% to 90% in some habitat since approximately 1980.” Research has shown the animals are falling victim to a variety of threats including uncontrolled off-road vehicle use, livestock grazing on wildlands, the spread of contagious disease, disruption from highway and utility projects, and extended droughts likely associated with climate change. Flick said inadequate protective measures taken over the past few decades have failed. “Despite 30 years of federal and state protections as a threatened species,” she said, “the desert tortoise is closer to extinction than it was in 1990 when it was first listed.” Last year, the Trump administration moved to relax restrictions on off-road vehicles on federal land in the California desert, and has signaled plans to loosen them even further by amending the Obama-era Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. If the commission accepts the petition, it would trigger a 12-month review of the tortoise’s threatened status. More information is online at defenders.org.
Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here. Suzanne Potter, Public News Service – CA
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard