Baylor Study Evaluates Biodiversity Impacts of Alternative Energy Strategies

Climate change mitigation efforts have led to shifts from fossil-fuel dependence to large-scale renewable energy. However, renewable energy sources require significant land and could come at a cost to ecosystems. A new study led by Ryan McManamay, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science at Baylor University, evaluates potential conflicts between alternative energy strategies and biodiversity conservation.

‘An unexplored world right beneath our feet:’ Cave ecologist on the importance of caves in discussions on conservation, caves on other planets

Jut Wynne, director of NAU’s Cave Ecology Lab, talks about cave health all the time. But during 2021, the International Year of Caves and Karst, he and other researchers are inviting the rest of us to consider all the ways these ecosystems contribute to society without us even knowing it.

Seabirds face dire threats from climate change, human activity — especially in Northern Hemisphere

Many seabirds in the Northern Hemisphere are struggling to breed — and in the Southern Hemisphere, they may not be far behind. These are the conclusions of a study, published May 28 in Science, analyzing more than 50 years of breeding records for 67 seabird species worldwide.

Iconic bird makes its home on campus

With its tree-laden campus and adjacent protected natural reserves, UCI enjoys being home to a great variety of bird species. One particular raptor continues to capture the attention of the many avid birders in Orange County: the white-tailed kite. This iconic bird of Orange County – named for its ability to hover in the air while hunting –nearly went extinct throughout California in the early 1900s due to human-related threats.

Health Status of Vulnerable Gopher Tortoises Revealed in Southeastern Florida

In previously unstudied gopher tortoise aggregations, researchers found that overall, 42.9 percent had circulating antibodies to an infectious bacterium that causes upper respiratory tract disease. Physical examination showed that 19.8 percent had clinical signs consistent with upper respiratory tract disease and 13.2 percent had some form of physical abnormality. None of the tortoises tested positive for Ranavirus or Herpesvirus, which represents important baseline data, since these viruses are thought to be emerging pathogens of other tortoise and turtle species.

NSF awards UAH’s Dr. Niemiller $1.029 million for groundwater biodiversity study

A proposal to conduct the first comprehensive assessment of groundwater biodiversity in the central and eastern United States has earned a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) assistant professor of biological science a five-year, $1.029 million National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award.

Overfishing of Atlantic Cod Likely Did Not Cause Genetic Changes

Overfishing likely did not cause the Atlantic cod, an iconic species, to evolve genetically and mature earlier, according to a study led by Rutgers University and the University of Oslo – the first of its kind – with major implications for ocean conservation.

Bald eagle count quadruples, thanks in part to eBird data boost

For the past 50 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been assembling counts of bald eagle nests to track the triumphant recovery of America’s national symbol. But in its new bald eagle population report – tabulated with the help of results using eBird data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – the USFWS found many more eagles than previously thought to exist in the Lower 48 states.

“Ghost Forests” Expanding Along Northeast U.S. Coast

Why are “ghost forests” filled with dead trees expanding along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coast? Higher groundwater levels linked to sea-level rise and increased flooding from storm surges and very high tides are likely the most important factors, according to a Rutgers study on the impacts of climate change that suggests how to enhance land-use planning.

NASA Images Reveal Important Forests and Wetlands are Disappearing in Belize

Using NASA satellite images and machine learning, researchers with The University of Texas at Austin have mapped changes in the landscape of northwestern Belize over a span of four decades, finding significant losses of forest and wetlands, but also successful regrowth of forest in established conservation zones that protect surviving structures of the ancient Maya.

Rutgers Wildlife Experts Can Discuss Coyotes in New Jersey

New Brunswick, N.J. (March 2, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick wildlife experts Kathleen Kerwin and Chris Crosby are available for interviews on coyote ecology and behavior, how and when coyotes got to New Jersey and how to avoid human-coyote conflict. “The…

Drifter or Homebody? Study First to Show Where Whitespotted Eagle Rays Roam

It’s made for long-distance travel, yet movement patterns of the whitespotted eagle ray remain a mystery. Between 2016 and 2018, scientists fitted 54 rays with acoustic transmitters and tracked them along both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts of Florida, which differ in environmental characteristics. Results of the study reveal striking differences in travel patterns on the Atlantic coast compared to the Gulf coast. Findings have significant conservation and adaptive management implications for this protected species.

Crunch! Underwater Acoustics Expose ‘Shell-crushing’ Sounds in a Large Marine Predator

“Shell-crushing,” an explosive sound, occurs when marine animals crack open hard shells like clams to eat the edible tissue. There hasn’t been any data to support this feeding noise, until now. A study is the first to quantify these sounds using underwater acoustics in a marine animal in a controlled setting. Scientists know what type of shell a ray is eating based on the sound it makes and show it’s audible above ambient noise in lagoons out to 100 meters.

Rutgers Legal Expert Available to Discuss Environmental, Climate Change Priorities

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 21, 2021) – Rutgers University Professor Cymie R. Payne, an expert on United States and international environmental laws, is available for interviews on how the administration of President Biden can strengthen laws and regulations and efforts to…

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Record Year for Bald Eagles in N.J.

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 13, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick ecologist Michael C. Allen is available for interviews on the record year for bald eagles in New Jersey. “The resounding return of bald eagles in North America has been especially strong…

Big Differences in How Coral Reef Fish Larvae are Dispersed

How the larvae of colorful clownfish that live among coral reefs in the Philippines are dispersed varies widely, depending on the year and seasons – a Rutgers-led finding that could help scientists improve conservation of species. Right after most coral reef fish hatch, they join a swirling sea of plankton as tiny, transparent larvae. Then currents, winds and waves disperse them, frequently to different reefs.

‘Hail to the Queen’ – Saving the Caribbean Queen Conch

Second only to the spiny lobster, the queen conch is a prized delicacy long harvested for food and is revered for its beautiful shell. Conch populations have dwindled so low, creating a dire and urgent situation in ecological and economic terms. To preserve this most significant molluscan fishery in the Caribbean, the world’s leading expert on queen conch aquaculture has published an 80-page, step-by-step user manual that provides complete illustrations and photos of how to culture and restore the queen conch.

Planning Ahead Protects Fish and Fisheries

Conservation of fish and other marine life migrating from warming ocean waters will be more effective and also protect commercial fisheries if plans are made now to cope with climate change, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Science Advances.

Less Light, More Trees Assist Migrating Birds

Scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University used observations from the Lab’s eBird citizen-science program to estimate the seasonal species richness of nocturnally migrating passerines within 333 well surveyed urban areas in the contiguous U.S. “Richness” is defined as the number of different species in an area.

Stunning Discovery Reveals Bonefish Dive 450 Feet ‘Deep’ into the Abyss to Spawn

Using active acoustic telemetry and sonar data, a study provides the first detailed documentation of a shallow water fish diving 450 feet deep to spawn. Prior research has shown that bonefish dive about 164 feet to spawn, but this new and unprecedented study reveals that they reached depths of 450 feet, and moved below 325 feet for two hours before spawning in a rush upward to 220 feet deep.

The secret social lives of giant poisonous rats

A new study confirmed that the rabbit-sized rodent sequesters poison from the bark of Acokanthera schimperi, known as the poison arrow tree, into specialized fur for defense. The researchers also discovered an unexpected social life—the rats appear to be monogamous and may even form small family units with their offspring.

After Election: Making the Endangered Species Act More Effective

Following the presidential election, a leading group of scientists are making the case that a “rule reversal” will not be sufficient to allow the Endangered Species Act to do its job of protecting species. Instead, they’re calling for deeper improvements to the rules the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service use to apply the law–aiming to make the Act more effective and to gain bipartisan and industry support in an era of accelerating climate change.
The team’s analysis and policy recommendations were published in the journal Science.

Scientists are First in the World to Spawn Bonefish in Captivity

Fossil records of bonefish go back 138 million years, but large gaps about their biology remain. In just four years, scientists have successfully spawned bonefish in captivity and have figured out their life cycle to help inform management and conservation of this revered fishery. In the Florida keys alone, the annual economic impacts exceed $465 million. Florida’s recreational and commercial fishing industries and associated businesses account for billions of dollars that drive the economic engine for the state each year and contribute to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

New Study Shows How Climate Impacts Food Webs, Poses Socioeconomic Threat in Eastern Africa

For the first time, a research team has obtained high resolution sedimentary core samples from Lake Tanganyika. The samples show that high frequency variability in climate can lead to major disruptions in how the lake’s food web functions. The changes could put millions of people at risk who rely on the lake for food security. The team says the findings are a critical building block toward research-informed policymaking in the Lake Tanganyika region.

Most Nations Failing to Protect Nature in COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Plans

The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to reset the global economy and reverse decades of ecosystem and species losses, but most countries are failing to invest in nature-related economic reforms or investments, according to a Rutgers-led paper.