Ecology

Orangutan Finding Highlights Need to Protect Habitat

Wild orangutans are known for their ability to survive food shortages, but scientists have made a surprising finding that highlights the need to protect the habitat of these critically endangered primates, which face rapid habitat destruction and threats linked to climate change. Scientists found that the muscle mass of orangutans on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia was significantly lower when less fruit was available. That’s remarkable because orangutans are thought to be especially good at storing and using fat for energy, according a Rutgers-led study in the journal Scientific Reports.

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.

How Did 500 Species of a Fish Form in a Lake? Dramatically Different Body Clocks

Despite the dramatic difference between day and nightlife, how fish exploit different times of day has not been studied systematically. Scientists explored alterations in the circadian timing of activity and the duration of rest-wake cycles in Lake Malawi’s cichlids and identified the first single nocturnal species. Timing and duration of rest and activity varies dramatically, and continuously, between populations of Lake Malawi cichlids, providing a system for exploring the molecular and neural basis underlying variation in nocturnal activity.

How Would Geoengineering Impact Nature?

Should humans use technology to put the brakes on global warming? Stratospheric aerosol intervention (SAI) is a climate intervention that has been studied as a way to help cool the Earth. But what would be the consequences to natural systems of SAI? This question is being examined by a large scientific research team.

“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.

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.

As climate change cranks up the heat in the Mojave Desert, not all species are equally affected

A new study shows how climate change is having a much greater impact on birds than small mammals in the Mojave Desert in the southwestern United States. The study could inform conservation practices and shed new light on how climate change affects various species differently. The research drew on cutting-edge computer modeling as well as survey data from more than 100 years ago.

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.

Research Can Help Pawpaws Gain New Ground

Despite its tropical-sounding name and exotic-tasting In a recent article in Plant Ecology, Associate Professor The pawpaw is extremely rare in New York State, with only 20 known locations. Stephen Tulowiecki, a geographer at SUNY Geneseo, studied the conditions that pawpaws favor, and developed a model to predict locations where pawpaws may grow and identify areas that might sustain newly introduced trees.

Atmospheric Rivers Help Create Massive Holes in Antarctic Sea Ice

Warm, moist rivers of air in Antarctica play a key role in creating massive holes in sea ice in the Weddell Sea and may influence ocean conditions around the vast continent as well as climate change, according to Rutgers co-authored research. Scientists studied the role of long, intense plumes of warm, moist air – known as atmospheric rivers – in creating enormous openings in sea ice. They focused on the Weddell Sea region of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, where these sea ice holes (called polynyas) infrequently develop during the winter.

Boo! How Do Mexican Cavefish Escape Predators?

When startled, do all fish respond the same way? A few fish, like Mexican cavefish, have evolved in unique environments without any predators. To see how this lack of predation impacts escape responses that are highly stereotyped across fish species, scientists explored this tiny fish to determine if there are evolved differences in them. Findings reveal that the dramatic ecological differences between cave and river environments contribute to differences in escape behavior in blind cavefish and river-dwelling surface cavefish.

Mapping out rest stops for migrating birds

Researchers have developed a new metric called the stopover-to-passage ratio that can help determine if a majority of birds are flying over a particular site or stopping at the site to refuel or rest. This can have important implications for what is done on the ground to help migratory birds.

Study First to Tally Biomass from Oceanic Plastic Debris Using Visualization Method

Scientists examined cell abundances, size, cellular carbon mass, and how photosynthetic cells differ on polymeric and glass substrates over time, exploring nanoparticle generation from plastic like polystyrene and how this might disrupt microalgae. Conservative estimates suggest that about 1 percent of microbial cells in the ocean surface microlayer inhabit plastic debris globally. This mass of cells would not exist without plastic debris in the ocean, and thus, represents a disruption of the proportions of native flora in that habitat.

FAU Lands $11 Million from U.S. Office of Naval Research for Oceanic Bioluminescence

FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has landed an $11,179,001 four-year contract from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to develop a next-generation, high-intake, compact, bathyphotometer sensor for natural oceanic bioluminescence assessments. Bioluminescent creatures are found throughout marine habitats and their “glowing” energy released from chemical reactions is used to warn or evade predators, lure or detect prey and communicate with the same species. Research surrounding bioluminescence will soon serve as an important tool to protect U.S. coastlines.

China’s ecological restoration projects deplete terrestrial water stores

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 10, 2020 – Through concerted, policy-driven efforts, China has converted large swaths of desert into grassland over the past few decades, but this success has come at a cost. In a study published recently in Nature Sustainability, scientists at the University of California, Irvine report that the Asian nation’s environmental reclamation programs have substantially diminished terrestrially stored water.

New study on migration success reinforces need for monarch butterfly milkweed habitat

A recently published study presents evidence that the migration success of monarchs hasn’t declined in recent years and thus cannot explain the steep decline in the monarch population over the last few decades. The study drew on data collected on 1.4 million monarch butterflies that were tagged in the United States Midwest from 1998 to 2015 and emphasizes the need for new monarch habitat.

Meet the hedge fund managers of avian world

In uncertain times, it makes sense to manage risk in your endeavors — whether it’s investing in money-making opportunities or deciding where to lay your eggs. Brood parasites are birds that are known to lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. Cowbirds and cuckoos are among the most famous examples of this group.

Indigenous People Vital for Understanding Environmental Change

Grassroots knowledge from indigenous people can help to map and monitor ecological changes and improve scientific studies, according to Rutgers-led research. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows the importance of indigenous and local knowledge for monitoring ecosystem changes and managing ecosystems. The team collected more than 300 indicators developed by indigenous people to monitor ecosystem change, and most revealed negative trends, such as increased invasive species or changes in the health of wild animals. Such local knowledge influences decisions about where and how to hunt, benefits ecosystem management and is important for scientific monitoring at a global scale.