Home News Environment Life Leader 25 July 2018 IN JUNE 2016, scientists from the University of Queensland confirmed what had been feared for some time: the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat was no more. This small rodent eked out a lonely existence on Bramble Cay, a tiny dot of land at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. When Europeans first landed in 1845, the place was teeming with them. But frequent inundations caused by rising sea level made life increasingly precarious and the creature is now literally a drowned rat. This is in many ways a familiar story. A once-thriving population, endemic to a small island, wiped out by human activity. But it is also a first. The Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat is the only species that we know for sure was driven extinct by climate change. Advertisement We are thus in an era where two great environmental anxieties – climate change and biodiversity loss – are converging. Biologists expect … [Read more...] about Biodiversity may prove to be the defining issue of our age
Home Features Life Feature 25 July 2018 Attention-grabbing headlines about extinctions obscure our dearth of knowledge about just how many species are being wiped out and how big the implications are By Graham Lawton“SEE those little beetles with a black cross on a red background?” I lean in to take a look. “They’re Panagaeus cruxmajor – the crucifix ground beetle. They were collected by Charles Darwin back in the 1820s.” Ed Turner is curator of insects at the University of Cambridge’s Zoology Museum, where many of Darwin’s beetle collections are held. He is proud to show me specimens collected by the man himself, and I am chuffed to see them. But the thrill doesn’t last. If we were to follow in Darwin’s footsteps and go out hunting crucifix ground beetles on the fens north of Cambridge, Turner says, we would have no chance. “They’re extinct. In this county, … [Read more...] about Biodiversity in crisis: How close to the brink is life on Earth?
PUBLISHED: 10:01 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:01 18 July 2018 Winners of the 2018 Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards. Picture: Keiron Tovell Keiron Tovell Volunteers who devote their time to protecting Norfolk’s wildlife and enhancing their natural environment were honoured at an annual awards ceremony. The Community Biodiversity Awards are run by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership (NBP) to celebrate people whose voluntary efforts improve wildlife habitats across the county, and lead to greater community engagement with local nature sites. Awards organisers said there were “many outstanding nominations and inspiring examples of community groups taking on the care for high-quality green spaces across Norfolk” – initiatives which had become increasingly important amid the continued pressure on local authority budgets. Among the 12 projects and individuals recognised at the awards evening at the Abbey Conference Centre on Bracondale in Norwich, there were … [Read more...] about Norfolk nature volunteers celebrated at 2018 Community Biodiversity Awards
Biologists get a new look at plant biodiversity and function with new imaging technology developed at the University of Alberta. "Biodiversity and ecosystem function are both changing with human disturbance and climate change, and our research provides a new tool for assessing these changes and renewed hope for improved environmental monitoring," explained John Gamon, professor in the Departments of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Biological Sciences and co-author in the study. "The information derived from this technology provides a practical way to address biodiversity and ecosystem function over large landscapes." The method uses an imaging spectrometer, similar to a conventional camera but with a thousand colours, mounted on a moving robotic cart to measure the spectra of light reflected from plants in visible, near-infrared, and short-wave infrared regions to measure differences in plant traits. Differences in reflected radiation allow scientists to not only see more than what … [Read more...] about New Technology Has Bright Prospects For Understanding Plant Biodiversity
By Katie LanginJun. 4, 2018 , 11:00 AM In 2014, a toxic invasive species—the Asian common toad—was spotted in Madagascar’s largest seaport. Conservation biologists quickly sounded an urgent alarm, warning that the invader could devastate the African island’s unique biodiversity, which includes lemurs and hundreds of other animals found nowhere else in the world. Now, scientists have confirmed that the toad’s toxic slime will likely kill nearly everything in Madagascar that tries to eat it, according to a study that surveyed the susceptibility of 88 species. The findings “strengthen the idea that these [toads] are a major threat,” says Guinevere Wogan, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who wasn’t involved in the study. Knowing how many species are potentially vulnerable is “critical for thinking about how to approach this invasion and save the diversity,” she says. The toads (Duttaphrynus … [Read more...] about Toxic toads could devastate Madagascar’s biodiversity