Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement

May 22, 2020 by  
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A new nationwide right-of-way agreement aims to protect migrating monarch butterflies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) signed the agreement, which involves more than 45 transportation and energy companies and many private landowners in creating protected corridors across the country. These promised lands are mostly along roadsides and utility corridors. The agreement allows participants to dedicate parts of their land as monarch conservation management areas. In exchange, the USFW assures landowners that they won’t have to take additional conservation measures on the rest of their land if the monarch butterfly later is listed as endangered. This change in status could happen as soon as December 2020, when the USFWS plans to decide whether the monarch meets criteria for being listed as an endangered species . Related: What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? “Some companies wanted to wait to see how the listing would play out,” Iris Caldwell, a program manager at the Energy Resources Center at UIC and part of the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group , told Mongabay . “But if you are following what’s happening with the butterflies , you know we really can’t wait. We need to be creating habitat on a variety of different landscapes, as much as we can.” The working group included 200 energy, transportation, government and nonprofits who tried to determine a win-win solution for butterflies and landowners. “How can you incentivize a regulated entity or a utility to do this voluntary proactive work,” Caldwell asked, “and still give them kind of the flexibility and the certainty that they need and be able to, in fact, invest in that work without kind of a fear of repercussion?” Under the new agreement, landowners may alter some of their practices, including timing mowing to avoid times when monarch larvae are developing, not using herbicides on the conservation corridors, replanting if the land is disturbed by construction and planting more beneficial native plants the butterflies will enjoy. UIC’s role will be to coordinate efforts between all partners and to be an intermediary between the USFWS and landowners. Monarchs are one of the most popular and recognizable butterflies on Earth, with their bright orange wings, black lines and white dots. Every year, millions of these butterflies migrate from the northern and eastern U.S. and Canada to spend winter in southern California and Mexico. Monarch butterflies are native to North and South America, although they’re no longer found south of Mexico. They’ve followed milkweed to expand their range as far as Portugal, Spain, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. In the continental U.S., they fall into two categories: western monarchs — which are found west of the Rockies and spend winter in southern California — and eastern monarchs, whose breeding grounds are Canada and the Great Plains and who migrate to Mexico in the winter. Both populations have plummeted more than 80% in the last 10 years. Via Mongabay and National Geographic Image via Jessica Bolser / USFWS

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Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement

U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

May 22, 2020 by  
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Wildlife  officials recently announced outbreaks of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) ravaging Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. The  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  deems RHDV2 as seriously contagious and nearly always fatal amongst domestic and wild rabbit species and their close relatives, hares and pikas. RHDV2 is not zoonotic, so it won’t infect livestock, pets or humans, asserts the  California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) . Still,  Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW)  advise against pets consuming rabbit carcasses. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is the viral agent causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).  Science Direct  says RHDV belongs in the calicivirus family, which infects many  animals  including pigs, cattle, cats and even humans. Norovirus, for example, is a human calicivirus. But humans seem unaffected by RHDV.  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? There are two worrisome strains of RHDV — RHDV1 and RHDV2.  House Rabbit Society ,  Veterinary Practice , as well as both the Vaccine and Veterinary Research  journals document RHDV1 as first emerging in China back in 1984, when, in just one year, 140 million rabbits were decimated. China claims that the outbreak started in Angora rabbits imported from Europe. Eventually, RHDV1 spread to over 40 countries and hit the U.S. in 2000. Given its estimated 95% mortality rate, Australia and New Zealand notoriously introduced RHDV1 into their wild rabbit populations as pest biocontrol. RHDV1 mutated, begetting RHDV2, which was first identified in 2010 when domesticated rabbits in France showed clinical signs of RHD despite being already vaccinated against RHDV1. By September 2018, RHDV2 reached the U.S., manifesting among domestic rabbits in a rural Ohio farm, documents the  Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service . The USDA considers both RHDV1 and RHDV2 invasive pathogens, as they are not native to North America. A  joint paper  put forth by the Center for Food Security & Public Health , Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics, Iowa State University, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the USDA revealed RHD can be difficult to eradicate. Not only can the virus strains survive over seven months on rabbit carcasses, but they also withstand temperatures below freezing and above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  House Rabbit Society  cites several differences between RHDV1 and RHDV2. Incubation is two to 10 days for RHDV1, but three to nine days for RHDV2. Rabbits with RHDV2 can be asymptomatic yet spread the virus for up to two months. There is no known cure for either strain. While a vaccine exists for RHDV1, there are currently no USDA -licensed vaccines for RHDV2. That RHDV2 can “potentially surviv[e] more than 3 months without a host” has prompted some U.S. veterinarians to import RHDV2 vaccines despite a convoluted process. The  USDA  and  VIN News Service  warn RHD is highly contagious, spreading easily by direct contact with rabbit excretions and secretions — saliva, sweat and biowaste. Sharing food, water, bedding, fomites and vehicles spreads RHD. Other vectors are infected rabbit meat, pelts, even insects. Besides farmers and pet owners, biologists and  conservationists  are worried about this virus. As declining rabbit populations have repercussions in  habitat  food chains, RHDV2 could cause severe consequences down the line. + Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service Via USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and House Rabbit Society Images via Pexels

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U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico

May 22, 2020 by  
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In the hot and humid Yucatán capital of Mérida, blasting air conditioning all day is commonly regarded as a necessity of life. But Mexico City-based Ludwig Godefroy Architecture has rebelled against this belief with its design of Casa Merida, a self-sufficient dwelling that uses passive solar principles to stay naturally cool. Sustainable in both energy use and design, the contemporary, solar-powered home draws references from traditional Mayan architecture and uses locally produced materials wherever possible. Built primarily of board-formed concrete, Casa Merida is organized as a series of “broken” volumes that reads as an 80-meter-long rectangle with 8-meter-wide sections. This lane-like form was created to follow traditional airflow cooling concepts and to evoke the ancient Mayan sacbé , a term that translates to “white path” and describes stone walkways covered in white limestone. All parts of the home open up to the outdoors via large wooden louver doors that let in cooling breezes, natural light and views of green courtyards interspersed throughout the property. Related: This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape The indoor-outdoor connection is key in the design of the home, which was crafted to feel completely disconnected from the city. This is achieved by placing the communal areas — including the living room, kitchen and swimming pool — at the far end and quietest part of the property instead of placing them near the backyard. The backyard is used as a buffer zone from the urban environment. To help the home meet goals of self sufficiency, the architects installed rainwater collection systems with sculptural water collectors that add to the beauty of the residence. A biodigester is used to treat blackwater, which is then used to irrigate the garden. Heating and all of the home’s electricity needs are provided for via solar hot water heaters and solar panels. “The construction is reaching a 90% made on-site, with local materials and built exclusively by Yucatec masons and carpenters, a sort of modern reinterpretation of what could mean vernacular architecture,” the architects said. “Made of massive materials that do not require special treatments or maintenance, accepting aging and time as part of the architecture process, the house has been conceptualized to end up one day covered by a new coat of materiality: a layer of patina.” + Ludwig Godefroy Architecture Photography by Rory Gardiner via Ludwig Godefroy Architecture

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Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico

Gore, Gates funds lead $80M round for protein startup born in Yellowstone hot springs

March 24, 2020 by  
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Nature’s Fynd, formerly Sustainable Bioproducts, started as a NASA research project. It begins production this month at a facility in Chicago’s old stockyard district.

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Gore, Gates funds lead $80M round for protein startup born in Yellowstone hot springs

In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Avant Cycle Cafe builds community

February 6, 2020 by  
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It all started with a flat tire. A man cycling through Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was charmed by the historic town but really wished it had a bike shop to fix his flat. This cycling mishap has morphed into Avant Cycle Cafe , a community hub that combines a full-service bike shop with excellent coffee and pastries. “Cyclists have a natural inclination to coffee,” managers Ann Esarco and Andrew Gruber told Inhabitat. “When the two worlds came together, it was just a natural fit.” The city of Lake Geneva sits 10 miles north of the Illinois state line in southeastern Wisconsin. Its population of about 7,700 swells in summer, when droves of people from Chicago come for boating and other warm-weather sports. The architecture is another draw. The area saw an upsurge in construction at the end of the 19th century, and many Victorian mansions still stand. This makes the town and environs a compelling place to explore on foot or by bike. Local sourcing at Avant Cycle Cafe The cafe’s menu focuses on hot drinks and treats. Avant Cycle Cafe serves cider made from locally grown apples and has a case full of baked goods. Don’t expect to just order a regular coffee. You can choose from drip, pour over or French press, plus the full range of espresso drinks. You might also be surprised to find that a cafe in a small town in the famous dairy state of Wisconsin offers almond, soy, oat and coconut milk alternatives . Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike This is no ordinary coffee, either. Avant Cycle Cafe sources its beans from Lake Geneva Coffee Roastery . Owner Jeremiah Fox started roasting his own coffee on his stovetop in 2012. Now, the coffee entrepreneur, who is visually impaired, uses his other senses — hearing, taste and smell — to fine-tune his commercial roast profiles. Talking timers and special tactile points on the controls of his machinery allow him to adjust the air flow and temperature for his small-batch coffee. Fox uses electricity for a clean air process, versus roasting with gas, which pollutes both the beans and the air with hydrogen sulfide. According to Fox, his process also makes for coffee that’s easier on customers’ stomachs. Building a cycling community Tourism is seasonal. While some people do visit in winter, summer is high season for Lake Geneva. Avant Cycle Cafe values its summer customers and is happy when they return for more coffee and another bike rental. Both tourists and locals join a series of summer Sunday breakfast rides, where groups pedal together to area restaurants, diners and cafes . The rides are casual with a no-drop policy, meaning nobody gets left behind. Once, the group rode out to see Fox’s coffee roasting operation in the nearby town of Elkhorn. The rides are usually 12 to 15 miles each way. Avant Cycle Cafe believes in cultivating local community year-round, not just when the sun is shining and tourists fill hotel beds. “Our locals are fantastic,” Esarco and Gruber said. They even have one customer who comes in three times a day. In addition to the cafe and bike shop, an upstairs area called The Loft is a rustic, bright and cozy room open to customers for studying and relaxing. It can also be reserved for private events like engagement parties, bridal showers and youth group meetings. This year, Avant Cycle Cafe is hosting a weekly Tuesday night program called 13 Weeks of Winter. “It’s an effort to engage the community in providing entertaining and enriching activities when most people aren’t even thinking of cycling,” Esarco and Gruber explained. While some topics are very on-point, such as a talk by cycling icon Lon Haldeman, an intro to bike maintenance and learning opportunities about the history of coffee, others draw on the community’s wider expertise. Local art gallery ReVive Studio will lead a mosaic pendant class in March. Another night, people can come for Reiki healing. The Chili for Charity contest brought together 10 local restaurants and recently raised more than $1,000 for local organizations. As Esarco and Gruber put it, “Cycling and coffee is just the meeting ground. The community expands out from there.” What’s next for biking in Lake Geneva? Workers at Avant Cycle Cafe are actively making Lake Geneva a better biking town. They’ve begun working with the national Rails to Trails Conservancy, which takes disused railroad tracks and converts them to multi-use trails for hiking and cycling. They are also lobbying elected officials to incorporate bikes into urban planning . “Our aim is to include a marked bike lane on the renovations to Highway 120 from just outside Lake Geneva to the White River State Trail ,” Esarco and Gruber said. This 19-mile trail follows a former rail corridor and is only a few miles from Lake Geneva, so a marked bike lane would greatly improve safe access. Avant Cycle Cafe just started selling and servicing e-bikes , which could give some would-be cyclists an extra boost of confidence. This summer, the cafe will also be offering private, guided tours around the lake. “It’s been wonderful to be in a position to get more people on bikes, having fun and riding around beautiful Lake Geneva,” Esarco and Gruber said. “We want to make Lake Geneva the place to be for cyclists.” + Avant Cycle Cafe Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Avant Cycle Cafe builds community

Scientists announce the Doomsday Clock is within 100 seconds to midnight

January 24, 2020 by  
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Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been warning the public about how close humankind is to irreversible destruction. The nonprofit does this via its iconic indicator, the Doomsday Clock. Recently, the Doomsday Clock advanced one-third of a minute to now be within 100 seconds to midnight, with the midnight hour symbolizing our planet’s apocalyptic demise and humanity’s possible extinction . “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers — nuclear war and climate change — that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond,” the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said in a statement. “The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.” Related: Immersive, dystopian exhibit shows what life could be like post-climate change The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is based at the University of Chicago and was founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project researchers, who developed and produced the world’s first atomic weapon. While the Doomsday Clock is a symbolic tool, it is nonetheless utilized as a means for raising awareness about the planet’s proximity to potential annihilation. Each year, the Bulletin ’s Board of Sponsors and its Science and Security Board assess the state of the planet to determine where the minute hand would rest on the Doomsday Clock. According to the Bulletin ’s website, the team evaluates three main focal points: nuclear risk , climate change and disruptive technologies. Because these major entanglements were initiated and heightened by humans, the nonprofit believes they can, with concerted international effort, be managed and possibly contained. Back in 1953, the Doomsday Clock was within two minutes of midnight when the first hydrogen bomb was tested. But international agreements to limit nuclear arms helped minimize the risks of global catastrophe, thus pushing the minute hand back. By the close of the Cold War in 1991, the Doomsday Clock was set back at 17 minutes to midnight. Unfortunately, the dawn of this new century has seen the minute hand creep ever-closer to midnight, mainly due to the growing climate crisis combined with geopolitical tensions exacerbating the threats of nuclear weapon misuse and the leveraging of cyberspace attacks to disrupt society. Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin’s current president and CEO, emphasized, “We now face a true emergency — an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin of error or further delay.” Similarly, former California Governor Jerry Brown, who is now the Bulletin’s executive chair, said, “Dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder. Climate change just compounds the crisis. If there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now.” + Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Via University of Chicago News Image via Shutterstock

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Scientists announce the Doomsday Clock is within 100 seconds to midnight

This sustainable lodge is in the worlds oldest living desert

January 24, 2020 by  
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It’s not often that hotels located in stunning landscapes come close to matching that natural beauty, but the &Beyond Sossuvlei Desert Lodge is no ordinary hotel. Located in the surreal desert landscape of the Namib Desert, the eco-hotel, which was designed by South African–based Fox Browne Creative , is the epitome of luxurious design mixed with innovative sustainability . Deep in the Namib, the world’s oldest living desert, the &Beyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is located in one of the world’s most surreal landscapes. Surrounded by miles and miles of rolling dunes, the surrounding terrain is otherworldly. And now, for those who’d like to explore this incredible area, the Sossusvlei lodge, which was originally built in the 1990’s, has been renovated to offer not only the perfect base to explore this stunning part of the world, but do it all while staying in a modern sustainable hotel that was designed to reduce its impact on its environment. Related: Gorgeous Belize eco-resort will offer 100% carbon neutral villas The hotel is comprised of ten individual stone and glass suites, which were laid out to provide each suite with a stunning view. There are various sizes on offer, but each unit offers a spacious living area with a fireplace, as well as a kitchen and dining room. In the bedroom, guests will enjoy the large retractable skylight above the bed for some prime stargazing before drifting off to sleep. Additionally, the master bedroom has a dreamy ensuite bathroom with a glass-encased rain shower that provides 180º desert views. From the living area, large floor-to-glass doors open out to a shaded veranda, some installed with a private plunge pool. Guests at the hotel will have the option of splitting their time enjoying their private suites, as well as taking time to explore the hotel grounds. The common area includes a comfortable sitting room with bar and interactive kitchen as well as another pool. There are numerous shaded lounges to enjoy, along with a gym and wellness center with full spa treatments. To top off the luxury, the hotel boasts a strong sustainable profile . From the beginning of the renovation process, the architecture and design team focused on three objectives, “to create an extraordinary experience for the visitor; design structures that are in harmony with their natural setting and minimize the human impact on this sensitive environment.” The first step was the repurposing of the original buildings to fit into a more sustainable model. The renovation process included using as many natural materials as possible, such as natural stone and locally-sourced furnishings. Throughout the hotel as a recycling program as well as an integral water recollection system to reuse rainwater. And finally, a massive amount of rooftop solar panels allows the hotel to generate all its energy, making the lodge 100% self-sustained. + Fox Browne Creative + &Beyond Sossuvlei Desert Lodge Via Wallpaper Photography via Dook Photography

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This sustainable lodge is in the worlds oldest living desert

Award-winning Owl Woods Passive House playfully mimics birdhouses in Australia

January 24, 2020 by  
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Australian design studio Talina Edwards Architecture recently completed the Owl Woods Passive House — the first certified Passivhaus project designed by a woman architect in Australia. Located in the Victorian town of Trentham, the sustainable home not only follows Passivhaus standards for an extremely energy-efficient build, but it also adheres to biophilic principles with its pitched roofs in the shape of unique “bird beaks” for solar shading. The project also won the Sustainability Medal at the 2019 Architeam Awards and was an official finalist in the New Home Category at the 2019 Sustainability Awards. As the 20th certified Passive House project in all of Australia, the Owl Woods Passive House is designed and constructed to meet strict Passivhaus standards that translate to an airtight building envelope for comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, energy efficiency, durability, controlled ventilation and adherence to passive solar design principles. Due to the building envelope specified for the site, the high-performance home is oriented slightly northwest but includes extended roofs along the western sides to protect the interiors from the afternoon summer sunlight. Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Inspired by the farmhouses of a Scottish village, where the clients previously lived, the home is organized into four interconnected gable-roofed pavilions. The easternmost wing houses two bedrooms and a shared bath. The central wing, which is topped with two pitched roofs, contains the open-plan living area and service rooms. The wing to the west comprises the master en suite with a sitting room. The home also includes an outdoor deck on the north side and is punctuated with large windows and glazed doors throughout for a constant visual and physical connection to nature and natural light. In addition to Passive House certification, the timber-framed project has also earned a NATHERS 7.4-star rating and is solar -ready. The interiors continue the exterior’s palette of natural materials and are finished with low-VOC paints for a healthy home environment. “The Owl Woods Passive House is a unique blend of biophilic design and Passivhaus standards of construction — a balance of creative design outcomes, which focus on how the occupants will feel in their home, along with the integration of building science, which delivers a high-performance home,” the architects explained. “In this aspect, it really is a pioneer project for Passivhaus homes in Australia.” + Talina Edwards Architecture Photography by Tatjana Plitt via Talina Edwards Architecture

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Award-winning Owl Woods Passive House playfully mimics birdhouses in Australia

6 helpful ways to give back to nature this Thanksgiving

November 28, 2019 by  
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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it is the best time to reflect on our planet and give thanks for nature and all of its glories. What better way to celebrate our world and its wildlife than by offering a helping hand? Here are some ways to give back to and celebrate Mother Earth this Thanksgiving . Save a turkey While Thanksgiving traditionally means turkey at the table, those who are vegetarian, vegan or simply interested in protecting turkeys can instead adopt or sponsor a turkey. Sanctuaries and rescue organizations devoted to the turkey exist across the United States and United Kingdom. The Adopt-a-Turkey initiative has become a popular Thanksgiving endeavor. By choosing to adopt or sponsor a turkey, you can help fund the care of this fine-feathered friend. Related: Make your own tasty vegetarian turkey for Thanksgiving with this recipe To help a turkey, visit Animal Place , Barn Sanctuary , Catskill Animal Sanctuary , Dean Farm Trust Turkey Rescue , Farm Sanctuary , Friend Farm Animal Sanctuary , Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary , Hillside Animal Sanctuary , Spring Farm Sanctuary , The Gentle Barn , The Retreat Animal Rescue & Sanctuary or Woodstock Farm Sanctuary . For a more comprehensive directory of farm sanctuaries that are also safe havens for turkeys, view Vegan.com’s farm animal sanctuary directory . Give a retired Military Working Dog (MWD) a home MWDs are retired from active duty. Many have either worked in the field or trained with other MWDs, making them unique bearers of particularly honed skills. All adoptable MWDs have already passed rigorous behavioral tests to ensure they are temperamentally a good fit for civilian adoptions.  Because the MWD actually served in the United States military, a MWD is more than just a canine — he or she is a military veteran. When you adopt a MWD, you’re also providing a home to a military veteran and war hero. Organizations that can help you rescue or rehome a MWD include Mission K9 Rescue , the MWD adoption program at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland Air Force Base and the United States War Dogs Association . Be sure to also inquire your nearest military installation to see if they have any retired or retiring MWDs available for adoption. You also have the option to foster a military working dog . If fostering is more appealing, contact the 341st Training Squadron’s MWD Foster Program at JBSA-Lackland here . Name a species Every year, new species are discovered. Typically, the first person to discover the plant or animal gets the honor of naming the species. But there are still countless other organisms requiring scientific names. For a fee, the general public can name a newfound organism. By naming a new species, you complete the dual kindness of helping the scientific community establish a binomial nomenclature identification for a newfound living thing while simultaneously honoring the person you named the newfound organism after. Of course, giving a newly discovered species a name of your choice increases public awareness of biodiversity, raises much-needed funding for ecological conservation efforts and helps spread the science of taxonomy. Organizations with programs devoted to naming new species include the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Discover Life in America (DLIA) nonprofit and the German nonprofit organization BIOPAT . Volunteer at a seed bank You will undeniably make a hands-on contribution when volunteering at a local seed bank. Seeds are deposited for safekeeping in case of unforeseen global emergencies. The seeds can be replanted at some future time to ensure survival, rather than eradication, of certain crops . Today, there are about 1,500 seed banks worldwide, the most famous being the “Doomsday Vault” in Norway, or Svalbard Global Seed Vault . AgProfessional offers a list of the planet’s 15 largest seed banks, where you can learn more about efforts to conserve plant biodiversity. Some seed banks with volunteer opportunities include Irvine Ranch’s Native Seed Farm , London’s Kew Gardens , the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB) , Miller Seed Vault at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens , the renowned Native Plant Trust conservation organization, Portland State University’s Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank and the True Harvest Seeds charity. Monitor vulnerable plants and animals as a citizen scientist Citizen scientists help gather data to inform researchers about the protection and management status of flora and fauna species. Regular monitoring of plants and animals, especially vulnerable and rare ones, is essential to determine their population trends. In turn, agencies at the local, state and federal levels gain insight and implement needed modifications to habitat management and conservation plans. Related: 6 ways to give back this Thanksgiving and beyond For instance, the Smithsonian Institution and the Nature Conservancy have robust citizen scientist programs to assist with the monitoring of species distribution, abundance and threat by invasive species . Some, like the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI) , annually have openings for volunteer plant hunters and junior citizens curious about botany.  Meanwhile, Zooniverse is the largest platform devoted to animal- and plant-centered citizen scientist collaborations. Perhaps one of the most popular citizen science monitoring programs is Plants of Concern , administered by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Similarly, the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) is another volunteer monitoring program that provides better understanding of the interrelationships between humans and ecosystems. Participate in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) Field Book Project For those fond of history, especially natural history, consider volunteering with the Field Book Project . Field notes and diary entries, from the Victorian era and earlier, still need to be identified, cataloged and digitized. Volunteering with this endeavor guarantees access to original records of scientific discovery and primary source material notes on specimens and native environments from centuries ago. Your volunteer efforts with the Field Book Project will help increase the visibility of these long tucked-away scholarly resources that need to be rediscovered and shared with the global biodiversity research community. Images via Taminwi , Rikki’s Refuge , Sgt. Barry St. Clair , Hans Hillewaert , Elena Escagedo , Glacier NPS and Biodiversity Heritage Library

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Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions

April 10, 2019 by  
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Scientists believe the number of bird deaths associated with skyscrapers has reached hundreds of millions. Researchers estimate that anywhere between 100 million and one billion birds die from smashing into glass buildings every year — and they now know which areas of the country are the worst for these incidents. More birds die from hitting buildings in Chicago than any other city in America. Scientists believe around five million birds migrate through Chicago in the fall and spring as they make their way from Central and South America to Canada. According to The Guardian , Manhattan is another deadly place for birds who are migrating north and south. Related: Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends The majority of birds travel across the U.S. at night because the weather is cooler. These birds are often attracted to the bright lights of the cities. Large glass structures, like skyscrapers, are particularly dangerous, because they reflect the surrounding landscape, tricking the birds into thinking they are flying into trees or open air. The new bird conservation study was published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Other cities listed in the study, which was entirely based in the U.S., include Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis. “We’re trying to raise awareness — trying to provide data and insight that could help,” Kyle Horton, an author of the study, shared. One of the ongoing issues with studying bird deaths is obtaining reliable numbers. The New York City Audubon, for example, employs volunteers to collect birds that are killed in the fall and spring of each year. The organization recently reported that between 90,000 and 200,000 birds die from building collisions yearly. Other cities have initiated similar plans, but large scale implementation is difficult. Although the high number of bird deaths is concerning, bird conservationists believe that researchers and designers can come up with solutions to help curb those deaths in the near future — it all starts with recognizing the problem. Via The Guardian Image via Pexels

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Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions

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