How hungry snails help to protect ecosystems from climate change

November 1, 2017 by  
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You may not notice their good work, but small snail-like creatures known as limpets are performing an invaluable ecological service by eating and eating and eating. The herbivores’ consumption strengthens the resilience of an ecosystem in part by making space for other creatures, making it more diverse and resistant to the pressures of rising temperatures . “At first it might seem like an ecosystem untouched by consumers [herbivores and predators] is better, and, well, it would be better for populations of plants if that was all we cared about, but it’s not better for the ecosystem as a whole,” said Rebecca Kordas, zoologist and author of a new study that details the ecological benefits of limpets. “Consumers are important because they keep the populations of the species they eat in check. They keep them from taking over all of the resources.” Kordas, whose work was recently published in the journal  Science Advances , studied the positive impact of limpets by observing intertidal zones during the hot summer and checking the health of other creatures in that particular ecosystem. She found that starfish, anemones, mussels, barnacles and seaweed all did well when limpets were present; when they weren’t, the animal populations were not nearly as robust. “When limpets were part of the community, the effects of warming were less harsh,” said Kordas. Kordas and her team created mini-marine ecosystems on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia so as to study ecological changes in a more controlled environment. Related: Snails defeat Trump: Irish seawall scrapped The principle of consumers affecting available space in an ecosystem, and thus altering the biodiversity, can be seen on a macro scale as well. When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park , for example, the elk population was curtailed, allowing smaller organisms to thrive where previously they had been affected by an outsized elk presence. Similarly, sea otters serve the purpose of controlling the sea urchin population in kelp forests, which protect coastlines from extreme weather and act as carbon sinks like forests on land. “The story is not about limpets, per se, but is more about preserving intact ecosystems and specifically, preserving consumers?—?herbivores and predators?—?in ecosystems,” said Kordas of her research’s broader implications. “Intact ecosystems will be best equipped to resist the effects of a warming climate. Degraded ecosystems, where species have been removed, for example, because of harvesting or fishing, will not fare as well when they become stressed by rising temperatures.” + Science Advances Via Popular Science Images via Depositphotos (1)

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How hungry snails help to protect ecosystems from climate change

Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA

November 1, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk just gave us a peek into the future with a new picture of The Boring Company’s tunnel under Los Angeles . He shared the picture snapped recently on social media, and it seems the project started less than a year ago is well underway. In an image that looks straight out of science fiction, Musk shared a glimpse of what The Boring Company has been up to in Los Angeles. They’ve been anything but idle: the startup has built a tunnel for transportation beneath the city notorious for traffic woes. Musk shared the picture of the tunnel on Twitter on October 28, and said it had been taken the day before. Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company receives green light to dig a two-mile test tunnel Picture of The Boring Company LA tunnel taken yesterday pic.twitter.com/TfdVKyXFsJ — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2017 Musk said on Twitter the tunnel is 500-feet-long right now, and in three to four months, will be two miles long, “and hopefully stretch the whole 405 N-S corridor from LAX to the 101 in a year or so.” Musk provided more detail on his Instagram, according to Twitter user Kilian/0strich, who shared a screenshot of Musk’s Instagram comment saying, “First route will go roughly parallel to the 405 from LAX to the 101, with on/offramps every mile or so. It will work like a fast freeway, where electric skates carrying vehicles and people pods on the main artery travel at up to 150mph, and the skates switch to side tunnels to exit and enter. This is a big difference compared to subways that stop at every stop, whether you’re getting off or not.” The Boring Company explains on their Frequently Asked Questions page that an electric skate is a “fast plate on wheels propelled by an electric motor.” The zero-emissions, autonomous vehicles can transport goods or automobiles – and if a vacuum shell is added, can become a Hyperloop pod. + The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company and Depositphotos

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Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA

Yellowstone National Park to Kill up to 900 Bison This Winter

September 17, 2014 by  
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Yellowstone National Park just annoucned plans to kill up to 900 bison this winter in an effort to control the size of the park’s herd. Any animals that stray from the park over the winter months will be killed in what could be the largest cull of the US’ last free-ranging pure-bred bison in seven years. Currently, Yellowstone ‘s bison population is estimated at 4,900, and the park hopes to reduce this number to 4,000. Read the rest of Yellowstone National Park to Kill up to 900 Bison This Winter Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: American Indian traditional hunting , animal cull , Bison , buffalo , herbivores , hunting , Idaho , montana , national park management , population control , traditional food sources , wild animals , wyoming , yellowstone national park

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Yellowstone National Park to Kill up to 900 Bison This Winter

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