Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

July 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

Good news for science and for the Earth: scientists looking for rare research specimens, such as the smoothtooth blacktip shark or Antarctic skate, now have a website to request or trade biological odds and ends. Built by students and backed by startup accelerators, Otlet.io allows researchers to list their surplus research samples and request those currently not available through other means. The site has already been acknowledged as a major win for conservation . The website is a product born of frustration: founders Lauren Meyer and Madi Green, two PhD students in Australia and Tasmania, were having trouble finding specimens to complete projects. After completing an undergraduate honors thesis with limited data, Meyer discovered that a colleague held several tiger shark livers – which she needed to present a conclusive report. To improve communications and cooperation between researchers, Meyer and Green started SharkShare.com, which ultimately evolved to Otlet. Related: 500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor Universities hail the project as a crucial step forward for conservation. Some species listed on Otlet today are either Red List-threatened or considered data deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – and, by sharing existing resources, scientists can continue their current research without further threatening any species. To begin the specimen swapping process, scientists simply create an account on Otlet and share what they have or what they need. When a match occurs, individuals can reach out to one another to coordinate exchanges and determine shipping responsibility. The community is only open to active researchers: before requesting or listing anything, users must provide their academic status, organization affiliation and details on their specific field of study. Even though the website is relatively new, it’s already created major waves across the international science community: there are more than 10,000 listings on Otlet representing 135 distinct species from 47 nations. Recently added to the specimen database are flapnose ray fins from the Red Sea, livers from South Australian thresher sharks and Pacific spookfish muscles from the subantarctic Pacific Ocean . All are available for exchange with other scientists. Otlet receives support from Australia’s St. George Bank and the New South Wales Government, startup incubator BlueChilli and the Save Our Seas foundation. + Otlet Via  Earther Images via Wikimedia Commons

View original here: 
Trading specimens for science? Theres a website for that

Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

July 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

Two national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon face pollution threats and habitat destruction if oil drilling is given the green light. The national government announced on Friday, June 29, 2018 that it is deciding on whether to permit oil wells in parts of the Salonga and Virunga National Parks, which are both home to rare and endangered wildlife. Under the plan put forward by the Congolese government, over one-fifth of Virunga National Park could open for oil exploration. Virunga is home to approximately half of the world’s mountain gorillas . Salonga National Park occupies more than 13,000 square miles of the Congo Basin , the second largest rainforest in the world. The dense jungles are home to bonobos, along with the African golden cat, forest buffalos and pangolins. The government did not elaborate on how much of Salonga could be available for oil drilling. In statements to the press, the government expressed its rights to allow oil well construction in both parks, while claiming it would be mindful of wildlife protection in both areas. Related: New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo These plans come under heavy criticism from inter-governmental organizations and environmental watchdog groups, whom already denounced previous plans. As World Heritage Sites , UNESCO calls drilling and illegal resource extraction continuing threats to conservation in both the Salonga and Virunga . Oil drilling is not the only issue facing the wildlife in these parks. Poaching and kidnapping remains a major concern in both preserves. After two British tourists were held hostage and a park ranger was killed in the first five months of 2018, government officials have closed Virunga through 2019. Opening the parks to drilling comes as the national government prepares for another wave of sanctions. Before the announcement, the United Nations Security Council upheld an asset freeze and travel ban against the nation. Although British oil and gas exploration firm Soco International previously tested the Virunga area for viability, its license is no longer valid. No other petroleum companies have announced plans to drill in either of the two parks. Via  Reuters  and  BBC Images via Fanny Schertzer ( 1 , 2 )

Read the original here:
Congo could open its national parks to oil drilling

Sea stars overcome melting disease through rapid evolution

June 27, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Sea stars overcome melting disease through rapid evolution

Five years ago, millions of sea stars off the west coast of North America were killed by a mysterious virus that caused the animals to lose limbs and liquefy, with several species under serious threat of extinction. Following the peak of the epidemic, described as “one of the largest marine mass mortality events on record,” scientists noticed that young ochre stars, among the species most impacted by the virus, were surviving at much higher rates. Today, the starfish have seemed to miraculously recover, and researchers may have the explanation for their salvation. A new study suggests that the animals possibly developed a genetic resistance to the still-puzzling densovirus, a threat that had been lurking in the region for decades but could have been fully activated by climate change . About 80 percent of ochre sea stars died as a result of the mysterious virus , which was disturbing for its ecological consequences and the manner with which it killed. “The sick ones tend to just fall apart in front of your eyes,” biologist Jeff Marliave told KUOW in 2013 . “An arm will actually break off and crawl away.” Scientists now believe that the massive die-off accelerated the process of natural selection. “When you’ve removed a whole bunch of them, you’ve shifted the whole genetic diversity of that population,” researcher Chris Mah told the Guardian . “In other words, to put it in human terms, if you wiped out a huge chunk of the human species, you would change the genetic makeup of humans.” Related: Underwater robots seek and kill invasive starfish Those that survived the wasting syndrome had the resistant gene, which they then passed onto their offspring. While the sea stars may have avoided a terminal fate this time, such epidemics are expected to occur with greater frequency in the future. “The concern is that marine disease, extreme environmental events and the frequency of those are on the rise,” study lead author Lauren Schiebelhut told the Guardian . “If we have too many extreme events in a row, maybe that becomes more challenging for species to respond to.” Via The Guardian Images via Jerry Kirkhart , Oregon State University and David O.

Original post:
Sea stars overcome melting disease through rapid evolution

Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

Researchers have identified the first recognized giant manta ray nursery in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico , about 70 miles offshore from Galveston, Texas . Graduate student and executive director of  Manta Trust Josh Stewart first made this discovery while studying adult mantas in the area for the first time. “I was there trying to get a genetic sample from a full grown manta, and that’s when I saw it. It was a juvenile male manta, which is a very rare,” Stewart told NPR . After expressing his excitement to local researchers, he was informed that young manta sightings were quite common there. He said, “And that’s when I knew that this was a really special, unique place.” The local researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration had misidentified the young manta rays as another species, neglecting to recognize the importance of this place until the arrival of an outside perspective. Typically, adult manta rays live in deep tropical and subtropical waters, making the study of these majestic sea creatures quite difficult. Young manta rays are almost never seen with adults. Related: Microplastic pollution poses particular threat to filter-feeding rays, sharks and whales “The juvenile life stage for oceanic mantas has been a bit of a black box for us, since we’re so rarely able to observe them,” Stewart explained. “We don’t know much about their movements, their feeding behavior and how that compares to the adults. Now we have a pool of juveniles that we can study.” The recognition of the nursery will ensure that these young mantas, now an endangered species in the U.S., are protected while also providing a road map for the protection of juvenile habitats around the world. “This research backs up the need for protection of other critical habitat, especially since manta rays have recently been designated as threatened species,” study co-author Michelle Johnston told the Herald Sun . “Threatened species need a safe space to grow up and thrive and live.” + Scripps Institution of Oceanography Via NPR and  The Herald Sun Images via G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS

Here is the original:
Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

West Antarctica’s bedrock is rising, providing some protection to melting ice

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on West Antarctica’s bedrock is rising, providing some protection to melting ice

It seems that most news concerning Antarctica’s ice sheets is bad news, with two of the world’s fastest melting glaciers shrinking away in the continent’s western region. Fortunately, this same region is also home to an unusual geological feature that may provide some relief to the effects of climate change. In a new study published in the journal Science , researchers examined how the Earth’s surface seems to expand when heavy objects, such as glaciers , are no longer present and pushing down on the ground. According to data gathered from GPS sensors, the land beneath the Amundsen Sea Embayment in western Antarctica is rising at a rate of about two inches per year, one of the fastest rising rates ever recorded. As is often the case, the discovery of western Antarctica’s rising bedrock was made somewhat by chance. “[Study co-author] Terry Wilson and colleagues were extremely wise and lucky,” study co-author Valentina Barletta told Earther . “They had the really, really good idea [to place those sensors] with very few indication[s] that there might have been something special.” The researchers concluded that the land beneath the Amundsen Sea Embayment springs back because of a relatively fluid mantle beneath the surface, which is more capable of responding to changes above. Related: Scientists uncover giant canyons under the ice in Antarctica “This study shows this region of Antarctica has a very short memory,” Antarctica researcher Matt King told Earther, likening the local geological phenomenon to memory foam. Understanding the impact that rebounding land can have enables researchers to more accurately assess ice loss, the measurement of which has been incomplete due to a lack of knowledge about rising rock. The study also provides some hope to those who live in coastal areas, which may benefit from the potential slowing of melting ice by its rising higher than the warmer water . Via Earther Image via Depositphotos

Original post:
West Antarctica’s bedrock is rising, providing some protection to melting ice

8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on 8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living

Many people mistake tiny homes for delicate structures that provide a minimal amount of space for simple living. But these modern tiny homes are proving that they can be just as resilient as any traditional home twice their size. Check out eight tiny homes that are built to withstand brutal climates and rugged landscapes while still offering residents the sustainable option of  off-grid living . NestHouse offers charm and energy efficiency Designed by Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland , the beautiful NestHouse is a sustainable and energy-efficient tiny home. Hidden behind its endearing Scandinavian aesthetics, the home boasts impressive off-grid options like passive ventilation and solar. Related: This mini caravan with a telescopic roof is the stuff of off-grid dreams Payette Urban tiny home runs on solar power TruForm Tiny has made a name for itself by crafting made-to-order tiny homes, and the Payette Urban is one of our favorite models. The tiny home is as big on design and comfort as it is on energy efficiency. The house can utilize solar or wind power, offering residents more flexibility for their energy source. Father and son build tiny off-grid cabin in Wisconsin When Bill Yudchitz  and his son, Daniel, decided to bond over a tiny home project, they did not realize that the result would be so spectacular. The duo created a contemporary 325-square-foot home designed with minimal impact on the landscape. Installed with various sustainable technologies such as solar lanterns and a rainwater harvesting system, the light-filled home is a great example of tiny house design done right. $33K hOMe offers off-grid luxury on wheels It’s not often that a tiny home is considered luxurious, but this house is the exception. Built by Andrew and Gabriella Morrison , hOMe is a 221-square foot tiny house built to go off the grid with solar connections and a composting toilet . The structure can be mounted on a flat-deck trailer, allowing homeowners to tow and set up their homes virtually anywhere. Tiny flat-packed homes provide affordable housing Architect Alex Symes developed this flat-pack off-grid home as a solution to expensive city housing. Built with low environmental impact materials, Big World Homes are powered by solar energy and include rainwater harvesting systems. The homes can also increase in size with additional modules. World’s most active volcano harbors tiny off-grid home Located at the base of Mauna Loa volcano next to Kilauea, the tiny 450-square-foot Phoenix House — designed by ArtisTree — is a very cool Airbnb rental with some incredible eco-friendly features, such as solar power and a rainwater harvesting system. Built with recycled materials, the home is part of a local regenerative, off-grid community compound. Zero-energy retreat has a near-invisible footprint COULSON architects’ Disappear Retreat stands out for its ability to disappear from sight… and the grid. Built to Passive House Standards, the 83-square-foot mirrored home boasts a near-invisible footprint. According to the architects, the prefabricated retreat was strategically designed for “triple-zero living”: zero energy, zero waste and zero water. Old-fashioned caravan home is 100% self sustaining This hand-built caravan tiny home proves that sometimes state-of-the-art technology isn’t needed to get completely off the grid. Built by the father and son team known as The Unknown Craftsmen , the Old Time Caravan is crafted from reclaimed wood and relies on natural light to illuminate the interior. Images via © Jonathan Avery of  Tiny House Scotland ; TruForm Tiny ;  Revelations Architects/Builders ;  Tiny House Build ;  Big World Homes and Barton Taylor Photography; ArtisTree ;  COULSON architects and  The Unknown Craftsmen

The rest is here: 
8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living

Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

Researchers have learned that dozens of species of animals have reacted to increased contact with human beings by shifting their internal clocks to become more nocturnal. “It suggests that animals might be playing it safe around people,” study leader Kaitlyn Gaynor told Phys.org . “We may think that we leave no trace when we’re just hiking in the woods , but our mere presence can have lasting consequences.” In a new study published in the journal Science , Gaynor and her team analyzed data from 76 previous studies on 62 different animal species spread out over six continents and concluded that even relatively low-impact activities can affect animal behavior. Animals featured in this study, many of whom were mammals, include coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland, lions in Tanzania, tigers in Nepal, and otters in Brazil . To determine the effect of human behavior on sleeping patterns, researchers determined how long animals were active at night when affected by different kinds of human activities, such as hunting, hiking , and farming. The team concluded that human presence correlated with a 20 percent increase on average of nocturnal activity among the animals studied. Related: Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing “bat-friendly” streetlights This research is among the first to explore and quantify how human behavior impacts animal activity and sleep patterns on a broad scale.  “No one else has compiled all this information and analyzed it in such a … robust way,” researcher Ana Benitez Lopez, who reviewed the study, told Phys.org. The study is a reminder that simply being in a wild space can fundamentally change it. “It’s a little bit scary,” ecologist Marlee Tucker, who did not participate in the study, told Phys.org. “Even if people think that we’re not deliberately trying to impact animals, we probably are without knowing it.” While some animals will struggle with adapting to night life, the shift may also provide benefits to animals who hope to share space with humans without ever dealing with them. Armed with new knowledge, I will nonetheless continue to hike and camp , because it helps me sleep. Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos

View post:
Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

Bet you don’t often think about seagrass , but this powerhouse plant supports thousands of marine creatures, sequesters carbon, cleans water, and generates oxygen — and it’s in trouble. Earth loses around two football pitches of seagrass every single hour, according to Wales-based charity Project Seagrass , and co-founder Richard Unsworth told Mongabay  that irregular mapping of seagrass meadows has hindered work to protect the plants. So Project Seagrass released their SeagrassSpotter app, with the hope that instead of a handful of researchers, thousands of citizen scientists will get on board with the conservation effort. “Saving seagrass means saving our seas,” Project Seagrass says on its website . Seagrasses, not to be confused with seaweed, take up just 0.1 percent of the seafloor but “are responsible for 11 percent of the organic carbon buried in the ocean .” Millions of people depend on seagrass for livelihoods and food. But seagrass meadows “are being lost at the same rate as rainforests and coral reefs ,” according to the SeagrassSpotter website . Overfishing, bad water quality, increased sedimentation, trampling, and boating threaten the plants. Related: New SubCAS technology enables scientists to better study deep-sea ecosystems Project Seagrass aims to build a more comprehensive picture of seagrass meadows to inspire scientific research and conservation measures with the SeagrassSpotter app, created in association with Swansea University and Cardiff University . People from beachgoers to SCUBA divers to fishers can get in on the action by submitting seagrass sightings. Unsworth told Mongabay, “We’re asking people visiting the coast or going out to sea — for diving, fishing, kayaking — to keep their eyes out for seagrass so that they can take a picture [to] upload to our website. The more people that get involved the more likely we are to develop a better understanding of the world’s seagrass.” Ready to help save seagrass? Download the app for iOS or Android . You can also submit seagrass sightings on the SeagrassSpotter website. Project Seagrass is shooting for at least 100,000 records; collected data will be freely available. + Project Seagrass + SeagrassSpotter Via Mongabay Image via Depositphotos

See the original post here: 
SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

Michigan adopts most robust lead water rules in US

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Michigan adopts most robust lead water rules in US

In the wake of the Flint crisis, Michigan is adopting new lead water rules — the strictest in the U.S., according to Reuters . Lead service lines will have to be replaced, and the lead concentrations allowed in drinking water will be lower than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s standard. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Michigan Senior Policy Advocate Cyndi Roper said in a statement , “There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, so despite some troubling loopholes, these rules set an example other states and the Environmental Protection Agency could follow to address an issue plaguing water systems across the country.” More than 18 million Americans received water through systems with lead violations in 2015, the NRDC said . Lead contamination of drinking water still troubles people across the U.S., and Michigan is taking some action. Their new Lead and Copper Rule, as laid out in a statement from Governor Rick Snyder, lowers the level of allowable lead to 12 parts per billion (ppb) in 2025. The EPA’s Lead Action Level is 15 ppb . Related: Flint activist and stay-at-home mom wins the Goldman Environmental Prize All public water systems will be required to replace lead service lines at a rate averaging 5 percent a year starting in 2021 during a 20-year period. The rules also require a second sample collection at locations that obtain water from lead service lines and the creation of a statewide water system advisory council. All public water systems will have to conduct asset inventory under the new rules as well. “The new Michigan Lead and Copper Rule is the most stringent in the world when applied to cities with lead pipes, yet it strikes a reasonable balance between cost and benefit,” Virginia Tech University engineering professor Marc Edwards said in the governor’s statement. “It provides the EPA  with a good exemplar to follow, if they ever begin to wage their long-promised war on lead in water.” + Office of Governor Rick Snyder + Natural Resources Defense Council (1 , 2) Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2)

Here is the original post:
Michigan adopts most robust lead water rules in US

Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

The environmental impact of large-scale industrial activity can be felt long after the activity stops. A new study published in the journal ScienceDirect found that decades after the closure of the Giant Mine — located on the outskirts of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories province of Canada  — small animals still carried significant amounts of toxic chemicals, such as arsenic, in their fur. While high levels of arsenic had been documented in the soil, plants and fish near the Giant Mine, scientists had not previously documented the impact on small  mammals . Understanding the potential toxicity of these animals is important, as these creatures are still hunted for their furs and food, through which humans could also absorb the dangerous chemicals. The Giant Mine near Yellowknife contributed to the arsenic contamination of the surrounding area through its 55 years as an active gold mine. To extract gold from ore, it must be heated at extremely high temperatures. This process creates a toxic compound called arsenic trioxide, about 237,000 tons of which is buried underground near the mine site. Arsenic is naturally found within the Earth, often in gold-holding rocks. While arsenic usually seeps slowly into the environment through steady erosion of the rock, gold mining accelerates that process. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water Small mammals like the snowshoe hare often serve as early warning signs of an environment’s contamination . Because of the animal’s limited habitat range and diet of ground plants, the contaminant levels are often higher than other organisms. When snowshoe hares who lived near Giant Mine were tested for levels of arsenic, researchers found that their arsenic levels were 20 to 50 times higher than hares who lived elsewhere. Arsenic-contaminated wildlife often suffer from osteoporosis, neurological damage, reproductive issues and chronic metabolic disease. Scientists are most concerned that the arsenic contamination will find its way up the food chain, harming larger mammals, including humans. + ScienceDirect Via EcoWatch Images via Denali National Park and Preserve (1, 2)

Read more from the original source:
Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

« Previous PageNext Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 793 access attempts in the last 7 days.