ecosystem

19 Stories

Here's What Caused Earth's First Mass Extinction

Let's see what happened to the docile Ediacarans

(Newser) - Biologists have long debated how the planet's first mass extinction took place 540 million years ago. Was it a huge meteorite or terrifying volcanic eruption, typical of Earth's other mass extinctions? Nope, per a recent paper that says it offers the first "critical test" of the theory... More »

Today Marks a Grim Day for Planet Earth

We just used up a year's worth of natural resources in 8 months

(Newser) - Happy "overshoot day." Eight months into 2015, the global population has used up a year's supply of natural resources, meaning we're now in "ecological debt," reports the Guardian , via the Global Footprint Network . The GFN measures "humanity's annual demand for the goods... More »

Earth Has Just 2 Giant Forests Left

The only 2 unfragmented forest habitats are the Amazon, Congo

(Newser) - To see the Earth's ecology forest for its trees, first we have to acknowledge there aren't many large, intact forests around. In fact, according to a new study published in Science Advances , there are only two such continuous forests left: in South America and Africa, Christian Science Monitor ... More »

'Pregnancy Test' Frogs: Bearers of Killer Fungus

African clawed frogs wreak havoc on ecosystems

(Newser) - A species of frog that was once spread around the world as an early pregnancy test turns out to carry a horrifically deadly pathogen that can decimate local ecosystems. Mid-20th-century doctors used African clawed frogs as a weird-but-reliable pregnancy test—the frogs tend to ovulate when injected with a pregnant... More »

Monster Goldfish Invade Lake Tahoe

Invasive species could damage the ecosystem

(Newser) - Planning a vacay to Lake Tahoe? You may well encounter goldfish that are 1.5 feet long and weigh more than 4 pounds, Scientific American reports. Researchers trolling for invasive species encountered the massive goldfish and say pet owners may have dumped them. That act of good will, however, could... More »

World's Oldest Trees Dying at Alarming Rate

Research shows 10 times the normal death rate

(Newser) - In what one researcher calls a "very, very disturbing trend," new research finds that the planet's oldest trees have started dying at 10 times the normal rate, a change that could greatly damage the planet's ecosystems and biodiversity. Researchers blame logging, development, drought, and climate change... More »

Alien Earthworms Threaten Our Forests

One reason for their spread: Fishermen tossing bait

(Newser) - Worms may seem like they would be natural friends of the forest, but some alien invaders are causing problems in the Northeast, say researchers at Colgate University. When exotic species of earthworm are introduced to America's northern forests, they chow down on the organic "forest litter" on the... More »

Biosphere 2 Going Strong at 20

Terrarium more relevant than ever, scientists say

(Newser) - It's been a long time since the last human residents left Biosphere 2 but there's still plenty of life inside the sealed terrarium in the Arizona desert, the AP finds. The 7.2-million-square-foot facility, set up 20 years ago to see whether humans could create self-sustaining space colonies,... More »

Latest Arctic Warning Sign: Early Blooms of Plankton

Essential organisms affected by melting ice: study

(Newser) - Melting Arctic ice has spurred tiny organisms in the region to bloom far earlier, a study suggests—a shift which could have disastrous results for the entire Arctic ecosystem. Phytoplankton are at the root of the food web there: zooplankton subsist on them, fish eat the zooplankton, birds eat the... More »

How to Save the Oceans: Eat Sardines

Overfishing has led to wildly unbalanced ecosystem

(Newser) - Want to help restore the ocean’s severely unbalanced ecoysystem? Develop a taste for anchovies and sardines. A new study shows that a worldwide appetite for smaller, “grazing” fish would do wonders to restore balance after years of overfishing the more popular, and larger, varieties. Humans tend to like... More »

Wolves Rescue Wetlands of Yellowstone Park

Their return sets off chain of events for ecosystem

(Newser) - After wolves were exterminated in Yellowstone National Park in the early 1900s, a domino of effects from their loss led to an almost complete collapse of the wetlands ecosystem. Now the wolves are back—after 66 were introduced between 1995-1996, the population has reached 200 packs with 1,700 members—... More »

Sultry Year Threatens World's Coral

Widespread bleaching expected in weeks to come

(Newser) - This year is set to be the hottest on record and scientists warn that could spell disaster for coral reefs. Reefs around the world are bleaching—expelling the algae that give them their color—on a scale only ever seen once before, in 1998. An estimated 16% of the world's... More »

Mosquito Invasion Threatens Galapagos Wildlife

(Newser) - Scientists fear that winged invaders could wipe out native species on the islands where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution, the Times of London reports. Mosquitoes have been hitching rides to the Galapagos on incoming aircraft, and now Galapagos species—including iguanas, tortoises, and Darwin's finches—are in serious... More »

US, Others to Curb Antarctic Tourism

(Newser) - Nations led by the US have pledged to check the quickly growing Antarctica tourism industry, the BBC reports. Nearly 30 nations signed a treaty to bar ships carrying more than 500 passengers from landing on the continent and to limit the number of people from a ship on shore to... More »

20 Years On, Valdez Lessons Haven't Been Drilled In

(Newser) - It’s been 20 years to the day since the Exxon Valdez dumped about 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, and the area has still not recovered. Oil, particularly below the surface, persists, and marine animal populations have not recovered. Still, Time reports, the... More »

Global Warming Will Bring 'Global Weirding'

(Newser) - While the physical changes brought on by global warming—droughts, floods, and the like—are fairly easy to model, the effect on ecosystems is disconcertingly unpredictable, John Waldman writes in Yale Environment 360. Species will shift migration patterns and seek new homes, affecting other species in ways we can't imagine.... More »

W. Virginia Torn Over Coal Mining

Small town split on pros and cons of clearing mountains

(Newser) - As the mining industry clears mountains in Appalachia, a nearby town finds itself in a conundrum over the future of coal, writes John McQuaid in Smithsonian magazine. With prices and energy demands soaring, mining sites are multiplying—and while some  residents see the state’s oldest and most profitable industry... More »

Ike Pounded Fragile Ecosystems

Coastal damage from development intensified storm's impact

(Newser) - Hurricane Ike caused massive damage to fragile coastal ecosystems already clobbered by development, the Dallas Morning News reports. Damage to wetlands vital to a vast range of life could take a generation to heal, scientists warn. As with Hurricane Katrina, human development had already destroyed marshes and other natural defenses,... More »

Poisonous Invader Cruises Caribbean

(Newser) - A poisonous, fast-multiplying species known as the red lionfish has invaded the warm waters of the Caribbean and poses a serious threat to the native sealife and the fragile ecosytem, reports the AP. "This may very well become the most devastating marine invasion in history," said one expert.... More »

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