A new study finds a discrepancy in the satellite data

Despite global warming, the fringe of sea ice around Antarctica is expanding slightly, in contrast to the marked decline of sea ice in the Arctic.

Scientists have blamed this curious fact on various forces, from shifting winds to smaller waves, but a new study suggests a more mundane culprit: an error in the way the satellite data have been processed. The miscalculation, the authors say, might be making the sea ice increase appear larger than it is…

Notes from the Deer Wars:

Science and Values in the Eastern Forest

By Matt Miller

One of the biggest threats to the eastern forest also happens to be one of its most charismatic creatures: the white-tailed deer.

Recently, a group of Nature Conservancy scientists and land managers called over-abundant deer a bigger threat to forests than climate change. The white-tailed deer is arguably the most studied wild animal in the world, but this is more than a science issue. You cannot talk about deer without addressing competing human passions, values and traditions.

This is true anywhere the white-tailed deer roams in the United States. It is especially true in Pennsylvania, a place where opinions on deer management have probably ignited more bar fights than politics or religion. I’m at the Conservancy’s Woodbourne Forest Preserve in north-central Pennsylvania to see how science can potentially help solve the deer issue.

I am here to see firsthand how that passion for deer can perhaps be summoned to help the forest rather than harm it…

(read more: The Nature Conservancy)

SCIENCE/AAAS:  VANISHING FAUNA
Science's special section on vanishing fauna addresses the widely accepted issue that human activity is speeding the demise of many animal species through the destruction of wild lands, the consumption of animals as resources or luxuries, and the persecution of species that humans view as threats or competitors—but the socio-economic drivers of this defaunation can be complex.
This special section highlights Earth’s disappearing animals as well as the complications that arise when humans try to conserve them…
Defaunation in the Anthropocene
Reversing defaunation: Restoring species in a changing world
The empty forest
An animal-rich future
Wildlife decline and social conflict…
(Read the papers here)

SCIENCE/AAAS:  VANISHING FAUNA

Science's special section on vanishing fauna addresses the widely accepted issue that human activity is speeding the demise of many animal species through the destruction of wild lands, the consumption of animals as resources or luxuries, and the persecution of species that humans view as threats or competitors—but the socio-economic drivers of this defaunation can be complex.

This special section highlights Earth’s disappearing animals as well as the complications that arise when humans try to conserve them…

  • Defaunation in the Anthropocene
  • Reversing defaunation: Restoring species in a changing world
  • The empty forest
  • An animal-rich future
  • Wildlife decline and social conflict…

(Read the papers here)

Study ranks fuel consumption of various types of fishing

Most of us don’t think about fuel when we eat seafood. But diesel is the single largest expense for the fishing industry and its biggest source of greenhouse gases. Not all fish have the same carbon finprint, however, and a new study reveals which ones take the most fuel to catch…

Can Snowshoe Hares Evolve to Cope With Climate Change?
The color-changing North American animals may adapt by staying brown for longer periods.
by Emma Marris
There’s something odd about a bright white snowshoe hare motionless and alert—without any hint of snow nearby.
Gleaming white on a brown background of dirt and leaves, the hares, which are native to the mountain ranges of North America, might as well be wearing an “eat me” sign for lynx and other predators.

Scott Mills and Marketa Zimova of North Carolina State University call this “mismatch”—when the hare, which turns from brown to white as the fall becomes winter and back again in spring, doesn’t match its background.

Usually, hares seem to time their color change pretty well. Now the average hare is mismatched only about a week out of the year.But climate change is likely to make such awkward—and potentially fatal—mismatches much more common, the team said this week at the North America Congress for Conservation Biology in Missoula, Montana…
(read more: National Geographic)
photo by Robert Harding/World Imagery/ CORBIS

Can Snowshoe Hares Evolve to Cope With Climate Change?

The color-changing North American animals may adapt by staying brown for longer periods.

by Emma Marris

There’s something odd about a bright white snowshoe hare motionless and alert—without any hint of snow nearby.

Gleaming white on a brown background of dirt and leaves, the hares, which are native to the mountain ranges of North America, might as well be wearing an “eat me” sign for lynx and other predators.

Scott Mills and Marketa Zimova of North Carolina State University call this “mismatch”—when the hare, which turns from brown to white as the fall becomes winter and back again in spring, doesn’t match its background.

Usually, hares seem to time their color change pretty well. Now the average hare is mismatched only about a week out of the year.But climate change is likely to make such awkward—and potentially fatal—mismatches much more common, the team said this week at the North America Congress for Conservation Biology in Missoula, Montana…

(read more: National Geographic)

photo by Robert Harding/World Imagery/ CORBIS

One tenth of bird species flying under the conservation radar

by Martin Fowlie

More than 350 newly recognised bird species have been assessed by BirdLife International for the first time on behalf of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Worryingly, more than 25% of these newly recognised birds have been listed as threatened on The IUCN Red List - compared with 13% of all birds - making them urgent priorities for conservation action.

The first of a two-part comprehensive taxonomic review has focussed on non-passerine birds – such as birds of prey, seabirds, waterbirds and owls – and has led to the recognition of 361 new species, that were previously treated as ‘races’ of other forms. The new total of 4,472 non-passerines implies that previous classifications have undersold avian diversity at the species level by more than 10%.

“Put another way, one tenth of the world’s bird species have been flying below the conservation radar”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Head of Science…

(read more: BirdLife International)

photos: Somali Ostrich (Peter Steward); Greater Adjutant Stork (BLI); and Desertas Petrel (Olli Tenovuo)

The effects of a meatless population on climate and economy.

The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, directly and indirectly producing about 14.5 percent of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and global meat consumption is on the rise.

People generally like eating meat—when poor people start making more money, they almost invariably start buying more meat. As the population grows and eats more animal products, the consequences for climate change, pollution, and land use could be catastrophic…

2014 Status of Waterfowl Video Report

Here are 2014 results from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service’s Waterfowl Status Report. Biologists have conducted waterfowl surveys in North America for more than 55 years, making it the longest-running wildlife survey in the world. In 2014, they surveyed more than one million square miles of habitat. The video report describes biologists’ findings as they surveyed the northern United States and Canada…

(via: Flyways.us)

Imagine this: Someone moves into your neighborhood and, every 10 seconds, fires off an airgun that’s louder than a jet engine…

And it goes on for weeks or months at a time. It’s painful and debilitating, so loud that some of your neighbors go deaf, others die.

If you’re a whale, dolphin or sea turtle living off the Atlantic Coast, the Obama administration has just made that nightmare a reality.

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opened up offshore waters from Delaware to Florida to oil and gas exploration. I’m sure that’s good news for the oil and gas industry (which already gets more than $4 billion in tax credits and subsidies from the U.S. government) but thousands of marine animals will pay a very terrible price.

The infrastructure bill seeks to reclassify extinct species as non-native, and prevent them from returning.

Can any more destructive and regressive measures be crammed into one piece of legislation? Already, the infrastructure bill, which, as time goes by, has ever less to do with infrastructure, looks like one of those US monstrosities into which a random collection of demands by corporate lobbyists are shoved, in the hope that no one notices…

Reptile Robbery: Why Poachers Are Wiping Out Ontario’s Turtles
International pet collectors have devastated all eight turtle species in the Canadian province.
by John R. Platt
Ontario’s once plentiful turtles are rapidly disappearing as poachers grab the reptiles for sale on the international pet trade market.
Some turtle populations in the province have completely vanished over the past decade. “My turtles are gone,” Jacqueline Litzgus, a spotted turtle researcher, told the The Canadian Press last week.
Most of the turtles end up for sale in pet shops in Asia and Europe, even though international trade in many turtle species is illegal, said Eric Goode, founder and president of the Turtle Conservancy.
“I went to Tokyo in 2002 and did a survey looking for endangered turtles and other reptiles and animals,” he said. “I was shocked. North American turtles were in all the pet stores.”…
(read more: TakePart)
photograph by Kevin Stohlgren

Reptile Robbery: Why Poachers Are Wiping Out Ontario’s Turtles

International pet collectors have devastated all eight turtle species in the Canadian province.

by John R. Platt

Ontario’s once plentiful turtles are rapidly disappearing as poachers grab the reptiles for sale on the international pet trade market.

Some turtle populations in the province have completely vanished over the past decade. “My turtles are gone,” Jacqueline Litzgus, a spotted turtle researcher, told the The Canadian Press last week.

Most of the turtles end up for sale in pet shops in Asia and Europe, even though international trade in many turtle species is illegal, said Eric Goode, founder and president of the Turtle Conservancy.

“I went to Tokyo in 2002 and did a survey looking for endangered turtles and other reptiles and animals,” he said. “I was shocked. North American turtles were in all the pet stores.”…

(read more: TakePart)

photograph by Kevin Stohlgren