Restoring ecosystems, transforming lives

In areas of the world where local people rely on subsistence agriculture, ecosystem degradation can threaten the lives and resilience of the community. On China’s Loess Plateau in Linxia County, Gansu, this was exactly the case for some time. Though this area was once incredibly fertile, decades of farming and grazing resulted in desertification, erosion and landslides—communities eventually became caught in a cycle of degradation. When agricultural productivity slowed, an increase in poverty, disease and hunger ensued.

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From the Community Special Edition: Earth Day 2010

Scientists, reporters, policymakers, filmmakers…all across the globe, people are talking about the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Here is what they have been saying.

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From the Community: Giant monitor lizard, seafloor scavengers and fruit fly aerodynamics

Climate change prompts migratory birds to stay home, Simpsons’ writer talks conservation and the U.K. announces newest and largest MPA. Here’s what is happening in ecology from the second week in April.

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ESA Policy News: April 9

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by ESA’s Science Policy Analyst, Piper Corp.

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Protecting the elusive, cave-dwelling troglobites

“Who will speak for the imperiled troglobites? Charismatic megafauna, they are not. Troglobites—not to be confused with troglodytes (cavemen) or trilobites (extinct arthropods)—are neither warm-blooded nor fuzzy. Most are invertebrates, including insects and crustaceans, but there are also troglobitic fish and amphibians—and all are as weird as they are rare.”

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Peruvian boobies have the advantage as solitary hunters

Just off the coast of Peru, the Humboldt Current produces one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet. Humans and animals alike have based their livelihood on the abundance of marine life that results from the deep, nutrient-rich waters of this coastal upwelling. Seabirds, which gather in massive groups off the coast to prey on schools of fish, have been completely sustained, until recently: Anchovy decline from overfishing and El Nino’s warmer waters have led to a major drop in seabird populations. One resilient bird, however, has held steady due to its solitary hunting style.

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From the Community: A week of ecology in mixed media

Video describing the challenges of male pregnancy, photo gallery of the oldest trees in the world, podcast outlining Earth’s environmental tipping points and an article on adapting to the anthropocene. Here is ecological news from the third week in March.

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The plight of Hawaiian birds

Just last week, two Hawaiian bird species from the island of Kaua’i and their respective habitats were put on the endangered species list along with a Hawaiian fly and 45 types of Hawaiian plants. However, while the action signifies movement from the Obama Administration toward protecting at-risk species and their habitats, the listing does not come a second too soon: Recent research shows U.S. birds, especially in Hawaii, are in great peril.

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