National Zoo’s Conservation Research Center

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington D.C.’s gorgeous Rock Creek Park is renowned as one of the most diverse and most visited zoos in the country, welcoming more than two million visitors each year (for free – that’s right, $0!). But the largely unknown gem of the place isn’t in downtown D.C., but rather 70 miles east in Front Royal, Virginia, at the edge of Shenandoah National Park: the...

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Leatherbacks turn up by the tens of thousands

The largest population of leatherback sea turtles in the world has been identified off the coast of Gabon, Africa, and is estimated at somewhere between 15,700 and 41,400 female turtles. This seems to be a big bounceback for the endangered turtles, which are the largest living members of the sea turtle superfamily. This rough estimate was compiled during three nesting seasons between 2002 and 2007, using video to capture footage along...

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Blue whales picking up where they left off?

New movement patterns may be a sign of good news for blue whales. Blue whales have begun moving around the ocean in ways that strongly resemble their historical patterns before the advent of the whaling trade. A century ago, about 300,000 blue whales existed. But in the early 1900s, humans hunted and killed 99.9 percent of them. The population decimation made them disappear from northern waters. A new paper published online in the...

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Forests might flip from carbon sink to source

Ecologists point to forests as important sinks for atmospheric carbon. But a new report suggests that climate change could induce environmental stresses that would chnge the role of forests into a net carbon source. The report, titled “Adaptation of Forests and People to Climate Change – A Global Assessment,” was coordinated by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Collaborative...

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Replanting the bluffs of the sea

“We have been replanting forests for 4,000 years, but we are only just now learning how to revive a coral reef.” Mineo Okamoto is a marine biologist at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. He’s one of the  researchers leading the charge to restore Japan’s coral reefs, which have suffered a reported 90 percent dieback in the last decade.  Coral reefs worldwide are suffering, due mostly to...

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