Predicting peak cropland

Can we control our destiny? by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Population by Total Fertility (millions). The United Nations predicts 10.1 billion living humans will inhabit the Earth by 2100. Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011): World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. New York. Joe Fargione, lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s North American Region, wants...

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Floods and foods, dogs protecting cats and microbial munchers

This post contributed by Molly Taylor, ESA Science Writing Intern. Tiny critters: Though all smaller than a millimeter in size, four critters highlighted by Neatorama are much larger in effectiveness. When there is no oxygen around to speak of (or to breathe in), shewanella inhales the likes of uranium and chromium. The bacterium exhales the toxic metals with a few extra electrons, which prevents the toxins from moving through ground...

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Scientists detect aquatic ecosystem warning signal

Scientists have found what appears to be the stress signals of a lake ecosystem that is on its way to collapse. Stephen Carpenter of the University of Wisconsin, Madison and colleagues carefully monitored the food web in a Wisconsin lake as they gradually introduced largemouth bass into the ecosystem. The researchers noticed a shift in the algae populations that were directly related to the altered feeding behavior of smaller lake...

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Balancing human well-being with environmental sustainability: an ecologist’s story of Haiti

“Parc National La Visite is one of the few remaining refuges for Haiti’s once-remarkable biodiversity. It is also the only refuge for over 1,000 desperately poor families, the poorest people I have encountered anywhere on this planet. Naked children with bloated stomachs stood next to pine-bark lean-tos and waved shyly to me as I walked through the forest. Their parents eke out the meanest existence from small gardens and, if...

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Ecology in pop music, comic books and foodies’ delights

Recipes for lionfish and other invasive species, the microbial communities likely inhabiting Lady Gaga and other humans, hidden ecosystems in caves and underneath Antarctica, explaining evolution through a graphic novel and the big flavor of tiny life forms. Here are the latest stories in ecology for the first week in January 2011. Invasivore’s cookbook: Discover’s Discoblog listed a couple of ways that citizens could help to manage...

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Frog legs: more than just a culinary curiosity

Frog legs are a culinary tradition in many cultures—featured in French and Cantonese cuisine, among others—and have been showing up in American cuisine as well, often as a culinary curiosity. In a recent article in the Washington Post, for example, frog legs were presented as a delicacy that could become more popular with American consumers if presented in a new way: “[In a local restaurant] last spring, frogs’ legs were served...

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Insect-eating not (just) for the birds

Nutritious, chemical-free and all-natural, insects are featured as the main protein in several Latin American, Asian and African countries. For example, in the Santander region of Colombia, leaf-cutter ants (called “hormigas culonas”) are sometimes eaten roasted, salted and have a slightly acidic taste. Mopane worms—the caterpillar for the moth Gonimbrasia belina—are popular in Botswana and are served dried or rehydrated...

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