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Humanity Will Continue to Live an Inferior Life Than What is Possible Until the Two Halves: All Individuals in Them: That Make It are Absolutely Fundamentally and Jubilantly Equal at Liberty
 

 

Year Gamma: London: Wednesday: October 18: 2017
The Arkive

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Ecology Arkive 2017: Q-Gamma || July ||  August ||  September ||

 

 
 

Ecology Arkive 2017: Q-Gamma || July ||  August ||  September ||

 

Carbon Crisis: Experts Call for Urgent Changes to Limit Global Warming

 

|| September 22: 2017: University of Manchester News || ά. Experts have warned that we must move much more quickly towards a low-carbon world, if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming to 02oC this century. Changes in electricity, heat, buildings, industry and transport are needed rapidly and must happen all together, according to researchers at the universities of Manchester, Sussex and Oxford in a new study published in the journal Science. To provide a reasonable, 66%, chance of limiting global temperature increases to below 02oC, the International Energy Agency and International Renewable Energy Agency suggest that global energy-related carbon emissions must peak by 2020 and fall by more than 70% in the next 35 years.

This implies a tripling of the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement, retrofitting the entire building stock, generating 95% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2050 and shifting almost entirely towards electric cars. This challenge necessitates the ‘rapid and deep decarbonisation’ of electricity, transport, heat, industrial, forestry and agricultural systems across the world but despite the recent rapid growth in renewable electricity generation, the rate of progress towards this wider goal remains slow. In addition, many energy and climate researchers remain wedded to approaches, that focus on a single area. The new study explains how the pace of the low-carbon transition can be accelerated using what it describes as ‘key lessons', focusing on the big picture rather than individual elements, aligning multiple innovations and systems, offering societal and business support and phasing out existing systems.

Professor Frank Geels from the University of Manchester, Lead Author of the study, explains, “Our ‘big picture’ framework shows that policymakers need to stimulate developments, as well as, building political coalitions, enhancing business involvement and engaging with civil society.”

Professor Nick Eyre from the University of Oxford, End Use Energy Demand Champion for the UK Research Councils' Energy Programme, says, “Accelerating transitions is critical, if we are to achieve the goals of decarbonising and saving energy faster, further and more flexibly. This international quality study shows the importance of whole systems thinking in energy demand research.”

Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool from the University of Sussex, a Co-author on the study, says, ''Current rates of change are simply not enough. We need to accelerate transitions, deepen their speed and broaden their reach. Otherwise there can be no hope of reaching a 02 degree target, let alone 01.5 degrees. This piece reveals that the acceleration of transitions across the socio-technical systems of electricity, heat, buildings, manufacturing and transport requires new approaches, analyses and research methods.”

The Paper: Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonisation: Citation: Geels, FW, BK Sovacool, T Schwanen, and S Sorrell: Science 357 6357 September 22, 2017: pp. 1242-1244.

The four key lessons

01: Focus on socio-technical systems rather than individual elements
Rapid and deep decarbonisation requires a transformation of ‘sociotechnical systems’, the interlinked mix of technologies, infrastructures, organisations, markets, regulations and user practices that together deliver societal functions such as personal mobility. Previous systems have developed over many decades, and the alignment and co-evolution of their elements makes them resistant to change. Accelerated low-carbon transitions therefore depend on both techno-economic improvements, and social, political and cultural processes, including the development of positive or negative discourses.

02: Align multiple innovations and systems
Socio-technical transitions gain momentum when multiple innovations are linked together, improving the functionality of each and acting in combination to reconfigure systems. The shale gas revolution, for instance, accelerated when seismic imaging, horizontal drilling, and hydraulic fracturing were combined. Likewise, accelerated low-carbon transitions in electricity depend not only on the momentum of renewable energy innovations like wind, solar-PV and bio-energy, but also on complementary innovations including energy storage and demand response. These need aligned and then linked so that innovations are harmonised.

03: Offer societal and business support
Public support is crucial for effective transition policies. Low-carbon transitions in mobility, agro-food, heat and buildings will also involve millions of citizens who need to modify their purchase decisions, user practices, beliefs, cultural conventions and skills. To motivate citizens, financial incentives and information about climate change threats need to be complemented by positive discourses about the economic, social and cultural benefits of low-carbon innovations.

Furthermore, business support is essential because the development and deployment of low-carbon innovations depends upon the technical skills, organizational capabilities and financial resources of the private sector. Green industries and supply chains can solidify political coalitions supporting ambitious climate policies and provide a counterweight to incumbents. Technological progress can drive climate policy by providing solutions or altering economic interests. Shale gas and solar-PV developments, for instance, altered the US and Chinese positions in the international climate negotiations.

04: hase out existing systems

Socio-technical transitions can be accelerated by actively phasing out existing technologies, supply chains, and systems that lock-in emissions for decades. For instance, the UK transition to smokeless solid fuels and gas was accelerated by the 1956 Clean Air Act, which allowed cities to create smokeless zones where coal use was banned. Another example is the 2009 European Commission decision to phase-out incandescent light bulbs, which accelerated the shift to compact fluorescents and LEDs. French and UK governments have announced plans to phase-out petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Moreover, the UK intends to phase out unabated coal-fired power generation by 2025, if feasible alternatives are available.

Phasing out existing systems accelerates transitions by creating space for niche-innovations and removing barriers to their diffusion. The phase-out of carbon-intensive systems is also essential to prevent the bulk of fossil fuel reserves from being burned, which would obliterate the 2oC target. This phase-out will be challenging since it threatens the largest and most powerful global industries, e.g, oil, automobiles, electric utilities, agro-food, steel, which will fight to protect their vested economic and political interests.

The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group of British universities, is the largest and most popular university in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. The University is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’, has had no fewer than 25 Nobel laureates either work or study there and had an annual income of just over £01 billion in 2014:15.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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The St Andrews Prize for the Environment 2018 for Global Environmental Conservation Open for Entries: Deadline September 29: 2017

 

|| September 19: 2017: University of St Andrews News || ά. The University of St Andrews and independent exploration and production company Conoco Phillips announced the call for entries for the St Andrews Prize for the Environment 2018. Applications are invited from individuals, multi-disciplinary teams or community groups for this annual prize, which is $100,000 USD for the winner and $25,000 USD for each of the other two finalists. Anyone, wishing to enter, can do so, from across the world. Entrants, wishing to apply for the 2018 Prize  should complete the online entry form on the Prize website by Friday, September 29, 2017.

The shortlisted entries will be invited for a more substantial submission in January 2018. Three submissions will then be selected as finalists and they will be asked to attend a seminar at the University of St Andrews in April 2018. Following presentation of their projects in English to the Trustees and invited delegates at the seminar, the winner will be selected and announced. The primary objective of the Prize is to find innovative solutions to environmental challenges across the world. The solutions should be practical, scalable and are capable of being replicated in other places, combining good science, economic reality and political acceptability.

The Prize offers people from all backgrounds around the world the chance to help transform their environmental ideas into reality and provides a network of connections and support. Lord Alec Broers, Chair of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment Trustees, says, “We are very excited to launch the 2018 St Andrews Prize for the Environment in this its 20th year of recognising outstanding contributions to environmental conservation.

The Prize provides a real opportunity to showcase a diverse range of environmental projects, helping them reach their goals and achieve their full potential. I would encourage anyone with a project that meets our strict entry criteria to seize this chance and submit an application.”

A global programme to help smallholder farmers across the world maximise yields and reduce the amount of pesticides in use won the 2017 Prize. Led by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International:CABI, Plantwise is a collaboration of over 200 partners worldwide working at a local, national and global level to increase food security and improve livelihoods whilst improving the environmental outcome for farming.

By establishing networks of local plant clinics, where farmers can obtain agricultural advice from trained plant doctors, they can maximise their crop yields and farm incomes. Another objective is to reduce the amount of chemicals used by the farmers and the offshoot of the clinics is seeing a marked decrease in the amount of hazardous pesticides in use.

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is a joint environmental initiative by the University of St Andrews in Scotland, which attracts scholars of international repute and carries out world-class teaching and research, and independent exploration and production company Conoco Phillips.

Recognising significant contributions to environmental conservation, since its launch in 1998 the Prize has attracted 5,200 entries from around the world and donated $01.67 million to environmental initiatives on a wide range of diverse topics including biodiversity, sustainable development, urban re-generation, recycling, health, water and waste issues, renewable energy and community development. The submissions for the Prize are assessed by eminent Trustees from science, industry and government.

Full details about the Prize, the entry process and the eligibility criteria are available from the website.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Montreal Protocol Signed 30 Years Ago Has Grown Into a Success Story in International Environmental Protection


|| September 16: 2017 || ά. Montreal Protocol, signed 30 years ago, has grown into a success story in international environmental protection. September 16 marks the 30th anniversary of the Protocol. Because of the protocol, the ozone layer is now recovering and it is expected to be almost fully restored in about 50 to 70 years. All countries of the world have ratified the protocol. "The Montreal Protocol is a success story in international environmental protection. The protocol has contributed to a reduction in the global use of substances, that deplete the ozone by more than 98%. This means that millions of people have avoided skin cancer and eye diseases and grain yields have been secured." says Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, Finland's Minister for Housing, Energy and the Environment.

Ozone layer protects life on Earth from excessive UV radiation that causes skin cancer and other health problems in humans and damages plants and plankton. The hole in the ozone layer discovered in the atmosphere above the Antarctic in 1985 gave rise to major concerns about the depletion of the ozone layer and the threat this causes to Earth. It soon became evident that the hole in the ozone layer had been caused by the commonly used CFC gases, mainly freons used for cooling and refrigeration and halons used in fire protection systems. By the protocol signed on September 16, 1987 the countries agreed on putting an end to the production and use of these substances.

The Montreal Protocol has been very well respected. According to follow-up studies, the emissions of chlorine compounds started to fall soon after the protocol was signed. However, the recovery of the ozone layer is a very slow process as the substances, that deplete it, persist in the atmosphere for a long time. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has participated in several satellite projects, where the development of the ozone layer has been followed. The Finnish-Dutch ozone monitoring instrument OMI in the NASA satellite has been measuring the ozone layer on the global scale since 2004. These measurements have continued the studies started already in 1979.

"The situation looks quite good at the moment, but the state of the ozone layer needs to be monitored very closely. Because of climate change the ozone layer of the future differs from that in the 1980s, which, may have, some impact on its recovery. This is why we cannot just assume that the situation stays good, but further studies are still needed.", says Mr Erkki Kyrölä, Research Professor at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The TROPOMI instrument to be launched from Russia next month continues the ozone time series measurements made by OMI. TROPOMI, built in cooperation between the Netherlands and the European Space Agency ESA, will be carried by the Sentinel five Precursor satellite and it is part of the Copernicus remote sensing system of the European Commission.

In autumn 2016 the nations of the world agreed in Kigali, Rwanda that the HFC gases used to substitute for substances, that destroy the ozone layer will, also, be covered by strict regulation under the Montreal Protocol. HFC compounds are strong greenhouse gases, whose use is growing rapidly, especially, in the developing world as the increasingly wealthy middle class is buying refrigeration and air conditioning appliances. HFC gases were used as substitutes for substances, that destroyed the ozone layer, but they were intended as a temporary solution only. Now their production and consumption is, also, being regulated on the global scale.

"It is estimated that by actions specified in the Montreal Protocol we can prevent carbon dioxide emissions corresponding to 70 gigatons by 2050. Reducing the use of HFC compounds is one of the most significant individual measures in stopping the global temperature rise." says Ms Eeva Nurmi, Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of the Environment.

"We, may, even, double the already highly significant climate benefits to be derived from the Kigali Agreement by improving the energy efficiency of  cooling and refrigeration appliances and using more energy-efficient substances such as natural refrigerants in these." says Mr Tapio Reinikainen, Senior Officer at the Finnish Environment Institute.

The placing on the market of refrigerants, that harm the ozone layer was prohibited in Finland years ago and the substances used earlier have been replaced by F-gas refrigerants. The refrigerator equipment companies included in the register of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes install and maintain equipment containing F-gas-based refrigerants.

More information: Erkki Kyrölä, Research Professor, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 339 7041, firstname.lastname at fmi.fi
Eeva Nurmi, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295: 250 209, firstname.lastname at ym.fi
Tapio Reinikainen, Senior Officer, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358 295 251 847, etunimi.sukunimi at ymparisto.fi:
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Irma's Absolute Catastrophic Devastations Make Way for Jose and Katia to Follow on Her Path: The World and World Humanity Not Ready to Live in Such a Ferociously Hostile and Furious Weather-Assaulted Earth: There is But Only One Way to Exist: Unite Act and Live Together as One


|| September 09: 2017 || ά. Hurricane Irma continues to wreak havoc in the Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs:OCHA, said, warning that areas along its path continue to remain at risk of significant damage. The world spoke of disaster risk management, planning and preparation etc, but what Irma and the recent weather-borne disasters in the wider world, such as, the massive flood engulfing many Asian countries involving over forty million people, what America has had to face only days ago and still trying to get out of, and now bracing for another more devastating natural 'foe' to arrive on Saturday, shows is simply this: the world is in new territory'; this is an unknown world, that is terribly hostile and mighty mighty ferocious and it is going to get worst.

Here, when one just becomes numb, looking at the absolute devastation, wiping out of the entire 'sign of humanity's business and living' and finds only 'places' are left as exactly that: places with nothing left standing and the entire peoples are left bewildered, lost and homeless, what can you manage here? But rebuild the whole thing again? Not consider with what, leave it aside, the question is when do you rebuild? Because Irma does her destructions and moves on further, faster and as furiously as before but that is not the end of it. According to the UN World Meteorological Organisation:WMO, in addition to Irma, hurricanes Jose and Katia are, also, in the Atlantic basin region. The world is not ready and absolutely unable to live in this 'new hostile and violently furious weather-world'.

How much destructions are we to take and keep on rebuilding and get it all destroyed again and again and again? How long can it be, should it be done? And while these epic ever-rebuilding are done what happens to human lives and living, education of children and progress, social and communal life, business and commerce etc? The world is not ready, humanity is not ready. We are not ready and we still find there are people desperately trying to make myths about how climate change is not real, that climate change is just 'all so called scientists did not have anything to do so they just got together and concocted the whole thing out, out of simply trying to find something to do'! The world must wake up, countries, nations, governments, states, cities and the peoples of the world and humanity as a whole must wake up. We are facing the infinite ferocious wrath of a thing, mighty, mighty natural forces with powers beyond our comprehension. Must we wake up and work together to live together and the time must start now.

“The situation is rare but not unprecedented: the last time it had happened had been in 2010.” Ms Clare Nullis, a WMO spokesperson, told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva. At the Geneva news briefing today, in response to a query from the media on whether the current situation was attributable to climate change, Ms. Nullis said that the latest research showed that, while climate change was unlikely to increase the number of hurricanes, those that did occur in warmer climates were likely to be more intense. The ongoing rise in sea levels and continued coastal development would likely increase the impact of storm surges.'' she added.

According to the OCHA update, the preliminary path of Hurricane Jose takes it towards the islands of Barbuda, Antigua and Puerto Rico, which have already been battered by Irma. Estimates indicate that at least 32 million people in the region are living in areas exposed to wind speeds in excess of 60 kilometres per hour, classified as high-wind zones and some two million exposed to speeds in excess of 120 kilometres per hour, extreme high-speed wind zones.

“There is continued risk of catastrophic damage from hurricane-force winds, storm surge and flooding in areas on Irma's trajectory.” read an update issued by OCHA. Adding to the challenges, Hurricane Irma, which as of late Thursday spent nearly three consecutive days as a category five hurricane, the longest since 1966, is expected to remain a powerful category four or five storm over the next few days.

UN entities and relief partners are stepping up their humanitarian response in affected areas, as well as, preparing to assist those that, may be, impacted, including pre-positioning teams and supplies for rapid distribution. The UN Children's Fund:UNICEF and the UN Development Programme:UNDP have activated their crisis and response plans across the region, deployed staff to support immediate recovery actions, and put teams on standby to scale up assistance.

Similarly, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women:UN Women and the UN Population Fund:UNFPA are prepared to provide technical and financial support to support women and their families and to address safety and security concerns, as well as, provide dignity:hygiene kits and emergency medical supplies, including emergency reproductive health kits.

The UN World Health Organisation:WHO and its regional arm, the Pan American Health Organisation:PAHO is, also, deploying surge capacity with expertise in water, sanitation and hygiene:WASH, health and disaster assessment to support affected countries and enable delivery of essential health services.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation:FAO will work with the affected governments to assess the impact on fisheries and agriculture and to pave the way for recovery of livelihoods and adequate food and nutrition. Staff from the UN World Food Programme:WFP have been deployed and emergency teams placed on standby.

The agency has contingency supplies in Haiti to feed up to 150,000 people for a month and an aircraft is en route to the country carrying 80 tons of high-energy biscuits, which would feed 47,000 people for three days, and other emergency supplies. UN Volunteers:UNV has offered rapid deployment of its pool of experts as well as online volunteers to provide remote support. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Volcanic Carbon Dioxide Drove Ancient Global Warming Event 56 Million Years Ago

 

Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull on March 29, 2010.  Image: NASA:MODIS Rapid Response Team

 

|| September 05: 2017: University of Southampton News|| ά.

New research, led by the University of Southampton and involving a team of international scientists, suggests that an extreme global warming event, that took place 56 million years ago, was driven by massive CO2 emissions from volcanoes, during the formation of the North Atlantic Ocean. The study, published in Nature, used a combination of new geochemical measurements and global climate modelling to show that the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum:PETM was associated with a geologically rapid doubling of atmospheric CO2 in less than 25 thousand years, which was due to volcanic erruptions.

The PETM is the most rapid and extreme natural global warming event of the last 66 million years. It lasted for around 150 thousand years and global temperatures increased by at least 05oC, a temperature increase, that is comparable with projections of modern climate beyond the end of this century. While it has long been suggested that the PETM event was caused by the injection of carbon into the ocean and atmosphere; the ultimate trigger, the source of this carbon and the total amount released, have, up to now, all remained elusive.

It had been known that the PETM roughly coincided with the formation of massive ‘flood basalts’, large stretches of ocean floor coated in lava, resulting from of a series of huge eruptions. These occurred as Greenland first started separating from north-western Europe, thereby, creating the North Atlantic Ocean, the vestiges of which are still continuing in miniature in Iceland today. What has been missing is evidence linking these huge volcanic outpourings to the carbon release and warming, that marks the PETM.

Dr Marcus Gutjahr, who led the study while a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southampton, who is now at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel Germany, explained, “In order to identify the source of carbon we first generated a new record of the change in ocean pH, a measure of its acidity, through the PETM, by measuring changes in the balance of isotopes of the element boron in ancient marine fossils, called, foraminifera.”

The geochemical facilities at the University of Southampton is one of few locations in the world where this kind of work can be carried out. Foraminifera are tiny marine plankton, that live near the sea surface and the chemical makeup of their microscopic shells records the environmental conditions of the time, when they lived, millions of years ago.

Professor Andy Ridgwell from University of California, Riverside said, “Ocean pH tells us about the amount of carbon absorbed by ancient seawater, but we can get even more information by, also, considering changes in the isotopes of carbon, as these provide an indication of its source. When we force a numerical global climate model to take into account both sets of changes, the results point to the large-scale volcanism, associated with the opening of the North Atlantic as the primary driver of the PETM.”

The research team found that the PETM was associated with a total input of more than 10,000 petagrams of carbon from a predominantly volcanic source. This is a vast amount of carbon, some 30 times larger than all the fossil fuels burned to date and equivalent to all current conventional and unconventional fossil fuel reserves.

In their computer model simulations, it resulted in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 increasing from 800 parts per million to above 2000 ppm. The Earth’s mantle contains more than enough carbon to explain this dramatic rise and it would have been released as magma, pouring from volcanic rifts at the Earth’s surface.

Professor Gavin Foster from the University of Southampton, said, “How the ancient Earth system responded to this carbon injection at the PETM can tell us a great deal about how it might respond in the future to
human-made climate change. For instance, we found that Earth’s warming at the PETM was about what we would expect given the CO2 emitted and what we know about the sensitivity of the climate system based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:IPCC reports. However, compared with today’s human-made carbon emissions, the rate of carbon addition during the PETM was much slower, by about a factor of 20.”

Dr Philip Sexton from the Open University in Milton Keynes, said, “We found that carbon cycle feedbacks, like methane release from gas hydrates, which were once the favoured explanation of the PETM, did not play a major role in driving the event.

On the other hand, one unexpected result of our study was that enhanced organic matter burial was important in,  ultimately, drawing down the released carbon out of the atmosphere and ocean, and thereby, accelerating the recovery of the Earth system. This shows the real value of studying these ancient warming events as they provide really valuable insights into how Earth behaves when its climate system and carbon cycle are dramatically perturbed.” ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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They Live on Methane and Hydrogen: Researchers Find Help to Reduce Methane Emissions with These Gas-nivorous Bacteria

 

 

|| September 03: 2017: Monash University || ά.

An international research team, co-led by a Monash University biologist, has shown that methane-oxidising bacteria, key organisms, responsible for greenhouse gas mitigation, are more flexible and resilient than previously thought. Soil bacteria, that oxidise methane, methanotrophs are globally important in capturing methane before it enters the atmosphere and we now know that they can consume hydrogen gas to enhance their growth and survival.

This new research, published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal, has major implications for greenhouse gas mitigation. Industrial companies are using methanotrophs to convert methane gas emissions into useful products, for example, liquid fuels and protein feeds. “The findings of this research explain why methanotrophs are abundant in soil ecosystems.” said Dr Chris Greening, from the Centre for Geometric Biology at Monash University.

“Methane is a challenging energy source to assimilate. By being able to use hydrogen as well, methanotrophs can grow better in a range of conditions.” Methanotrophs can survive in environments, when methane or oxygen are no longer available. It was their very existence in such environments, that led us to investigate the possibilities, that these organisms, might, also, use other energy-yielding strategies.”

Dr Greening’s lab focuses on the metabolic strategies, that microorganisms use to persist in unfavourable environments and he studies this in relation to the core areas of global change, disease and biodiversity.

In this latest study, Dr Greening and collaborators isolated and characterised a methanotroph, from a New Zealand volcanic field. The strain could grow on methane or hydrogen separately, but performed best when both gases were available. “This study is significant because it shows that key consumers of methane emissions are, also, able to grow on inorganic compounds, such as, hydrogen.” Dr Greening said.

“This new knowledge helps us to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.'' Industrial processes, such as, petroleum production and waste treatment release large amounts of the methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen into the atmosphere. “By using these gas-guzzling bacteria, it’s possible to convert these gases into useful liquid fuels and feeds, instead.” Dr Greening said. ω.

The Paper: The research was co-led by Dr Carlo Carere and Dr Matthew Stott from GNS Science, New Zealand, can be read online

 

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Climate Link to European Flooding

 

|| August 11: 2017: University of Liverpool News || ά. The University of Liverpool has contributed to a major new study, suggesting a link between climate change and the timing of floods across Europe. Dr Neil Macdonald, a Reader in the University’s Department of Geography and Planning and the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty, was part of a research team of 30 researchers, who suggest that climate change has led to a shift in the timing of floods in some regions of Europe over the past 50 years.

The study, published in the journal Science, analysed river flow datasets from over 4,000 river flow monitoring stations in 38 countries to find different patterns of change, some shifts towards later floods and some earlier, across the continent. This is the first time a link with climate change has been shown at a large, continental scale using observations alone, as opposed to using computer simulation models. The researchers suggest that floods in north-east Europe, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic states occur a month earlier than in the 1960s and 1970s, due to earlier snow melt associated with human-induced climate warming over this time period.

In parts of the Mediterranean coast, flood events take place later in the season and this aligns with observed warming of the Mediterranean. In the UK and Ireland and neighbouring parts of north-west Europe, a more complex picture emerged. Floods occur two weeks later in parts of northern Britain, western Ireland, coastal Scandinavia and northern Germany than they did 20 years ago.

Researchers believe later winter storms, may be, linked to a modified air pressure gradient between the equator and the pole, which, may also, reflect climate warming; although, natural variability in this pattern is, also, an important factor over this time period.

The study sheds light on the complexity of flood processes, as other parts of Britain, including, southern England and the Atlantic coasts of Western Europe now see ‘winter’ floods now typically occurring earlier towards the autumn, which may, reflect the role of soil moisture, as maximum soil moisture levels are reached earlier in the year in more recent periods.

Dr Macdonald, who recently authored pioneering work on historic UK flood patterns, said, “This research highlights the need to consider the influence of changing soil moisture dynamics and extreme precipitation, in understanding how floods might change in the future. This international collaboration has brought together an unparalleled dataset, in terms of geographical scale and diversity of rivers from a wide range of environments. It really underscores the value of the long-term datasets and demonstrates their international value”

Professor Günter Blöschl, Lead Author of the study from the Vienna University of Technology, said, “The timing of the floods throughout Europe over many years gives us a very sensitive tool for deciphering the causes of floods. We are, thus, able to identify connections, that previously were purely speculative.”

The study, funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant award, highlights that, if current trends continue, ‘considerable economic and environmental consequences, may, arise'. It states that catchments around the North Sea, for example, may, see reduced agricultural productivity due to softer ground, higher soil compaction, enhanced erosion and direct crop damage.

Datasets from the National River Flow Archive, which is hosted by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology:CEH in the UK, contributed to the study.
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The Paper: Changing climate shifts timing of European floods’ is published in Science: DOI:10.1126/science.aan2506

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Climate Change Could Put Rare Bat Species at Greater Risk

 

|| August 06: 2017: University of Southampton News || ά. An endangered bat species with a UK population of less than 1,000, could be further threatened by the effects of global warming, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton. Scientists warn that, while conditions in the UK could actually become more favourable for the grey long-eared bat, Plecotus austriacus, populations in southern Europe, that hold the key for the survival of the species as a whole could be devastated.

Working with its partners, the University has developed a new framework to identify wildlife populations threatened by climate change. The study outlining the framework, published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources, focuses on the grey long-eared bat and shows that its populations in Spain and Portugal are, particularly, at risk as conditions there become too harsh. This is of great concern to ecologists because the populations in these areas include pockets with the highest levels of genetic diversity, because of their ancestors having survived major climate change events, such as, ice ages.

This makes them better suited to the hotter, drier conditions associated with climate change. However, other populations in the region that lack such genetic diversity and are unable to adapt to the harsher conditions could become isolated if they cannot fly to more climatically suitable areas because the landscape in between is unsuitable.

This could, also, stop the bats from better-adapted populations, whose genes could help the threatened bat populations survive, from reaching them. Lead Author Dr Orly Razgour, of the University of Southampton, explained, “Long-lived, slow-reproducing species with smaller population sizes are not likely to be able to adapt to future climate change fast enough through the spread of new mutations arising in the population.

Instead, they will depend on the spread of adaptive genetic variation between populations through the movement of individuals. As climate change progresses and the environment becomes less suitable for the bats, they will not only struggle to survive where they are currently found but they will, also, find it more difficult to shift their range to climatically suitable areas.

This reduced connectivity between populations will in turn affect the ability to adapt to changing climatic conditions because of reduced movement of individuals that are better adapted to warmer and drier conditions into the population.” The framework developed by Dr Razgour and her colleagues at partner institutions uses three measures to identify wildlife populations at risk from climate change.

It uses ecological modelling and climate data to looking at where climate change is likely to be most extreme; gathers genomic data to assess, which species are likely to be most sensitive to the effects of future climate change, in the case of the bats, wing biopsy samples were collected from eight populations in the Iberian Peninsula and two populations in England and considers range shift potential, i.e, the ability of a species to move from an unsuitable to a suitable area.

Using these three measures, levels of risk are generated for each population, low risk, medium, medium-high and high risk. Dr Razgour said, “The framework we have developed can be used to identify the wildlife populations, that are most under threat, and therefore help decide how to focus conservation efforts to help the species survive under future climate change.

In the case of the bats, this may require people moving them to a more climatically suitable area. Alternatively, we can focus our conservation efforts on medium-high risk populations, where we can encourage the bats to move to more suitable areas through increasing connectivity with other populations and to areas where climatic conditions will remain more suitable.”

Dr Razgour was funded to conduct the study as part of a Natural Environment Research Council:NERC Independent Research Fellowship.
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Look and Find: Spider Personalities

Image: National University of Singapore

 

|| August 05: 2017: National University Singapore News || ά. Personality is often considered a factor for the choices that humans make, but what about invertebrates like spiders? NUS Biological Sciences researchers have discovered that the personality of spiders does play a part in their decision-making and hunting styles. Researchers from NUS Biological Sciences, led by Associate Professor Daiqin Li and PhD student Ms Chia-chen Chang, conducted two studies using Portia labiata, a type of jumping spider.

''The biology and behaviour of these spiders are well-studied.'' said Associate Professor Li. “They have a high level of learning behaviour among invertebrates and are considered to have a very high cognitive ability.” However, their personalities remain unexplored. Published in Behavioural Ecology in December 2016, the first study focused on how personality affects the speed and accuracy of a decision in invertebrates. Decision-making typically involves a speed-accuracy trade off, meaning that a quick decision would result in a less accurate choice. The NUS team wanted to investigate if the same trade-off held true for spiders, and if their personalities determine their decisions.

The researchers first sorted the spiders between two personality types, aggressive and docile. Each spider was then given a choice between two preferred prey items; one large, one small. “The big prey has a higher quality but they are more dangerous; the small prey does not have such a good quality but is safer.” Ms Chang explained. The more accurate choice was denoted to be the larger prey as it would have a higher pay-off.

Results of the study showed that more aggressive spiders made decisions faster, by about three to four times, but without a cost to accuracy. All the spiders chose the larger prey.

“The outcome is rather surprising, as our team had initially thought that spiders that make quick decisions are more likely to make the wrong choices, similar to humans. This new knowledge provides us with a better understanding of ecological processes like foraging and predator-prey interactions in the animal kingdom.” said
Associate Professor Daiqin Li.

The second study, published in January 2017 in Scientific Reports, looked at how personalities affect the foraging success of a predator. Two species of spiders were examined given its predator-prey pairing, the Portia labiata, and its common prey the Cosmophasis umbratica, which is another species of jumping spiders.

The researchers again identified the aggressive and docile Portia labiata spiders, as well as, determined the behavioural predictability of the Cosmophasis umbratica spiders, by testing their reactions to a mirror and a mock predator respectively.

Different permutations of predator-prey pairs, about 70 in all, varying the behavioural predictabilities and personalities of each, were put together to determine the foraging performance of the predator. This was gauged by looking at the number of attempts the predator needed to successfully capture the prey.

“The results showed that aggressive predators fared better when catching a prey with unpredictable behaviour while docile predators performed much better when hunting a prey with predictable behaviour.” Ms Chang said.

Explaining the significance of the two studies, Associate Professor Daiqin Li said, “Understanding personalities of spiders will shed light on how an individual animal with a particular behavioural type can improve its survivorship and reproduction. This in turn could have implications for evolutionary theories, providing a better understanding of the nature and ecology.''.

The study and management of animal personalities could, also, play a role in conservation, invasion biology and climate change. “Some animals that are more aggressive might be less likely to escape from danger quickly. This would make it easy for poachers to kill them. More aggressive individuals are, also, more likely to capture prey items that they had not encountered before when they invade new environments and could also be more responsive to climate change.” he suggested.

The future will see the research team delving deeper into the personalities of spiders, studying the gene profiles of the spiders to identify the genes responsible for their personalities. They are, also, working on a study that expanded on the impact of personality on spiders’ decision-making, investigating their reactions to tasks of varying difficulties.
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Why Do You Sing Whale: To Celebrate the Fact That I am More Than Myself

Image: University of St Andrews

 

|| July 25: 2017: University of St Andrews News || ά. Researchers from the University of St Andrews have made new discoveries about how the extraordinary cultural phenomenon of humpback whale songs are learned and shared. It was already known that songs are transmitted eastwards across the South Pacific Ocean, travelling across breeding populations from Australia to French Polynesia in a series of ‘revolutions’, spanning just three years, passing in waves across the ocean.

Now, Dr Ellen Garland and Dr Luke Rendell, from the School of Biology, along with colleagues in French Polynesia and Australia, have showed new insights about exactly how the change from old to new songs occurs, providing unique details of how evolution works within such animal cultures. The team investigated rare cases of song hybridisation, found among thousands of hours of song from the South Pacific, where parts of an existing song were spliced with a new one, likely prior to an individual whale totally adopting the new song.

The team unearthed two different kinds of structural rules guiding song change. In one, a whale sings some of the old and some of the new song, making a transition between them with a kind of short hybrid ‘phrase’. In the other approach they, may, splice into their current song a whole ‘theme’ from the new song others are beginning to sing.

Dr Ellen Garland, from the University of St Andrews, said, “These rare glimpses into the underlying learning mechanisms show that songs appear to be learnt as segments, reminiscent of the way children acquire language.”

The study findings appear in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, The Extension of Biology through Culture, published this week, which features a new collection of articles by University of St Andrews scientists, researching animal culture and behaviours.

This research concludes that discoveries about the widespread occurrence of all kinds of cultural traditions in animals mean that our broader understanding of how evolution works needs to be extended in substantial and fascinating ways.

Cultures passed on by learning from others have now been reported in hundreds of studies of animals, as diverse as apes, whales, birds and bees. Past research has focussed on cultural learning and how it affects numerous aspects of their lives from how to find food, to avoiding predators, communicating with others, choosing a mate, setting up home or migrating.

All this amounts to a second form of inheritance, based on learning from others, that allows behaviour to evolve in ways beyond those, that have been prominent in mainstream evolutionary thinking, based on genetic inheritance.

The full article appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, The Extension of Biology through Culture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is one of the world's most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals, publishing more than 3,100 research papers annually. Established in 1914, it publishes advanced research, science news, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers and actions of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Research Project to Support the Coastal Communities in Southeast Asia

 

|| July 23: 2017: University of Exeter News || ά. A group of UK researchers have been awarded funding from the Research Councils UK’s £225 million Global Challenges Research Fund:GCRF to help support coastal communities in East and South East Asia, that depend on healthy and diverse marine ecosystems for food, livelihoods, their health and well-being. The Blue Communities Project, led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory in collaboration with the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter, international partners, UK non-governmental organisations and local stakeholders, will help build long-term research capability for marine planning over the next four years in the region and, in doing so, support local coastal communities.

Millions of people across the globe rely on marine and coastal ecosystems for food, employment and their general well-being. However, the marine environment is under immense pressure from the multiple, and often conflicting, needs of the people that use it. In this region of Asia, where marine activities are important contributors of Gross Domestic Product:GDP, marine spatial planning involving co-ordinated decision-making, has been highlighted as a key requirement for a sustainable future.

Through academic-stakeholder collaborations and community co-creation, Blue Communities will support the development, implementation and ongoing management of initiatives, that promote the sustainable use of marine resources. One of the most important aspects of this project is effective and culturally-sensitive relationship building with the wide-ranging stakeholders to engender trust between all parties and to underpin up-take of the marine management strategies developed over the course of the project.

The Blue Communities team will focus their work on case study areas in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. These identified areas are already designated as ‘UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves’ or marine parks and there will be strong links forged between them and the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. These ‘science for sustainability’ support sites provide an established, collaborative infrastructure, in which, initiatives can be developed and tested alongside the local stakeholders, with an aim to then promote and trial with surrounding communities.

Professor Mel Austen, Blue Communities Principal Investigator and a Head of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, comments, ''We are excited to have been awarded the GCRF funding and we look forward to working and sharing knowledge with our South East Asian partners.

We aim to compare the unique features, existing management strategies and local challenges for each of the case study sites, and then, identify successful initiatives and best-practice that, may also, be beneficial in other areas.''

Professor Hoang Tri, Chair of Vietnam’s National Committee for Man and Biosphere Programme and Director of Centre for Environmental Research and Education at the Hanoi National University of Education, said, ''This fund will be valuable to do research and study for global and national priorities for sustainability science, in both methodological development and good practices.''

Dr Jito Sugardjito, Blue Communities Partner and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources Management at Universitas Nasional in Indonesia, said, ''As a maritime nation, the action research to be conducted in our area will produce a great net benefit to the country's effort in mitigating climate change and establishing community resilience towards natural and social challenges through sustainable livelihood and resources management. It will, also, become a springboard for continuous capacity building and knowledge exchange between researchers and practitioners in Indonesia and the United Kingdom.''

Professor Goh, Hong Ching, Blue Communities Partner and Senior Lecturer at the University of Malaya, said, ''We look forward to a productive collaboration and effective knowledge sharing with our UK and regional counterparts. Heartfelt thanks to RCUK for granting our proposal and to our UK research partners for initiating and leading this project.''

Professor Lora Fleming, Co-Investigator of Blue Communities and Director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School, said, ''The scientific and policy communities are really starting to appreciate how important the health of our seas and oceans are for human health and wellbeing in terms of both risks and opportunities.

This is a new and exciting opportunity for us to work closely with partners in South East Asia to explore these issues in a region where so many people’s health is connected to marine ecosystems.''

Dr Sabine Pahl, Co-Investigator of Blue Communities and Scientist at the University of Plymouth, said, ''The human dimension is crucial in marine planning, in terms of decisions, perceptions and behaviours, that affect the health of ecosystems and the people attached to them. Blue Communities will include behavioural science theory and methods to develop powerful communication and engagement methods and outputs.'' ω.

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Translate Things From Nature Without Seeking to Re-Invent the Wheel

Image: University of Portsmouth

 

|| July 21: 2017: University of Portsmouth News || ά.  Whales, sharks, butterflies and lotus leaves might together hold the secret to saving the shipping industry millions and help save the planet, according to a marine biologist at the University of Portsmouth. Environmental microbiologist Dr Maria Salta is examining how on land and at sea, nature’s ability to self-clean, might, give scientists a window into solutions, which could be used on human-made objects at sea.

Dr Salta has been invited to talk about her work at three events across the globe this summer. She she will present her work at a science festival in the UK, at a marine biotechnology conference in Brazil. She has, also, been invited to talk with her collaborator in Oman, Dr Sergey Dobretsov, Sultan Qaboos University, on how and why bio-films attach on artificial surfaces in the Gulf of Oman in comparison to UK waters.

In addition to her expertise in marine bio-films, Dr Salta specialises in environmentally friendly anti-fouling coatings, which mimic natural systems to stop marine growth on ship hulls.

Dr Salta will speak at all three events about her extensive work on bio-films and her new work on biomimetics, technologies inspired by nature. She will discuss how scientists have studied in microscopic detail what makes the skin of whales, sharks and some other marine creatures capable of sloughing off the slime, the bio-films and barnacles, mussels and algae, which attach to manmade structures left in the sea for long period.

Scientists have, also, seen similar ability to shrug off ‘piggybackers’ on land, with the leaves of lotus and rice and butterfly wings are, particularly, resilient. It is estimated that the cost associated with hull fouling for the US Navy alone is $US56m a year and anti-fouling coatings contribute to greenhouse emission reductions of 384 million and 03.6 million tonnes per year for carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, respectively.

The International Maritime Organisation estimates that without corrective action and the introduction of new anti-fouling technologies, greenhouse gas emissions could increase from 38 per cent to 72 per cent by 2020. ω.

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Tasmania’s Fisheries Cooked by Record-Breaking Marine Heat-Wave

 

|| July 19: 2017: University of New South Wales News: Alvin Stone Writing || ά.  Human-induced climate change was almost certainly responsible for a marine heat wave off Tasmania’s east coast, that lasted 251 days and had an area of impact seven times the size of the island, a new study shows. This new study has been published in Nature Communications. The marine heat wave reduced the productivity of Tasmanian salmon fisheries, led to a rise in Blacklip abalone mortality, sparked an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome and saw new fish species move into Tasmanian waters.

At its peak intensity, waters off Tasmania were 02.9°C above expected summertime temperatures. The Lead Author from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science:ARCCSS Dr Eric Oliver said that the marine heat wave events of this kind were likely to increase in the future because of climate change. “We can say with 99 per cent confidence that anthropogenic climate change made this marine heat wave several times more likely, and there’s an increasing probability of such extreme events in the future.” Dr Oliver said.

“This 2015:16 event was the longest and most intense marine heatwave on record off Tasmania.” The research team, led by scientists from ARCCSS and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies:IMAS at the University of Tasmania, in collaboration with the CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, found the heatwave was driven by a surge of warm water in the East Australian Current, which has been growing stronger and reaching further south in recent decades.

The area off the east coast of Tasmania is already known as a global warming hotspot with temperatures in this region warming at nearly four times the global average rate.  Co-author Associate Professor Neil Holbrook from IMAS said that it was vital to monitor and research these marine heatwaves because if identified early it would allow fisheries and aquaculture industries to adapt and manage their resources.

''The evidence shows that the frequency of extreme warming events in the ocean is increasing globally. In 2015 and 2016 around one-quarter of the ocean surface area experienced a marine heatwave that was either the longest or most intense recorded since global satellite-records began in 1982.

Studying these events plays an important role in helping industries, governments and communities to plan for and adapt to the changes and their growing impacts on our environment and ecosystems.” Associate Professor Holbrook said.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science is based at UNSW. Dr Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick, from UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre, was also, an author on the paper.
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Why are the South African Turtles Getting Smaller

 

 

|| July 17: 2017: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to Be Renamed as  Nelson Mandela University on July 20 || ά.  Sea turtles in South Africa are getting smaller and scientists are trying to find out why and how this will affect future populations. “What we are finding is that the size at reproduction of individual loggerhead and leatherback turtles is getting smaller over time and we are gearing our research to find out what could be the cause.” said NMMU’s Head of Zoology, Associate Professor Ronel Nel, one of the world’s leading sea turtle researchers.

“This could, also, impact on the population in the future. If they are small, the threat from predators, such as, sharks, dolphin fish, kingfish and ghost crabs and sea birds, is greater, as they can’t swim as fast, so can’t escape.” said Ms Nel, who has been conducting sea turtle research for the past 14 years. She is the regional Cice-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature:IUCN's Marine Turtle Specialist Group, an advisory committee member for Indian Ocean and South-East Asia Region:IOSEA Marine Turtles and a member of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Turtle Task Force.

Ms Nel said that the benchmark age for loggerhead turtles to reach sexual maturity is 36 years. This is the age the adult females return to the beaches where they were born, to lay their eggs, after spending several decades living in an oceanic environment. “Once a sea turtle reaches sexual maturity, it doesn’t grow any more. What this means is that those turtles, that show a decline in size, will never catch up to traditional size norms.”

She said that scientists were trying to work out why the females were getting smaller. “Some scientists think it’s driven by the state of the oceans. There is not enough food around and so it is advantageous for animals to breed at a younger age. Or because there is not enough food around, they are not growing as big as they used to.”

She said that changing sea temperatures could, also, impact turtle growth, particularly, loggerhead turtles, which were much smaller than the 400kg to 500kg leatherback turtles. “If the sea is too cold, their growth will slow down, as turtles are cold-blooded.”

South Africa’s sea turtles spend a lot of their lives in the cold Benguela current on the west coast of the country. “Their metabolism is dependent on their environment; they don’t regulate their own body temperature. Turtles tend to lose energy during the day, when their body temperature is lower, as they swallow lots of cold water when feeding.”

Scientists are, also, trying to determine the impact of smaller females on the reproduction output. “Do they lay fewer eggs of the same size or the same number, but much smaller eggs? Are the hatchlings smaller? Smaller hatchling size could impact on their fitness, as a species.” Some of these questions are already being answered, due to to good baseline research in South Africa, spanning the last 40 to 50 years.

“What we are finding is that despite the change in the size of individuals, they are laying the same number of eggs, but the eggs are getting smaller. The hatchlings are smaller and the adults will likely be smaller. Because South Africa has such a good baseline of research, we can build a whole bunch of new research questions. It is a good springboard for future work.”

Over the last breeding season in 2014:15), South Africa experienced its largest number of hatchling strandings yet recorded, with sea pollution found to be the cause. About 200 turtle hatchlings washed up dead on South Africa’s beaches and necropsies on the dead animals showed that most of them had ingested plastic.

“Scientists noticed a huge amount of plastics in their gut, such as, bottle lids, which punctured their intestines, bladder and other organs.” said Ms Nel. She said that turtles were unable to regurgitate, so once they had ingested something, it had to work its way through their systems. Hard plastics with sharp edges are a problem. Smaller turtles are extremely vulnerable to this.”

Despite the deaths of the hatchlings, sea turtle researchers in South Africa were celebrating the rise in population numbers of the country’s loggerhead turtles. The loggerhead population has been a conservation success of international proportion. Their numbers are double the conservation target set 50 years ago.” Their status has changed from 'endangered' to 'near-threatened'.

However, leatherback turtles remain a conservation concern. “In South Africa, their numbers have not increased over time and they are still listed as critically-endangered, despite other international successes. However, our research has concluded that the problem is not on South African beaches or conservation areas under our jurisdiction. Sea turtles on land in South Africa are, as well off, as they could be.”

NMMU PhD student Ms Linda Harris has completed the world’s leading study of beach biodiversity, recording more than 500 species in the dune and surf zones of South Africa’s beaches, many of which, are found nowhere else in the world. Ms Nel, who supervised the student, said that some species, like the sea snail Bullia rhodostoma, was found only on the Cape south coast. “It only occurs in that 30m wide stretch of sand along the coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and nowhere else on earth.”

The student combined 40 years of research, benchmarking the state of South Africa’s beaches and their biodiversity, along the country’s entire coastline. “We have managed to work out how unique our beaches are, but also, how some aspects are under-protected.” said Ms Nel. She said that the beach was often 'left vulnerable' between marine protected areas, which go up to the high water mark and terrestrial areas, which stop at the beach, leaving an unprotected gap in the middle. “The beach is at the interface between these two systems. They need protection from both sides.”
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Contact: Professor Ronel Nel: Associate Professor: Tel: 27 41 504 2024: ronel.nel at nmmu.ac.za

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Change: All Change: All Must Change

Image: Dr Suzanne Mills

 

|| July 14: 2017: University of Exeter News || ά. Male clownfish, immortalised in the film Finding Nemo, change sex completely, if their female mate is eaten or dies, research by marine biologists shows. Research presented at the University of Exeter shows that male clownfish, which are a distinctive orange colour with blue-white stripes bordered by black, become female to protect their anemone territory and their anemone fish group. Female clownfish are larger and more aggressive than males and even attack sharks.

Clownfish or anemonefish, live in tropical climates on anemones where they stay their entire lives. Male fish tend to look after the eggs and fan them while females act as security guards, scanning the surroundings for predators, issuing warning calls and even launching attacks. In the film Finding Nemo, a young clownfish’s mother is eaten by a barracuda but his father, Marlin survives. Nemo, the only surviving baby, is then lost and pursued by sharks before eventually finding his way back to his father.

In reality, if a mother clownfish is eaten, its mate changes sex completely and becomes a female, even laying eggs. To ensure the survival of the clownfish group, Marlin would have become Marlene, and mating with a younger male mate from the adolescent population already living on the anemone.

Dr Suzanne Mills, an evolutionary biologist from École Pratique des Hautes Études at CRIOBE in France and Dr Ricardo Beldade, a marine biologist with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at CRIOBE, have researched the behavioural, physiological and hormonal changes in anemonefish, or clownfish, over several years in Moorea, French Polynesia.

They presented their findings at the 50th Anniversary Symposium of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles at the University of Exeter. “Anemone fish don’t move from their anemone for the whole of their life. The largest individual is the female, and if that female gets predated upon or dies, the male, Nemo’s dad, then changes sex and becomes a reproductive female. So, when Nemo finally gets back to his anemone at the end of the film, he’s actually meeting his Mum.” Dr Mills told marine biologists at Exeter University.

“The female is aggressive to predators and protects the anemone. If she dies or is eaten then the male changes sex over a few weeks. There need to be lots of hormonal changes to become fully female. When the male has changed sex, the largest sub-adult male becomes her new mate with whom she lays eggs. We’re investigating how these hormonal, behavioural and physiological characteristics of anemonefish are affected by climate change and other human-induced changes such as boat engine noise ” she said.

Dr Beldade, who studies the behaviour and genetics of clownfish in French Polynesia, said, "Because of the sex change the same individual can have an opportunity to breed as a male and a female. The couple defends the anemone together in their own way and they both need each other to survive and reproduce." ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Climate Change to Deplete Some US Water Basins Reducing Irrigated Crop Yields: New Research

 

|| July 14: 2017: Massachusetts Institute of Technology News: Jennifer Chu Writing || ά. A new study, by MIT climate scientists, economists and agriculture experts, finds that certain hotspots in America will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change impact on irrigation. The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already, a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience reduced precipitation by mid-century. Less rainfall to the area will mean reduced runoff into water basins, that feed irrigated fields.

Production of cotton, the primary irrigated crop in the Southwest and in southern Arizona, in particular, will drop to less than 10 percent of the crop yield under optimal irrigation conditions, the study projects. Similarly, maize grown in Utah, now only yielding 40 percent of the optimal expected yield, will decrease to 10 percent with further climate-driven water deficits. In the Northwest, water shortages to the Great Basin region will lead to large reductions in irrigated forage, such as, hay, grasses and other crops grown to feed livestock. In contrast, the researchers predict a decrease in water stress for irrigation in the the southern Plains, which will lead to greater yields of irrigated sorghum and soybean.

If efforts are made to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate climate change, the researchers find that water scarcity and its associated reductions in cotton and forage can be avoided. “In the Southwest, water availability for irrigation is already a concern.” says Ms Elodie Blanc, a Research Scientist at MIT’s Joint Programme on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

“If we mitigate, this could prevent added stress associated with climate change and a severe decrease in runoff in the western United States. But it will be even worse in the future, if we don’t do anything at all.” she said. Ms Blanc’s study appears in the journal Earth’s Future and her Co-authors are Mr Erwan Monier, a Principal Research Scientist at MIT, Assistant Professor Justin Caron, at HEC Montreal and Dr Charles Fant, a former MIT postdoctoral researcher.

While many researchers have investigated the effects of climate change on crop yields, Ms Blanc’s study is one of the first to consider how a changing climate, may, shape the availability and distribution of water basins, on which, irrigated crops depend. “Most modelling studies, that look at the impact of climate change on crop yield and the fate of agriculture don’t take into account whether the water available for irrigation will change.” Mr Monier says.

In predicting how climate will affect irrigated crop yields in the future, the researchers, also, consider factors, such as, population and economic growth, as well as, competing demands for water from various socioeconomic sectors, which are themselves projected to change as the climate warms. “We try to be as representative of reality as possible.” Ms Blanc says.

To do this, the researchers used a model of 99 major river basins in the country, which, they combined with the MIT Integrated Global System Model-Community Atmosphere Model, a set of models, that simulates the evolution of economic, demographic, trade and technological processes. The models, also, include the greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that result from these processes and they incorporate all of that information within a global climate model, that simulates the physical and chemical processes in the atmosphere, as well as, in freshwater and ocean systems.

“We’re looking at a more integrated world and how all these interactions will drive changes in irrigation.” Mr Monier says. The researchers focused their global simulations on the U. S and modelled the country’s evolving economic activities in different geographic regions to determine the water requirements for five main sectors: thermoelectric cooling; public supply, such as, for drinking water and other public utilities, industrial demand, mining, and irrigation.

They then used a crop model to simulate daily water requirements for various crops, driven by the researchers’ modelled projections of precipitation and temperature and compared these requirements with the amount of water predicted to be available for irrigation in a particular basin through the year 2050. “The biggest finding is that it really makes a difference in specific regions, whether you take into account how irrigation availability will change in the future and how that will impact yields.” Mr Monier says.

By 2050, the team projects that, under a business as usual scenario, in which, no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases, a number of water basins in the U.S will start experiencing water shortages. Several basins, particularly, in the Southwest, will see existing water shortages 'severely accentuated', according to the study.

The researchers note that the basins, that will be the most affected generally, do not supply the largest areas of irrigated cropland. For example, though, climate change will significantly reduce cotton production in the Southwest, the bulk of the country’s cotton production does not occur in this region. “It, may not, matter too much for the total crop production of the U.S but, if you’re a farmer in that particular region, that’s going to be impacted, that matters to you.” Mr Monier says.

“What we want to do is provide useful information, that either farmers or land investors can use to look into the future and make decisions on where is the right region to expand irrigated agriculture and where is it more risky. We, also, want to make clear that climate mitigation is better for U.S irrigated agriculture than not doing anything.”

Under the same business as usual scenario, the researchers projected higher yields for irrigated crops, such as, wheat, soybean and sorghum. The increased production in these crops is driven by higher precipitation predicted to occur in the central U.S, combined with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, which reduces a plant’s water requirements.

The researchers predict that crop yields for wheat, soybean and sorghum should increase even more if mitigation measures are put in place. In addition to a business as usual scenario, the team ran its simulations under two mitigation scenarios, previously proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in which, efforts are made to mitigate global warming to 02 and 03 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial times.

They found that both mitigation scenarios should increase yields for all crops compared to the business as usual scenario, including, cotton and forage and that the more ambitious scenario has the potential to reduce the number of water-stressed basins.

The researchers plan to factor into their simulations various ways, in which, climate change drives adaptation and how such adaptations, in turn, shape crop patterns and the agricultural landscape.

“In the real world, if you’re a farmer and year after year you’re losing yield, you might decide, ‘I’m done farming’ or switch to another crop, that doesn’t require as much water, or maybe, you move somewhere else.” Mr Monier says. “That’s the next step: How would the agricultural sector adapt?” This research was supported, in part, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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The Island Invasives Conference 2017: The World Gathers to Discuss Securing Biodiversity

Image:University of Dundee