e360 digest
Biodiversity


30 Nov 2016: Soils Could Release 55 Trillion
Kilograms of Carbon By Mid-Century

The world’s soils act as critical storage for carbon, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere to fuel plant and microbial activity.

Permafrost in Greenland.
But scientists warned this week that as soils warm in response to climate change, they could release 55 trillion kilograms of carbon by mid-century — roughly equivalent to the projected emissions of the United States, or 17 percent of all countries, during that same period. The largest losses will be from high-latitude ecosystems, the new study, led by scientists at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and published in the journal Nature, said. This includes Arctic and sub-Arctic permafrost, where colder temperatures and slow microbial activity have led to the buildup of massive carbon reserves over thousands of years. The scientists found that for every 1 degree Celsius of global warming, soils will release approximately 30 trillion kilograms of carbon into the atmosphere, or twice the annual emissions from human activities.
PERMALINK

 

29 Nov 2016: This Year’s Coral Die-Off on
Great Barrier Reef Was Worst Ever Recorded

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia experienced its worst recorded coral die off this year, with one region losing an average

Dead table corals on the Great Barrier Reef.
67 percent of its shallow-water coral, scientists confirmed this week. The mass die-off event was caused by abnormally warm water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which can trigger corals to expel their algae and calcify and turn white, a process known as coral bleaching. Corals can recover from bleaching, but many never do. “Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Terry Hughes, a marine biologist at James Cook University who led the surveys of the coral die-off. “This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.” Damage to the southern two-thirds of the reef, however, was far less than expected, the scientists reported.
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Are Trees Sentient?
Certainly, Says German Forester

In his bestselling book, The Hidden Life of Trees, German forester Peter Wohlleben argues
Peter Wohlleben

Peter Wohlleben
that to save the world’s forests from climate change and other threats we must first recognize that trees are “wonderful beings” with innate adaptability, intelligence, and the capacity to communicate with — and heal — other trees. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Wohlleben discusses how trees live in families, have an inborn memory of events like previous droughts, and possess the capacity to make decisions and fight off predators. Wohlleben has been criticized for anthropomorphizing trees, but he maintains that to succeed in preserving our forests in a rapidly warming world, we must start to look at trees in an entirely different light.
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

11 Nov 2016: Just 1 Degree C of Warming Has
Altered Nearly Every Aspect of Life on Earth

Climate change has already impacted nearly every aspect of life on earth, according to a new study in the journal Science.

A bearded seal near Monaco Glacier, Svalbard.
Warming global temperatures have altered everything from entire ecosystems down to the individual genes of species. Some 80 percent of key ecological processes examined by the scientists show signs of change and distress. The disruptions could lead to unpredictable fisheries yields, reduced agricultural productivity, worsening pests and disease outbreaks, and “point toward an increasingly unpredictable future for humans,” the authors wrote. "There is now clear evidence that, with only a ~1 degree C of warming globally, very major impacts are already being felt," said lead author Brett Scheffers, an ecologist at the University of Florida. "Species' physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are rapidly moving to keep track of suitable climate space, and there are now signs of entire ecosystems under stress."
PERMALINK

 

10 Nov 2016: A New Initiative to Study
The Microbiome of Sub-Saharan Africa

Scientists have begun the first large-scale survey of microbial life in sub-Saharan Africa, analyzing 1,000 Ziploc bags of dirt from 10 countries, the journal Nature reported. The three-year initiative, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), hopes to improve understanding of Africa’s diverse microbial biome in an effort to stave off the worst climate change impacts and improve agricultural practices. The project is being led by ecologist Dan Cowan at the University of Pretoria and will involve sampling soils in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and South Africa. The scientists will first analyze DNA to identify bacteria in the soils before looking into soil fungi in the next phase of the initiative.
PERMALINK

 

09 Nov 2016: Could Dying Puffins in the Bering
Sea Spell Trouble for Other Marine Life?

Starting in mid-October, hundreds of tufted puffins began washing up dead on islands in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska.

A tufted puffin on St. Paul Island in Alaska.
The birds weren’t sick, but were in an “advanced state of starvation,” National Geographic reported. While the deaths are alarming, scientists are also concerned about them being a harbinger of bad news for other marine species in the northern Pacific Ocean. Record-warm water temperatures in the region earlier this year may have shifted or reduced critical ocean food sources — small fish and zooplankton called copepods — affecting not only the puffins, but also dozens of other marine species, from seals to salmon to crab. “Clearly something very weird is going on,” said Julia Parrish, a biologist at the University of Washington. “It is basically every year now we’re getting some huge mass-mortality event… And the forage fish that everything depends on are taking it in the shorts.”
PERMALINK

 

04 Nov 2016: Scientists Attempt to
Create 3D Models of All Life on Earth

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have launched a new initiative to create 3D models of all of the world’s living organisms.

A cane toad.
Biologist Duncan Irschick invented a 30-camera array, the “Beastcam,” that captures high-resolution, full-color images of an animal’s body from all different angles. Using those photographs, Irschick and his colleagues have already created 3D models of sharks, scorpions, toads, and lizards. They plan to focus next on capturing frogs and sea turtles. The initiative, known as Digital Life, is partnering with scientists, zoos, and non-profits to gain access to species, including those that are endangered or threatened, and providing 3D models at no cost via an open access website. “Digitally preserving the heritage of life on Earth is especially important given the rapid decline of many species,” said Irschick. “This technology can recreate organisms in a way that has never been done before.”
PERMALINK

 

02 Nov 2016: Diapers Made from Jellyfish?
Company Utilizes Super-Absorbent Qualities

Jellyfish populations around the world are on the rise, driven by rising ocean temperatures, increasing acidity, and overfishing.

A giant jellyfish.
But a start-up company in Israel has found a way to harness these booming jellyfish populations, using them to create biodegradable diapers and feminine hygiene products, The Guardian reported. The company, Cine’al, was created by University of Tel Aviv scientist Shachar Richter, who discovered that the flesh of jellyfish can absorb large quantities of liquids. By breaking down jellyfish bodies and adding antibacterial nanoparticles, Richter and his company have created a super-absorbent material they call “hydromash” that can be used in medical bandages, tampons, pads, and diapers. Americans currently throw away an estimated 40 million diapers every day, each of which can take years or decades to break down in landfill. The hydromash material takes only 30 days to biodegrade, the company says. Cine’al plans to have products ready for market in the next 18 months, according to The Guardian.
PERMALINK

 

28 Oct 2016: Nations Create World’s Largest
Marine Protected Area Near Antarctica

Two dozen nations and the European Union have agreed to set aside 600,000 square miles of ocean for protection near Antarctica,

Adelie penguins in the Southern Ocean.
creating the world’s largest marine park. The international agreement, which took more than five years to broker, will protect a large portion of the Ross Sea, located in the Southern Ocean. Scientists estimate that the Southern Ocean generates 75 percent of nutrients in the world’s oceans; it is also home to more than 10,000 species. Commercial fishing will be banned in the new marine park for 35 years, though scientists will be able to catch limited krill and other species in designated research zones. "The Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet — home to unparalleled marine biodiversity and thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
PERMALINK

 

Photo Essay: How Pollution Is
Devastating an Indonesian Lake


Lake Toba Pollution
Binsar Bakkara

More than 1,500 tons of fish suddenly turned up dead in Indonesia’s largest lake earlier this year, a mass asphyxiation caused by high pollution levels. The event threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of fish farmers and the drinking water for thousands of people, and it shed light on the rapidly declining conditions in Lake Toba, the world’s largest volcanic lake. In a photo essay for Yale Environment 360, Binsar Bakkara visits the lake he grew up on to chronicle the destruction.
View the photos.
PERMALINK

 

21 Oct 2016: Scientists Report Finding DNA
Mutations That Caused Snakes to Lose Legs

A mutation in the DNA of some reptiles about 150 million years ago switched off the gene responsible for forming limbs — leading to the

A green tree python.
creation of modern day snakes, according to two studies published week. The findings were discovered by two independent teams of researchers, which reported their results separately in the journals Current Biology and Cell. Some snakes, including pythons and boas, still have tiny leg bones inside their bodies, remnants of this evolutionary history; but most species lost their legs starting about100 million years ago. The scientists traced the mutation back to a docking site for proteins, known as an enhancer, situated in front of the Sonic hedgehog gene, which controls limb development. They found that the enhancer is simply switched off, not broken. When the missing DNA was fixed and the modified enhancer was put in mice, they grew legs like normal.
PERMALINK

 

The Moth Snowstorm: Finding
True Value in Nature’s Riches

It is the blizzard of moths that Michael McCarthy remembers most vividly. As a boy, his family would take summer nighttime drives to the English coast,
English butterfly

and the car headlights and windshield would soon be so splattered with moths they would have to stop to clean them off. “That phenomenon has gone,” says McCarthy. “It’s disappeared because there has been a horrendous crash in moth numbers in the U.K.” His recent book, The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy, offers a defense of the natural world rooted in the joy and spiritual nourishment it provides. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, McCarthy, a British journalist, talks about the loss of wildlife; how the decline in species abundance, as opposed to extinctions, is overlooked; and why he thinks putting a monetary value on so-called ecosystem services is too limiting. “You can say mangrove swamps are worth so many billion dollars,” he says. “But what about birdsong? How much is birdsong worth?”
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

12 Oct 2016: First Bees in the U.S. Get
Protection Under Endangered Species Act

Seven species of yellow-faced bees found on the islands of Hawaii have been officially listed as “endangered"

A yellow-faced bee.
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) — making them the first bees in the nation to be given protection under the Endangered Species Act. The seven species, which include Hylaeus anthracinus, H. assimulans, H. facilis, H. hilaris, H. kuakea, H. longiceps, and H. mana, pollinate some of Hawaii’s most threatened plants and live in a variety of Hawaiian ecosystems, from the coast, to dry forests, to subalpine shrublands, reported Mongabay. Scientists and conservation groups had been petitioning FWS to protect the bees for more than five years, citing habitat degradation, predation, and rapidly declining population numbers. The federal agency released the new rule late last month. The rule also gave protection to three additional animal species and 39 plant species, all from Hawaii.
PERMALINK

 

30 Sep 2016: Governments Vote to Ban the
Sale of World’s Most Trafficked Mammal

The international body that governs wildlife trade voted this week to ban the sale of pangolins, an aardvark-like animal that is

A ground pangolin in South Africa.
currently the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world. Pangolins are found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and are sought after for their meat and scales, the latter of which are believed by some in East Asia to have medicinal purposes. Pangolins are shy, cat-sized mammals that eat ants and termites, and when threatened they curl into a ball rather than defending themselves. Nearly one million pangolins have been trafficked in the past decade, according to National Geographic. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed all eight species of pangolin as endangered or threatened with extinction.
PERMALINK

 

26 Sep 2016: Elephants in Africa Suffer Large
Declines as Poaching Worsens in the Region

Elephant populations in Africa fell about 20 percent between 2006 and 2015 — the worst decline in a quarter-century, according to a

An African elephant.
new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The continent’s elephant population dropped by 111,000 individuals over the last decade. The IUCN said a recent surge in poaching for ivory, which it called “the worst that Africa has experienced since the 1970s and 1980s,” is largely to blame for the decline. East Africa, for example, has lost almost 50 percent of its historical elephant population, according to the report. In West Africa, 12 populations of elephants have been completely lost since 2006. “It is shocking, but not surprising that poaching has taken such a dramatic toll on this iconic species,” IUCN director general Inger Andersen said in a statement. The IUCN also named habitat loss as a major contributor to the decline.
PERMALINK

 

What’s Killing the Native Birds in
The Mountain Forests of Kauai?

The few remaining species of native forest birds left on the Hawaiian island of Kauai have suffered population declines so severe — 98 percent in one case — that some are near extinction.
Eben Paxton

Eben Paxton
The cause of the collapse, according to a recent study in the journal Science Advances, is not alien plants or predators, but rather warming temperatures that have enabled non-native mosquitoes carrying deadly avian malaria to invade the birds’ high-elevation strongholds. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Eben Paxton, an avian ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the study’s lead author, says his group’s research showed that the mosquitoes moved into the Alakai Plateau over the last decade, infecting the birds and pushing their populations to a tipping point. He cites a number of approaches for eradicating the mosquitoes, including releasing irradiated infertile males and using genetically modified mosquitoes. “The way that we view Kauai,” he says, “is that it's an early warning system for the rest of the islands.”
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

16 Sep 2016: New Survey Highlights Recent
Widespread Bird Loss in North America

North America has 1.5 billion fewer birds flying its skies than it did 40 years ago, according to a new survey by dozens of U.S. and Canadian scientists

A young snowy owl.
working at government agencies, universities, and non-profits. More than one-third of common land bird species have declined by more than 15 percent since 1970, and 46 species have lost more than half of their populations, the report found. Snowy owl numbers, for example, dropped 64 percent between 1970 and 2014. The report does not include waterfowl species, such as ducks. The scientists said land use changes, habitat loss, and climate change were main factors behind the long-term population declines. It also found collisions with power lines, buildings, and vehicles caused 900 million bird deaths each year, and domestic and feral cats kill another 2.6 billion. The report, Landbird Conservation Plan 2016, was published by the research collaborative Partners in Flight.
PERMALINK

 

15 Sep 2016: Obama Announces First
Marine Protected Area off U.S. East Coast

President Obama is creating a 4,913-square-mile marine monument off the New England coast, adding to a long list of marine protected areas established in recent years by the Obama and Bush administrations. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod, contains massive undersea canyons and towering seamounts and is the first fully protected federal marine reserve off the eastern seaboard. The area is home to deep-sea corals, sharks, deep-diving marine mammals, whales, and sea turtles, and is a rich fishing ground. The fishing industry objected to the creation of the marine monument, arguing that existing fisheries management laws were sufficient to protect the area. Under the new designation, commercial fishing will be phased out over seven years. Obama has also recently created massive marine reserves off Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, and today a quarter of U.S. waters are under strong federal protection.
PERMALINK

 

12 Sep 2016: Dolphins Speak in Ways Similar
To Human Conversation, Finds New Study

Dolphins communicate in a way very similar to how humans talk, saying up to five complex “words” in a sentence and pausing to listen to each other before speaking, according to a new study. Researchers at the T. I. Vyazemsky Karadag Scientific Station in Russia observed the conversation in two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, known as Yasha and Yana. “The dolphins took turns producing pulse packs [words and phrases] and did not interrupt each other, which gives reason to believe that each of the dolphins listened to the other's pulses before producing its own,” the scientists wrote in the study. “This language exhibits all the design features present in human spoken language, [indicating] a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins.”
PERMALINK

 

09 Sep 2016: Popular Insecticide Reduces
Queen Bees’ Ability To Lay Eggs, Study Finds

A new study has found neonicotinoids, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, cause queen honeybees to lay as much as two-thirds fewer eggs,

A queen bee surrounded by members of her colony.
jeopardizing the health and stability of entire bee colonies. The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Minnesota, was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports. "The queens are… the only reproductive individual laying eggs in the colony," said lead author Judy Wu-Smart. "If her ability to lay eggs is reduced, that is a subtle effect that isn't (immediately) noticeable, but translates to really dramatic consequences for the colony." The scientists also found colonies exposed to imidacloprid, a type of neonicotinoids, collected and stored less pollen than insecticide-free colonies, and removed just 74 percent of mite-infested or diseased pupae that can infect the entire hive, compared to 95 percent removal by unexposed bees.
PERMALINK

 

08 Sep 2016: The World Has Lost 10 Percent
Of Its Wilderness Over Last Two Decades

The world has lost one-tenth of its wilderness — an area twice the size of Alaska — over the last 20 years, scientists reported this week in the journal Current Biology.

Wilderness loss since the early 1990s.
The hardest hit areas have been the Amazon and Central Africa, which have been plagued by rampant and unregulated logging and other industrial activities in recent decades. The scientists found there are 11.6 million square miles of wilderness remaining on earth, largely located in North America, North Asia, North Africa, and Australia. "The amount of wilderness loss in just two decades is staggering and very saddening," said lead author of the study James Watson, a biologist at the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society. "You cannot restore wilderness. Once it is gone, the ecological process that underpin these ecosystems are gone, and it never comes back to the state it was. The only option is to proactively protect what is left."
PERMALINK

 

02 Sep 2016: Scientists Have Found
Another Massive Reef In Australia

Scientists have discovered a massive, deepwater reef along the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia. The newly charted,

A newly mapped bioherm reef in Australia.
1.5 million-acre marine ecosystem contains thousands of donut-shaped rings known as bioherms, built by the green algae Halimeda, each of which measure 650 to 1,000 feet across and 66 feet thick. Scientists have known the rings were there since the 1970s, but had no idea how extensive the reef was, said Robin Beaman , a marine geologist at James Cook University and one of the co-authors of the research. Using LiDAR surveying technology, the Australian scientists found the bioherm reef is three times larger than previously estimated. The structures have likely been built over the past 10,000 years, the scientists said, and will provide clues on how the environment has changed over that time. The research was published in the journal Coral Reefs.
PERMALINK

 

01 Sep 2016: Newly Discovered Fossils Break
Record, Dating Back 3.7 Billion Years Ago

Geologists have found fossils in Greenland dating back 3.7 billion years — the oldest evidence of life on earth discovered to date. The layers of stromatolites, which are made up of fossilized microbes,

3.7 billion-year-old fossils found in Greenland.
were found in the world’s oldest sedimentary rocks, the Isua supracrustal belt along the edge of the Greenland ice cap. They predate the previous fossil record holder by roughly 220 million years, according to Allen Nutman, a geologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia and lead author of the new findings, published in the journal Nature this week. The fossils “indicate that as long as 3.7 billion years ago, microbial life was already diverse,” said Nutman. “This diversity shows that life emerged within the first few hundred millions years of Earth’s existence, which is in keeping with biologists’ calculations showing the great antiquity of life’s genetic code.”
PERMALINK

 

Interview: Exploring How and
Why Trees ‘Talk’ to Each Other

Two decades ago, while researching her doctoral thesis, ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees communicate their needs and send each other nutrients via a network of latticed fungi buried in the soil
Suzanne Simard

Suzanne Simard
– in other words, she found, they “talk” to each other. Since then, Simard, now at the University of British Columbia, has pioneered further research into how trees converse, including how these fungal filigrees help trees send warning signals about environmental change, search for kin, and transfer their nutrients to neighboring plants before they die. Simard is now focused on understanding how these vital communication systems, which she compares to neural networks in human brains, could be disrupted by environmental threats, such as climate change, pine beetle infestations, and logging. “These networks will go on,” she told Yale Environment 360. “Whether they're beneficial to native plant species, or exotics, or invader weeds and so on, that remains to be seen.”
Read the interview.
PERMALINK

 

30 Aug 2016: To Stop Poachers, Zimbabwe
Begins Dehorning Entire Rhino Population

Zimbabwe reportedly plans to dehorn its more than 700 rhinos by the end of the year in an effort to discourage illegal poaching. Poachers killed a record 1,305 rhinos throughout Africa last year,

A recently dehorned white female rhino in Zimbabwe.
including 50 in Zimbabwe, double what the country experienced in 2014. Despite an international ban on buying or selling rhino horn that has been in effect since 1977, the substance is a prized traditional medicine in Asia, thought to boost virility and cure cancer. "We want to send a message to poachers that they will not get much if they come to Zimbabwe,” Lisa Marabini, director of operations with Aware Trust Zimbabwe, which is helping the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority remove horns, told Reuters. Zimbabwe officials said dehorning a rhino costs $1,200. According to Bloomberg, they have already dehorned 45 animals, and are looking for donors to help fund the rest.
PERMALINK

 

24 Aug 2016: How Elephant Seals Are
Helping Scientists Study Climate Change

A group of southern elephant seals is helping scientists monitor how climate change is impacting Antarctica by tracking water temperature, depth, and salinity as they swim and dive around the frozen continent.

An elephant seal wearing a data tracker.
Most recently, data from the seals — which routinely dive to depths of 1,000 to 2,000 feet — showed that water melting off the Antarctic ice sheet is causing the surrounding seas to become less salty, disrupting a conveyor belt-like system that transfers heat and nutrients around the globe. The new findings were published this week in the journal Nature Communications. The elephant seal data, as well as records from monitoring devices on other marine mammals, have generated more than 500,000 vertical profiles of temperature and salinity in the world’s oceans and helped inform nearly 100 scientific studies. “"At the moment it's all about filling gaps” in the environmental records, lead author Guy Williams of the University of Tasmania told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “The [seals] have gone to areas where we've never had an observation before."
PERMALINK

 

23 Aug 2016: Study Shows Humans Learning
To Use Natural Resources More Efficiently

Humanity’s influence on the natural world is widespread, but a new study published in the journal Nature Communications finds promising signs that we are slowly learning to live in a more sustainable way. The study found that between 1993 and 2009, the global population grew 23 percent and the global economy grew 153 percent. Meanwhile, the global human footprint grew only 9 percent over the same period. "Seeing that our impacts have expanded at a rate that is slower than the rate of economic and population growth is encouraging," said lead author Oscar Venter, an ecologist at the University of Northern British Columbia. "It means we are becoming more efficient in how we use natural resources." The study authors warned, however, that even with the good news, human activity affects 75 percent of the planet’s surface and remains “perversely intense, widespread, and rapidly intensifying in places with high biodiversity.”
PERMALINK

 

19 Aug 2016: Scientists Find 1,075-Year-Old
Tree in Northern Greece, Europe’s Oldest

Scientists have discovered the oldest known living tree in Europe, dating it at more than 1,075 years old. The Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) — a densely branched, slow-growing tree —

Europe's oldest tree, a Bosnian pine, in Greece.
was found in northern Greece, high in the Pindus Mountains. A team of Swedish, German, and U.S. scientists extracted a core of the tree’s one-meter thick trunk, and counted the rings that mark its annual growth—a dating technique known as dendrochronology. They found the tree started its life in 941. "I am impressed, in the context of Western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree, all the empires – the Byzantine, the Ottoman – all the people living in this region,” said University of Stockholm dendrochronologist Paul Krusic, who led the research. “So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years."
PERMALINK

 

18 Aug 2016: Urine From Large Fish Critical
To Reef Health—And Fishing Is Reducing It

Studies have shown that large fish such as grouper, snapper, and barracuda release key nutrients essential for healthy coral reefs through their urine and body tissue.

A barracuda swims along a Caribbean coral reef.
Now, new research in Nature Communications has found that in areas where fishing occurs, nearly half of these nutrients are missing from the reefs, threatening their well-being. The study was conducted by four U.S. scientists, who surveyed 143 fish species at 110 sites across 43 Caribbean coral reefs, with varying levels of fishing activity, from marine preserves where anglers are banned to heavily fished reefs. “This study is useful to understand alternative ways fishing is affecting coral reef ecosystems,” said Jacob Allgeier, an ecologist at the University of Washington and lead author of the new study. “Simply stated, fish biomass in coral reefs is being reduced by fishing pressure. If biomass is shrinking, there are fewer fish to pee.”
PERMALINK

 

11 Aug 2016: Shipping Noise Causes Whales
To Dive More Slowly and Forage Less

Ocean noise caused by shipping can cause humpback whales to dive more slowly and forage less frequently, according to new research in the journal Biology Letters.

A humpback whale diving.
A team of U.S. and U.K. researchers tagged 10 humpbacks in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Massachusetts, with devices that simultaneously tracked the whales’ movements and underwater noise. They found that as ship noise increased, the whales dove 15 percent more slowly and did one-third fewer side-roll feedings, a foraging technique humpbacks use to catch fish near the seafloor. The findings are the latest addition to a growing list of negative impacts from ocean noise on marine mammals, including disrupted communication, higher stress levels, and increased vulnerability as acoustic pollution masks predator movement. “Chronic impacts of even small reductions in foraging efficiency could affect individual fitness and translate to population-level effects on humpback whales,” the scientists wrote.
PERMALINK

 

NEXT

archives


TOPICS
Biodiversity
Business & Innovation
Climate
Energy
Forests
Oceans
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Sustainability
Urbanization
Water

REGIONS
Antarctica and the Arctic
Africa
Asia
Australia
Central & South America
Europe
Middle East
North America

BY DATE











Yale
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
.

SEARCH e360



Donate to Yale Environment 360
Yale Environment 360 Newsletter


CONNECT


ABOUT

About e360
Contact
Submission Guidelines
Reprints

E360 en Español

Universia partnership
Yale Environment 360 articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia, the online educational network.
Visit the site.


DEPARTMENTS

Opinion
Reports
Analysis
Interviews
Forums
e360 Digest
Podcasts
Video Reports

TOPICS

Biodiversity
Business & Innovation
Climate
Energy
Forests
Oceans
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Sustainability
Urbanization
Water

REGIONS

Antarctica and the Arctic
Africa
Asia
Australia
Central & South America
Europe
Middle East
North America

e360 VIDEO

“video
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast.
Watch the video.

e360 MOBILE

Mobile
The latest
from Yale
Environment 360
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile.

e360 PHOTO ESSAY

“Alaska
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S.
View the photos.

e360 VIDEO

“Ashaninka
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging.
Learn more.

e360 VIDEO

Food waste
An e360 video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs.
Watch the video.

e360 VIDEO

Choco rainforest Cacao
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.

e360 VIDEO

“video
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land.
Watch the video.

OF INTEREST



Yale