Wildfires and climate change


This 31 July 2021 video says about itself:

What’s causing wildfires? | Inside Story

The last few months have seen a number of devastating weather events made worse by climate change.

Countries around the world are seeing unprecedented changes…

Last month, a small village in western Canada set that country’s highest record, with nearly 50 degrees Celsius.

Scientists say average temperatures are on the rise…

Wildfires seem to appear more often and more destructive.

And Europe has seen its worst floods in a generation…

So, what’s behind all this? –

And is climate change now a bigger worry than it’s ever been?

Presenter: Halla Mohieddeen

Guests:

Crystal Raymond – Climate Adaptation Specialist at the University of Washington.

Mark Diesendorf – Honorary Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

Cristiane Mazetti – Senior Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil.

Military environmental pollution in the European Union


This December 2019 video says about itself:

In this Our Changing Climate environmental video essay, I look at the environmental and social cost of the military and militarism. I narrow in on the United States military-industrial complex because it is by far the biggest military machine in the world. I look at how the military and the military-industrial complex is a massive polluter in terms of both emissions and chemical waste. In addition, the video looks at whether or not these environmental and monetary burdens caused by the military-industrial complex are justified. Have the multitude of wars the United States has wage been just, or are they manifestations of imperialism. Ultimately, the video connects environmental destruction with military imperialism and concludes that demilitarization is the only truly effective answer to the carbon footprint of the military.

Militaries are high consumers of fossil fuels – and yet they are frequently exempt from publicly reporting their carbon emissions.

This is equally true in the European Union, and so a new report by SGR and CEOBS has examined the size of the military carbon footprint in the region. Dr Stuart Parkinson and Linsey Cottrell report.

US Clean Air Act saved birds’ lives


This video from the USA says about itself:

A bird’s-eye view of air pollution: How avifauna may be impacted by health-damaging air pollutants

Presentation at the 2017 Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference

From Cornell University in the USA:

Clean Air Act saved 1.5 billion birds

Improved air quality, reduced ozone pollution may have averted bird deaths

November 24, 2020

U.S. pollution regulations meant to protect humans from dirty air are also saving birds. So concludes a new continentwide study published today in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Study authors found that improved air quality under a federal program to reduce ozone pollution may have averted the loss of 1.5 billion birds during the past 40 years. That’s nearly 20 percent of birdlife in the United States today. The study was conducted by scientists at Cornell University and the University of Oregon.

“Our research shows that the benefits of environmental regulation have likely been underestimated,” says Ivan Rudik, a lead author and Ruth and William Morgan Assistant Professor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “Reducing pollution has positive impacts in unexpected places and provides an additional policy lever for conservation efforts.”

Ozone is a gas that occurs in nature and is also produced by human activities, including by power plants and cars. It can be good or bad. A layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere protects the Earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. But ground-level ozone is hazardous and is the main pollutant in smog.

To examine the relationship between bird abundance and air pollution, the researchers used models that combined bird observations from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird program with ground-level pollution data and existing regulations. They tracked monthly changes in bird abundance, air quality, and regulation status for 3,214 U.S. counties over a span of 15 years. The team focused on the NOx (nitrogen oxide) Budget Trading Program, which was implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect human health by limiting summertime emissions of ozone precursors from large industrial sources.

Study results suggest that ozone pollution is most detrimental to the small migratory birds (such as sparrows, warblers, and finches) that make up 86 percent of all North American landbird species. Ozone pollution directly harms birds by damaging their respiratory system, and indirectly affects birds by harming their food sources.

“Not only can ozone cause direct physical damage to birds, but it also can compromise plant health and reduce numbers of the insects that birds consume,” explains study author Amanda Rodewald, Garvin Professor at the Cornell Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and Director of the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Not surprisingly, birds that cannot access high-quality habitat or food resources are less likely to survive or reproduce successfully. The good news here is that environmental policies intended to protect human health return important benefits for birds too.”

Last year, a separate study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology showed that North American bird populations have declined by nearly 3 billion birds since 1970 (Rosenberg et. al. Science, 2019). This new study shows that without the regulations and ozone-reduction efforts of the Clean Air Act, the loss of birdlife may have been 1.5 billion birds more.

“This is the first large-scale evidence that ozone is associated with declines in bird abundance in the United States and that regulations intended to save human lives also bring significant conservation benefits to birds,” says Catherine Kling, Tisch University Professor at the Cornell Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Faculty Director at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for Sustainability. “This work contributes to our ever increasing understanding of the connectedness of environmental health and human health.”

Pollution helps United States COVID-19 pandemic


This 24 November 2029 video says about itself:

Has capitalism turned the COVID-19 emergency into a disaster? | All Hail The Lockdown

We were in a crisis before COVID-19 – a crisis of capitalism. Join Ali Rae in this first episode of “All Hail The Lockdown” – a 5 part series exploring the complexities of our global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode, Ali speaks with filmmaker and activist Astra Taylor, economist Aditya Chakrabortty and economic sociologist Linsey McGoey about disaster capitalism, philanthrocapitalism and how the structures of capitalism have left us ill-equipped to deal with the fallout of COVID-19.

From Washington University in St. Louis in the USA:

Pollution and pandemics: A dangerous mix

Research finds that as one goes, so goes the other — to a point

November 12, 2020

The United States may have set itself up for the spread of a pandemic without even knowing it.

According to new research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, pollution may bear part of the blame for the rapid proliferation in the United States of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the spread of COVID-19.

The research, from the lab of Rajan Chakrabarty, associate professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, was published online ahead of print in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

When it comes to how ill someone gets after contracting COVID-19, medical professionals believe that a person’s health — having certain medical conditions, for example — can play a vital role. When it comes to how fast the virus can spread through the community, it turns out the health of the environment is directly correlated to the basic reproduction ratio R0, which denotes the expected number of people each sick person can infect.

The reproduction ratio R0 of COVID-19 associates directly with the long-term ambient PM2.5 exposure levels. And the presence of secondary inorganic components in PM2.5 only makes things worse, according to Chakrabarty.

“We checked for more than 40 confounding factors,” Chakrabarty said. Of all of those factors, “There was a strong, linear association between long-term PM2.5 exposure and R0.”

PM2.5 refers to ambient particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less; at that size, they can enter a person’s lungs and cause damage. For this reason, PM2.5 can be detrimental to respiratory health. But how this relates to the spread of COVID-19 through a population had yet to be explored.

Chakrabarty and his graduate student Payton Beeler, both aerosol researchers who have done previous coronavirus modeling, became interested in the relationship after two papers were published in quick succession. First, a July paper in the journal Science found that levels of susceptibility to COVID-19 is a driving factor for the pandemic; it is more important than temperature, which researchers initially thought might play an outsized role.

Fukushima, Japan, nuclear waste danger


This 28 October 2020 video says about itself:

Fears over plans to release Fukushima nuclear plant waste

There is an international outcry over a possible plan by Japan that could see radioactive water released into the ocean.

Engineers at the Fukushima nuclear plant continue to deactivate reactors damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reports from Geoje Island near the southeast coast of South Korea, where communities are worried about possible radioactive pollution.

Antarctic Peninsula wildlife conservation needed


This 14 October 2020 video says about itself:

“The Antarctic Peninsula” showcases the breathtaking beauty and biodiversity hidden at the end of the Earth. Following the binational expedition conducted by the governments of Argentina and Chile in collaboration with National Geographic Pristine Seas, “The Antarctic Peninsula” documents the work and findings of the team of scientists and conservationists who explored the incredible ecosystem above and below the waters of Antarctica. With stunning underwater footage captured by diving in sub-zero temperatures, learn about one of the most unknown and fragile marine ecosystems which is home to incredible sea creatures that are facing the challenges of climate change and fishing pressure.

Introduced by National Geographic Pristine Seas Director for Latin America Alex Muñoz, dive into this unique ecosystem and learn about the international efforts to protect one of the most spectacular wild places on Earth.

From the University of Sydney in Australia:

Marine protected area urged for Antarctica Peninsula

October 18, 2020

Summary: Species on the Antarctic Peninsula are threatened by climate change and human activities including commercial fishing, tourism, and research infrastructure.

The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on earth. It is also home to threatened humpback and minke whales, chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguin colonies, leopard seals, killer whales, seabirds like skuas and giant petrels, and krill — the bedrock of the Antarctic food chain.

With sea ice covering ever-smaller areas and melting more rapidly due to climate change, many species’ habitats have decreased. The ecosystem’s delicate balance is consequently tilted, leaving species in danger of extinction.

Cumulative threats from a range of human activities including commercial fishing, research activities and tourism combined with climate change is exacerbating this imbalance, and a tipping point is fast approaching.

Dr Carolyn Hogg, from the University of Sydney School of Life and Environmental Sciences, was part of the largest ever all-female expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, with the women in STEMM initiative, Homeward Bound, in late 2019. There, she witnessed the beauty and fragility of the area, and the negative impacts of climate change and human activity on native species, first-hand. As part of the Homeward Bound program she learnt about the science, conservation and governance of Antarctica.

In a new commentary piece published in Nature, Dr Hogg and her colleagues from the expedition outline these threats, and importantly, offer ways to counter them. More than 280 women in STEMM who have participated in the Homeward Bound initiative are co-signatories to the piece.

A global initiative, Homeward Bound ‘aims to elevate the voices of women in science, technology, engineering mathematics and medicine in leading for positive outcomes for our planet’.

Women are noticeably absent in Antarctica’s human history, which is steeped in tales of male heroism. Female scientists are still a minority in the region’s research stations.

“Now, more than ever, a broad range of perspectives is essential in global decision-making, if we are to mitigate the many threats our planet faces,” said Dr Hogg.

“Solutions include the ratification of a Marine Protected Area around the Peninsula, set to be discussed on 19 October, at a meeting of a group of governments that collectively manage the Southern Ocean’s resources,” said Dr Hogg. “The region is impacted by a number of threats, each potentially problematic in their own right, but cumulated together they will be catastrophic.”

Decreasing krill affects whole ecosystem

The Peninsula’s waters are home to 70 percent of Antarctic krill. In addition to climate change, these krill populations are threatened by commercial fishing. Last year marked the third-largest krill catch on record. Nearly 400,000 tonnes of this animal were harvested, to be used for omega-3 dietary supplements and fishmeal.

“Even relatively small krill catches can be harmful if they occur in a particular region, at a sensitive time for the species that live there,” said Dr Cassandra Brooks, a co-author on the comment from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “For example, fishing when penguins are breeding lowers their food intake, and affects their subsequent breeding success. A Marine Protected Area will conserve and protect this unique ecosystem and its wildlife, and we need to implement it now.”

Climate change is fundamentally altering the Western Antarctic Peninsula:

  • temperatures reached a record 20.75°C in February 2020
  • the average daily temperature that month was two degrees higher than the mean over the past 70 years
  • almost 90 percent of the region’s glaciers are receding rapidly
  • in spring 2016, sea-ice levels reached their lowest since records began
  • if carbon emissions keep climbing, within 50 years the area of sea-ice will almost halve, and the volume of ice-shelves will decrease by one quarter

As sea ice recedes, populations of larval and juvenile krill, which use the ice for shelter and to feed off the algae it attracts, decline.

A warmer climate and less sea-ice cover will also give opportunities to invasive species, which can enter the territory via international ships, including those carrying tourists.

The lasting tourism and research footprint

Tourism’s footprint is growing. The Peninsula is the most-visited region in Antarctica, owing to its proximity to South America, dramatic beauty and rich marine ecosystem.

Tourist numbers have more than doubled in the past decade, with 74,000 visiting last year compared to 33,000 in 2009.

“Ships can pollute the ocean with micro-plastics, oils and ship noise,” said Dr Justine Shaw, another co-author from the University of Queensland.

While the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), a self-regulating association that advocates for safe and environmentally responsible travel, provides guidelines for cruise ships and tourists, “an increasing number of vessels that are not IAATO members and that carry up to about 500 passengers have begun visiting the region, and this is concerning as it adds greater pressure,” Dr Shaw said.

While the collection of data and knowledge is important, research activities can also potentially damage the Antarctic Peninsula’s sensitive environment, the team stated.

The Peninsula hosts science facilities belonging to 18 nations — the highest concentration on the continent. New stations and expansions are ever-present.

While these scientific endeavours can increase our understanding of native species’, there can be negative impacts on the region if not properly managed. Dr Shaw explained: “Buildings and infrastructure displace wildlife and vegetation.”

Three ways to protect the Peninsula

1. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation for the watersThe authors endorse a proposed MPA for the western Antarctic Peninsula. Led by Chile and Argentina, this is due to be discussed during a two-week meeting commencing 19 October by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a group of governments that collectively manage the Southern Ocean’s resources.

The MPA would reduce commercial fishing in ecologically sensitive areas, helping preserve the food chain and ensuring greater sustainability for the future in surrounding areas.

A comparable MPA for the Ross Sea, in southern Antarctica, was agreed to in October 2016 to global celebration.

2. Protect land areas

Only 1.5 percent of Antarctica’s ice-free terrain enjoys formal protected status. Much unprotected land is adjacent to research and tourist areas and is therefore vulnerable to human-generated risks like pollution and invasive species.

The authors call for a greater extent and variety of landscapes to be protected.

“Globally, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity have agreed that 17 percent of land should be protected to ensure conservation of biodiversity. This is a good starting point for Antarctica,” Dr Hogg said.

3. Integrate conservation efforts

For conservation efforts to be effective, they have to be collaborative. Dr Shaw furnished examples: “The Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) must work to limit the expansion of research infrastructure. Tour operators’ body IAATO and parties to the Antarctic Treaty System should cooperate to better manage tourist activity — ensuring all tour operators abide by IAATO regulations regardless of whether they are IAATO members.”


Coral reef decline in Hong Kong


This 2015 video is called Hong Kong coral reef thrives despite pollution.

From The University of Hong Kong:

Was Hong Kong once a coral reef paradise?

October 15, 2020

Researchers from The University of Hong Kong’s School of Biological Sciences and The Swire Institute of Marine Science, have for the first time investigated the historical presence of coral communities in the Greater Bay Area, revealing a catastrophic range collapse and loss of diversity that occurred in the last several decades.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at fossil corals collected from over 11 sites around Hong Kong, and creates the first palaeoecological baseline for coral communities in the Greater Bay Area. Led by PhD candidate and National Geographic Explorer Jonathan CYBULSKI, the team revealed what coral genera were present in the past well before major human impacts, and these include: Acropora, Montipora, Turbinaria, Psammacora, Pavona, Hydnophora, Porites, Platygyra, Goniopora and Faviids.

Every fossil tells a story

“The data we collect helps us to create a sort of fossil time machine,” said Cybulski. “As corals grow naturally, parts of them will break off and fall to seafloor becoming a part of the sediment. Over time, many different layers of these coral skeletons will stack on top of one another. With a bit of effort we can core through the sediments and collect the different layers and reveal what coral communities were like through time,” Cybulski explained. By using this method, the team was able to collect skeletons from over 5,000 years ago, which they determined thanks to radiocarbon dating by collaborator Dr Yusuke YOKOYAMA of the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute at The University of Tokyo.

When the team compared their fossil data to a modern-day dataset collected by collaborators at Baptist University — Dr Jian Wen QIU and Dr James XIE, several striking conclusions were revealed. First, there has been about a 40% decrease in the number of different corals living in Southern Hong Kong waters. Second, the greatest loss was of the ecologically important yet highly-sensitive staghorn corals (Acropora), which now only lives in an area about 50% smaller than its historic range. Finally, the greatest impact and losses of corals occurred in waters that are closest to the Pearl River Estuary in the southwest and Tolo Harbor in the Northeast. Based on the data, the teams best guess for the timing of this coral community change is conservatively within the last century, but likely within the past few decades. The overall conclusion: poor water quality driven by increased development and lack of proper treatment is presently the regions greatest threat to the survival of corals.

More hope for corals

“This trend we saw of a diversity decline and the loss of Acropora is consistent with other research in different areas of the world,” Cybulski continues: “It’s particularly bad news for this region, as Acropora represents the only type of coral that is complex, and creates physical space that promotes greater biodiversity. The loss of this coral is similar to losing all the big trees in a forest.” However, similar to trees in a forest, Cybulski continued by saying there is hope for Hong Kong’s corals through conservation efforts.

Indeed, this historical research has already played a critical role in protecting and restoring corals locally. In July earlier this year, PhD Candidate Ms Vriko YU, also of the Baker Lab at HKU, pioneered a coral restoration project in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park (Note 1). This project aims to restore and better understand what it will take to save Hong Kong corals, and was made possible due to the water quality improvements in the bay by the local government.

Using Cybulski’s historical data to infer the appropriate steps needed, the team is now returning corals such as Acropora that previously thrived in Hoi Ha, back to their proper home. To date, 100% of the reintroduced coral have survived. Furthermore, the team has documented several coral-associated invertebrates at the site, showing that this restored habitat is indeed increasing biodiversity. The team feels this multi-faceted model — historical research that identifies major stress targets for local improvements — can be used by other researchers who hope to give corals their greatest chance for future survival.

American pikas fight climate change


This 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

An American Pika runs along his kingdom among the boulders.

From Arizona State University in the USA:

American Pikas show resiliency in the face of global warming

October 13, 2020

The American pika is a charismatic, diminutive relative of rabbits that some researchers say is at high risk of extinction due to climate change. Pikas typically live in cool habitats, often in mountains, under rocks and boulders. Because pikas are sensitive to high temperatures, some researchers predict that, as the Earth’s temperature rises, pikas will have to move ever higher elevations until they eventually run out of habitat and die out. Some scientists have claimed this cute little herbivore is the proverbial canary in the coal mine for climate change.

A new extensive review by Arizona State University emeritus professor Andrew Smith, published in the October issue of the Journal of Mammalogy, finds that the American pika is far more resilient in the face of warm temperatures than previously believed. While emphasizing that climate change is a serious threat to the survival of many species on Earth, Smith believes that the American pika currently is adapting remarkably well.

Smith has studied the American pika for more than 50 years and presents evidence from a thorough literature review showing that American pika populations are healthy across the full range of the species, which extends from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, to northern New Mexico in the U.S.

Occupancy in potential pika habitat in the major western North American mountains was found to be uniformly high. Among sites that have been surveyed recently, there was no discernible climate signal that discriminated between the many occupied and relatively few unoccupied sites.

“This is a sign of a robust species,” Smith said.

Smith said most of the studies that have raised alarms about the fate of the pika are based on a relatively small number of restricted sites at the margins of the pika’s geographic range, primarily in the Great Basin. However, a recent comprehensive study of pikas evaluating 3,250 sites in the Great Basin found pikas living in over 73% of the suitable habitat investigated. Most important, the sites currently occupied by pikas and the sites where they are no longer found were characterized by similar climatic features.

“These results show that pikas are able to tolerate a broader set of habitat conditions than previously understood,” Smith adds.

Smith’s most interesting finding is that pikas are apparently much more resilient than previously believed, allowing them to survive even at hot, low-elevation sites. Bodie California State Historic Park, the Mono Craters, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Lava Beds National Monument, and the Columbia River Gorge (all hot, low-elevation sites) retain active pika populations, demonstrating the adaptive capacity and resilience of pikas. Pikas cope with warm temperatures by retreating into their cool, underground talus habitat during the hot daylight hours and augment their restricted daytime foraging with nocturnal activity.

This doesn’t mean that some pika populations have not been pushed to their limit, leading to their disappearance from some habitats. Smith’s review points out that most documented cases of local loss of pika populations have occurred on small, isolated habitat patches.

“Due to the relatively poor ability of pikas to disperse between areas, those habitats are not likely to be recolonized, particularly in light of our warming climate,” Smith said. “In spite of the general health of pikas across their range, these losses represent a one-way street, leading to a gradual loss of some pika populations. Fortunately for pikas, their preferred talus habitat in the major mountain cordilleras is larger and more contiguous, so the overall risk to this species is low.”

Smith’s work emphasizes the importance of incorporating all aspects of a species’ behavior and ecology when considering its conservation status, and that all available data must be considered before suggesting a species is going extinct. For the American pika, the data conclusively show that rather than facing extinction, American pikas are changing their behaviors in ways that help them better withstand climate change, at least for now.

BIG BANKS ‘FUEL CLIMATE CHAOS’ Banks provided $3.8 trillion in financing to oil, gas and coal companies — more in 2020 than they did in 2016, the year countries signed the Paris climate agreement. The trajectory of the finance sector is heading “definitively in the wrong direction,” warned a new report published by several nonprofits. [HuffPost]

North American marbled murrelets in trouble


This 20 April 2020 video says about itself:

In Search of an ENDANGERED Bird: Scouting Marbled Murrelet Training Sites. Wildlife Biology VLOG

Despite the pandemic, the need to monitor endangered species continues. In this wildlife biology vlog, I share my journey scouting out new sites to safely train new marbled murrelet surveyors this coming field season. Murrelets are simply incredible animals, and seeing them again was a much-needed breath of life.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Warming ocean, old-forest loss put a squeeze on an elusive seabird

September 22, 2020

Squeezed by changing ocean conditions that limit their food options and the long-term loss of old forest needed for nesting, marbled murrelets would benefit most from conservation efforts that take both ocean and forest into account, new research by Oregon State University shows.

Published in Conservation Letters, the findings are based on two decades of murrelet surveys at nearly 20,000 sites in the Oregon Coast Range and illustrate how the elusive seabird is at risk of its habitat gradually shrinking to the point of local extinctions or worse.

“It turns out that the same ocean conditions that influence salmon returns, including the forage fish murrelets need to successfully nest, had a huge influence on the likelihood that murrelets will come inland to breed,” said lead author Matt Betts, a researcher in the Oregon State College of Forestry and the director of the OSU-based Forest Biodiversity Research Network. “Given that these prey items tend to be in lower abundance when ocean temperatures are high, changing climate conditions could reduce prey availability as well as the tendency for murrelets to nest in the future.”

Marbled murrelets are closely related to puffins and murres, but unlike those birds, murrelets raise their young as much as 60 miles inland in mature forests. Disturbance in either the ocean or forest environment has the potential to impact murrelet populations.

“There aren’t many species like it,” said study co-author and project director Jim Rivers, also a faculty member in the College of Forestry. “There’s no other bird that feeds in the ocean and commutes such long distances inland to nest sites. That’s really unusual.”

The dove-sized bird spends most of its time in coastal waters eating krill, other invertebrates and forage fish such as herring, anchovies, smelt and capelin. Murrelets can only produce one offspring per year, if the nest is successful, and their young require forage fish for proper growth and development.

Murrelets generally nest in solitude, although multiple nests sometimes occur within a small area. They typically lay their single egg high in a tree on a horizontal limb at least 4 inches in diameter, with Steller’s jays, crows and ravens the main predators of murrelet nests.

“The end goal for these birds is to be very secretive and quiet so predators don’t find their nests and they can produce young,’ said Rivers.

Along the West Coast, marbled murrelets are found regularly from Santa Cruz, California, north to the Aleutian Islands. Their populations have been declining by about 4% a year in Washington, Oregon and California, and the species is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in those states.

“Early on in our work, we noticed strong fluctuations in the numbers of marbled murrelets coming inland to nest, so this study was about trying to get to the bottom of those highs and lows,” Betts said. “We found the first evidence that ocean conditions combined with old-forest nesting habitat influence the murrelets’ long-term occupancy dynamics. In particular, we learned ocean conditions are a key driver of those dynamics.”

The finding has potential key implications for forest policy in Oregon, where any state-owned site that goes two consecutive years without murrelet detection is classified as unoccupied and thus available for timber harvest.

“Our data show that below-average ocean conditions might last for more than two successive years,” Rivers said. “That means there could be a scenario where sites on state lands that are suitable for breeding go unused for more than two years which, under current guidelines, would let them be considered available for harvest. Thus, murrelets might be missing from inland sites not because the forest is unsuitable for nesting, but because they have inadequate forage fish during the summer breeding season. That means it is critical that we consider factors that influence both marine food resources and terrestrial nesting habitat when considering how to recover murrelet populations.”

Betts was part of a research collaboration that published a 2019 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that showed that old forest is still declining across the Pacific Northwest 25 years into the Northwest Forest Plan, a 100-year federal road map to protect older forests.

“This is now less due to the saw and more due to fire,” he said. “That means that even with strong land conservation measures, climate could not only result in warmer ocean conditions but also greater fire frequency and extent, and therefore more old forest loss.”

Other Oregon State researchers contributing to the study were Kim Nelson and Dan Roby of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Jennifer Fisher of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies. Scientists from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, the University of Rhode Island and the U.S. Forest Service also took part.

The OSU College of Forestry and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provided funding.

Climate change threatens Komodo dragons


This 2019 video says about itself:

The Raw Nature crew observe Komodo dragons hunting in the wild during a visit to Rincah Island in Indonesia. They then demonstrate the effect of the powerful Komodo venom on a piece of raw meat.

From the University of Adelaide in Australia:

Climate change threatens Komodo dragons

September 17, 2020

The world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, could be driven to extinction by climate change unless significant measures to intervene are taken soon.

A new international study, led by the University of Adelaide and Deakin University, has found that the impact of both global warming and sea-level rise threatens the extinction of Komodo dragons, which already have restricted habitats, and this must be better incorporated into conservation strategies.

“Climate change is likely to cause a sharp decline in the availability of habitat for Komodo dragons, severely reducing their abundance in a matter of decades,” says lead author Dr Alice Jones from the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences. “Our models predict local extinction on three of the five island habitats where Komodo dragons are found today.”

The Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, is the world’s most iconic lizard species which has existed on Earth for more than a million years, but only an estimated 4000 individuals survive in the wild. They are endemic to five islands in southeast Indonesia: Komodo, Rinca, Nusa Kode and Gili Motang which are part of Komodo National Park, and Flores, the fifth and largest island which has three nature reserves.

“Current-day conservation strategies are not enough to avoid species decline in the face of climate change. This is because climate change will compound the negative effects of already small, isolated populations,” says Dr Jones.

“Interventions such as establishing new reserves in areas that are predicted to sustain high-quality habitats in the future, despite global warming, could work to lessen the effects of climate change on Komodo dragons.

This study, which is published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, is the result of many years of fieldwork on the ecology and conservation status of Komodo dragons.

“Using this data and knowledge in conservation models has provided a rare opportunity to understand climate change impacts on Indonesia’s exceptional but highly vulnerable biodiversity,” says co-author Dr Tim Jessop, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University.

Importantly, the research project involved close collaboration with the Komodo National Park and the Eastern Lesser Sunda Cen¬tral Bureau for Conservation of Natural Resources.

“The severity and extent of human actions impacting Komodo dragon populations, especially on Flores Island, are only just being realised,” says co-author Deni Purwandana, Coordinator of the Komodo Survival Program.

“Having an insight into future impacts of climate change provides new possibilities to work with conservation agencies and local communities to find on-ground solutions that will limit climate and other threats to Komodo dragons and their habitats.”

The researchers say climate-change-informed decisions should be a common part of conservation practice.

“Our conservation models show that Komodo dragons on two protected large islands are less vulnerable to climate change. However, even these island habitats might not provide an adequate insurance policy for the survival of the species,” says Associate Professor Damien Fordham from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute.

“Conservation managers in coming decades may need to consider translocating animals to sites where Komodo dragons have not been found for many decades. This scenario can be tested easily using our approach.

“Our research shows that without taking immediate action to mitigate climatic change, we risk committing many range-restricted species like Komodo dragons to extinction.”