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.

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.”

Wildfire disasters in the USA


This 11 September 2020 United States TV video is called ‘Everything Is A Total Loss’: Entire Towns Devastated By Oregon Wildfires | NBC News NOW.

Ten percent of Oregon’s population ordered to evacuate as wildfires continue to ravage the US west coast. By David Fitzgerald, 11 September 2020. At least fourteen people have died in the latest outbreak: a one-year-old boy in Washington, three people in Oregon, and ten in California, and the death toll is expected to rise.

NIGHTMARE IN OREGON: 500,000 EVACUATE Stunned residents of the small Oregon town of Phoenix walked through a scene of devastation after one of the state’s many wildfires wiped out much of their community. By Thursday evening, the number of Oregon residents evacuated statewide because of fires had climbed to an estimated 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population. Some firefighters in Clackamas County were told to disengage because of dangerous fire activity as two large fires in the area were believed to be merging. Across Oregon, California and Washington, many towns have been destroyed. [AP]

10 DEAD IN MASSIVE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE A Northern California wildfire became the state’s deadliest of the year Thursday when authorities announced seven more deaths, bringing the total to 10 and the unnerving prospect the toll would climb as searchers looked for 16 missing people. Among those unaccounted for are Sandy Butler and her husband, who called their son to say they were going to try to escape the flames by finding shelter in a pond. [AP]

Tear gas poisons Portland, USA water


This 29 August 2020 video about Oregon in the USA says about itself:

Portland Water POISONED By Tear Gas

Mass amounts of tear gas sprayed in Portland are poisoning the city’s water supply. John Iadarola and Jordan Uhl break it down on The Damage Report.

Pike against Swedish algae problem


This 3 December 2018 video is called Pike React to Fish in a Bottle.

From the University of Groningen in the Netherlands:

How sticklebacks dominate perch

Analysis reveals waves of stickleback domination along the Baltic coast

August 27, 2020

A research project on algal blooms along the Swedish coast, caused by eutrophication, revealed that large predators such as perch and pike are also necessary to restrict these blooms. Ecologist Britas Klemens Eriksson from the University of Groningen and his colleagues from Stockholm University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden have now shown that stickleback domination moves like a wave through the island archipelagos, changing the ecosystem from predator-dominated to algae-dominated. Their study was published on 27 August in the journal Communications Biology.

Eriksson experimented with the effects of nutrients on algal blooms while working as a postdoctoral researcher in Sweden. When he added nutrients to exclusion cages in the brackish coastal waters, algae began to dominate. This was no surprise. However, when he excluded large predators, he saw similar algal domination. ‘Adding nutrients and excluding large predators had a huge effect,’ he recalls, 10 years later.

Food web

The big question that arose from these results using small exclusion cages was whether the results would be the same for the real Swedish coastal ecosystem. This coast consists of countless archipelagos that stretch up to 20 kilometres into the sea, creating a brackish environment. Here, perch and pike are the top predators, feeding on sticklebacks, which themselves eat the small crustaceans that live off algae.

To investigate how this food web developed over the past 40 years, Eriksson (who had moved to the University of Groningen in the Netherlands) connected with his colleagues at Stockholm University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to gather data on fish abundances and to carry out a series of field studies. They were inspired by recent suggestions that regime shifts can occur in closed systems such as lakes and wondered whether algal blooms in the Baltic sea could also be a consequence of such a regime change.

Grazers

Eriksson and his colleagues sampled 32 locations along a 400-kilometre stretch of coastline. ‘We visited these sites in the spring and autumn of 2014 and sampled all levels of the food web, from algae to top predators.’ These data were subsequently entered into a food web model, which helped them to find connections between species. The models showed that the small sticklebacks were important for the reproduction of the larger predators. And a local increase in sticklebacks means that a lot of the grazers in the ecosystem are eaten, which drives algal domination.

‘If you just look at the abundances of fish, you find a mixed system in which different species dominate,’ Eriksson explains. But looking at the changes in these fishery data over time showed an increase in sticklebacks that started in the late 1990s, initially in the outer parts of the archipelagos. ‘This is presumably caused by a reduction in the number of large predators. The reduction is the combined result of habitat destruction, fishing and increased predation by cormorants and seals.’ Sticklebacks migrate from the outer archipelagos inwards to reproduce, linking coastal and offshore processes.

Predation

Reduced predation increases the survival of sticklebacks, while both eutrophication and warming help to increase their numbers even further. As the sticklebacks reduced the number of grazers, algae began to replace seagrass and other vegetation. Furthermore, the sticklebacks also fed on the larvae of perch and pike, thereby further reducing their numbers. ‘This is a case of predator-prey reversal,’ explains Eriksson. Instead of top predators eating sticklebacks, the smaller fish strongly reduced the number of perch and pike larvae.

Over time, the stickleback domination moved inwards like a wave: regional change propagated throughout the entire ecosystem. This has important consequences for ecosystem restoration. ‘To counter algal blooms, you should not only reduce the eutrophication of the water but also increase the numbers of top predators.’ It means that those organizations that manage fisheries must start working together with those that manage water quality. ‘We should not look at isolated species but at the entire food web,’ says Eriksson. ‘This is something that the recent EU fishery strategy is slowly starting to implement.’

Furthermore, the propagation of local changes throughout a system has wider implications in ecology, especially in natural ecosystems that have complex interaction and information pathways. ‘And we know this from politics and human behaviour studies. A good example is the Arab Spring, which started locally and then propagated across the Middle East.’

Anti-Black Lives Matter teargas pollutes river


This 25 August 2020 video about Oregon in the USA says about itself:

Tear gas poisoning river in Portland

Officials fear that tear gas will pollute Portland’s rivers.

During on-going protests across Portland, government officials now fear that the excessive amount of tear gas is polluting the Willamette River.

The tear gas in Portland is applied by local police and by Donald Trump’s ‘stormtroopers’ against demonstrators against racism and against police brutality.

Global warming, United States politics, Bernie Sanders


This 25 June 2020 CNBC TV video from the USA says about itself:

Here’s how strong hurricane Tropical Storm Laura could become

While Tropical Storm Marco has collapsed, Tropical Storm Laura is expected to rapidly strengthen as it makes its way inland. Louisiana and Texas are now under hurricane watch.

From Senator Bernie Sanders in the USA, 25 August 2020:

Sometimes, when you hear a speech, what is NOT said is more important than what is said.

You wouldn’t know it if you watched the first night of the Republican National Convention, but we are in the middle of a climate emergency with scientists telling us we have just a few years to act in order to save our planet for future generations.

Just look around our country:

The second and third largest fires in the history of the state of California have burned more than 1.2 million acres in just a month, thousands of homes and businesses have been lost to the blaze, and tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee.

But that is not at all.

In the Gulf Coast, a pair of hurricanes threaten to strike within miles of each other and within a 48-hour period this week, a meteorological event unlike any in modern history.

But that too, is not all.

Earlier this month in the Midwest, an 800-mile wide derecho with winds the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane swept through Iowa and Illinois, causing absolutely catastrophic damage. Homes and businesses were lost. Some estimates say 35 percent of Iowa’s corn was destroyed along with “100 million bushels worth of grain storage and processing infrastructure as well,” according to Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture.

There’s more:

  • July 2020 was the second-hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
  • June 2020 was the second-hottest June of all time.
  • May 2020 was the hottest May of all time.
  • April 2020 was the second-hottest April of all time.
  • March 2020 was the second-hottest March of all time.
  • February 2020 was the second-hottest February of all time.
  • January 2020 was the hottest January of all time.

But was any of this discussed during last night’s Republican National Convention?

Of course, it wasn’t.

There wasn’t a word about climate change, other than to play a video calling me and our ideas “RADICAL.”

But don’t tell me the Green New Deal is radical.

What is radical is doing nothing to take on the existential threat of climate change while the world burns.

What is radical is the Trump administration opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling at a time when the Arctic is on fire and we face a serious climate emergency in this country and around the world.

What is radical is doing nothing while scientists tell us very clearly that if we do not act boldly within the next few years in transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, the planet we leave our kids and future generations will be increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable.

What is radical is making the decision to accept more drought, more famine, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances, more disease and more human suffering simply to line the pockets of a few greedy fossil fuel executives.

Here is the truth: in the midst of everything going on right now, a global pandemic, an economic meltdown, a struggle for racial justice and more, we simply cannot lose sight of the existential threat of climate change which puts at risk the very survival of this planet.

We cannot go far enough or be too aggressive on this issue.

We are living in absolutely unprecedented times that require us to bring forward an unprecedented response.

I wish I could say we could address our climate crisis with a few tweaks at the edges. But I cannot say that. Now more than ever, we need a Green New Deal to effectively address the existential threat of climate change. So, in my view there are two things we need to do:

Step 1: We must defeat Donald Trump. There is simply no way around just how important it is that we beat him this November and beat him badly.

Step 2: At the same time, we must elect as many progressive candidates as we possibly can who will fight to pass a Green New Deal.

Now, I cannot do that alone. And over the course of the next few months, our supporters are going to be doing everything possible to generate the largest voter turnout in American history, reaching out to people who might otherwise not be voting. We’re going to be doing virtual rallies and town halls in every battleground state. We’ll be making phone calls, sending text messages, and safely distributing literature throughout communities across this country.

That takes resources, but it is important work that must be done. So today, I am asking:

Can you make a $2.70 contribution to help me elect progressives all across this country who will come into office prepared to treat climate change as the existential threat we know it to be? This is important.

We are custodians of the earth. All of us. And it would be a moral disgrace if we left to future generations a planet and that was unhealthy, unsafe, and uninhabitable.

So thank you for making your voice heard.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders