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Wed, 23 Jun 2021
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Frog

Common Insecticide Can Decimate Tadpole Populations

The latest findings of a University of Pittsburgh-based project to determine the environmental impact of routine pesticide use suggests that malathion - the most popular insecticide in the United States - can decimate tadpole populations by altering their food chain, according to research published in the Oct. 1 edition of Ecological Applications.

tadpole
© iStockphoto/Dieter Hawlan
Tadpole in a pond. Routine pesticide use suggests that malathion -— the most popular insecticide in the United States —- can decimate tadpole populations by altering their food chain.
Gradual amounts of malathion that were too small to directly kill developing leopard frog tadpoles instead sparked a biological chain of events that deprived them of their primary food source. As a result, nearly half the tadpoles in the experiment did not reach maturity and would have died in nature.

The results build on a nine-year effort by study author Rick Relyea, an associate professor of biological sciences in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, to investigate whether there is a link between pesticides and the global decline in amphibians, which are considered an environmental indicator species because of their sensitivity to pollutants. Their deaths may foreshadow the poisoning of other, less environmentally sensitive species - including humans. Relyea published papers in 2005 in Ecological Applications suggesting that the popular weed-killer Roundup® is "extremely lethal" to amphibians in concentrations found in the environment.

Bizarro Earth

Global Warming Will Have Significant Economic Impacts On Florida Coasts, Reports State

Leading Florida-based scientific researchers released two new studies today, including a Florida State University report finding that climate change will cause significant impacts on Florida's coastlines and economy due to increased sea level rise.

Storm damage after a hurricane in Florida
© iStockphoto/William Mahar
Storm damage after a hurricane in Florida.
A second study by researchers at Florida Atlantic University recommends that the state of Florida adopt a series of policy programs aimed at adapting to these large coastal and other impacts as a result of climate change. Key findings of the FAU report were included just this week by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Climate and Energy Action Team when it adopted the "Adaptation" section of its final report.

"The impacts of climate change on Florida's coasts and on our economy will be substantial, persistent and long-term, even under our conservative estimates," said Julie Harrington, director of the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at FSU. "Should, as many models predict, sea level rise, and hurricane strength and other factors become more extreme, much greater economic impacts will occur along many parts of Florida's coast in this century."

The second new study, by researchers at FAU, focused on state adaptation policies needed as Florida faces the impacts of climate change.

"The goal of our study is to help the state of Florida adapt, in the most effective way possible, to climate change impacts that are now inevitable," said Jim Murley, director of Florida Atlantic University's Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions and leader of the study. "These approaches must be comprehensive and strategic, not piecemeal and episodic. Governor Crist and other leaders have rightly identified adapting to climate change as one of the state's greatest challenges -- we look forward to working with the state to protect our people, natural splendor, and economic livelihood. There is real work to be done."

Arrow Up

3 more Hurricane Ike victims raises toll to 67

Three more bodies were discovered over the weekend in areas of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Ike, increasing the storm's toll to 67 deaths nationally.

Bell

Two weeks after Ike, more than 400 are still missing

Gail Ettenger made her last phone call at 10:10 p.m. She was trapped in her Bolivar Peninsula bungalow with her Great Dane, Reba. A drowning cat cried outside. Her Jeep bobbed in the seawater surging around her home.

Info

Urban Black Bears 'Live Fast, Die Young'

Black bears that live around urban areas weigh more, get pregnant at a younger age, and are more likely to die violent deaths, according to a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Wild black bear searching for food
© iStockphoto/Ling Xia
Wild black bear searching for food at a garbage dump. A life of garbage, early pregnancies and violent deaths plague big city bears.
The study, published in the Fall 2008 issue of the journal Human-Wildlife Conflicts, tracked 12 bears over a 10-year period living in urban areas around Lake Tahoe, Nevada and compared them to 10 "wildland" bears that lived in outlying wild areas. The authors found that bears in urbanized areas weighed an average of 30 percent more than bears in wild areas due to a diet heavily supplemented by garbage.

The authors believe that because the bears weigh more they are giving birth at an earlier age - on average when they are between 4-5 years old, as compared to 7-8 years for bears in wild areas. Some urban bears even reproduced as early as 2-3 years of age around Lake Tahoe.

Urban bears also tend to die much younger due mostly to collisions with vehicles, according to the study. All 12 urban bears tracked by the researcher were dead by age 10 due to vehicle collisions, while six of the wildland bears still survived. Bear cubs in urban areas also had dramatically higher mortality rates due mainly to vehicle collisions.

Bizarro Earth

Pollution slowly killing world's coral reefs

Cancun, Mexico - Dainty blue fish dart around coral shaped like moose antlers near the Mexican resort of Cancun, but sickly brown spots are appearing where pollution threatens one of the world's largest reefs.

Parts of the reef, nestled in turquoise waters, have died and algae -- which feed on sewage residues flowing out of the fast-growing resort city -- has taken over.

Coral reefs like Chitales, near the northern tip of a Caribbean reef chain stretching from Mexico to Honduras, are dying around the world as people and cities put more stress on the environment.

Climate change alone could trigger a global coral die-off by 2100 because carbon emissions warm oceans and make them more acidic, according to a study published in December.

But local environmental problems like sewage, farm runoff and overfishing could kill off much of the world's reefs decades before global warming does, said Roberto Iglesias, a biologist from UNAM university's marine sciences station near Cancun.

"The net effect of pollution is as bad or maybe worse than the effects of global warming," said Iglesias, a co-author of the study in the journal Science on how climate change affects reefs.

Human waste like that from Cancun's hotels and night spots aggravates threats to coral worldwide like overzealous fishing which hurts stocks of fish that eat reef-damaging algae.

Bizarro Earth

Stalagmites May Predict Next Big One Along The New Madrid Seismic Zone

Small white stalagmites lining caves in the Midwest may help scientists chronicle the history of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) - and even predict when the next big earthquake may strike, say researchers at the Illinois State Geological Survey and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Small white stalagmites
© K. Hackley
Small white stalagmites. Insert: one stalagmite cut vertically in half, showing generations of growth with the white one on top.
While the 1811-12, magnitude 8 New Madrid earthquake altered the course of the Mississippi River and rung church bells in major cities along the East Coast, records of the seismic zone's previous movements are scarce. Thick layers of sediment have buried the trace of the NMSZ and scientists must search for rare sand blows and liquefaction features, small mounds of liquefied sand that squirt to the surface through fractures during earthquakes, to record past events. That's where the stalagmites come in.

The sand blows are few and far between, said Keith Hackley, an isotope geochemist with the Illinois State Geological Survey. In contrast, caves throughout the region are lined with abundant stalagmites, which could provide a better record of past quakes. "We're trying to see if the initiation of these stalagmites might be fault-induced, recording very large earthquakes that have occurred along the NMSZ," he said.

Magnify

Australia: Unusual haze engulfs Gold Goast - depth of mystery debated

Mysterious Haze at Gold Coast

Hazy... the salt spray at Main Beach, while conditions remain clear at Southport (inset)

A salty haze over parts of the Gold Coast this morning has dramatically reduced visibility in some areas - while others are perfectly clear.

Comment: The unusual appearance of the thick and localised haze received wide media coverage in Queensland. Some of the reader comments sent to The Courier Mail's website are interesting. Here are two of them...

Marko of South Brisbane
"I was at Surfers Paradise today and I saw some very unusual cloud conditions at about mid-day. It was a hot and windy blue sky day - which is not unusual. Small and isolated puffy clouds came in quickly from the sea, and swept past the top floors of the Coast towers. No other types of cloud were in the sky."
Gillian Lane of Southport
"Actually being on the Gold Coast, I can tell you that the hazy conditions were really quite remarkable and most certainly newsworthy. It was almost like cloud at ground level at Southport."



Attention

Erupting Volcano in Chile

The Chilean volcano Chaiten has been erupting since September 23, 2008. This activity has been registered on the website, when the volcano icon turned from brown to red. A little later, magma flow was detected by the Modis fire detection system, shown by a yellow spot in the middle of the volcano symbol.

Attention

Shiveluch Volcano, Kamchatka, Russia

An eruption occurred at Shiveluch volcano in Russia on 25th September 2008. At 8 am local time the eruption produced an ash column 4.5 km high. The eruption was accompanied by earthquakes. There was no threat to nearby communities according to the Geophysics Service of the Russian Academy of Sciences.