Category Archives: Ecosystems

96 percent Of Central African Forests At Risk If Elephant Poaching Continues

These changes will occur because elephants are ecological engineers that help create and maintain forest habitat by dispersing seeds, recycling and spreading nutrients, and clearing understories, (Click on title for full story.)

Trees Show That Major Geological Changes Caused Amazon’s Great Biodiversity

The research has produced a biogeographical scenario that confirms in this context the significance of the geological history of north-western South America during the late Miocene and early Pliocene periods about 5 to 10 million years ago. “We have actually discovered that the diversification of these two plant genera took place in parallel with major geological events, namely the formation of the Andes, the drying-out of the Pebas system, and the development of a land bridge to Central America, (Click on title for full story.)

It’s Complicated. Over-Hunting Of Tropical Animals Destroys Forests And Carbon Sequestration? Maybe.

But the long-term implications for biodiversity and the biomass of forests are not yet clear. And the expectation that without their dispersers, seeds of these plant species will land in the “kill zone” of insects and diseases under their parents and be replaced by other species that store less carbon, culminating in huge decreases in the amount of carbon stored in tropical forests, has not materialized. (Click on title for full story.)

Newly Defined Plant Habitat Discovered In China’s Caves

We suggest that within SW China caves serve as both refuges and a valuable source of germplasm for the restoration of karst forest. We also propose that caves represent a distinct habitat for plants that is most similar to that of the forest understory, but distinct with respect to the absence of trees, leaf litter, root mats, higher levels of atmospheric CO2, and lower diurnal and annual variation in temperature and humidity. We highlight tourism, agriculture and the absence of legislated protection of caves as the main current threats to this flora. (Click on title for full report.)

Removing Even An Overlooked Tiny Insect From An Ecosystem Can Cause Serious Damage

A mutualistic relationship between species in an ecosystem allows for the ecosystem to thrive, but the lack of this relationship could lead to the collapse of the entire system. New research reveals that interactions between relatively small organisms are crucial to mutualistic relationships in an ecosystem dominated by much larger organisms, including trees and elephants. (Click on title for full story.)

Absence Of Wild Rice Reveals Dangerous Toxins In Minnesota Waterways

“Wild rice serves as a flagship species or the equivalent of our ‘canary in a coal mine,’ giving us a warning on how human activity affects our water quality in Minnesota, The results of our studies are important because they show that increases in sulfate in our lakes and streams can have multiple negative consequences for ecosystems, even though sulfate itself is relatively benign.” (Click on title for full story.)

Simple Protection Of Urban Trees Has Huge Consequences For Storm water Management

Comparing the infiltration rate of street trees with and without guards in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, the researchers found that trees in protected pits absorbed water six times faster on average than tree pits without guards —3 millimeters versus .5 millimeters per minute. The researchers hypothesize that the guards improve infiltration by limiting soil compaction in tree pits. (Click on title for full story.)

Artificial Light Is Changing Ecosystems In Ways We Are Only Beginning To Study

Ecologists face challenges such as measuring light accurately and assessing how multiple species behave in response. But early results suggest that light at night is exerting pervasive, long-term stress on ecosystems, from coasts to farmland to urban waterways, many of which are already suffering from other, more well-known forms of pollution. (Click on title for full story.)

Invasive Knotweed Actually Displaces Forests While Poison Ivy Preserves Them

“What we see in the data is that poison-ivy often trades understory dominance with knotweed. That is, when knotweed isn’t the big boss, poison-ivy usually is. The difference is that whereas knotweed knocks everyone else out of the system, poison-ivy is more of a team player. Many other native plants can co-occur with it and it even seems to create microhabitats that help tree seedlings get established.” (Clcikon title for full story.)

What Makes Tropical Area A Rain Forest Instead Of A Savanna? Soil Depth Plays A Role.

If trees have access to a larger volume of soil, this promotes more wooded vegetation whereas shallower rooting, lower precipitation and fire promote less wooded, grass dominated vegetation zones. It’s all about water availability: Access to deeper soil layers typically increases the total amount of soil water available to plants which in turn favors tropical rainforest with its evergreen trees. It doesn’t stop there though, these interactions also alter plant communities composition and diversity. (Click on title for full story.)