By Fred Barbash and Justin Wm. Moyer – The Washington Post – May 4, 2015 – Video.
They never ate anybody — but now, some of planet Earth’s innocent vegetarians face end times. Large herbivores — elephants, hippos, rhinos and gorillas among them — are vanishing from the globe at a startling rate, with some 60 percent threatened with extinction, a team of scientists reports. The situation is so dire, according to a new study, that it threatens an “empty landscape” in some ecosystems “across much of the planet Earth.” The authors were clear: This is a big problem — and it’s a problem with us, not them. For full story, click here.
Washington University in St. Louis – ENN Environmental News Network – April 6, 2015
Most research on the role of introduced species of plants and animals stresses their negative ecological impacts. But are all introduced species bad actors? In one fascinating case the answer might be no. The iconic giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands are thriving on a diet heavy on non-native plants. In fact, the tortoises seem to prefer these plants to native ones. For full story, click here.
By April Baumgarten – The Dickinson Press – April 30, 2015
U.S. senators will introduce a bill today that would send the controversial Waters of the U.S. proposal back to the Environmental Protection Agency, but the White House has threatened to veto the legislation. Bill co-sponsor Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is holding a press conference this morning at the U.S. Capitol with other senators on the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would require EPA to withdraw the proposal and consult states, farmers and ranchers affected by the rule, also known as WOTUS. "We don't know what the final rule is going to look like," Heitkamp said, who has been working on this legislation for months. "We need certainty in rural America." For full story, click here.
By Alex Dobuzinskis – Planet Ark – April 27, 2015
The number of breeding males in the greater sage-grouse population of the United States and part of Canada has declined by 56 percent in recent years, in a sign of trouble for the ground-dwelling bird, a study released on Friday showed. The study from the Pew Charitable Trusts comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepares to make a decision before the end of September on whether the bird should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. For full story, click here.
By Puneet Kollipara – Chemical & Engineering News – April 19, 2015
Plastic bag pollution does not simply harm individual birds and mammals when they get tangled in the trash. It also can affect entire communities of wildlife, including invertebrates, according to a new study. Marshland sediments covered with plastic bags had far lower oxygen levels and numbers of organisms than sediments that remained bag-free (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00277). Scientists have grown increasingly concerned about the marine impacts of plastics, ranging from plastic beads to films to bottles. But marine ecologist Dannielle Senga Green of Trinity College, in Ireland, noticed that few studies had examined plastic litter’s effects on whole communities of living things, especially muddy communities with organisms such as worms, snails, and crabs. For full story, click here.