World Wildlife Fund – February 1, 2016

The designation of wetlands for conservation with WWF support reached over 100 million hectares worldwide with the declaration of seven sites in Zimbabwe under the Ramsar convention.  The news comes just ahead of World Wetlands Day on 2 February and following the identification of water crises as one of the top three global risks, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016. With this year’s World Wetlands Day focusing on wetlands and livelihoods, a number of sites such as Lake Chivero, the primary water supply for Zimbabwe’s capital city Harare, are of particular significance. “When we mark World Wetlands Day, we are reminding people that water doesn’t come from a tap; it comes from healthy wetland ecosystems,” said Lifeng Li, WWF International’s Director of Freshwater. For full story, click here.

Ecology Global Network November 13, 2015

When restoring coastal wetlands, common practice calls for leaving space between new plants to prevent overcrowding and reduce competition for nutrients and sunlight. That’s likely all wrong. A new study, conducted to restore degraded salt marshes in Florida and the Netherlands, has found that clumping newly planted marsh grasses next to each other, with little or no space in between, can spur positive interactions between the plants. In some test plots, plant density and vegetative cover increased by as much as 300 percent by season’s end. For full story, click here.

By Oliver Milman – The Guardian – January 12, 2016

A US government move to downgrade the conservation status of manatees and green sea turtles is premature, an environment group has warned, despite encouraging signs that both species are recovering. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed that the West Indian manatee be down-listed from endangered to threatened under the endangered species act. The move follows a notable recovery in manatee numbers – in 1991, it was estimated there were just 1,267 of the hefty aquatic beasts off the coast of Florida. That number has now swelled to 6,300 in Florida, with 13,000 in total across the manatee’s entire range, which stretches throughout the south-eastern US, Caribbean, Mexico and the northern coasts of South America. The FWS said that work to reduce collisions with speedboats and unintentional entanglements with fishing nets has paid off, as well as the effective rehabilitation of sick and injured manatees, which can weigh over 3,000 pounds and are nicknamed “sea cows” because they eat copious amounts of sea grass. For full story, click here.

By Rachel Nuwer – The New York Times – January 4, 2016

After a six-year effort, researchers on the Spanish island of Majorca have rid several groups of Majorcan midwife toads of the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis — better known as chytrid fungus, or B.d. It’s the first time the disease, which is devastating amphibians worldwide, has been eradicated in a wild population. For full story, click here.

Contacts: Dr. Marc Gaden and Marisa Lubeck – U.S. Geological Survey – January 4, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registered a sea lamprey mating pheromone, 3kPZS, as the first ever vertebrate pheromone biopesticide in late December, 2015. Like an alluring perfume, the mating pheromone is a scent released by male sea lampreys to lure females onto nesting sites. Research and development of the mating pheromone was funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, with additional support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, in collaboration with federal government, university, and private industry partners. For full news release, click here.

By Whitney Pipkin – Bay Journal – December 14, 2015

Once valued as little more than pelts, beavers are back in vogue and rebuilding their reputation as habitat engineers. It helps their cause that the dams they build as homes also create water quality-boosting wetlands and habitat for other species. In the process, the structures slow the flow of water and filter out sediment that would otherwise be on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. And a new study out of the Northeast suggests the dams, which can alter the course of entire river systems, can also substantially reduce the amount of nitrogen in them. For full story, click here.

By Lindsey Feingold – The Diamonback Online – December 10, 2015

A University of Maryland researcher has helped develop a method for measuring how much the restoration of wetlands can help reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. A team of scientists including environmental science and technology professor Brian Needelman spent the past four years on the project, collecting data and presenting them in a usable way. For full story, click here.