Voracious pests may be foes of individual plants, but they can benefit forests. A study in the humid rainforests of Belize shows that plant-killing fungi can help preserve diversity in such ecosystems.
The study, published today by Nature, provides experimental support for a leading ecological hypothesis on why any given plant species does not take over in species-rich forests. That proposal — the ‘Janzen–Connell hypothesis’ — posits that as the population of a plant species grows, so does the rate at which specialized pests dine on it. Those pests then keep dominant plants in check, giving other species room to flourish.
“The more common a plant is, the more aggressively it is attacked,” says Keith Clay, a plant ecologist at Indiana University in Bloomington, who was not involved with the study. “It’s a mechanism for maintaining diversity.”
Since the Janzen–Connell hypothesis was proposed more than 40 years ago, many research teams have gathered evidence that plant-munching insects and other predators keep populations of plant species in check. But few were able to establish that this mechanism also boosted plant diversity, says Clay.
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The Brazilian government is to conduct the most detailed survey of the Amazon rainforest for over 30 years.
According to Brazil’s forestry ministry, the tree census will take four years to complete and will provide detailed data on tree species, soil and biodiversity as well as the effects of deforestation, climate change and conservation efforts on the world’s largest rainforest.
The survey will also help to chart the increasing growth of settlements in the Amazon region as well as the indigenous tribes in the area, some of which are previously uncontacted.
Improved satellite imaging technology has already provided a wealth of useful data, helping the government to reduce illegal deforestation in 2012 to its lowest level since monitoring began more than two decades ago.
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To help shed light on this giant rain forest’s tree composition, more than 120 scientists catalogued any trees with stems thicker than 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) at 1,170 different locations throughout Amazonia, the 2.3-million-square-mile area (6 million square kilometers) surrounding the Amazon River. They found that approximately 16,000 tree species made up this region.
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Slight rises in temperatures are triggering rainforest trees to produce more flowers, reports a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The research is based on observations collected in two tropical forests: a seasonally dry forest on Panama’s Barro Colorado Island and a “rainforest” with year-around precipitation in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. The authors, led by Stephanie Pau, currently at Florida State University but formerly from UC Santa Barbara, analyzed the impact of changes in temperature, clouds and rainfall on flower production. They found an annual 3 percent increase in flower production at the seasonally dry site, which they attributed to warmer temperatures.
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This is Forest Ethics, a conservation organization devoted to the protection of forests. To date they’ve secured protection agreements for 65 million acres of forests and helped move billions of dollars of corporate buying towards environmentally responsible market solutions.
Recently the Canadian government has been conducting an unprecedented dismantling of environmental laws and review processes — heavily scrutinizing environmental groups, and attempting to limit the public’s ability to advocate strongly and oppose these attacks. In response, Forest Ethics created two independent nonprofit entities in Canada, ForestEthics Solutions Society and ForestEthics Advocacy Association, in April 2012. ForestEthics Solutions continues to craft world-renown environmental solutions such as the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. ForestEthics Advocacy is able to devote an unlimited amount of its time and resources to environmental advocacy-to ensure that destructive projects and weakened environmental laws are vigorously and successfully opposed.
For more on Forest Ethics, please click the link below.
A great way to educate yourself about the issues surrounding the Alberta Tar Sands. A two-part documentary.
Scientists and doctors reveal pollution caused by Tar Sands development to be linked to exponentially high rates of cancer in the Athabasca region, and to deformed fish found in the river. Government and Industry are quick to refute their research, and to deny any responsibility for pollutants in the air and water adjacent to the Tar Sands project.
A revealing documentary that should be seen by everyone.
Click link below to see documentary.
A fungi has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest that can degrade and utilize the common plastic polyurethane (PUR). Polyurethane is a big part of our mounting waste problem and this is a new possible solution for managing it. The fungi can survive on polyurethane alone and is uniquely able to do so in an oxygen-free environment. Please click link below for full story.