Cold-Blooded species may adapt to climate change faster than thought

In the face of a changing climate many species must adapt or perish. Ecologists studying evolutionary responses to climate change forecast that cold-blooded tropical species are not as vulnerable to extinction as previously thought. The study, published in the British Ecological Society's Functional Ecology, considers how fast species can evolve and adapt to compensate for a rise in temperature. The research, carried out at the University of Zurich, was led by Dr Richard Walters, now at Reading University, alongside David Berger now at Uppsala University and Wolf Blanckenhorn, Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Zurich.

Trouble Having Kids? Eat Some Walnuts

A new study has found that men who eat a healthy serving of walnuts every day will improve their sperm quality and boost fertility. The chemical in the walnut, omega-3, is also common in many other tree nuts. The researchers from the UCLA School of Nursing believe it is the omega-3 that provides the fertility boost. A previous study found that one in six couples is infertile, and that 40 percent of these cases were due to a male factor. Fortunately, walnuts can be found at many local supermarkets and convenient stores, as well as on the branches of the many walnut trees throughout the world, and they most likely cost less than going to a fertility clinic or taking medication.

Aquaculture Feeding World’s Insatiable Appetite for Seafood

Total global fish production, including both wild capture fish and aquaculture, reached an all-time high of 154 million tons in 2011, and aquaculture is set to top 60 percent of production by 2020, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org) for its Vital Signs Online service. Wild capture was 90.4 million tons in 2011, up 2 percent from 2010. Aquaculture, in contrast, has been expanding steadily for the last 25 years and saw a rise of 6.2 percent in 2011, write report authors Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden. "Growth in fish farming can be a double-edged sword," said Nierenberg, co-author of the report and Director of Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project. "Despite its potential to affordably feed an ever-growing global population, it can also contribute to problems of habitat destruction, waste disposal, invasions of exotic species and pathogens, and depletion of wild fish stock." Humans ate 130.8 million tons of fish in 2011. The remaining 23.2 million tons of fish went to non-food uses such as fishmeal, fish oil, culture, bait, and pharmaceuticals. The human consumption figure has increased 14.4 percent over the last five years. And consumption of farmed fish has risen tenfold since 1970, at an annual average of 6.6 percent per year. Asia consumes two thirds of the fish caught or grown for consumption.

Slipping Sustainability Through The Back Door

aguna Niguel, CA — America is going green, but not the way environmentalists had planned it. The unlikely hero is none other than Corporate America, which is giving consumers the green whether they realize it or not. Why? Because it's good for the customer, it's good business, and let's face it, as MGM Senior Vice President of Environment and Energy Cindy Ortega articulates, "It is also good for employee morale and retention — people want to work for companies who care about the world around them."

Ford’s Investment in EVs and Hybrids Continues to Surge

Yesterday Ford Motor Co. announced that the company would accelerate investment in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids. The moves come as Ford and its competitors within the American automobile industry experience a resurgence following their near-death experience just a few years ago.

Beavers Benefit Salmon Populations

One would expect that beaver dams create more harm than good for fish populations, as they block certain species from swimming upstream and therefore reduce the availability of suitable spawning habitat. However, according to a new study by the University of Southampton, reintroduced European beavers could have an overall positive impact on Scottish wild salmon populations. Funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, a study was conducted to analyze the relationship between beavers and salmon populations due to underlying economical concerns that beavers can harm fish stocks by obstructing migration. But after surveying 49 fisheries managers, scientists, and beaver ecology experts from Europe and North America, more than half of those who responded believe that the overall impact of beavers on fish populations is beneficial.

Record Burmese Python found in the Florida Everglades

A double record-setting Burmese python has been found in the Florida Everglades. At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home. "This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble."

King of the jungle: lions discovered in rainforests

Calling the African lion (Panthera leo) the 'king of the jungle' is usually a misnomer, as the species is usually found in savannah or dry forests, but recent photos by the Germany-based Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) document lions in Ethiopian rainforests.

Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is much greater than predicted

Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps. Preliminary results from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 probe indicate that 900 cubic kilometres of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.

Black Carbon from Slash and Burn Practices Still a Problem in Brazil

Although nearly 40 years have passed since Brazil banned slash-and-burn practices in its Atlantic Forest, the destruction lingers. New research reveals that charred plant material is leaching out of the soil and into rivers, eventually making its way to the ocean. So much of this "black carbon" is entering the marine ecosystem that it could be hurting ocean life, although further tests will be needed to confirm this possibility. People have used fire to shape Earth's vegetation for millennia. In Brazil's Atlantic Forest, Europeans began burning trees to make way for settlements and agriculture in the 16th century. What once blanketed 1.3 million square kilometers and ranked as one of the world's largest tropical forests had shrunk to 8% of its former size by 1973, when protective laws were put in place.