Climate change drove coral reefs to a total ecosystem collapse lasting thousands of years, according to a paper published this week in Science. The paper shows how natural climatic shifts stopped reef growth in the eastern Pacific for 2,500 years. The reef shutdown, which began 4,000 years ago, corresponds to a period of dramatic swings in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). “As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is once again on the threshold of a new regime, with dire consequences for reef ecosystems unless we get control of climate change,” said coauthor Richard Aronson, a biology professor at Florida Institute of Technology.
Global warming may cause more extinctions than predicted if scientists fail to account for interactions among species in their models, Yale and UConn researchers argue in Science.
Researchers who were looking for organisms that eke out a living in some of the most inhospitable soils on Earth have found a hardy few. A new DNA analysis of rocky soils in the martian-like landscape on some volcanoes in South America has revealed a handful of bacteria, fungi, and other rudimentary organisms, called archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.
The projected disappearance of small glaciers* worldwide threatens to eliminate the water supply for numerous towns in valleys, such as the Ecuadorian capital Quito, fed by the rivers that flow down from the surrounding mountains. But retreating ice is also a threat to freshwater fauna. According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, the local and regional diversity of mountain aquatic fauna will be reduced considerably if predictions are realised. Until now, the impact of global thawing on biodiversity in watercourses had never been calculated in detail.
The progressive disappearance of seed-dispersing animals like elephants and rhinoceroses puts the structural integrity and biodiversity of the tropical forest of South-East Asia at risk. With the help of Spanish researchers, an international team of experts has confirmed that not even herbivores like tapirs can replace them.
Biodiversity hot spots — the world’s biologically richest and most threatened locations on Earth — and high biodiversity wilderness areas — biologically rich but less threatened — are some of the most linguistically diverse regions on our planet, according to a team of conservationists.
A modeling study from the European Alps suggests that population declines to be observed during the upcoming decades will probably underestimate the long-term effects of recent climate warming on mountain plants. A European team of ecologists around Stefan Dullinger from the Department of Conservation Biology, Vegetation and Landscape Ecology of the University of Vienna presents a new modeling tool to predict migration of mountain plants which explicitly takes population dynamic processes into account. Their results are published in “Nature Climate Change“.
‘When the River Runs Dry’ is a familiar song in Australia. Some rivers in the arid center of the continent flow only after a stiff monsoon season, and smaller tributaries all over the country commonly shrink to puddled potholes and dry river beds during the dry season. But rivers also run dry in more temperate climes. Much of the upper reaches and feeder streams of the great rivers of North America, and even the mighty Amazon, dry out seasonally.