A quarter of all European bumblebee species threatened with extinction

Europe is still home to 68 different bumblebee species – of which according to IUCN 24 percent are now directly threatened with extinction and about half have clearly declining populations. The reasons: Habitat loss, agricultural pollution, climate change, and general … Continue reading

Disturbence of long ecological chains: how planting palm trees can affect manta rays

Palm tree on beachDouglas McCauley and Paul DeSalles did not set out to discover one of the longest ecological interaction chains ever documented. But that’s exactly what they and a team of researchers — all current or former Stanford students and faculty — did in a new study published in Scientific Reports.

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Biodiversity often means linguistic diversity

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.

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Late Ordovician mass extinction caused by tropical cooling and habitat loss

The second-largest mass extinction in Earth’s history coincided with a short but intense ice age during which enormous glaciers grew and sea levels dropped. Although it has long been agreed that the so-called Late Ordovician mass extinction — which occurred about 450 million years ago — was related to climate change, exactly how the climate change produced the extinction has not been known. Now, a team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a framework for weighing the factors that might have led to mass extinction and has used that framework to determine that the majority of extinctions were caused by habitat loss due to falling sea levels and cooling of the tropical oceans.

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Sharing the Blame for the Mammoth’s Extinction

Wooly mammoths

The wooly mammoths may have succumbed to a combination of rapid climate change and human depredation, possibly by overhunting. Credit: Creative Commons/Wikimedia

The past few tens of millennia were hard times for the megafauna of the world. Hundreds of big-bodied species—from the mammoths of North America to the 3-meter-tall kangaroos of Australia to the 200-kilogram-plus flightless birds of New Zealand—just disappeared from the fossil record. A new, broad analysis continues the century-long debate over the loss of the big animals, coming down on the middle ground between blaming migrating humans for wiping them all out and climate change alone for doing them in.

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Mercury: a new culprit in end-Permian mass extinction event

Volcanic eruptions have already been appointed as the main culprit of the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. Previous research indicated that the resulting rise in atmospheric and oceanic carbon lead to the Great dying. But new findings in the journal Geology point to a … Continue reading