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Tag: ecosystems

Tourists are flocking to see fireflies, putting new stress on vulnerable ecosystems

Tourists are flocking to see fireflies, putting new stress on vulnerable ecosystems

Science
March 11 (UPI) -- Every year, more than a million people travel to watch fireflies and their luminous mating rituals. Firefly tourism, it turns out, is trending. Wildlife tourism has benefits, injecting cash into local economies and raising awareness about environmental problems, but tourism can also put pressure on already vulnerable ecosystems. Advertisement Without stronger protections for firefly beetles, the authors of a new paper -- published Thursday in the journal Conservation Science and Practice -- warn firefly tourism could wipe out local populations. "Firefly tourism has long been popular in countries like Japan, but it's really only started to skyrocket in places like India, the U.S. and Mexico in the past decade or so," lead author Sara Lewis, professor of biology at Tufts U...
Restoring longleaf pines, keystone of once vast ecosystems

Restoring longleaf pines, keystone of once vast ecosystems

Technology
DESOTO NATIONAL FOREST, Miss. -- When European settlers came to North America, fire-dependent savannas anchored by lofty pines with footlong needles covered much of what became the southern United States.Yet by the 1990s, logging and clear-cutting for farms and development had all but eliminated longleaf pines and the grasslands beneath where hundreds of plant and animal species flourished.Now, thanks to a pair of modern day Johnny Appleseeds, landowners, government agencies and nonprofits are working in nine coastal states from Virginia to Texas to bring back pines named for the long needles prized by Native Americans for weaving baskets.Longleaf pines now cover as much as 7,300 square miles (19,000 square kilometers) — and more than one-quarter of that has been planted since 2010.“I like...
Cleanup, waste management aren’t enough to save ecosystems from plastic pollution

Cleanup, waste management aren’t enough to save ecosystems from plastic pollution

Science
Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Even if countries fund massive cleanup efforts and dramatically improve waste management infrastructure, two studies published Thursday in the journal Science suggest it won't be enough to save Earth's ecosystems from plastic pollution. "We simply make too much plastic waste to handle with current waste management infrastructure, and eventually we are going to run out of land to put landfills," ecologist Stephanie Borrelle, research fellow at the University of Toronto, told UPI in an email. Advertisement Plastic pollution is a growing problem for the planet's many ecosystems. From the island reefs and deep sea valleys to polar glaciers and the world's tallest peaks, pieces of plastic, big and small, are showing up everywhere. And it's not just ecosystems. Scientists have...
Protective genes help dolphins survive certain ecosystems, study says

Protective genes help dolphins survive certain ecosystems, study says

Science
May 24 (UPI) -- Understanding which genes help dolphins survive can help conservationists identify potential threats to the animal's population, new research shows. Dolphins may need certain immune genes for survival in particular ecosystems, according to a study published Thursday in Ecology and Evolution. "Genetic diversity is crucial for animals to adapt to a changing environment -- for example, diverse genes can help populations defend against diseases and tolerate climate change -- but not all genetic diversity is equally important," Oliver Manlik, a researcher at United Arab Emirates University and study lead author, said in a news release. Some gene variants are considered neutral genetic markers, which don't serve any survival or adaptation function for an animal. The researchers...
Desalination's leftovers may negatively affect oceans and ecosystems

Desalination's leftovers may negatively affect oceans and ecosystems

Technology
This is an Inside Science story. About 700 million people worldwide lack reliable access to fresh water, a number which might grow due to population growth and climate change. This has pushed many nations to look to new, untapped water sources. One popular solution has been the construction of plants to remove salt from water sources such as seawater. However, new research from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health in Canada is warning that a byproduct of these desalination plants -- super-salty, potentially toxic brine -- is being produced in large quantities and that it could pose serious environmental threats. There are now almost 16,000 desalination plants in the world. Although the majority of plants worldwide are located in the Middle East and ...