Ocean Acidification can Mediate Biodiversity Shifts by changing Biogenic Habitat

by Elizabeth Rodarte

Ocean acidification is the process in which the pH of the world’s oceans decreases due to the production of atmospheric CO2. The increase of CO2 and decrease in pH leads to changes in calcification, growth, and abundance of species such as coral reefs, mussels, seagrass, and macroalgae. Habitats experience the indirect effects of such CO2 increases. They must remain resistant to sudden changes in pH and CO2 in order to benefit the organisms they support. By modeling the effects of lowering pH in habitats with corals, mussels, seagrass, and microalgae, we can determine the costs to these species. Coral reefs and mussels are calcifying organisms that are negatively affected by the pH which limits survival and stunts, or even stops, growth and development. Lower pH decreases the species complexity of corals and mussels and ultimately the species richness in habitats. Mytilus mussels, for example, require specific pH to function. The species of mussels, other than Mytilus, that survive decreases in pH lack “structural complexity” to support dense surrounding vegetation. Therefore, the loss of Mytilus mussels due to ocean acidification allows for a more stable yet less diverse habitat. Continue reading

Climate Change: Wildlife Then and Now

by Jen Petrova

As a lover of wildlife and birds, Franzen begins his article by questioning the effects of climate change on birds. Many reputable sources deem that bird biodiversity and populations will be endangered by climate change, however Franzen argues that birds are capable of adapting. In fact, argues that North American birds may become even more diverse due to climate change. Needless to say, Franzen is not convinced of the immediate threat to birds that global warming presents. In this article, he explores climate change in relation to democracy, Peru, and Costa Rica. Continue reading

Effects of Ant- Fruit Interactions Deforestation

by Maithili Joshi

Biodiversity within an ecosystem has mutualistic and symbiotic relationships within that environment. The results of deforestation can be dramatic to these relationships, especially in cases with frugivores. The relationships between frugivores and fallen fruit are what help disperse seeds across the forest floor, which also helps the process of germination. In this study, Bieber et al. (2014) analyzed the mutualistic interactions between ants and fallen fruit in São Paulo State, SE Brazil. The scientists were examining the difference in interactions between disturbed and undisturbed forests. They compared the richness of ants at each fruit, species density per station, frequency of specific ant groups, frequency of fruit and pulp removal, and distance of fruit removal. The study was conducted using four disturbed forests, and four undisturbed forest areas. In these areas, there were thirty sampling stations with synthetic fruit placed 10 m apart from each other to ensure independent discoveries. The fruit were placed on a white sheet of paper within a wire cage to ensure that vertebrates did not access the fruit at each sampling station. Continue reading

Analyzing the Vulnerability of Rainforest Birds to Deforestation

by Maithili Joshi

In South East Queensland, Australia Pavlacky et al.(2014) conducted a study on the vulnerability of birds, rainforest ecosystems, and the biological impacts in response to deforestation in local and regional areas. The central idea is the to investigate the life history and forest structure to rank the vulnerability of avian species, while also looking at species loss along different kinds of forest structure and landscape change. The objectives are evaluating the effects of life history traits on the patch occupancy and vulnerability of rainforest birds, determining the relative effects of stand, landscape, and patch structure on species richness, and evaluating the relative contributions of deforestation and fragmentation to species richness. Continue reading

Pristine Called into Question

by Jackson Cooney

There has been recent controversy over the state of many pristine rain forests. Those that have previously been called “virgin” due to the absence of human interaction are now being reviewed. It seems that humans have inhabited forests such the Amazon Basin, the lowland Congo basin, and the Indo-Malay region of Southeast Asia for many years. Evidence of human presence in these virgin forests includes pottery fragments, charcoal soil lairs, and iron tools. Because of this, there is little doubt of the presence of human civilizations in these lands. The question becomes: how has their presence affected the forests ability to prevail. These natives have used slash and burn techniques to create agriculture space, which has been largely thought of as the most harmful deforestation methods in recent times. It seems that the presence of humans on these lands about 2,500 years ago has actually enhanced the soil fertility due to this burning method. Human intervention and management of the land may have also caused an increase in tree diversity. Continue reading

Protecting Island Biodiversity

by Alexander Birk

Island biodiversity is of paramount importance on a global scale. The islands of the world contain twenty percent of all terrestrial plant and animal species. In addition the rate of endemic species on islands is much greater than on main lands, and island species are facing many threats. Over half of the most recent extinctions on the planet come from species inhabiting islands. In addition one third of all terrestrial species that are currently threatened with extinction are island-dwelling species (Couchamp et al. 2014). Continue reading

Just Released! “Energy, Biology, Climate Change”

FrontCover6x9 white border 72dpi EBCC2015

Our newest book, published on May 6, 2015 and available at Amazon.com for $19.95.

The focus of this book is the interactions between energy, ecology, and climate change, as well as a few of the responses of humanity to these interactions. It is not a textbook, but a series of chapters discussing subtopics in which the authors were interested and wished to write about. The basic material is cutting-edge science; technical journal articles published within the last year, selected for their relevance and interest. Each author selected eight or so technical papers representing his or her view of the most interesting current research in the field, and wrote summaries of them in a journalistic style that is free of scientific jargon and understandable by lay readers. This is the sort of science writing that you might encounter in the New York Times, but concentrated in a way intended to give as broad an overview of the chapter topics as possible. None of this research will appear in textbooks for a few years, so there are not many ways that readers without access to a university library can get access to this information.

This book is intended be browsed—choose a chapter topic you like and read the individual sections in any order; each is intended to be largely stand-alone. Reading all of them will give you considerable insight into what climate scientists concerned with energy, ecology, and human effects are up to, and the challenges they face in understanding one of the most disruptive—if not very rapid—event in human history; anthropogenic climate change. The Table of Contents follows: Continue reading