Century-old Naturally Reclaimed Mining Site Preserves Regional Biodiversity

by Zoe Dilles

Native plants are flourishing unexpected at old abandoned gold mines in Southern New Zealand in spite of the fact that no landscape remediation was done. While natural reclamation through mine abandonment has historically been the default management strategy for mining sites around the world, the strict environmental policy of today typically mandates extensive site engineering after operations cease. Turning mine sites into usable land for agriculture, forestry, or recreation often entails time-consuming and costly rehabilitation measures such as topsoil replacement and replanting. Water management directs these approaches in arid climates because mine water evaporation as a product of unique geologic settings produces often undesirably saline soils. However, the salty soil of historic gold mine sites in the South Otago region provide rare naturally occurring saline habitats that are elsewhere jeopardized by expanded farming and new agricultural processes. Continue reading

Addressing Climate Change in Australian Marine Ecosystems

by Weronika Konwent

Australia’s diverse marine environment is under threat from varied effects of climate change such as marine heat waves, ocean acidification, floods, and tropical cyclones. Various organisms spanning many habitats are affected, including fish, seabirds, marine turtles, coral, and marine invertebrates, many of which are keystone species that influence the structure of a particular community. It is important to study and understand the impact of ecological changes on the habitat and its inhabitants in order to preserve them as effectively as possible. Continue reading

Marine Mollusc Anti-predator Escape Behavior Impaired with Future Ocean Acidification

by Jennifer Fields

Ocean acidification is known to have significant impacts on marine invertebrates in terms of calcification and reproduction; however, the effects of increased CO2 on marine invertebrate behavior are largely unknown. Watson et al. (2014) predicted marine conch snail predator-escape behavior to its predator cone shell would be impaired with near-future CO2 levels. The authors found that the decision-making of the conch snail was in fact impaired by ocean acidification, leaving the snails more vulnerable to predation. The change in behavior was fully restored by treatment with gabazine, suggesting that changes in acid-base regulation caused by increased CO2 in the ocean interfere with the invertebrate’s neurotransmitter receptor function. These alterations in behavior in marine invertebrates could have wide-ranging implications for the whole entire marine ecosystem. Continue reading

The Effect of Climate Change on Prawn Fishing in Bangladesh

by Shelby Long

Nearly 400,000 Bangladeshi people are financially dependent on the fresh water prawn market. Bangladesh offers the natural resources and ideal climate to support prawn farming from wild postlarvae. In 2002, a ban was placed on the fishing of wild postlarvae by the Department of Fisheries in Bangladesh. However, this ban is not strongly enforced, so many locals who rely on the market to make a living continue to fish. Ahmed et al. (2013) examines the effect of climate change on prawn fishing in the Pasur River through variables, including cyclones, salinity, sea level rise, water temperature, flood, rainfall, and drought. The Pasur River ecosystem, more specifically the prawn postlarvae, is highly vulnerable to climate changes because it is only one meter above sea level. Researchers surveyed and interviewed local fishermen, government fisheries officers, policymakers, and non-governmental organization workers. They also conducted focus group discussions with fishers and local community members regarding the various climate-affected variables under study. Ahmed et al. determined that prawn postlarvae catch has gradually decreased by approximately 15% over the past five years, with cyclones being the most significant climatic variable affecting the catch. Decreases in postlarvae prawn catch impact the health and socioeconomic well-being of local fishermen, many of which are women and children. Continue reading