Welcome back to Oekologie! This edition includes a variety of posts that explore issues across the world. Since November has been a month of incredible excitement in US politics, it's fitting to start with some political news.
Politics, nature, and society
Do humans have a right to nature? The people of Ecuador think so. In October, the citizens of Ecuador voted to adopt a new constitution. Most news coverage of the referendum has focused on how it could allow leftist president, Rafael Correa, to solidify his power. To Ben Connor Barrie, the most interesting aspect of the new constitution is that it grants its citizens inalienable rights to nature. Photo to the left: Rio Tiputini in Amazonian Ecuador, photo by Ben Connor Barrie.
Conservation and social responsibility
Next up, how do our actions impact the environment? We have three posts about this issue.
First, does thinking about the environment and your impact on it make you a treehugger, an activist, or simply a responsible citizen? Nathan Creitz shares his thoughts.
And this month's host is a confirmed political junkie and would like to share an article in the New York Times that links food production, climate change, and national security issues. Our next president will have a lot on his plate!
Sustainable Design Update reports on a recent publication that shows Sustainable Farming Maintains Biodiversity. As global demand for food increases with our ever-growing population, it will become ever more important to employ agricultural methods that don’t negatively impact biodiversity.
On a related note, Yemen may need taller wheat. Luigi Guarino discusses why farmers in Yemen still plant varieties of wheat that yield lower grain yield. The answer is that people in Yemen build mud brick homes, and while the new varieties produce a higher grain yield, the wheat is too short to make the mud bricks they used to build their homes.
Now, what about sustainable fisheries? GrrlScientist reviews one of my very favorite books, Bottomfeeder. Are there really plenty of fish in the sea? Unfortunately, the answer is no. If you love seafood, but are concerned about how to eat in an environmentally responsible way, read this book!! GrrlScientist reports she's already started changing her eating habits as a result of this book, and so have I. I'm now a fan of smoked kippers, a food I never though about trying until the author Taras Grescoe sung its praises .
When I think of invasive species, I usually think of plants. But animals can also be invasive.
For example, what do you do when there are too many cats and too few people? Ros Peacock discusses feral cat issues in Australia. Trap, neuter, and release is a model many in the United States embrace, but does it work in Australia?
GrrlScientist shares a post about exotic invasive parrot species: there's more than meets the eye! In fact, molecular genetic analyses of an exotic invasive parrot species reveals (1) a cryptic species and (2) support for the notion that the pet trade was involved in establishing this invasive species in the USA. Image to the right from Arthur Grosset.
Rare and Endangered Species
Even in times of declining biodiversity across the planet, we are still pleasantly surprised by news of scientists finding new species, or rediscovering species thought to be extinct.
GrrlScientist tells us about a Tiny Gecko Species Discovered in Vanuatu Rainforest.
According to scientists at France's National Museum of Natural History, a new species of gecko has been discovered -- after it hatched from an egg removed from a nest on a South Pacific island and carried 12,000 miles to Paris in a box lined with Kleenex. The island, Espiritu Santo, is one of the larger South Pacific islands of the Vanuatu Archipelago, east of Australia.
Some wonderful new as an Endangered Cockatoo Species is Rediscovered in Indonesia. The world's rarest cockatoo, known as the Masakambing (Abbott's) yellow-crested cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea abbotti, is a subspecies of Yellow (Sulfur)-crested cockatoo, which are endemic to several small islands of Indonesia. Worldwide, five cockatoo species are critically endangered -- four of which are yellow-crested cockatoos that are found only in Indonesia. Last seen more than twenty years ago when the total population numbered between roughly five and ten individuals, these birds have remained enigmatic due to their rarity and to the immediate threat of extinction.
And now, a bridge to birds!
Greg Laden tells us about a newly discovered species of dinosaur that demonstrates the evolution of a bird-like respiratory system in an animal that is definitely not bird-like in most other ways. Check out Aerosteon riocoloradensis: A Very Cool Dinosaur from Argentina.
And now... Birds!
This month we're innundated with bird posts! Must be related to the start of fall migration...
A DC Birding Blog discusses two studies that show greater bird diversity reduces the chances of human infection with the West Nile Virus. The studies highlight something many people don't realize: protection from disease is yet another reason to protect wildlife diversity.
Grrlscientist was on a roll with submissions this past month. She's provided lots of interesting posts about birds and bird behavior. In a post titled Race to save the world's rarest bird, she reviews the new book by Alvin Powell about the desperate struggle to save the world's rarest bird, the Po'ouli of Hawaii. This book reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the US Endangered Species Act.
Mystery bird! Try to guess what it is before reading the caption. From near-extinction less than a century ago, this species has rebounded in its North American range to be the most abundant breeding duck in the eastern US -- and it is increasing in the west, too.
Finally, we learn about the rare (and beautiful) Endangered Rimatara Lories. They're busy Making Babies! Photo to the right is of this gorgeous species from Gerald McCormack.
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