Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pollution, global warming dooming Earth's ecosystems

I swear.
Back in 2013, we announced the results of an unprecedented 10-year-study, published in PLOS ONE, on amphibian abnormalities on national wildlife refuges (pdf). We found that on average, less than 2 percent of frogs and toads sampled on 152 national wildlife refuges had physical abnormalities involving the skeleton and eyes—a much lower rate than experts first feared based on earlier reports. This indicated that the severe malformations such as missing or extra limbs repeatedly reported in the media during the mid-1990s were actually quite rare on national wildlife refuges. However, there were a few hot-spot clusters that had higher rates of abnormalities. One of these hot spots was at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. We found that wood frog tadpoles were attacked by dragonfly larvae 30 minutes sooner and three times more often in warm, slightly polluted water treatments, than in cooler, pollution-free treatments. The experiments simulated the effects of degraded water quality due to road runoff and climate change. The increased predation observed in this study supports previous research and could also help explain the prevalence of malformed frogs in some refuge hotspots. [US Fish and Wildlife Service]
Much of Alaska is under a red flag warning seeing conditions previously unknown in human or even geological history.

From 2011:
Rising temperatures and growing variability in rainfall are affecting the size of all species in the ecosystem from microscopic sea organisms to land-based predators, say researchers. "Our study suggests that ectotherms (cold-blooded animals like toads, turtles, and snakes that rely on environmental heat sources) are already changing a lot," said David Bickford from the National University of Singapore and co-author of the study.
There are only 400,000 Greater sage grouse left and Wyoming is ground zero.

Choose a hand basket and get ready for a helluva ride into the sunset of history.

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