Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, And Climate Change News: September 1-6, 2020

Red fox

  • The red fox, one of the most widespread carnivores in the world, is spreading in Norway’s alpine areas at the cost of the Arctic or blue fox, aided by anthropological changes, a study has said.
  • Lars Rod-Eriksen, a researcher in terrestrial ecology at NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, found that more cabins were being built in the alpine region for tourism purposes.
  • These cabins and the roads built to reach them were playing a major role in causing the spread of the red and the decline of the blue fox, according to his study.

‘Dead’ Coral Reefs

  • More life can be supported by ‘dead’ coral rubble than live coral.
  • This has been revealed by a recent study, — published in journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
  • ‘Dead’ coral reefs supported ‘cryptic’ animals — hidden sea creatures, including fishes, snails, tiny crabs and worms — who hide under this rubble to save themselves from predation.
  • ‘Live’ coral reefs — considered among the most diverse ecosystems of the world — are under threat from rising temperatures, as they are sensitive to temperature changes.
  • Oceans are massive sinks for greenhouse gases and as they heat up, seawater chemistry changes, calcifying coral reefs, affecting their photosynthesis processes.
  • When corals become stressed due to external factors such as pollution or ocean warming, they can expel algae and get bleached. This means coral is dead.
  • The study has pointed out that ‘live’ coral reefs are important for protection and nourishment for fish and other marine organisms, the role of reef rubble is also crucial.
  • Three mass bleaching events in 1998, 2010 and 2016 impacted five major coral reef regions in Andaman, Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kutch.
  • All these regions fall all under the Indian Ocean.
  • Similarly, a recent oil spill in Mauritius — that leaked more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil — can be responsible for the devastation of coral reefs around the island as well.

Antarctica, Greenland ice sheet melting

  • Increasing melting rates for ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland match worst-case scenarios for climate warming, potentially exposing 16 million people to annual coastal flooding by the end of the century, warned a new study.
  • The global sea level rose by 1.8 centimetres because of the rapid melting rates of the ice sheets since the 1990s. Increasing melting rates will raise sea levels by a further 17 cm, according to the study led by Tom Slater from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.
  • Ice sheets lost ice at rates predicted by the worst-case scenarios put forth in the last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned the authors.
  • The 17 cm-rise in sea levels from ice sheets alone was enough to double the frequency of storm-surge flooding in the largest coastal cities, said Anna Hogg, a co-author and climate researcher in the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds.

National parks in Thailand to be shut every year

  • Thailand plans to shut its national parks for several months each year to reduce environmental damage at popular tourist spots.
  • The closure of the parks during the pandemic has allowed the natural habitat to recover from the hordes of tourist crowds and brought a return of wildlife.
  • Thailand has more than 100 national parks, which cover the mountain regions in the north to tropical islands in the south, containing popular attractions like Phi Phi Islands and Phang Nga Bay.

Survey Of UP’s State Bird Sarus

  • The Lucknow University’s Institute of Wildlife Sciences has begun the first phase of a census of the state bird, Sarus, across Uttar Pradesh.
  • The second phase of the census will start on December 16 and the third on June 16 next year. The data collected through Global Positioning System for the exercise will be compiled to bring out a detailed ‘sarus atlas’ of Uttar Pradesh, mapping nesting, feeding, and breeding sites of the bird.
  • Sarus (Grus antigone) is the tallest flying bird found in wet and agricultural lands in Asia.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay