Bat Fungi, Sparrow Migrations, and Mapping Our Forests and Oceans

By Richard Chasey, posted on April 23rd, 2012 in Best of Syndication

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Here we are again with another Best of Syndication. This one features more news from around the globe, with highlights such as two amazing new maps from NASA, providing glimpses of the vast network of oceanic currents as well as the canopy height of forests around the world.

Other news includes the discovery of unknown nesting sites of small migratory birds, the results of a decade of Earth observation by ESA’s Envisat, and a new method of documenting climate change impacts. Enjoy.


Map showing the African continent and the height of the forests located there. Credit: NASAGlobal Forest Heights: Take Two

The second draft of a map showing the height of the world’s forest has been released. Developed by a team led by Marc Simard of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the second draft map uses date gathered by Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and shows the that in general forests are highest near the equator with a few notable exceptions – namely the Pacific Northwest of North America and the Eucalyptus forests of Australia.

 


Photo of a bat in flight. Photograph: Joe Mcdonald/Getty ImagesStudy Traces Devastation Of North American Bats To Europe – Originally Published by The Guardian

The source of the mysterious disease destroying North America’s bat population has been traced to a fungus brought from the European continent. “White nose syndrome” has killed approximately 6.7 million since its introduction in 2006, striking the animals as the hibernate for the winter and leaving a white fluff on their muzzles. It is thought the fungus was introduced by an unsuspecting tourist.

 
 


Map from a new study showing the exact migration route of the golden-crowned sparrow to its breeding sites in coastal Alaska. (Credit: Image courtesy of PRBO Conservation Science)Sparrow Migration Tracked For First Time From California To Alaska – Originally Published by ScienceDaily

PRBO Conservation Science has solved the mystery of where California’s Golden Crowned Sparrows go to nest every Spring and the results are rather surprising. Using tiny tags to track the migration, it has been shown that the little birds – each weighing about 30 grams – make their way all the way to Coastal Alaska, a journey of 1600 to 2400 miles one way.

 
 


Image of Margaret Hiza Redsteer overlooking a conyon. Credit  USGSMargaret Hiza Redsteer Uses Navajo Memories To Track Climate Change – Originally Published by HCN

Margaret Hiza Redsteer has tracked landscape level changes on the Navajo Nation using aerial photographs, GPS maps and remote laser sensing data. Now, this Native American scientist of Crow descent is using a method of understanding ecological changes that is rarely used in science today – the memories of Native American elders.

 
 


image from NASA's map showing the currents and movements of Earth's oceans. Credit: NASANASA Views Our Perpetually Moving Ocean – Originally Published by JPL

Using data from a wide variety of Earth observing instruments, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Maryland has created an awe-inspiring visualization of the world’s ocean currents. Create under a NASA project called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO), the finished product can be seen in either 3 or 20 minute versions here: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?3827.

 
 
 


Bears in a Finland forest (Photo by Grete Howard) Loss of Northern Hemisphere Carnivores Distresses Ecosystems – Originally Published by ENS

A study out of Oregon State University signals the warning cry that declining numbers of carnivores are leading to an over-abundance of herbivores – moose, deer, elk and the like – which in turn leads hampered tree growth and reduced biodiversity. The paper warns this could lead to the disruption and loss of resiliency in these ecosystems. The study finds similar results throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

 


Image of the Envisat satellite. Credit: European Space AgencyEurope’s Envisat Shows Rapid Antarctic Ice Shelf Loss – Originally Published by ENS

After having spent 10 years in orbit, Envisat – the satellite that captured the break-up of the main section of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 – has shown that the ice shelf has lost a further 1,790 sq km (690 square miles) since then. THe Larsen ice shelf is divided into three sections: A, B, and C. “A” disintegrated in 1995, and “C” is showing signs of thinning and an increasing duration of melt events in the summer.

 
 


photo of tadpoles. Credit: Badly Drawn Dad/FlickrFrogs May See Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide As a Predator – Originally Published by Mother Jones

It has been shown before that the pesticide Roundup can be lethal to tadpoles when used near ponds. But now a study done by an University of Pittsburgh ecologist is showing that also literally changes their shape in ways that mimic tadpole’s reaction to predators. What’s interesting is that the culprit is not Monsanto’s active ingredient, – glyphosate – but the surfactant used to penetrate plant tissues.

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