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Focus: Impacts of Humans and Their Economy on the Environment Last Updated on 2009-02-27 21:45:49 The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a Dear Colleague Letter to the scientific community ". . . encouraging increased research . . . on the links among environment, society and the economy." Image Above: NSF is supporting research on climate change and Earth's environment, society and economy. Credit: Department of Sustainability and Environment, State of Victoria, Australia More »
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Last Updated on 2008-09-14 11:25:02 As a result of growing global environmental awareness, and growing concern about the threats that international trade posed for many species, the idea for a multilateral convention concerning trade in endangered species was formulated in the 1960s under the umbrella of IUCN – The World Conservation Union. This culminated in the drafting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which was signed by 85 countries during a 1973 conference in Washington, DC. The treaty came into force in 1975 and, at the time of this writing (December 2006), 169 nations had become Parties. While it is widely understood that habitat decline is the primary cause of endangerment for most species, trade in species, or parts of species, is a major cause of decline for some groups of animals and plants. This has included spotted cats for their furs,... More »
Conservation and management of rare plant species Last Updated on 2008-09-14 11:21:04 Over 8,000 plant species worldwide are threatened with extinction, according to the World Conservation Union, and that number grows daily. Researchers have recently estimated that between 22 and 47% of the world’s flora is in serious decline. In the United States alone, 744 plant species are federally listed as threatened or endangered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, comprising over half of all imperiled species. These are disturbing trends, because plants provide essential ecosystem services that sustain life on the planet: producing oxygen, sequestering carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas), and providing food, medicines, building materials, textiles, and habitat. Many plants listed as in danger are endemic (restricted in distribution) to small regions or require specialized habitats. However, an increasing number of formerly “common” or dominant species are rapidly... More »
Human impacts on the biodiversity of the Arctic Last Updated on 2008-09-14 11:17:49 The projected climatic changes in the Arctic, particularly the projected decrease in sea-ice extent and thickness, will result in increased accessibility to the open ocean and surrounding coastal areas. This is very likely to make it easier to exploit marine and coastal species, over a larger area and for a greater proportion of the year. Decreased extent and thickness of sea ice and increased seawater temperatures will, however, also result in changes in the distribution, diversity, and productivity of marine species in the Arctic and so will change the environment for hunters and indigenous peoples. However, increased traffic and physical disturbance caused by increased access to the marine areas is likely to pose a more significant threat to biodiversity than increased hunting pressure. On land, snow and ice cover in winter enable access into remote areas by snowmobile and the... More »
Invasive species Last Updated on 2008-09-14 11:07:13 Introduction Chestnut blight. Introduced Species Summary Project. (Source: Columbia University) An invasive species is defined legally in the USA as “An alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health…‘Alien species’ means, with respect to a particular ecosystem, any species…that is not native to that ecosystem.” Novel species can be added to a community either by natural range extensions or because they are introduced as a result of human activity. Some introduced or alien species are beneficial to humans, for example most of our crops and pets. However many alien species have harmful effects; these are referred to as invasive species. Virtually all ecosystems are at risk from the harmful effects of introduced species ( also see exotic species, marine invasive species, aquatic invasive... More »