The start of 2019 brought sad news when George, the last tree snail of his kind (Achatinella apexfulva) died on New Years Day. His death highlights the plight of Hawaiian snails and epitomises the rapid decline of biodiversity on the Hawaiian Islands.
For many, December means celebrating Christmas and a central part of that is a Christmas tree. Evergreen trees have been used in celebration for centuries. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews used evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life. Pagans worshiped trees, and Romans used evergreen wreaths during the festival of Saturnalia.
The trees commonly used as Christmas decorations come from the genus Picea which is made up of around 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Picaceae. Popular Christmas tree species include Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, and Norway Spruce.
The modern-day Christmas tree is thought to have started in 16th century Germany when Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. The Christmas traditions we know today were shaped by the Victorians, when the first Christmas tree was brought from Germany to the British royal household by Prince Albert in the 1840s. These days, around 7 million real trees are sold each year in the UK, and as many as 30 million in the USA.
But with real trees come real creatures…
Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), often known as the Louisiana crawfish are staple part of Cajun cuisine. However, new research published in Conservation Biology has found that the highly invasive crayfish allows mosquitoes to thrive in waterways, therefore making it more likely to increase the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. Continue reading
Reblogged from National Geographic
We know plastics are as plentiful in parts of the open ocean as they are in our everyday lives. But, until recently, scientists didn’t consider that such debris could also be carrying a new wave of invasive species to the shores of the United States. Now they’re finding that not only is that happening, but they suspect that some of the species will thrive.
Dr Yelitza Colmenarez, CABI Brazil Centre Director & Plantwise Regional Coordinator – Latin America and Caribbean, recently presented at the First International Congress of Biological Control in Beijing, China, on the fascinating issue of climate change and the impact on the Biological Control of agricultural pests and diseases in Latin America.
Here we present Dr Colmenarez’s expert insight (including link to her full PowerPoint presentation) into what pests and diseases need to prioritized and why Climate Smart Agriculture could be the key to fighting these risks to crops exacerbated by changing climatic conditions in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
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By Dr Pablo L. Plaza, Dr Karina L. Speziale, and Dr Sergio A. Lambertucci
In the current global climate of excess waste production around the world, there is great concern about how waste and dump sites could be a global problem, especially because the amount of global waste is only set to increase in the near future. At the moment, 3 million tonnes of waste is discarded around the world every day and by 2025, that total is expected to double.
Air pollution and contamination of water corps and soil with a range of toxins are common problems associated with the management of dump sites. Added to this is the presence of infectious pathogens in these sites, which can cause disease outbreaks for the communities living near to a rubbish dump site and even those in more distant areas.
Following on from an IUCN call for greater action on addressing invasive species in order to protect biodiversity – the Honolulu challenge, presented at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress – the latest IUCN brief presses home the links between invasive species and climate change.
Climate change facilitates the spread and establishment of many alien species and creates new opportunities for them to become invasive. Climate change also reduces the resilience of habitats to biological invasions However, the inverse is also true: invasive species reduce the resilience of natural habitats, agricultural systems and urban areas to climate change.