Choosing new 'umbrella' species in Australia could save many others

Is the way we choose which animals to protect out of date?

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
  • "Umbrella" species are animals selected for protection because doing so protects other species in the habitat.
  • However, there may be a better, more efficient way of picking umbrella species: ignoring shared habitats and focusing instead on shared threats.
  • Using this new methodology, researchers discovered that seven times as many species could be protected using the same budget.
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Is it possible to have too many trees?

Thinning forests in the Western United States can save billions of gallons of water per year and improve conservation efforts.

  • Recent research indicates that dense forests in the Sierra Nevada drain billions of gallons of water from the watershed each year.
  • Unusually dense tree stands degrade the vitality of the land, plants, animals, and even the trees.
  • Experts recommend managing forest restoration through controlled fires and the thinning of small, fire-prone trees.
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Why there are reasons to be optimistic about coral reefs

Let's not kid ourselves: Coral reefs are in serious danger. But numerous ambitious projects are underway with the goal of keeping these ecosystems alive.

Photo by Olga Tsai on Unsplash
  • Human activity has made it a serious possibility that coral reefs might cease to exist on Earth.
  • It's tempting to give into despair over this prospect, but assuming the game is over already doesn't reflect objective reality.
  • There is an increasing amount of research and work going into keeping coral reefs alive. Coupled with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the next generation stands a chance of growing up in a world with coral reefs.
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These 9 U.S. biodiversity hotspots urgently need protection

Project to map global 'species richness' highlights the variety of biodiversity itself

Image courtesy of Clinton Jenkins
  • Biodiversity is essential for ecosystems – and humanity – to survive
  • These maps show the diversity of biodiversity itself: the hotspots are all over the place
  • Compounding U.S. biodiversity data produces a list of 9 'Recommended Priority Areas', most in need of protection
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Has Jurassic Park fostered misunderstanding about extinction?

While the blockbuster franchise might have given us a distorted view of science's capabilities to address species extinction, new research might come close to "resurrecting" lost species' DNA.

Image source: Universal / Getty Images
  • Jurassic Park has fueled public misconceptions about science's abilities to bring extinct species back to life.
  • De-extinction technology can resurrect genetic material from extinct species into their living relatives in a way that can assist conservation efforts.
  • Fostering empathy for other-than-human lives through stories might be the key to addressing the current ecological catastrophe.
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