Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fire, ice, and invasion

16.11.2007
Unraveling the past to understand our future

The November 2007 Special Issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment focuses on paleoecology, which uses fossilized remains and soil and sediment cores to reconstruct past ecosystems.

Some scientists argue that the pre-Columbian Amazon was pristine, with indigenous people living in harmony with nature. Others suggest that the Amazon is a “manufactured” landscape, altered by and disturbed by human activities even before the arrival of Europeans. In “Amazonian exploitation revisited: ecological asymmetry and the policy pendulum,” Mark Bush (Florida Institute of Technology) and Miles Silman (Wake Forest University) discuss this debate.

Bush and Silman present paleodata from fossil pollen and charcoal in soil cores that support both perspectives. They argue that in some areas of the Amazon, human impact was extreme, especially on bluffs around rivers. Yet they also found vast stretches of the forest where human influence was minimal. If widespread disturbance was typical in the Amazon forest until just 500 years ago, that suggests the ecosystem is resilient to human activities, including logging. However, as the authors demonstrate, the “manufactured” landscape argument only holds true for localized patches of forest, and should not be used as a basis for management of the Amazon as a whole.

Heading north, the next paper addresses the use of lakes and ponds for reconstructing environmental changes in the Arctic. John Smol (Queens University, Ontario) and Marianne Douglas (University of Alberta, Edmonton) summarize some of the recent lake sediment studies in “From controversy to consensus: making the case for recent climate change in the Arctic using lake sediments.” Scientists working in these regions have noted recent changes in the abundance of a group of pythoplankton known as diatoms, as well as changes in other plankton. The researchers found striking and often unprecedented changes in post-1850 sediments, which could be linked to ecological shifts consistent with global warming. Further changes are predicted to be greatly amplified in the polar regions, putting the ecological integrity of these sensitive ecosystems at risk.

In another paper, “Paleoecology and ‘inter-situ’ restoration on Kauai, Hawaii,” David Burney (National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii) and Lida Pigott Burney (Makauwahi Cave Reserve, Kalaheo) examine human-caused extinctions on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Paleoecological studies from around the world show the devastating effects of human colonization on islands. Island histories reveal that hunting and landscape changes caused by humans each play a key role, but many of the extinctions seen on islands are probably from introduced predators, herbivores, plants, and diseases. On the island of Kauai, conventional conservation tactics focus on both restoring organisms in the wild as well as using zoos, botanical gardens and genetic banks. However, these tactics aren’t working well. The authors propose that conservationists try inter-situ conservation - the establishment of species by reintroduction to locations outside the current range but within the recent past range of the species. This method could provide a hedge against extinction.

Another paper in the Special Issue, “Paleoecology and ecosystem restoration: case studies from Chesapeake Bay and the Florida Everglades,” by Debra Willard and Thomas Cronin (US Geological Survey), focused on using paleoecology as a restoration tool. John Williams (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Steve Jackson (University of Wyoming, Laramie) created a simulation of future climates and ecological responses based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s emission scenarios in the year 2100 in their paper, “Novel climates, no-analog communities, and ecological surprises.” Daniel Gavin (University of Oregon, Eugene) and colleagues looked at charcoal records from lake sediments and soil profiles in “Forest fire and climate change in western North America: insights from sediment charcoal records.” Their study focuses on historic forest fire ranges to better understand the vulnerability of all habitats to fire.

Annie Drinkard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esa.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>