The study, which appears in this week’s edition of the journal Diversity and Distributions, is part of a global conservation assessment of the rare mediterranean biome.
“Throughout human history, the mild climates of mediterranean regions have fostered growth of major urban centers, vast agricultural zones and dense human populations – all in the midst of some of the rarest biodiversity on Earth”, says Dr. Rebecca Shaw, a scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s California program and the leader of the global assessment.
Mediterranean climates – characterized by warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters – are extremely rare, found on only 2% of the Earth’s land surface: portions of California/Baja California, South Africa, Australia, Chile, and the Mediterranean Basin. Increasing the pace and scale of conservation in mediterranean regions is critically important to biodiversity protection, because these regions contain 20% of the world’s plant species.
“If we are to reduce rates of biodiversity loss, then understanding patterns and trends in threats is of paramount importance,” says lead author Dr. Emma Underwood, a research scientist at the Information Center for the Environment at the University of California, Davis.
To this end, scientists from The Nature Conservancy and U. C. Davis analyzed changes in land use and population density in the world's five mediterranean-climate regions.
Overall, population density and urban areas increased in these regions by 13 percent from 1990 to 2000, while agricultural areas spread by 1 percent. Population grew by over 34 million people from 1990 to 2000, twice the population of Chile. Urban areas expanded by 2,110 square miles (5,480 square kilometers), an area about half the size of the nation of Lebanon. The greatest increase in urban area was in California, USA and Baja California, Mexico. Loss of natural habitat to agriculture was greatest in southwest Australia.
Underwood said that urban expansion is worrisome in that it is not only impacting lowlands, which have been the historic urban centers, but is spreading into intact foothills, especially those within commutable distances to major cities. For example, this trend is seen in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills and the Sierra de Guadarrama region near Madrid in Spain.
The researchers also analyzed the relationship between these threats and the number of at-risk plants and animals. For example, they found that numbers of threatened plant and mammal species increased as the size of the urban footprint and population density grew. These findings indicate the need to accelerate conservation action to outpace threats in the mediterranean biome. “This information can help support decisions about how best to invest scarce conservation resources,” says co-author Kirk Klausmeyer, a scientist with The Nature Conservancy.
The Nature Conservancy and partners have launched a Global Mediterranean Action Network to connect and tap into the collective knowledge of conservation scientists, practitioners and policy makers across the mediterranean biome, and to foster strategies to combat threats to biodiversity in all five regions.
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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