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.
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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