Conservation Science News August 15th, 2014

Focus of the Week
California Takes Action on Climate Resiliency










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The items contained in this update were drawn from,, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration,,,, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
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Focus of the Week

California Takes Action on Climate Resiliency

August 14, 2014 Alex Leumer, The Nature Conservancy, Policy Associate, California Climate Change Program

California is taking action on climate resiliency and nature is playing a key role. The California Natural Resources Agency recently released the 2014 Safeguarding California Plan (SCP). This plan provides policy guidance for state decision makers, to reduce impacts and prepare for climate risks. The SCP, which updates the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, highlights climate risks in nine sectors in California, discusses progress to date, and makes sector-specific recommendations. The Nature Conservancy along with nineteen other environmental and public health organizations submitted comments to the Resources Agency and are pleased to see that many of our recommendations have been incorporated in the final plan. Overall, the Plan acknowledges the important role nature plays in reducing climate risks and enhancing resilience. Highlights from the Plan that reflect our comments include:

  • “State agencies should identify climate risks to existing and new infrastructure projects. For new projects, climate risks should be considered in the planning, siting, design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure projects.
  • The 2009 CAS recommended that all new development “consider project alternatives that avoid significant new development in areas that cannot be adequately protected (planning, permitting, development, and building) from flooding, wildfire and erosion due to climate change.” To see this implemented, the state needs to require that climate risk considerations be incorporated into state infrastructure planning.
  • “The state should develop guidelines for state agencies to follow as they incorporate climate considerations into all policies, planning, and investments.
  • “Achieve Multiple Benefits from Efforts to Reduce Climate Risks and Prioritize Green Infrastructure Solutions: actions that reduce climate risks across multiple sectors and actions that address multiple climate risks should be prioritized. …One opportunity to achieve broad environmental benefits is through the use of natural infrastructure solutions to mitigate climate risk. Restoration and conservation of natural systems such as forests, grasslands and shrublands, agricultural lands, and wetlands can provide more resilient natural systems that also offer protection from climate impacts.
  • “Develop Metrics and Indicators to Track Progress on Efforts to Reduce Climate Risk
    The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research is also leading an effort develop an integrated set of indicators to help track progress on the state’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions and build climate resilience.”

This is an important step to making California more resilient to climate change. However, currently there is no law mandating implementation of any of the recommendations.  We look forward to working with the state and the legislature to implement the strategies laid out in the SCP.




California Adaptation Forum 
August 19-20, 2014
. SACRAMENTO, CA — on-site registration available

The Local Government Commission and the State of California are organizing the first California Adaptation Forum in the state capital, to be held August 19 – 20, 2014. This two-day forum will build off last year’s successful National Adaptation Forum  in Colorado. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national forum.
To register go to:





Ecosystems can have their fish, and we can eat them too

Phys.Org Aug 1, 2014

Tighter bag limits for fishermen have been identified as an important key to ocean ecosystem conservation Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute have found that marine reserves can protect small areas, but it is often more effective to limit fishing across the seascape. Dr Christopher Brown said the research, published today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, found more emphasis was needed on a mixed management approach. “Marine ecosystems are intrinsically interlinked so protecting a small area of the ocean can actually lead to over-fishing in another place,” he said. …


Effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle revealed by study

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 09:24 AM PDT

Drier conditions at the edges of forest patches slow down the decay of dead wood and significantly alter the cycling of carbon and nutrients in woodland ecosystems, according to a new study. It has long been known that so-called ‘edge effects’ influence temperature and moisture (the ‘microclimate’) in woodlands, but the influence on the carbon cycle is largely unknown.


Could urbanization, biodiversity be compatible?

Posted: 14 Aug 2014 09:38 AM PDT

More than 900 species of wild bees are found in France, but many of them – such as bumblebees – are in decline. Researchers have carried out the first exhaustive study in Europe to evaluate the impact of urbanization on the wild bee community.. They studied 24 more or less urbanized sites in and around Lyon and recorded 291 different bee species. Although bee abundance decreased with an increasing level of urbanization, the number of species present was at its peak in periurban areas, and 60 species — a considerable number — were found at the most urban site. These findings are published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on 13 August 2014.



Taking Up Arms Where Birds Feast on Buffet of Salmon


Scientists studying the cormorant colony in Oregon are looking for the best way to remove most of the birds.

Image CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

ASTORIA, Ore. — The salmon here in the Columbia River, nearly driven to extinction by hydroelectric dams a quarter century ago, have been increasing in number — a fact not lost on the birds that like to eat them. These now flock by the thousands each spring to the river’s mouth, where the salmon have their young, and gorge at leisure. As a result, those charged with nursing the salmon back to robust health have a new plan to protect them: shoot the birds. Joyce Casey, chief of the environmental resources branch at the Army Corps of Engineers office in Portland, said that for young salmon headed seaward, the hungry horde of about 30,000 double-crested cormorants on East Sand Island has posed a risk no less serious than that posed by some of the dams her agency built.

Butch Smith, a fisherman, said that killing thousands of the birds “is the one thing out of anything else we can do to recover salmon fastest.” But Stan Senner of the National Audubon Society argues that to kill off some of the cormorant colony here, which makes up one-quarter of the birds’ western population, “is an extreme measure, totally inappropriate.” …


Make Your Mobile Device Live Up to Its True Potential: As a Data Collection Tool

Aug. 14, 2014 — Easy Leaf Area is a new, free program that calculates leaf surface area from digital images. Leaf measurements are often critical in plant physiological and ecological studies, but traditional … full story



Birds fall from sky amid massive chemical cleanup


USA TODAY—August 5, 2014

Matt Zwiernik and volunteers collected 29 dead birds, including 22 robins, last year from a nine-block residential area near the now demolished plant – only a small portion of the dead birds they could have collected, Zwiernik said. The drive time

Humpback Whales Return To New York As Atlantic Offshore Drilling Moves Forward

August 12, 2014

A humpback whale breaching off Rockaway, New York, with the Empire State building in the distance. CREDIT: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

The Guardian is reporting a summer “wildlife bonanza” in the waters surrounding New York City, brought on in part by an increasingly successful cleanup of the Hudson River, which flows into New York harbor. The surge in whale and other marine life populations comes less than a month after the Obama administration approved the use of seismic airguns in the waters of New Jersey down to Florida to explore the seabed for oil and gas. The airguns use dynamite-like blasts to produce sound waves 100,000 times louder than a jet engine underwater, sometimes killing and injuring marine mammals.

Though the seismic testing is not happening in New York, the sound waves from the cannons are known to travel hundreds of miles, potentially affecting those humpbacks and other marine life in the area. For now though, populations are surging. Former New York Aquarium Curator Paul Sieswerda, who now heads up the marine wildlife tracking and research group Gotham Whale, told the Guardian that he’s already seen 29 humpback whales in New York waters from the spring to July. That’s compared to 43 whale sightings for the entire 2013 feeding season — which lasts from spring until winter — 25 sightings in the 2010 season and just five sightings in 2011, the report said.



Rare baby bird found in Petaluma is no bigger than a cottonball

Posted on Tuesday, August 12

Petaluma resident Dione Rochelle snapped a picture of the baby bird in her hand

The International Bird Rescue is caring for an orphaned baby bird that’s so tiny it’s no bigger than a cotton-ball. This baby black rail, a threatened shorebird that’s rarely seen, was found Wednesday evening by a Petaluma couple on a stroll near Shollenberger Park. “He was just walking down the middle of the path like he owned the place. He looked like a pom-pom,” said Dione Rochelle. “He was going pretty fast. We stepped back thinking there was a mother or other babies. ” A hiker walking by told Dione and her husband Peter that he had seen the same little bird running around an hour before. After waiting an hour and determining that the chick appeared to be abandoned, Dione scooped it up and her husband delivered it to Wildcare in San Rafael the next morning.



Latest anchovy die-off stinks up Foster City

Kurtis Alexander, Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Foster City is the latest community to deal with a stinky, somewhat unwieldy die-off of thousands of anchovies. Public works crews in the Peninsula city spent the past few days cleaning offshore waters and beaches of dead fish, officials said Wednesday. Reports of the lifeless anchovies at and around Gull and Marlin beaches on San Francisco Bay began coming in over the weekend. “We’ve got as many as we could off the beach,” said Mike McElligott, public works maintenance superintendent, who noted Wednesday that a fishy stench remains. The mess is believed to be caused by the same thing that prompted other recent die-offs along the coast: too many anchovies using too much oxygen in the water and suffocating themselves.





Helping farmers adapt to changing growing conditions

August 11, 2014 South Dakota State University

Two new online decision-making tools are available to farmers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Useful to Usable, or U2U, research project, according to state climatologist and South Dakota State University associate professor Dennis Todey. The project is funded through the Agriculture and Foods Research Initiative. Corn Growing Degree Days, or GDDs, will show producers how their crops are developing in lieu of this year’s planting delays and a cool summer, explained Todey, who is the South Dakota U2U project director. GDDs are a measure of heat accumulation used to predict plant development rates. Farmers can choose their location, when the corn was planted and the number of days it takes to reach maturity. The program then assesses current development compared to a 30-year average and projects tasseling and maturity dates, according to Todey. The farmer can then compare that with when the first freeze has occurred during any of the last 30 years. A second tool, the Climate Patterns Viewer, allows farmers to examine the impact global climate patterns, such as El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation, have had on the Corn Belt.

“This is very timely, since we’re looking at a pending El Niño,” he added. Farmers can track month by month how these oscillations have influenced temperatures, precipitation and subsequently crop yields.These and other online tools can be found by going to the U2U website at and clicking on the “Decision Dashboard” tab. Farmers are producing crops under more variable conditions, so these tools can be critical to both food safety and the farmers’ economic survival, Todey explained. Two additional tools are under development — one looking at the impact of inseason nitrogen application and another to help farmers decide whether to invest in an irrigation system. “The goal of U2U is to develop a dashboard of tools people can use for decision-making not only within the season but also when looking ahead at multiple seasons,” said Todey. The project, which is headed by Purdue University, involves researchers from 10 land-grant universities in the Corn Belt. “U2U capitalizes on the work scientists have been doing on longer-term practices that are better for sustainable corn production,” Todey said. Teams of agronomists, sociologists, climatologists and environmental and soil scientists are examining all aspects of the corn production system.


Climate change, predators, and trickle down effects on ecosystems

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 03:03 PM PDT

Predators play important roles in maintaining diverse and stable ecosystems. Climate change can push species to move in order to stay in their climatic comfort zones, potentially altering where species live and how they interact, which could fundamentally transform current ecosystems. A symposium focusing on climate’s effects on predators — causing cascading effects on whole ecosystems — will take place on Tuesday, August 12th during the Ecological Society of America’s 99th Annual Meeting, held this year in Sacramento, California. There will be “winners” and “losers” as species adapt to a changing climate. Ecologists are just beginning to understand why different competitors may be favored by climate change and how consumer-resource interactions are modified. Impacts on one species can affect many organisms in an ecosystem. Because predator species are animals that survive by preying on other organisms, they send ripples throughout the food web, regulating the effects other animals have on that ecosystem. This cause and effect process is called a “trophic cascade,” or the progression of direct and indirect effects predators have across lower levels in a food chain. Sea otter populations provide a historical example of this phenomenon. The fur trade spanning the late 1700s to early 1900s decimated their numbers across their range, from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. Populations went from an estimated several hundred-thousand to more than a million …. Today, there are estimated to be just over 106,000 worldwide, with just under 3,000 in California. Now sea otters and other important predator species face the challenges of a changing climate….

Without sea otters, the undersea sea urchins they prey on would devour the kelp forests, resulting in dense areas called sea urchin barrens that have lower biodiversity due to the loss of kelp that provide 3-dimensional habitat and a food source for many species. Researchers found that when sea otters arrive in an area from which they have been absent, they begin feasting on urchins. As a result, the kelp forest begins to grow back, changing the structure of kelp forest communities. Many fish, marine mammals and birds are also found in kelp forest communities, including rockfish, seals, sea lions, whales, gulls, terns, snowy egrets as well as some shore birds. Otters might also offer a defense against climate change because healthy kelp forests can grow rapidly and store large amounts of carbon. Dr. Martone’s analyses of the effects of sea otters on kelp forest ecosystems can help shape predictions of how climate change and trophic cascades, in concert with other drivers, affect coastal ecosystems. The ecological impacts of a changing climate are evident, from terrestrial polar regions to tropical marine environments. Ecologists’ research into the tropic cascading effects of predators will assist decision makers by providing important scientific findings to prepare for the impacts of climate change occurring now and into the future. Speakers for the symposia include marine, freshwater and terrestrial experimental ecologists who will present their research and offer insights from different approaches used to studying consumer-resource interactions….


Antarctica may lift sea level faster in threat to megacities

Antarctica glaciers melting because of global warming may push up sea levels faster than previously believed, potentially threatening megacities including New York and Shanghai, researchers in Germany said. Antarctica’s ice discharge may raise sea levels as much as 37 centimeters (14.6 inches) this century if the output of greenhouse gases continues to grow, according to a study led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The increase may be as little as 1 centimeter, they said. “This is a big range, which is exactly why we call it a risk,” Anders Levermann, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Science needs to be clear about the uncertainty so that decision-makers at the coast and in coastal megacities can consider the implications in their planning processes.”


Antarctica May Lift Sea Level Faster in Threat to Megacities by Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg, Aug 14, 2014



Heavy rain and floods: The ‘new normal’ with climate change?

As people clean up after torrential rains and heavy flooding in cities in the Midwest and along the Atlantic Coast, the events highlight what many climate researchers say is a new “normal” for severe rainfall in the US.  Quite apart from what long-term changes in precipitation say about global warming, these events also provide a reality check on the ability of urban areas to cope with flooding from intense downpours in a warming climate. They “definitely can tell us a lot about where our vulnerabilities are and what types of things might be on the checklist for fixing,” says Joe Casola, staff scientist with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in Arlington, Va.


Heavy rain and floods: The ‘new normal’ with climate change? by Pete Spotts, Christian Science Monitor, Aug 14, 2014



This image shows the Artesonraju Glacier in Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Credit: Ben Marzeion

Human contribution to glacier mass loss increasing

August 14, 2014 University of Innsbruck

By combining climate and glacier models, scientists headed by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck have found unambiguous evidence for anthropogenic glacier mass loss in recent decades. In a paper published in Science, the researchers report that about one quarter of the global glacier mass loss during the period of 1851 to 2010 is attributable to anthropogenic causes. The fraction of human contribution increased steadily and accelerated to almost two thirds between 1991 and 2010. The ongoing global glacier retreat causes rising sea-levels, changing seasonal water availability and increasing geo-hazards. While melting glaciers have become emblematic of anthropogenic climate change, glacier extent responds very slowly to climate changes. “Typically, it takes glaciers decades or centuries to adjust to climate changes,” says climate researcher Ben Marzeion from the Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics of the University of Innsbruck. The global retreat of glaciers observed today started around the middle of the 19th century at the end of the Little Ice Age. Glaciers respond both to naturally caused climate change of past centuries, for example solar variability, and to anthropogenic changes. The real extent of human contribution to glacier mass loss has been unclear until now….


B. Marzeion, J. G. Cogley, K. Richter, D. Parkes. Attribution of global glacier mass loss to anthropogenic and natural causes. Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1126/science.1254702



Ocean Acidification: Tailpipes, smokestacks outproduce volcanoes

Ken Caldeira SF Chronicle Opinion Updated 7:51 pm, Friday, August 15, 2014

Shorelines like this one at Bodega Bay face increasing threats from pollutants that come out of the world’s tailpipes and smokestacks. Photo: Ken Caldeira

The sun sets over the Pacific as powerful waves crash on the rocky shore. We are witnessing a scene that could have been seen billions of years ago. Except now, emissions from our tailpipes and smokestacks are making it more and more likely that those waves crashing against the rocks will be corrosive, dissolving seashells. This process is known as “ocean acidification.”

Dick Feely and his colleagues at Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle have been observing waters along the West Coast, and have seen corrosive water along the shore in Northern California. My friend Tessa Hill, working at the Bodega Marine Laboratory of UC Davis, has been looking into the effects ocean acidification might have on the oyster farms in Tomales Bay – and the news is not good. It looks as if ocean acidification can harm oysters, especially in their larval stages. My research group has been looking into effects of ocean acidification in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. One reef we studied is growing 40 percent more slowly than it was just a few decades ago. We project that all of the coral reefs of the world may be dissolving within several decades, if current patterns of carbon dioxide emissions continue.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas, causing the Earth to warm. But most of the carbon dioxide we emit to the atmosphere eventually will be absorbed by the ocean. And once in the oceans, that carbon dioxide becomes carbonic acid, where it can attack the shells and skeletons of marine organisms. Even if this carbonic acid is not in high enough concentrations to dissolve a seashell, it can make it harder for that clam or sea urchin or oyster to build its shell. And if it is working harder to build its shell, it will have less energy left over to look for food, reproduce or defend itself from predators….


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Loss of eastern hemlock affects peak flows after extreme storm events

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 09:23 AM PDT

The loss of eastern hemlock could affect water yield and storm flow from forest watersheds in the southern Appalachians, according to a new study. Because of its dense evergreen foliage, eastern hemlock plays an important role in the water cycle of southern Appalachian forests, regulating stream flow year round. Although eastern hemlock rarely dominates the region’s forests, the tree is considered a foundation species in the streamside areas called riparian zones….


Climate change reflected in altered Missouri River flow, USGS report says

The Missouri River winds through the countryside near Williston, N.D. The river’s streamflow has changed significantly over the last 50 years. (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

By Maya Srikrishnan Los Angeles Times August 17, 2018

  • The Missouri River’s altered flow causes water shortages in Montana and Wyoming and flooding in the Dakotas.
  • Climate change is altering the Missouri River stream flow, wreaking havoc on farmland, new report says Montana farmer Rocky Norby has worked the land along the Missouri River for more than 20 years, coaxing sugar beets and malted barley out of the arid ground.

“Every year it gets worse,” he said. “There’s not enough water to get through our pumps.” Last month, he said, he spent more than $10,000 trying to remove the sand from his clogged irrigation system.

The Missouri River’s stream flow has changed significantly over the last 50 years, leading to serious water shortages in Montana and Wyoming and flooding in the Dakotas, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report released last month. “We’ve all had to make some adjustments,” said Buzz Mattelin, another Montana farmer who irrigates with water from the Missouri. “We’ve had to spend more money and learn how to adapt.”

An ear of corn sprouts on a once flooded field near Tekamah, Neb., in 2011. Some farmlands along the Missouri River have been facing severe water shortages in recent years, while others have had to deal with flooding. (Nati Harnik, Associated Press)

In the Dakotas, flooding is more common, leaving fields too muddy to plant or harvest crops.This dichotomy isn’t necessarily a surprise. “Climate change models predict that where it is wet, it will get wetter, and where it is dry, it will get drier,” said Matt Rice, a program director at American Rivers, a nonprofit conservation organization. The mighty Missouri River begins in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, flowing east and south for more than 2,300 miles before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. The Missouri and its tributaries provide hydropower as well as water for agriculture, energy, recreation and municipalities in several states, including Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Climate shifts may be causing the disparate changes in the Missouri River Basin, the USGS report says. The scientists noted that higher stream flow in the Dakotas had occurred even as water use increased. In addition, they said, lower stream flow in some areas could be related in part to groundwater pumping. “Understanding stream flow throughout the watershed can help guide management of these critical water resources,” said USGS hydrologist Parker Norton, lead author of the report that focuses on stream flow. The study is part of his doctoral research, which will analyze precipitation patterns, temperatures and their effects…



New analysis links tree height to climate

August 14, 2014 University of Wisconsin-Madison

What limits the height of trees? Is it the fraction of their photosynthetic energy they devote to productive new leaves? Or is it their ability to hoist water hundreds of feet into the air, supplying the green, solar-powered sugar factories in those leaves? A new paper attempts to resolve a debate as to which factors actually set maximum tree height, and how their relative importance varies in different parts of the world….One of the species under study, Eucalyptus regnans — called mountain ash in Australia, but distinct from the smaller and unrelated mountain ash found in the U.S. — is the tallest flowering tree in the world. In Tasmania, an especially rainy part of southern Australia, the tallest living E. regnans is 330 feet tall. (The tallest tree in the world is a coastal redwood in northern California that soars 380 feet above the ground.)

Southern Victoria, Tasmania and northern California all share high rainfall, high humidity and low evaporation rates, underlining the importance of moisture supply to ultra-tall trees. But the new study by Givnish, Graham Farquhar of the Australian National University and others shows that rainfall alone cannot explain maximum tree height.

A second factor, evaporative demand, helps determine how far a given amount of rainfall will go toward meeting a tree’s demands. Warm, dry and sunny conditions cause faster evaporation from leaves, and Givnish and his colleagues found a tight relationship between maximum tree height in old stands in Australia and the ratio of annual rainfall to evaporation. As that ratio increased, so did maximum tree height.

Other factors — like soil fertility, the frequency of wildfires and length of the growing season — also affect tree height. Tall, fast-growing trees access more sunlight and can capture more energy through photosynthesis. They are more obvious to pollinators, and have potential to outcompete other species.

“Infrastructure” — things like wood and roots that are essential to growth but do not contribute to the production of energy through photosynthesis — affect resource allocation, and can explain the importance of the ratio of moisture supply to evaporative demand.

“In moist areas, trees can allocate less to building roots,” Givnish says. “Other things being equal, having lower overhead should allow them to achieve greater height.

“And plants in moist areas can achieve higher rates of photosynthesis, because they can open the stomata on their leaves that exchange gases with the atmosphere. When these trees intake more carbon dioxide, they can achieve greater height before their overhead exceeds their photosynthetic income.”…


Thomas J. Givnish, Suen Chin Wong, Hilary Stuart-Williams, Meisha Holloway-Phillips, Graham D. Farquhar. Determinants of maximum tree height inEucalyptusspecies along a rainfall gradient in Victoria, Australia. Ecology, 2014; 140508070634001 DOI: 10.1890/14-0240.1



Houseboats moored last month on Lake Shasta in Northern California. With the state in the third year of a drought, the lake was at 35 percent of total capacity last week.

Credit John G. Mabanglo/European Pressphoto Agency

Higher Pacific temperatures bring monsoons to Southern California.

August 4, 2014, 9:14 PM

Flash floods, wilting heat and lightning on the beach. It’s monsoon season in a place that’s not supposed to have one. Changes in ocean temperature thousands of miles away have delivered Arizona-style summer weather to Southern California, driving up humidity and causing sporadic destruction. Warm equatorial water in the Pacific, from mainland Mexico to Peru, normally pumps monsoonal air up the Sea of Cortez into the Southwest, with mountains blocking it from the coastal plains of Southern California. But this year, the ocean temperatures are higher than normal, climatologists say, producing a more powerful “tropical wave” that made it all the way to the coast….


Global warming woes? Tiny ants might save Earth

By Sumit Passary, Tech Times | August 5

Ants help cool down the Earth and reduce global warming. Researchers say that ants help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide gas.
(Photo : Sancho McCann)

Researchers say that tiny ants may save the world from global warming woes by cooling the Earth. Ronald Dorn, a geologist at Arizona State University in Tempe, who is also the lead author of the study, says that ants are altering the Earth’s environment. The researchers say that an average ant does not live even for over a year but they help to reduce tiny bits of carbon dioxide gas from the Earth’s atmosphere. An increase in ant population on the planet may help reduce global warming to a certain extent. The scientists explain that some species of ant “weather” minerals to secrete calcium carbonate, which is also known as limestone. When these tiny creatures produce limestone, the process also removes and traps small particles of carbon dioxide gas from Earth’s atmosphere. Dorn compares the process to carbon sequestration, which occurs in the planet’s oceans. The researchers say that the huge deposits of limestone in Earth’s ocean bear more carbon, than what is present in the current atmosphere.


This is climate change: Ohio’s water crisis was a man-made disaster

August 4, 2014

Satellite image of 2011 Lake Erie bloom (the most severe in decades) (Credit: MERIS/NASA)

Over the weekend, 400,000 people in northwest Ohio were told that their tap water was no longer safe to drink, cook with or bathe in. Water at a treatment plant had tested positive for dangerously high levels of toxins. Residents were warned that microcystis, the bacteria behind the chaos, can cause skin rashes and burns, along with vomiting, diarrhea and liver problems. It’s been known to kill pets and livestock. And boiling water, officials added, only makes the problem worse. Life came, temporarily, to something of a standstill until 9 a.m. Monday when, after extra, precautionary delays, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins finally declared the water safe again…


Farming practices and climate change at root of Toledo water pollution

August 3, 2014

A sample glass of Lake Erie water is extracted near the City of Toledo water intake crib on Sunday. Photograph: Haraz N Ghanbari/AP

The toxins that contaminated the water supply of the city of Toledo – leaving 400,000 people without access to safe drinking water for two days – were produced by a massive algae boom. But this is not a natural disaster. Water problems in the Great Lakes – the world’s largest freshwater system – have spiked in the last three years, largely because of agricultural pollution. Toledo draws its drinking water from Lake Erie. Residents were warned not to drink the water on Saturday, after inspectors at the city’s water treatment plant detected the toxin known as microcystin. The toxin is produced by microcystis, a harmful blue-green algae; it causes skin rashes and may result in vomiting and liver damage if ingested. It has been known to kill dogs and other animals and boiling the water does not fix the problem; it only concentrates the toxin….


The Threats to Our Drinking Water

August 6, 2014 By DAVID S. BECKMAN

Two cities now know what it’s like when the taps are shut off.

SAN FRANCISCO — THOSE of us who live in the United States are fortunate; generally we don’t have to give a lot of thought to the safety of our tap water. This makes our collective experience with water very different from that of hundreds of millions of people across the globe who lack access to clean water. But twice this year the water supply for a major American city was interrupted for days by water pollution. In January, a chemical used in the processing of coal leaked from a ruptured storage tank into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply for about 300,000 people in and around Charleston, W.Va., the state’s capital and largest city. Then, last weekend, the water supply for over 400,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, was declared unsafe because of the presence of microcystin, a toxin released by algae blooms in nearby Lake Erie, the source of the city’s water….


California Wildfires Kill More Than Trees, And That May Help Us Prevent Them In The Future

5 August 2014 | The Hetch Hetchy watershed is 160 miles from the San Francisco Bay area, but the people of the Bay rely on this granite-surrounded water supply as their drinking source. Located in the Yosemite National Park, the Hetch Hetchy is situated along the Tuolumne River in California’s Sierra Nevada and acts as a reservoir collecting the mountain range’s melting snow. Its water travels to San Francisco through miles of pipelines and tunnels called the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System, which supplies over 2 million people in four counties with water. Last year, the now-infamous Rim Fire burned 250,000 acres of Sierra Nevada forestland from August 17, 2013 to October 24. But something stunning happened when it moved out of Stanislaus National Forest and into Yosemite: its intensity was immediately waned. That helped save the Hetch Hetchy and San Francisco’s water supply, but the fires still cost the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) $55 million in infrastructure costs. These damages – and the fact that the fire came so close to threatening its water – got the SFPUC thinking about natural losses. They wondered what the real costs of the fire were in terms of muddied water, lost pollination, dirty air, and a general loss of quality in the region – and how high could those costs could go if the winds went against them. To answer that question, they hired Earth Economics (EE), a nonprofit specializing in the economic valuation of ecosystem services to look at the cost of the Rim Fire itself – not just in terms of infrastructure, but in terms of ecosystem services….


Japanese red cedars to replace Britain’s traditional oaks in fight against climate change. 

The Telegraph, United Kingdom August 5, 2014

Trees from America, Japan and southern Europe will be planted in Britain’s forests to avoid them shrinking by 40 per cent by 2080 because of climate change. Japanese red cedar, giant redwoods and trees from the continent will replace oaks and pines in Britain’s forests as woodlands must adapt to climate change to survive, a study suggests. Species of trees grown in the UK in the Victorian era are also set to return as foresters work to ensure Britain’s woods can survive rising temperatures, frequent droughts and diseases. Experts have warned if nothing is done to change the composition of Britain’s woodlands by 2080, forest production could decrease by more than 40 per cent as current trees struggle to survive.


Europe’s forests ‘particularly vulnerable’ to rapid climate change

New research shows forest ecosystems have been suffering intensified disturbance in Europe for decades, reports Climate News Network

August 5, 2014

Scientists estimate that forest fires will cause increased damage on the Iberian peninsula. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

Climate change is here, it’s happening now, and for the last few decades it has been demonstrably bad news for many of Europe’s forests. An international team of researchers say in a report from the European Forest Institute that climate change is altering the environment, and it is long-lived ecosystems like forests that are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes occurring in the climate system. The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased significantly in Europe’s forests in recent years. Windthrow − the wind’s effect in damaging or uprooting trees − is an increasing problem….




Drought-busting El Niño looking less likely

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hope of an El Niño rescuing California from its devastating drought this year appears to be just about gone. Not only have climate scientists downgraded the strength of a potential El Niño, but a report released Thursday by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center indicates that the odds of an El Niño happening at all have decreased. El Niño is a warming of the Pacific Ocean that tends to influence worldwide weather. Strong El Niños have often been associated with wet winters in Northern California, something the state could use after three straight years of below-average rainfall. Although Thursday’s climate report suggests that an El Niño is still likely this fall or winter, scientists said the chances had dropped from 80 percent in earlier assessments to 65 percent. The reason for the more pessimistic outlook, said climate scientist Michelle L’Heureux, is that warmer-than-usual surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific measured this spring have since cooled….


Rare frogs holding their own despite drought conditions

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 09:51 AM PDT

A recent survey of mountain yellow-legged frogs released into the wild by San Diego Zoo Global wildlife conservationists indicates that the populations are showing signs of stress related to drought conditions in California. The juvenile frogs, released into the San Jacinto mountains in two protected sites, are representatives of a species brought to the brink of extinction by the threat of wildfire, habitat destruction and chytrid fungus….


Climate change and drought in ancient times

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 12:15 PM PDT

The influence of climate on agriculture is believed to be a key factor in the rise and fall of societies in the Ancient Near East. Dr. Simone Riehl of Tübingen University’s Institute for Archaeological Science and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeo-environment has headed an investigation into archaeological finds of grain in order to find out what influence climate had on agriculture in early farming societies. Her findings are published in this week’s PNAS — Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She and her team analyzed grains of barley up to 12,000 years old from 33 locations across the Fertile Crescent to ascertain if they had had enough water while growing and ripening. Riehl found that periods of drought had had noticeable and widely differing effects on agriculture and societies in the Ancient Near East, with settlements finding a variety of ways to deal with the problem.…. They found that many settlements were affected by drought linked to major climate fluctuations. “Geographic factors and technologies introduced by humans played a big role and influenced societies’ options for development as well as their particular ways of dealing with drought,” says Riehl. Her findings indicate that harvests in coastal regions of the northern Levant were little affected by drought; but further inland, drought lead to the need for irrigation or, in extreme cases, abandonment of the settlement. The findings give archaeologists clues as to how early agricultural societies dealt with climate fluctuations and differing local environments. “They can also help evaluate current conditions in regions with a high risk of crop failures,” Riehl adds. The study is part of a German Research Foundation-backed project looking into the conditions under which Ancient Near Eastern societies rose and fell.








New York: Community Risk Reduction and Resiliency Act

Summary: The New York bill (Senate Bill 6617), called the “Community Risk Reduction and Resiliency Act” and sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Diane and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, amends the state’s existing environmental conservation, agriculture and market, and public health laws to require consideration of the effects of climate change and extreme weather events before issuing state permits and allocating infrastructure funds (including grants to NGOs for conservation work). The purpose of the bill is to amend certain New York legislation to reflect greater awareness and preparedness for climate change associated risks such as sea level rise and flooding. The bill represents one of the first state efforts in the country to incorporate climate change preparedness into official legislation and is an optimistic indicator of growing climate change awareness. Importantly, it requires the Department of State (DOS) to work with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop resiliency guidance that utilizes
natural resources and natural processes to reduce risk.

It also reaches the local level by requiring DOS to prepare model local zoning laws that include climate risk analysis and make these laws available to municipalities. …


  • Purpose: require consideration of "future physical climate risk due to sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding, based on available data predicting the likelihood of future extreme weather events , including hazard risk analysis", before issuing state permits (for design and construction of future projects) and allocating infrastructure funds.
  • More specifically, climate risk analysis requirement is added in the following sections:
    • Smart Growth Infrastructure Policy Act: criteria for financing (including grants) for construction of new or expanded  public infrastructure
    • Citing of hazard waste facilities;
    • Clean Water State Revolving Fund (a climate risk analysis must be included to be eligible for funding and is a criteria for priority ranking of projects);
    • Standards for design and construction of hazardous substance storage facilities
    • State land acquisition policy;
    • Closure of landfills;
    • Establishing standards for existing and new petroleum bulk storage facilities;
    • Applications municipalities and NGOs seeking state funds:
      • For coastal rehabilitation projects;
      • To operate and maintain public open space land conservation projects;
      • For agriculture and farmland protection (under the Agriculture and Markets Law).  

Importantly, it would also:

  • direct the Department of State to prepare model local laws that include consideration of future physical climate risk and to make such laws available to municipalities;
  • direct the Department of Environmental Conservation to prepare guidance on the implementation of the act, including data and risk analysis tools;
  • require the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations establishing science-based state sea level rise projections.

Status: Both houses of the New York State legislature have passed the Community Risk Reduction and Resiliency Act, but Governor Cuomo has yet to sign the bill into law. Full text is available here.

Agreement boosts urban sustainability

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 09:45 AM PDT

A new five-year agreement between the United Nations Global Compact and an Australian university will strengthen efforts to tackle the world’s urban challenges. Under the new agreement, the Cities Programme will aim to expand into the Asia-Pacific and double the number of signatory cities: the 86 currently participating cities range from large metropolitan capitals (Barcelona, Melbourne, Berlin, Quito) to states (Sao Paulo and Parana in Brazil, Queretaro in Mexico) and municipalities (Besiktas in Turkey, San Isidro in Argentina)….






President Carter calls for carbon tax at Aspen renewable energy conference

August 12, 2014 ASPEN, Colo. — President Jimmy Carter called a tax on carbon emissions “the only reasonable approach” to combating climate change during an appearance here Tuesday, but lamented that even piecemeal actions are unlikely to get through a divided Congress. Carter, 89, who received a lifetime achievement award on the final day of the American Renewable Energy Day summit, spoke during a luncheon attended by a number of conservationists as well as Ted Turner, T. Boone Pickens and Tom Steyer, the California billionaire pledging to devote his personal finances to political candidates willing to take action on climate change.



$11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along

By RON NIXON August 6, 2014 WASHINGTON — High-speed rail was supposed to be President Obama’s signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China. While Republican opposition and community protests have slowed the projects here, transportation policy experts and members of both parties also place blame for the failures on missteps by the Obama administration — which in July asked Congress for nearly $10 billion more for high-speed initiatives. Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into those projects, critics say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existing Amtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 miles per hour. None of the money originally went to service in the Northeast Corridor, the most likely place for high-speed rail.

Airport tests new way to avoid deadly bird strikes

Aug. 12, 2014


In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo, an airplane takes off from Dayton International Airport, passing over one of the airport’s prairies in Vandalia, Ohio. In an effort to keep birds away from aircraft, the airport is experimenting by planting the tall prairie grass. Heavy birds like geese, which cause the most damage to planes, are believed to avoid long grasses because they fear predators might be hiding within. (AP Photo/Skip Peterson)

NEW YORK (AP) — When birds and planes collide, the results can be deadly. That’s why airports around the world work hard to keep birds away, even resorting to shooting or poisoning large flocks. One Ohio airport is now experimenting with a new, gentler way to avoid bird strikes: planting tall prairie grass. Heavy birds like geese — which cause the most damage to planes — are believed to avoid long grasses because they fear predators might be hiding within. So officials at Dayton International Airport are converting up to 300 acres of the airfield’s 2,200 non-aeronautical acres into prairie grass. The goal is, by the end of this year, to plant the tall grass under the takeoff and landing paths. There are more than 10,000 airplane bird strikes a year in the U.S. Most do little or no damage to the plane. The most frequent problem is damage to the engines. The FAA estimates that such damage costs the industry $950 million a year.



Fools at the Fire

By TIMOTHY EGAN NY Times August 7th, 2014

In the heat, in the still gloaming, we set up camp near a snowbank across from a glacier and a symphony of waterfalls. North Cascades National Park, a few hours’ drive from Seattle, can always be counted on as a compress to the rest of the country’s fever. Then, out of the park a few days later, down the valley to the arid east, it seems as if half of Washington State is on fire. Smoke, devastation, ashen orchards of charred fruit, standing dead pines. More than 250,000 acres have burned in the largest fire in the state’s history, the Carlton Complex. About 300 homes have been destroyed. A small army of firefighters, at a cost of $50 million so far, is trying to hold the beast in the perimeter, between days when the mercury tops 100 degrees. With this kind of loss comes blame. It’s President Obama’s fault. Why? Because everything is his fault in the inland West, where ignorance rides the airwaves of talk radio. Amid the conservative cant, a great irony: People who hate government most are the loudest voices demanding government action to save their homes….


Shattering Myths to Help the Climate

Robert H. Frank AUG. 2, 2014 New York Times

new climate-change study seems more pessimistic than the last. This May and June, for example, were the hottest ones on record for the planet. Storms and droughts occur with increasing frequency. Glaciers are rapidly retreating, portending rising seas that could eventually displace hundreds of millions of people. Effective countermeasures now could actually ward off many of these threats at relatively modest cost. Yet despite a robust scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are at the root of the problem, legislation to curb them has gone nowhere in Congress. In response, President Obama has proposed stricter regulations on electric utilities, which some scientists warn may be too little, too late.



Arctic Traffic—Video

As climate change melts sea ice and opens the Arctic Ocean to more shipping and oil exploration, marine mammals and native people in small boats are at risk.



A road map to the future of state parks

SFGate August 3, 2014


California now has a road map to the future of the state’s troubled park system. It just needs a driver.

Parks Forward – a state-appointed blue-ribbon commission with deep talent, knowledge and connections – issued detailed draft recommendations last week for a “series of sweeping changes to ensure the long-term sustainability of California’s State Parks.” Now it’s up to Gov. Jerry Brown to find a leader who will use this new road map to guide reform in the state Department of Parks and Recreation. The former Marine major general whom the governor appointed to turn around the scandal-plagued agency in late 2012 retired in May after only 18 months on the job. An acting director from within the department is holding down the fort while waiting for the governor to make his move….


As Oysters Die, Climate Policy Goes on Stump


Gov. Jay Inslee, left, with Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish Farms during a tour of the company’s Quilceen, Wash., hatchery in June. CreditMatthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Billions of baby oysters in the Pacific inlets here are dying and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington is busy spreading the bad news. “It used to be the canary in the coal mine,” Mr. Inslee said in a recent interview. “Now it’s the oyster in the half shell. You can’t overstate what this means to Washington.” Or to Mr. Inslee’s ambitions. The Democratic governor, aided by what is expected to be millions of dollars from his billionaire friend Tom Steyer, is using the story of Washington’s oysters — scientists say a rise in carbon levels has spiked the acidity of the Pacific and is killing off shellfish — to make the case for passing the most far-reaching climate change policies in the nation.


California Wildfires Kill More Than Trees, And That May Help Us Prevent Them In The Future
Kelli Barrett
One year ago this month, the infamous Rim Fire started burning in northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It raged for two full months and destroyed hundreds of homes, but the real cost came in the form of muddier water, reduced pollination, and dirty air. Then something peculiar happened: the fire slowed when it hit the more naturally-managed Yosemite forest, offering one more key to help us manage forests in a changing climate….





Stinky gases emanating from landfills could transform into clean energy

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 09:16 AM PDT

A new technique transforming stinky, air-polluting landfill gas could produce the sweet smell of success as it leads to development of a fuel cell generating clean electricity for homes, offices and hospitals, researchers say. The advance would convert methane gas into hydrogen, an efficient, clean form of energy.



Wind Comes To The Rescue When Four Aging Nuclear Plants Shut Down In The U.K.

August 12, 2014

A standard criticism of wind and solar power is that they are intermittent energy sources and depend on blowing wind or shining sun in order to produce energy. Because of this, traditional power plants like coal, gas, and nuclear are still required as baseload sources that can be relied on to generate 24 hours a day. This relationship is changing as renewable energy storage improves, baseload renewable sources like geothermal and hydropower are further incorporated, and smart grid technology enhances deployment. In the U.K. this week the tables have temporarily turned as wind power is replacing an unanticipated lack of nuclear generation from the nation’s grid. On Monday, EDF Energy announced it was shutting down four of its U.K. reactors, or around a quarter of its total nuclear generating capacity, after a defect had been found on the boiler spine of a reactor. The company decided to take the “conservative decision” to shut down three other reactors, though no radioactive release or injuries were reported. The reactors are expected to remain closed for about two months. EDF, a French state-owned utility, said the current closures should not effect the U.K.’s energy supply thanks to the low-demand summer season and “a lot of wind power that is being generated right now.”…


Wind Farm Powering A Million Homes Nears Approval Deep In Coal Country

August 11, 2014

Pronghorn antelope graze on the prairie at Duke Energy’s Campbell Hill Windpower Project near Casper, Wyoming.

A massive wind farm in Wyoming is getting closer to reality. Last week Wyoming’s Industrial Siting Council voted unanimously to approve a permit to construct and operate the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, which could eventually generate 3,000 megawatts of energy — enough to power nearly one million households. The $5 billion project, which could include up to 1,000 wind turbines, is being undertaken by Power Company of Wyoming. The Power Company is a wholly-owned affiliate of Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz’s The Anschutz Corp, which also has holdings in oil and gas infrastructure and electricity transmission. The permit is the last major non-federal permit needed to move the project forward, however the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is still working on two environmental assessments to be released in the near future. This includes the issuance of rights-of-way grants. The company has also applied for an eagle take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which would allow the project to kill a certain number of raptors in exchange for implementing conservation measures…


Keystone XL’s Climate Impact Could Be Four Times Greater Than State Department Claimed

by Emily Atkin Posted on August 11, 2014

An aerial view of a mining site for Canadian tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Tar sands are the type of fuel that would be transported in Keystone XL. CREDIT: Josh Burstein/NextGen Climate Action

If the controversial northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline is approved and built, the resulting amount of carbon emitted into earth’s atmosphere could be up to four times greater than the U.S. State Department estimated, a new scientific paper shows. Researchers Peter Erickson and Michael Lazarus of the Stockholm Environmental Institute say the State Department’s assessment of the pipeline’s potential carbon emissions failed to consider whether consumer demand for Canadian tar sands oil — the type that would be transported in Keystone XL — would increase worldwide if the pipeline is built. If it is built, it could cause a rush of new Canadian tar sands crude oil to come on to the global market. If that happens, global prices of oil will decrease, and demand for it will increase. If demand increases, more oil will be burned, causing increased carbon emissions. Depending on how much the pipeline increases oil production, its climate impact could amount to anywhere from zero to 110 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, the study showed. That’s a margin that’s four times wider than what the State Department forecasted — an emissions range of 1 million and 27 million tons of carbon dioxide per year….



Methane leaks add to greenhouse effect.
Sacramento Bee, California

The natural gas pipelines snaking under the Sacramento region likely leak a significant amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, scientists say. The amount of methane that leaks out is relatively small, but scientists say it has a big impact, since methane traps about 25 times more heat than CO2.



Group Earns Oil Income Despite Pledge on Drilling

AUG. 3, 2014 NY Times

The Attwater’s prairie chicken, a critically endangered species of bird.Credit United States Fish and Wildlife Service

The nation’s largest environmental group is earning money from an oil well on land it controls in Texas, despite pledging a decade ago not to permit new oil and gas drilling on land supposedly set aside for conservation. That revelation is contained in a forthcoming book about climate change by the writer and activist Naomi Klein, and the essential facts of the case were confirmed last week by the Nature Conservancy, the environmental group in question. The Nature Conservancy — which says it helps protect about 20 million acres in the United States — argues that it has had no choice in the case of the well. Under the terms of a lease it signed years ago with an oil and gas company and later came to regret, the group says it had to permit the drilling of the well in 2007….





Western Ecological Research Center (WERC), an Ecosystems mission science center of the U.S. Geological Survey serving California, Nevada and the greater Pacific West.

In this issue…

  • Supercomputers map out “The Justice League” of Endangered Species—in 3-D
  • Ecological change on the Channel Islands from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene
  • Temporal variation in fish mercury concentrations within lakes from the Western Aleutian Archipelago, Alaska
  • Forster’s Tern chick survival in response to a managed relocation of predatory California Gulls
  • Jon Keeley muses on the three papers that influenced his career
  • Kevin Lafferty expounds on the complexities of sapronoses and Hercules
  • WERC authors pen chapters in Biology & Conservation of North American Tortoises
  • WERC authors pen chapter on pesticides in amphibian habitats of central and northern California
  • Surveying red-footed boobies with the Marine Corps
  • Carswell’s “Coroners” crowned with SEJ award



Climate-Smart Guide, Part II

The Art of the Possible: Identifying Adaptation Options– webinar recording from July

Presenters include:

  • Susan Julius- EPA Global Change Impacts & Adaptation Research Program
  • Jordan M. West – EPA Global Change Impacts & Adaptation Research Program
  • Molly S. Cross – Wildlife Conservation Society

Description: This webinar is the second in a series focused on the recently released guide, Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice. Armed with an understanding of climate vulnerabilities in the context of climate-informed goals, the next step is to identify a full range of possible adaptation responses. This webinar will focus on Chapter 8 of the Guide and will look at a process for using vulnerability information as the basis for generating specific adaptation options. Case studies will be used to illustrate identification of options, considerations for maximizing climate-smart “design” of options, and applicability of options in the context of the dual pathways of managing for change and persistence.


Also, if you missed our last Safeguarding webinar on “The National Climate Assessment: Actionable Science for Natural Systems” held June 3rd, a recording is available at:


Our Coast, Our Future- New State-of-the-Art SF Bay Mapping Tool  August 27 and September 3— both 10-11 am

For sea level rise and storms inside San Francisco Bay. OCOF staff will demonstrate this new, state-of-the-art planning tool and answer your questions. The tool will help Bay Area planners understand, visualize, and anticipate LOCAL coastal and bayside climate change impacts. More info:


Connecting Farmers & Ranchers to Innovative Technology in Bat Conservation
NRCS Webinars—through August 27, 2014; Wednesdays, 11 AM Pacific

Bat Conservation International is pleased to announce the dates for our NRCS Webinar Series entitled “Connecting Farmers & Ranchers to Innovative Technology in Bat Conservation“.    Webinars will be held on Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. Central. 

Topics include:

7/23 – Bats and Integrated Pest Management part I

7/30 – Bats and Integrated Pest Management part II

  8/6 –  Bats, Agriculture, and Water for Wildlife

8/13 – Bats, Agriculture, and Wildlife Habitat Monitoring

8/20 – Bats, Agriculture, and Wind Energy Development

8/27 – Bats, Agriculture, and Mine Closures

The webinars are open to all NRCS staff and any producers who would like to attend.  Please feel free to forward this information to other interested parties.  Anyone not already on our e-mail list can register for the series at (if you received this e-mail directly, you do not need to register).




***SAVE THE DATE!!***  Sponsored by the CA LCC and CA Dept. of Water Resources

Traditional Ecological Knowledge Workshop September 23rd, 2014 @ California State University, Sacramento

Registration will open in June 2014. Check the California LCC website for details:


25th Anniversary Bioneers Summit Conference
San Rafael, California | October 17 – 19, 2014

Tickets On Sale Now: Early Bird Rates End August 15

Yes, 2014 marks our 25th Bioneers Conference birthday! We honor all of you who’ve shared and contributed to this amazing journey. We’re conjuring some special magic to celebrate this milestone with you at the 2014 Summit and throughout the year.  After a quarter-century, the Bioneers community of leadership has learned a thing or two about breakthrough solutions and what directions to head in. Like a magnifying glass channeling sunlight, the “Growing The Movement” theme is designed to help focalize this wealth of community wisdom, skillfulness and vision into beams of action – a trellis of light on which our shared work can grow.  The years between now and 2020 will be the most important in the history of human civilization. Climate change has crash-landed from the future into the present. The ecological debt we’ve incurred is dire.


Ninth International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.



JOBS (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)




California State Coastal Conservancy has opened a second round of Climate Ready grants for local governments and non-profit organizations. A total of $1.5 million is available with applications due on August 22.




The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future
(Columbia University Press)

Naomi Oreskes is a professor of the history of science at Harvard University. Erik Conway is a historian of science and technology at the California Institute of Technology.

The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and — finally — the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People’s Republic of China on the 300th anniversary….







The Perils of Aging: A Problem for Citizen Science?

Errors creep into bird population surveys as volunteers get older, new study says.

More than a quarter of Americans 50 years and older engage in bird-watching. Many of the most experienced among them volunteer for government-run surveys designed to keep track of the health of bird populations. Photograph by Sean Gardner, AP

Katie Langin National Geographic Published August 6, 2014

Each spring, thousands of binocular-clad volunteers scour natural areas across North America to count birds in the name of science. This gargantuan effort helps scientists take the pulse of bird populations and make important management decisions—but errors creep into the data as volunteers age, according to a new study. Bird-watchers over 50 weren’t as proficient as younger volunteers—those under 40—at detecting 13 (of 43 examined) songbird species during surveys for the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario in Canada. (Check out National Geographic’s photo gallery of songbirds.)

In some respects, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise: The aging process tends to knock out our ability to hear high-pitched sounds, and most songbirds are detected by hearing their song rather than seeing them flit through the trees. But—contrary to expectations—the songs produced by the 13 problematic species did not cluster at the higher-pitched end of the spectrum. Some of the species, like the yellow-bellied flycatcher, sing relatively low-pitched songs. “I was surprised that the results were not as strong for hearing loss as we might have expected,” said Robert Farmer, the lead author of the study, published in the June issue of the journal
Ecology and Evolution


False Balance Lives: Media Biased Toward Fringe Climate Scientists Who Reject Global Consensus

by Joe Romm Posted on August 11, 2014

CREDIT: Shutterstock

A new study finds that the media disproportionately favors scientists who reject the basic scientific consensus on climate change. By consensus, I mean the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), which are already overly cautious and watered down. Some — though not most — analysts have declared the media’s era of false balance in climate coverage is over. But the truth is that the media continue to present the public a misleading picture on climate science, giving fringe scientists more attention (disproportionate to their actual number) than the leading climate scientists. Reporters need to learn that, if they wish to discuss “both sides” of the climate issue, the scientifically legitimate “other side” is that, if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested in scientific consensus estimates to date….


Reduced Testosterone Tied to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical Exposure

Aug. 14, 2014 — Men, women and children exposed to high levels of phthalates — endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and some personal care products -– tended to have reduced levels of testosterone in … full story

Size matters when convincing your brain to eat healthier foods

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 03:02 PM PDT

Playing with the portions of good and not-so-good-for-you foods is better than trying to eliminate bad foods, according to a study. The idea is to not give up entirely foods that provide pleasure but aren’t nutritious. Instead, the focus should be on lowering the portion of the “vice” foods and correspondingly raising the portion of a healthy food to replace it, researchers report.













Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

707-781-2555 x318  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!


Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.


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