Conservation Science News Mar 6 2015

Focus of the Week – Embrace unknowns, opt for flexibility in environmental policies










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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 WeekEmbrace unknowns, opt for flexibility in environmental policies



Embrace unknowns, opt for flexibility in environmental policies, experts say

February 26, 2015

We make hundreds, possibly thousands, of decisions each day without having full knowledge of what will happen next. Life is unpredictable, and we move forward the best we can despite not knowing every detail. It’s no different in the natural world. Earth is warming, fish stocks and species counts fluctuate and we’re experiencing more extreme weather. Conservation managers need to act quickly and make decisions about how to address these issues — even though questions remain. That’s the argument of two University of Washington researchers whose perspectives article appears Feb. 27 in Science. “Modern science is producing lots of new knowledge, but we question whether that knowledge is going to accumulate fast enough to be useful as systems change rapidly,” said Daniel Schindler, a co-author and UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences. “We have to learn how to manage our ecosystems and natural resources in a reality where uncertainties dominate. That often means we have to make tough decisions with lousy knowledge.” The usual path for those tasked with environmental conservation is to study certain aspects of an ecosystem, then try to predict what will happen down the road. Many scientists and funding agencies say that better understanding of a particular system will produce more accurate predictions that lead to more informed decisions. But Schindler and co-author Ray Hilborn, a UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, argue that it’s impossible to understand a changing, natural system in great detail, and that important policy moves shouldn’t hinge on the ability to have all the facts. Instead, managers must learn to make decisions based on an uncertain future….The authors offer several suggestions to achieve this:

Create policies that have legs: When developing a policy to manage fisheries or allocate water distribution in agriculture, for example, make it flexible so it can continue to effectively manage the resource, no matter how it changes in the future.

Support policies that encourage ecosystem diversity: Opt for plans that encourage organism and habitat diversity, because casting a larger net will let the policy be most responsive no matter what happens in the future.

Invest more in monitoring: Don’t just collect data, but actively analyze the data, drawing connections to the past and assessing what that relationship might mean for the future. Do more field-based monitoring and less predictive modeling.

Expect a future that’s different from the past: Move away from a “better safe than sorry” approach to management and assume the ecosystem will shift in unexpected ways. Design policies that can adapt based on how the ecosystem changes.

Schindler and Hilborn say these principles can guide management of any natural or renewable resource, including agriculture, fisheries and forestry, to name a few. They argue that sustainability is about achieving human connections with properly functioning ecosystems, and that it’s important to set up policies that keep people engaged with the natural world….


E. Schindler And Ray Hilborn. Prediction, precaution, and policy under global change. Science, February 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.1261824



Note similarities to climate-smart conservation principles:

National Wildlife Federation-
Key Concepts for Climate-Smart Conservation

Point Blue Conservation Science-
Climate Smart Conservation Principles
(based on NWF)





Community-led marine reserve produces benefits for fisheries, conservation

February 23, 2015

The first and only fully protected marine reserve in Scotland is continuing to provide benefits for fisheries and conservation, according to new research by the University of York. Backing from the local community has been crucial to the success of Lamlash Bay marine reserve after its creation off the Isle of Arran in 2008, following a decade-long campaign by the local Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST). The new study, published in Marine Biology, reports on monitoring surveys conducted inside and outside the marine reserve by scientists in the Environment Department at York from 2010 to 2013. Marine reserves, where fishing and other extractive activities are restricted, are being established across the globe, allowing natural ecosystems to recover and flourish. Over the course of this new study, the abundance of commercially important juvenile scallops was consistently higher within the reserve than outside. These scallops were strongly associated with seaweeds and other marine life thriving on the seabed within the protected area…..

…Crucial to the success of the Lamlash Bay marine reserve has been the involvement of the local community group COAST. They assisted greatly with the research and encouraged the community to keep a watchful eye on activities in the area. In other marine reserves illegal fishing has been a problem, but in this case any suspicious activity has been reported to the authorities and in several cases fishing boats have been encouraged to move on by COAST members….

…a visionary proposal by another non-governmental organisation, the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT), to revolutionise fisheries management in the entire area. Their plans, instigated by the collapse of fin fish populations and the vulnerable nature of shellfish fisheries in the Clyde, are also being released this week. The centrepiece of their approach is to zone different fishing activities into discrete areas and to create some highly protected replenishment zones.
Dr Stewart added: “Our research adds further evidence that such a system could well provide the path to more sustainable use of our seas.”



Leigh M. Howarth, Callum M. Roberts, Julie P. Hawkins, Daniel J. Steadman, Bryce D. Beukers-Stewart. Effects of ecosystem protection on scallop populations within a community-led temperate marine reserve. Marine Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s00227-015-2627-7


Conservation organizations need to keep up with nature, experts say

March 2, 2015

Nature is on the move. As the impacts of climate change reveal themselves, species and ecosystems are moving in response. This poses a fundamental challenge to conservation organizations–how do you conserve something that won’t stay still? The paper, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, argues that conservation organizations need to be bolder in their adaptation efforts given the rate and extent of the ecological changes that are coming. As the climate warms and other global changes progress, species move outside their historical ranges, new ecological communities form and ecosystems transition to new states. Moreover, scientists are predicting that these changes will accelerate in the future. “If you are an organization that has focused on conserving particular species in a particular place, as many of today’s conservation organizations are, then something has to give–either you need to change your business model or revisit your conservation priorities. And neither is going to be easy for some of these groups,” said Paul Armsworth, lead author and associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.



‘Ecosystem services’ help assess ocean energy development

February 26, 2015

With many projects under development in coastal regions such as New England, tidal power — which extracts “hydrokinetic” energy from marine environments — seems poised to join other U.S. commercial power sources. A new study finds that little is known of the impacts that tidal power projects may have on coastal environments and the people who depend on them, but that the perspective of “ecosystem services” could provide a promising framework for evaluating impacts. “Ecosystem services are the benefits provided by functioning ecosystems to people,” wrote environmental scientist Heather Leslie, the Peggy and Henry D. Sharpe Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, in the current edition of the Marine Technology Society Journal. The study, written with former undergraduate student Megan Palmer, who is now with the Nature Conservancy, begins with a review of nearly 300 papers on marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) power systems. Only 36 focus on tidal power and of those only a handful specifically address ecosystem concerns, the authors found. While developers are required to perform environmental studies before installing tidal energy harvesting devices, those wouldn’t necessarily encompass the full range of connections between people and marine environments.


Felling of tropical trees has soared, satellite shows, not slowed as UN study found

Posted: 25 Feb 2015 12:18 PM PST

The rate at which tropical forests were cut, burned or otherwise lost from the 1990s through the 2000s accelerated by 62 percent, according to a new study which dramatically reverses a previous estimate of a 25 percent slowdown over the same period.


In the Amazon, 95 percent of all deforestation occurs within 5 kilometers of a road.Credit: Google Earth

Nine steps to survive ‘most explosive era of infrastructure expansion in human history’

March 5, 2015

Our world is being developed at an unprecedented pace, and the incredible expansion of infrastructure associated with all of this progress comes at a great cost to wild places and wildlife. Now, a team of scientists writing in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on March 5 call attention to nine issues that must be considered if there is to be any hope of limiting the environmental impacts of the ongoing expansion of new roads, road improvements, energy projects, and more now underway or “coming soon” in countries all around the world. “We are living in the most explosive era of infrastructure expansion in human history,” write William Laurance of Australia’s James Cook University and his colleagues. “By mid-century, it is expected that there will be 25 million kilometers of new paved roads globally–enough to encircle the Earth more than 600 times. Nine-tenths of these new roads will be in developing nations, which sustain many of the planet’s most biologically rich and environmentally important ecosystems.” The new paper is the foundation for a major effort by scientists, environmental activists, and celebrities to lobby leaders of the G20 nations–the 20 wealthiest nations on Earth–following their announcement of plans to invest $60-$70 trillion US dollars in new infrastructure globally by 2030. The plan would more than double the global investment in new roads, dams, power lines, gas lines, and other energy infrastructure. “Unless managed with extreme care, it would be an environmental disaster wrapped in a catastrophe,” Laurance says of the proposal….



Tim Crews – Fengyi Hu shows a perennial rice plant, which has deeper roots than cultivated rice varieties.

Perennial Rice: In Search of a Greener, Hardier Staple Crop

Scientists have long sought to create a perennial rice that would avoid the damage to the land caused by the necessity of planting annually. Now, Chinese researchers appear close to developing this new breed of rice, an achievement that could have major environmental benefits.

by winifred bird 05 Mar 2015: Report

Ten thousand years ago, China’s ancient inhabitants harvested the grains of wild rice, a perennial grass growing up to 15 feet tall in bogs and streams. The grains were small and red, maturing in waves and often shattering into the water. Their descendants transformed that grain into the high-yielding annual crop that today feeds half the world’s population. When agronomist F. H. King toured China’s meticulously maintained rice terraces in 1909, he called the men and women who tilled them “farmers of forty centuries.” To him, they seemed to have unlocked the secret to conserving soil and maintaining agricultural fertility indefinitely. Today, with the climate changing and far more land under intensive cultivation, rice farmers face a less certain future. In parts of Asia, melting glaciers threaten to dry up water supplies for irrigated paddies, while higher temperatures and unpredictable rainfall stress rain-fed fields. In uplands worldwide, where farmers grow rice on steep hillsides using slash-and-burn techniques, fallow periods are growing shorter and severe erosion is undermining both productivity and ecosystem health. An international network of scientists is working toward a radical solution: perennial rice that yields grain for many years without replanting. By crossing domesticated rice with its wild predecessors, they hope to create deep-rooted varieties that hold soils in place, require less labor, and survive extremes of temperature and water supply. Plant breeders have been trying to do the same for wheat, sorghum, and other crops for decades. ith rice, the vision is finally nearing reality. Chinese scientists are preparing to release a variety that they say performs well in lowland paddies and, with more breeding work, could eventually thrive on marginal land as well. “This line of research foreshadows a more sustainable way of raising crops in the uplands,” says Casiana Vera Cruz, an expert on upland agriculture at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. She says the research could especially impact women, because they are most often responsible for the hard work of hand-planting rice each spring on small mountain farms. The biggest strides are taking place in China, where geneticist Fengyi Hu and his colleagues at the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences are completing nearly a decade of trials on perennial rice varieties, including PR23, a strain they claim yields harvests close to those from conventional rice for four years or more. One agricultural company in Yunnan will test PR23 and similar varieties on more than 1,500 acres this year, and researchers are trying out PR23 in Laos as well. If Yunnan’s government approves the new rice for widespread release to farmers, it will be among the world’s first perennial grains to be grown beyond experimental fields.

Critics argue, however, that perennial grains like PR23 will never be able to feed the world’s growing population. Kenneth Cassman, an agronomist at the University of Nebraska whose work focuses on global food security, says devoting a greater share of the world’s limited agricultural research funding to perennial rice research would be a mistake. “The goal is not just to increase agricultural productivity, the goal is to lift people out of poverty and provide adequate nutrition and health,” says Cassman, who worked at IRRI in the mid ’90s. “And there’s no way that low-yielding perennial grains grown on small, marginal farms can lift anyone out of poverty.” Instead, he argues that farmers should grow drought-resistant trees or pasture — not grains — on steep hillsides to stabilize soils, and scientists should focus on improving annual grain yields in environments that are truly suited to them, such as flat fields with adequate water.

….One widely promoted answer is called “ecological intensification,” in which sustainable farming techniques such as cover crops and polycultures are used to increase yields without expanding the area of land under cultivation or the environmental harm it causes. But proponents of perennial grains argue that agriculture needs a more fundamental fix — in essence, a shift away from humanity’s 10,000-year-old habit of clearing the ground each year and starting anew.So many problems that we think of as being part of the package of agriculture — nutrient leakage, soil erosion, carbon loss, weed invasion — are actually attributes of this highly disturbed ecosystem,” says Timothy Crews, research director at the Land Institute in Kansas, which was founded in 1976 with the goal of developing grain fields that mimic prairies. “They’re very predictable in ecology. And yet if you go out and you look at mature native [grassland] ecosystems you do not have those problems.” Developing perennial versions of rice and other grains is a difficult task, however. While domesticated annual grains pour thirty to sixty percent of their energy into producing seeds, perennial grasses divert much more toward building roots for long-term survival. To boost perennial yields, Crews explains, plant breeders must coax perennials to allocate a bigger slice of the energy pie to seed production. They can also take advantage of the fact that perennials tend to have a larger energy pie to start with: They generally start growing earlier than annuals each spring and photosynthesize sunlight for more days each year.
…..Perennial rice is by no means ready to withstand the rigors of poor soil, scant water, and extreme temperatures in the uplands, however. One challenge will be bringing in genes that instruct the plant to become dormant and shut down leaf production during the dry season to conserve water; another is adapting plants to the acid soils common in upland areas. …..”Soil quality is decreasing very fast,” says Pheng Sengxua, a Lao agronomist involved in the trials, which for now are taking place only in more favorable southern areas where the terrain is flatter and soils better. “The population has increased and the forest is being destroyed by upland farmers. The Lao government wants to decrease upland farming systems like slash and burn to reduce erosion and deforestation.” That has led to government interest in the new varieties from China, which promise benefits that go beyond grain, Wade says. A rice crop that stayed in the ground for years on end could conserve soil and provide hay, fodder and fuel during the dry season, making it a key element of a sustainable farming system in hilly areas. That vision — of a perennial rice tough enough to flourish in some of the world’s most difficult growing conditions — is still a distant one. But within the next few years, Chinese farmers could have access to PR23, a variety unlike any other in the long history of rice farming. For the perennial grains research community, that alone would be a significant milestone.

Nutrient pollution damages streams in ways previously unknown, ecologists find

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 12:21 PM PST

An important food resource has been disappearing from streams without anyone noticing until now. Ecologists reports that nutrient pollution causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon from stream ecosystems, reducing the ability of streams to support aquatic life.


Great Barrier Reef corals eat plastic

Feb. 24, 2015

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution. Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Dr Hoogenboom says. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs…


Structure of avian assemblages in grasslands associated with cattle ranching and soybean agriculture in the Uruguayan savanna ecoregion of Brazil and Uruguay
Thaiane Weinert da Silva1*, Graziela Dotta1,2#, and Carla Suertegaray Fontana1#


Conversion of grasslands into crops is a major factor leading to the decline of grassland birds. Cattle ranching represents another disturbance to natural grasslands, but may be less detrimental to grassland birds. We studied the diversity, density, and composition of bird species in Brazilian and Uruguayan grasslands under two different land use types: cattle ranching on seminatural grasslands, and soybean fields with interspersed patches of grassland. Cattle sites had higher species richness (n = 75 species) than soybean sites (n = 57 species). Most birds showed higher densities in cattle sites, but some common and habitat-generalist species were more abundant in soybean sites. Species composition did not differ significantly with land use. The generalist Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata), however, was strongly associated with soybean sites. Among species of conservation interest, either regionally or globally, all had higher densities in cattle sites, highlighting the importance of maintaining these ranching areas.
The persistence of grassland birds in soybean fields may be related to the presence of seminatural grassland patches within soybean crops.



Some tropical plants pick the best hummingbirds to pollinate flowers

Posted: 03 Mar 2015 06:58 AM PST

Rather than just waiting patiently for any pollinator that comes their way to start the next generation of seeds, some plants appear to recognize the best suitors and ‘turn on’ to increase the chance of success. These findings stem from the discovery that the showy red and yellow blooms of Heliconia tortuosa, an exotic tropical plant, recognize certain hummingbirds by the way the birds sip the flowers’ nectar. The plants respond by allowing pollen to germinate, ultimately increasing the chances for successful seed formation….



Rules for the Black Birdwatcher, with J. Drew Lanham. Short, powerful and must-see video.

Menopausal whales are influential and informative leaders

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 09:53 AM PST

Menopause is a downright bizarre trait among animals. It’s also rare. Outside of the human species, only the female members of two whale species outlive their reproductive lives in such a major way. Female killer whales typically become mothers between the ages of 12 and 40, but they can live for more than 90 years. Males rarely make it past 50. Now, researchers have new evidence to explain why….


Science Communicators – Why We Love Communicating Science

Posted on 3 March 2015 by CollinMaessen

…These science advocates who inform the public and combat misinformation are a very varied group. They can be scientists or have no scientific training whatsoever. But all, for whatever reason, understand the language of science and work with scientists to inform the public. Sometimes they might be famous nationally, or even internationally, like Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye the Science Guy. But there are far more like Katharine Hayhoe, Phil Plait, Peter Sinclair, or John Cook who do their work more in the background. They are the ones that create the tools and information that gets used by policy makers, in schools or to explain the science to friends. They are also often the same people who give presentations, lectures or courses that help you understand a scientific subject and what this means for us. This can be very rewarding, but become famous or effective enough and you’ll become a target. The denial of scientific findings is very real and can lead to you being attacked. Quite viciously in some cases. It certainly can make communicating science ‘interesting’ while combatting mental processes that makes someone want to reject the science.

So why do it? Why face public scrutiny and attacks? What motivates someone to read the scientific literature and pick the brains of scientists so that they can inform the public? Why spend so much time doing that? There is a story behind every single science communicator that answers these questions. ….The first person I interviewed was John Cook. He is the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. He also founded in 2007, a website that examines the arguments of the global warming ‘sceptics.’ This was just the first video of the video series Science Communicators – Why We Love Communicating Science ….



‘Extinct’ bird rediscovered: Last seen in 1941

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:02 AM PST

A scientific team has rediscovered a bird previously thought to be extinct. Jerdon’s babbler (Chrysomma altirostre) had not been seen in Myanmar since July 1941, where it was last found in grasslands near the town of Myitkyo, Bago Region near the Sittaung River.



Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. With extremely elongated fingers and a wing membrane stretched between, the bat’s wing anatomically resembles the human hand. Almost 1,000 bat species can be found worldwide. In fact, bats make up a quarter of all mammal species on earth. SOURCE: Basic Facts About Bats (





First direct observation of carbon dioxide’s increasing greenhouse effect at Earth’s surface

Posted: 25 Feb 2015 10:21 AM PST

Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect at Earth’s surface for the first time. They measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from Earth’s surface over an 11-year period at two locations in North America. They attributed this upward trend to rising carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel emissions. The influence of atmospheric CO2 on the balance between incoming energy from the Sun and outgoing heat from Earth (also called the planet’s energy balance) is well established. But this effect has not been experimentally confirmed outside the laboratory until now. The research is reported Feb. 25 in the advance online publication of the journal Nature.

The results agree with theoretical predictions of the greenhouse effect due to human activity. The research also provides further confirmation that the calculations used in today’s climate models are on track when it comes to representing the impact of CO2. The scientists measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s contribution to radiative forcing at two sites, one in Oklahoma and one on the North Slope of Alaska, from 2000 to the end of 2010. Radiative forcing is a measure of how much the planet’s energy balance is perturbed by atmospheric changes. Positive radiative forcing occurs when Earth absorbs more energy from solar radiation than it emits as thermal radiation back to space. It can be measured at Earth’s surface or high in the atmosphere. In this research, the scientists focused on the surface. They found that CO2 was responsible for a significant uptick in radiative forcing at both locations, about two-tenths of a Watt per square meter per decade. They linked this trend to the 22 parts-per-million increase in atmospheric CO2 between 2000 and 2010. Much of this CO2 is from the burning of fossil fuels, according to a modeling system that tracks CO2 sources around the world. “We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,” says Daniel Feldman, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and lead author of the Nature paper. “Numerous studies show rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but our study provides the critical link between those concentrations and the addition of energy to the system, or the greenhouse effect,” Feldman adds….


D. R. Feldman, W. D. Collins, P. J. Gero, M. S. Torn, E. J. Mlawer, T. R. Shippert. Observational determination of surface radiative forcing by CO2 from 2000 to 2010. Nature, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nature14240


Elusive El Niño arrives: Forecasters predict it will stay weak, have little influence on weather and climate

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 12:27 PM PST

The long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. In their updated monthly outlook released today, forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator….Due to the weak strength of the El Niño, widespread or significant global weather pattern impacts are not anticipated. However, certain impacts often associated with El Niño may appear this spring in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast…


By using historical data from the 40 tide gauges shown on this map, University of Arizona geoscientist Paul Goddard and his colleagues figured out that sea level rose four inches (100 mm) from New York to Newfoundland (red dots) in 2009 and 2010. Gauges from New York south to Cape Hatteras (pink dots) showed a smaller spike in sea level for the same time period. No sea level spike was recorded on the gauges (white dots) south of Cape Hatteras.

Ocean circulation change: Sea level spiked for two years along Northeastern North America

February 24, 2015

Sea levels from New York to Newfoundland jumped up about four inches in 2009 and 2010 because ocean circulation changed. The unusual spike in sea level caused flooding along the northeast coast of North America and was independent of any hurricanes or winter storms. A new article documents that the extreme increase in sea level rise lasted two years, not just a few months. A four-inch increase in sea levels from New York to Newfoundland occurred in 2009 and 2010 because ocean circulation changed, reports a UA-led team of geoscientistsThe team linked the spike to a change in the ocean’s Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and also a change in part of the climate system known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. The researchers then used computer climate models to project the probability of future spikes in sea level. The team found that, at the current rate that atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing, such extreme events are likely to occur more frequently, Goddard said….



Lasting severe weather impact found in feathers of young birds

Posted: 03 Mar 2015 11:17 AM PST

While studying a ground-nesting bird population near El Reno, Okla., a research team found that stress during a severe weather outbreak of May 31, 2013, had manifested itself into malformations in the growing feathers of the young birds. The team witnessed a phenomenon termed ‘pallid bands’ in a large proportion of fledgling Grasshopper Sparrows and found spikes in the chemical signatures of ‘pallid bands,’ which led to abnormalities in the new feathers….The team predicted that the feather tissue with ‘pallid bands’ would contain a spike in certain nitrogen isotopes. In a stress response, muscle tissue breaks down shifting the nitrogen composition of the blood, which is then incorporated into the developing feathers. From 18 young birds at the site, the team measured the nitrogen isotope levels in the ‘pallid bands’ relative to other sections of the same tail feathers. As a result, the team was definitively able to attribute these stress markers to the May 31, 2013, severe weather outbreak by confirming the expected proportion of young birds in an average year that would have hatched as of May 31, 2013 with the proportion of young birds showing ‘pallid bands.’


Jeremy D. Ross, Jeffrey F. Kelly, Eli S. Bridge, Michael H. Engel, Dan L. Reinking, W. Alice Boyle. Pallid bands in feathers and associated stable isotope signatures reveal effects of severe weather stressors on fledgling sparrows. PeerJ, 2015; 3: e814 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.814


Northwest hatchery operation. Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University

Threat of ocean acidification to coastal communities in US

Feb 23, 2015

Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the $1 billion shelled mollusk industry (primarily oysters and clams) are at long-term economic risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, a new report concludes. This first nationwide vulnerability analysis, which was funded through the National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The Pacific Northwest has been the most frequently cited region with vulnerable shellfish populations, the authors say, but the report notes that newly identified areas of risk from acidification range from Maine to the Chesapeake Bay, to the bayous of Louisiana. “Ocean acidification has already cost the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest nearly $110 million and jeopardized about 3,200 jobs,” said Julie Ekstrom, who was lead author on the study while with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is now at the University of California at Davis.
George Waldbusser, an Oregon State University marine ecologist and biogeochemist, said the spreading impact of ocean acidification is due primarily to increases in greenhouse gases.
This clearly illustrates the vulnerability of communities dependent on shellfish to ocean acidification,” said Waldbusser, a researcher in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author on the paper. “We are still finding ways to increase the adaptive capacity of these communities and industries to cope, and refining our understanding of various species’ specific responses to acidification.
Ultimately, however, without curbing carbon emissions, we will eventually run out of tools to address the short-term and we will be stuck with a much larger long-term problem,” Waldbusser added.

The analysis identified several “hot zones” facing a number of risk factors. These include:

  • The Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington coasts and estuaries have a “potent combination” of risk factors, including cold waters, upwelling currents that bring corrosive waters closer to the surface, corrosive rivers, and nutrient pollution from land runoff;
  • New England: The product ports of Maine and southern New Hampshire feature poorly buffered rivers running into cold New England waters, which are especially enriched with acidifying carbon dioxide;
  • Mid-Atlantic: East coast estuaries including Narragansett Bay, Chesapeake Bay, and Long Island Sound have an abundance of nitrogen pollution, which exacerbates ocean acidification in waters that are shellfish-rich;
  • Gulf of Mexico: Terrebonne and Plaquemines Parishes of Louisiana, and other communities in the region, have shellfish economies based almost solely on oysters, giving this region fewer options for alternative — and possibly more resilient — mollusk fisheries.

The project team has also developed an interactive map to explore the vulnerability factors regionally. One concern, the authors say, is that many of the most economically dependent regions — including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and Louisiana — are least prepared to respond, with minimal research and monitoring assets for ocean acidification….


Melting Glaciers Create Noisiest Places in Ocean, Study Says

Mar. 6, 2015 — Researchers measure underwater noise in Alaskan and Antarctic fjords and find them to be the noisiest places in the ocean. This leads researchers to ask how animals such as whales and seals use the noise and what will happen to fjord ecosystems once the glaciers recede and the noise disappears.. “The ocean ambient sound gives us clues to the physical processes going on, but it also is an important aspect of the environment in which marine mammals and fish live. Like teenagers at a loud rock concert, the seals and whales modify their behavior depending on the ambient sound levels,” said Erin Pettit, a glaciologist from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Geosciences…… full story



Within a humid area, the areas with lower soil moisture produce the warmest air, permitting the water vapour to rise the highest and thus meet the colder air layers the soonest. As a result, it rains most frequently at these locations.

How rain is dependent on soil moisture

March 6, 2015

It rains in summer most frequently when the ground holds a lot of moisture. However, precipitation is most likely to fall in regions where the soil is comparatively dry. This is the conclusion reached by researchers following an analysis of worldwide data. Their study contributes to a better understanding of soil moisture, a little explored climatic factor….


La Niña-like conditions associated with 2,500-year-long shutdown of coral reef growth

Feb 23, 2015

A new study has found that La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panamá were closely associated with an abrupt shutdown in coral reef growth that lasted 2,500 years. The study suggests that future changes in climate similar to those in the study could cause coral reefs to collapse in the future. The study found cooler sea temperatures, greater precipitation and stronger upwelling — all indicators of La Niña-like conditions at the study site in Panama — during a period when coral reef accretion stopped in this region around 4,100 years ago. For the study, researchers traveled to Panama to collect a reef core, and then used the corals within the core to reconstruct what the environment was like as far back as 6,750 years ago.



Climate-change clues from turtles of tropical Wyoming

February 24, 2015

Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming by University of Florida scientists reveal that when Earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today’s turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble. While the fossil turtle and its kin could move northward with higher temperatures, human pressures and habitat loss could prevent a modern-day migration, leading to the extinction of some modern species. The newly discovered genus and species, Gomphochelys (pronounced gom-fo-keel-eez) nanus — provides a clue to how animals might respond to future climate change, said Jason Bourque, a paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and the lead author of the study, which appears online this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Coral disease linked to a warming Atlantic

February 24, 2015

Over the last four decades, the iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals that dominated Caribbean reefs for millions of years have all but disappeared. According to a new study from Florida Institute of Technology, ocean warming has played a significant role in this dramatic decline. The results of the study also suggest that limiting the rate of ocean warming, which would require curbing greenhouse gas emissions, could support the recovery of these critical reef-building corals.
White-band disease is a widespread coral disease that affects elkhorn and staghorn corals, and this disease has been plaguing these corals for decades. Florida Tech Ph.D. student Carly Randall and her faculty advisor, Robert van Woesik, studied the relationship between ocean temperatures and white-band disease and reported their findings in the February issue of Nature Climate Change.



Family log of spring’s arrival helps predict climate-driven change

Posted: 02 Mar 2015 09:33 AM PST

Rare historic records of the changing seasons are helping scientists better understand how woodland trees and flowers are responding to climate change. Scientists used records — compiled by one family over a 200-year period — to show that higher autumn temperatures affect the leafing times of woodland plants in the following spring.



Interaction of Atlantic and Pacific oscillations caused ‘false pause’ in warming

February 26, 2015

The recent slowdown in climate warming is due, at least in part, to natural oscillations in the climate, according to a team of climate scientists, who add that these oscillations represent variability internal to the climate system. They do not signal any slowdown in human-caused global warming. “We know that it is important to distinguish between human-caused and natural climate variability so we can assess the impact of human-caused climate change on a variety of phenomena including drought and weather extremes,” said Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology, Penn State. “The North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans appear to be drivers of substantial natural, internal climate variability on timescales of decades.”


Climate-warmed leaves change lake ecosystems

February 25, 2015

Rising soil temperatures significantly affect autumn leaves and consequently the food web, appearance and biochemical makeup of the lakes and ponds those leaves fall into, a Dartmouth College-led study finds. The study is one of the first to rigorously explore climate warming’s impact on “ecological subsidies,” or the exchange of nutrients and organisms between ecosystems. “Our findings could have profound consequences for conceptualizing how climate warming impacts linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,” says the study’s lead author Samuel Fey, a visiting scholar at Dartmouth and a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. The findings appear today online in the journal Oikos. The researchers collected maple leaves during autumn from experimental forest plots where the soil had been warmed or left untouched. They added the leaves to experimental freshwater enclosures containing plankton food webs consisting of zooplankton, algae and bacteria, thus creating “no leaf,” “ambient leaf” and “heated leaf” conditions. They then monitored the physical, chemical and biological responses in these artificial ponds until the enclosures froze six weeks later. The results showed that soil warming caused a two-fold decrease in the leaves’ phosphorus concentrations, and that the addition of these “warmed” leaves to the ponds decreased the water’s phosphorus, dissolved organic carbon and density of bacteria, but improved the water’s clarity and caused a three-fold increase in the density of cladoceran zooplankton, commonly called water fleas. Zooplankton provide a crucial source of food to many larger aquatic organisms such as fish…..



Climate science literacy unrelated to public acceptance of human-caused global warming

February 24, 2015

Deep public divisions over climate change are unrelated to differences in how well ordinary citizens understand scientific evidence on global warming. Indeed, members of the public who score the highest on a climate-science literacy test are the most politically polarized on whether human activity is causing global temperatures to rise. These were the principal findings of a Yale-led study published Feb. 5 in the journal Advances in Political Psychology. In the study, a nationally representative sample of 2,000 U.S. adults completed a test measuring their knowledge of prevailing scientific consensus on the causes and consequences of climate change. They also indicated whether they believed that human activity is responsible for global temperature increases in recent decades. Consistent with national opinion surveys generally, the study found that the American public is split on the existence of human-caused climate change. “The study participants were deeply divided along partisan lines, with about 50% saying they do believe in human-caused climate change and 50% saying they don’t,” said Dan Kahan, professor of law and of psychology at Yale Law School and the lead researcher on the study. Disagreement did not diminish, however, as the study subjects’ climate-literacy test scores increased. On the contrary, “those with the highest scores were even more politically polarized,” Kahan said.



The manufacturing of doubt on climate change science, backed by the fossil fuel industry, has its roots with the tobacco industry’s assault on climate science in the 1960s. Photograph: Richard Hamilton Smith/Richard Hamilton Smith/Corbis

Doubt over climate science is a product with an industry behind it

With its roots in the tobacco industry, climate science denial talking points can be seen as manufactured doubt

Graham Readfearn Thursday 5 March 2015 00.30 EST Last modified on Thursday 5 March 2015 00.42 EST

It’s a product that you can find in newspaper columns and TV talk shows and in conversations over drinks, at barbecues, in taxi rides and in political speeches. You can find this product in bookstores, on sponsored speaking tours, in the letters pages of local newspapers and even at United Nations climate change talks. This product is doubt – doubt about the causes and impacts of climate change, the impartiality of climate scientists, the world’s temperature records, the height of the oceans and basic atmospheric physics. … In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been given yet another glimpse into the global climate science denial industry and the machinery that produces all of this doubt. For those playing catch-up, the story revolves around Dr Willie Soon, who is a long-serving climate science denialist and worker bee for numerous conservative think tanks over the past 15 years.

Documents obtained from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where Soon has a part-time research position, have raised questions over the rules around conflict of interest and funding disclosures in the journals where Soon has published his work. As The Chronicle of Higher Education has explained, The Smithsonian doesn’t actually pay Soon a wage and he has no association with the world-renowned Harvard University, despite the name of his institution suggesting there might be one. Soon chases money himself and in the last decade practically all of it has come either from the fossil fuel industry or conservative groups. The Smithsonian is now carrying out a review, after it also emerged that it had agreed to a clause preventing the institution from revealing the identity of at least one donor. Now three US Senators have asked 100 fossil fuel groups, conservative “free market” think tanks and conservative aligned funding groups for information about climate change research and scientists they might have been involved with. Soon claims the sun is the main driver of the world’s climate, but he also downplays concerns over rising sea levels and the health impacts of mercury from burning coal. Scientists have long criticised Soon’s work as flawed. Dr Gavin Schmidt, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has described Soon’s work as “singularly poor” and “almost pointless”…..

The campaign to sow doubt and discredit science to maintain industry profits was one honed by the tobacco industry during its fight against the science linking its products with cancer.

In the book Merchants of Doubt (released as a film this week) authors Naomi Oreskes (an actual Harvard professor) and Erik Conway explain that some of the same individuals and think tanks who had worked with the tobacco industry had moved on to climate science denial. Documents obtained by US lawsuits against the tobacco industry in the 1990s and 2000s are now housed in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. Among the many thousands of documents, is Bad Science: A Resource Book
described in Merchants of Doubt as a “how-to handbook for fact fighters”. Produced by the tobacco industry to help any industry fight any legislation that responded to scientific findings, this was a representation of big tobacco’s playbook in written form. The book provided soundbites and ready-made talking points to arm any industry fighting regulation. Among the talking points the book suggested should be pushed home were:

Too often, science is manipulated to fulfil a political agenda. Government agencies, too often, betray the public trust by violating principles of good science in a desire to achieve a political goal. Public policy decisions that are based on bad science impose enormous economic costs on all aspects of society. Among the newspaper cuttings provided as back up were newspaper columns, several of which took climate science denialists viewpoints, with self-explanatory titles. There was “Warming Theories need a Warning Label”, “Earth Summit Will Shackle the Planet, Not Save It” and “Great Hoax On Asbestos Finally Ends”. In a famous 1969 tobacco industry memo, one executive wrote: Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. Within the business we recognize that a controversy exists. However, with the general public the consensus is that cigarettes are in some way harmful to the health. If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health. Doubt is also the limit of our “product”.

What’s clear – and has been clear for well over a decade – is that the climate science denial industry is largely an extension of a program developed in the 1960s by big tobacco. Much of its product, liberally spread, is a public relations exercise. The fact that this is not regularly acknowledged is possibly also a result of the production of doubt. You’ll probably be able to sample some of that product in the comment section of this post. Enjoy.


“Merchants of Doubt”: Meet the sleazy spin doctors who will stop at nothing to obscure the truth

A must-see new documentary from the director of “Food, Inc.” exposes the dirty tricks of professional deceivers

March 6, 2015


Doctors should take lead in push to curb climate change – experts

Thomson Reuters Foundation – Sat, 28 Feb 2015 07:31 GMT Author: Kyle Plantz

LONDON, Feb 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Doctors should take the lead in supporting political efforts to cut the pace of climate change and encouraging more people to see the problem as a crucial issue for public health, experts say. With the 68th World Health Assembly coming up in May in Geneva, countries are poised to adopt the world’s first resolution on air pollution and health, in an effort to reduce premature deaths linked to air pollution. Studies have found that air pollution can worsen a variety of health problems, from heart disease to strokes, said Carlos Dora, coordinator of public health and the environment at the World Health Organization (WHO). ….. For a growing number of doctors, “health and climate change are no longer seen as different issues and are almost seen as synonymous because there is more evidence and data out there that link the two,” he said. A survey of members of the American Thoracic Society, which represents 15,000 physicians and other medical professionals who work on respiratory disease and related issues, found that the majority were already seeing health effects in patients that they believe are linked to climate change. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they have seen an increase in chronic diseases in patients that are linked to air pollution, and 65 percent said they believed climate change was directly relevant to patient care, according to the survey, conducted by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University and published in the February edition of the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society…..


Asian tree rings explain historical plague outbreaks in Europe

February 24, 2015

An interdisciplinary consortium of researchers from Oslo University and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, for the first time, demonstrate that climate-driven plague outbreaks in Asia were repeatedly transmitted over several centuries into southern European harbors. This finding contrasts the general believe that the second plague pandemic “Black Death” was a singular introduction of Yersinia pestis from Asia to Europe in 1347 AD. Their results are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. To date, scientists were mainly seeking to discover long-term wildlife reservoirs of Yersinia pestis in Europe and aiming to link those with possible climatic triggers that most likely contributed to the “Black Death” that struck the Old World in mid-14th century. Scholars at CEES and WSL, however, found new evidence that challenged the prevailing view of a singular introduction of the bacterium from central Asian plague foci into the Mediterranean harbors of medieval Europe.









A view from Monument Peak Ridge in the Trinity Alps taken in May, 2014.Trinity Lake, one of California’s largest reservoirs, is in the distance with a noticeable bathtub ring. Credit: Gary Robertson/Flickr

Global Warming Upped Heat Driving California’s Drought

Brian Kahn March 2nd, 2015

Despite a recent influx of snow and rain this past weekend, extremely low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has conspired with warm temperatures to keep the state in the grips of one its worst droughts on record for at least another year. The precipitation has been the key ingredient to start the drought, but heat has played an important role in maintaining and intensifying it. A new paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that human greenhouse gas emissions have helped increase the odds in favor of warm, dry conditions for the Golden State. More ominously, the results suggest that by 2030, the warm weather driving the current drought could become a yearly occurrence. The current California drought began at the end of 2011, when a failed rainy season sparked moderate drought conditions around the state. Since then, it has expanded and strengthened, with nearly 40 percent of the state in the most severe type of drought listed by the U.S. Drought Monitor as of last week. Record warmth has helped keep those drought conditions locked in place.

The hot, dry weather has had huge impacts from exacting at least $2.2 billion in agricultural losses to literally moving mountains as farmers have drawn down historic amounts of groundwater to supplement meager rainfall. Urban areas have implemented water rationing programs and some ski areas have been forced to stop their lifts as snow has all but disappeared in the Sierra Nevada this year. Much has been made of the ridiculously resilient ridge, a block of high pressure that’s deflected storms to the north of the state. There have been hints of climate change in the ridge’s persistence but nothing conclusive about the drought. The new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy Science turns its eye on temperature as a confounding variable and finds climate change is much more definitively connected. “There’s no question that low precipitation is a prerequisite for severe drought in California but it’s not sufficient,” Noah Diffenbaugh, a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, said. “The efficiency of low precipitation turning into severe drought is much higher if there are warm conditions.”

Diffenbaugh led the new research, which analyzed 20 moderate to severe droughts that are on record for California going back to 1896. Those droughts have occurred twice as often since 1995. Wet season precipitation hasn’t changed noticeably over that time period. The big shift has been temperature….



This Feb. 18 infrared image from the AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite shows a warm U.S. west. The darker orange colors indicate warmer temperatures.

NASA satellite sees a warm winter U.S. West

February 23, 2015

While people in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S have been dealing with Arctic Air, the bulge in the Jet Stream over the eastern Pacific Ocean has been keeping the western third of the U.S. in warmer than normal temperatures over the last two months. Infrared data from NASA provided a look at those surface temperature extremes from west to east. Californians have been flaunting their flip-flops and tee shirt weather at friends and relatives on the frigid East Coast. The contrast is extreme, Californians are experiencing their warmest winter since modern record keeping began and Bostonians are staggering through 8 foot and higher snowdrifts. Why? “It’s the weather-controlling polar jet stream — a fast river of wind in the upper atmosphere — that has been locked in an extreme pattern for the past few years,”
explained Climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “Rather than circling in a relatively straight path, the jet stream has meandered in great north-south waves. In the west, it’s been bulging northward, arguably for the past two winters — a pattern meteorologists have nick named the ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.’ Over frigid northern Canada, the jet takes a hard right turn and plunges into the upper Midwest and East Coast, plummeting temperatures and creating punishing ice and snow storms.”..



CALIFORNIA: State’s farmers begin to confront their ominous groundwater shortage

Debra Kahn, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Friday, March 6, 2015

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — California’s perpetual problem of groundwater depletion has gotten so dire that people are actually working to solve it.

In California, groundwater deposits are getting saltier as cities and farms extract more water than is replenished naturally, allowing ocean water into the porous aquifers. One of the worst areas for it is the Pajaro Valley, a small farming community near Santa Cruz. In a state that has long touted itself as the nation’s No. 1 agricultural producer, the seawater has worked its way into groundwater deposits roughly 3 miles inland from the coast. Water experts and state officials were in a conference room at the corporate headquarters of massive berry grower Driscoll’s in Watsonville last week to discuss the issue and try to amplify it. “The state of California has to deal with groundwater, or we’re going to ruin this state,” said Miles Reiter, CEO of Driscoll’s, which has operations in six states as well as Argentina, Canada, Chile and Mexico. Driscoll’s executives are uncommonly frank about the hard realities California is faced with because they are unavoidable in the Pajaro Valley, which gets more than 90 percent of its water from groundwater. Some farmers in the valley are already at the point where their groundwater water is too saline to use. “There are a handful of customers that take our delivered water; their wells have gone so salty they can’t irrigate with it,” said Brian Lockwood, senior hydrologist for the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PVMWA), which completed a pipeline in 2008 to deliver recycled irrigation water to Monterey and Santa Cruz counties from a recycled water treatment plant. “It’s only our delivered water that keeps their farms running….

While the valley’s groundwater depletion has been going on for years, it’s exacerbated by the statewide drought, as depletion accelerates when rainfall doesn’t enter the aquifers. Driscoll’s started working on this in 2010, after decades of hand-wringing and strife among farmers and water agencies on the central coast. At one point in the early-to-mid 2000s, a $200 million import pipe was under consideration, which the PVMWA backed away from in 2010 due to community opposition. An initial triumph was an agreement published in a local newspaper that made three declarations: The Pajaro Valley is important for agriculture, the import pipeline is not an option, and there will be “costs and sacrifices” required to bring the aquifer into balance. “As the dream of large scale water importation has faded, we must now find ways to live within our means,” the agreement says. That includes capturing rainfall, then using it to irrigate or putting it back underground; capturing irrigation water for reuse; and even stopping farming on some lands. “Everybody is worried about this, whether they admit it or not,” Reiter said. “And it’s really sort of liberating to just quit arguing about if there’s a problem and who it’s going to damage the most and kind of reach out more broadly.” Now, they have quarterly meetings and a fairly steady supply of funding for projects like a recharge basin at a Watsonville ranch, which allows runoff from the Santa Cruz Mountains to filter back into the ground, and a project to limit the use of sprinklers to plants’ rooting phase only.

“I’d say the biggest step was acknowledging there was an issue and acknowledging we’re part of the problem, so we have to be part of the solution,” Reiter said. “That seemed to liberate a lot of other people to say, ‘So are we, and we’re worried about it, too.’ The dialogue became much more civilized and has led to some positive steps.




California water conservation weakening as drought worsens. Tougher rules on the way?

San Jose Mercury News‎ by Paul Rogers March 4 2015

California is heading into the fourth summer of a historic drought, but when it comes to conserving water, its urban residents are going backward.

State officials are mulling tougher water restrictions, but critics say the new rules being considered don’t go nearly far enough and that the state risks severe water shortages if it doesn’t do more soon. According to new data released Tuesday, Californians cut water use 8.8 percent statewide at homes and businesses in January compared with January 2013, the baseline year used by state water officials. That’s a far cry from the 20 percent conservation target that Gov. Jerry Brown asked state residents to hit last year. And it’s a significant drop-off from the 22 percent drop that Californians recorded in December compared with December 2013. In a reversal from previous trends, residents in the Los Angeles-San Diego area cut water use 9.2 percent in January, significantly more than Bay Area residents, who reduced their use by only 3.7 percent. The reason for the backsliding, experts say, is that December had two big storms, which led millions of residents to turn off lawn sprinklers and stop watering outdoor plants.
But January was the hottest and driest January recorded in many California communities since modern records were first kept back to 1850. And with the balmy, sunny conditions, lawn watering accelerated. “Folks look at their lawns, and they just can’t bear them being brown,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, which collects data from roughly 400 cities, counties and water agencies. On March 17, the board will consider new rules to increase water savings. Marcus said the rules are likely to include requirements that all restaurants in California refrain from serving water unless customers ask, all hotels post signs telling guests they can elect not to have sheets and towels washed every day and a rule that

….”The responses have to be far more comprehensive and aggressive,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland water research organization. “The issue is not telling people not to water their lawns after it rains; the issue is telling people to get rid of their lawns. The issue is not about restaurants and glasses of water; it’s about getting rid of millions of inefficient appliances.”… …Marcus said other rules the board could consider starting in May include bans on watering parks or golf courses with potable water if recycled water is available, a requirement that all cities check their water systems for leaks and limiting lawn watering to two days a week. Gleick said the Brown administration should be distributing money from the water bond voters passed in November to fund programs that pay people to replace old washers, dishwashers and other appliances with more efficient models. The funds, he said, should also be used to pay people to remove lawns, which use 50 percent of all the water in many California communities. “The policy we adopted last year of hoping for rain has turned out to be a failure,” Gleick said. “We better look for more effective new ones — and soon.” Although winter rains in Northern California have been encouraging, leaving rainfall totals near historic averages so far in the Bay Area and Sacramento, rainfall totals have been much lower in the Central Valley and Los Angeles. Worse, record hot temperatures and warm winter storms have left the state with a historically small Sierra Nevada snowpack. On Tuesday, the state Department of Water Resources reported that the snowpack is 19 percent of the historic average for the beginning of March



Time when Southwest was wet and Northwest was dry aids efforts to predict future rainfall patterns

February 23rd, 2015

Climate scientists now put the odds that the American Southwest is headed into a 30-year “mega drought” at 50/50. Meanwhile, the forecast for the Pacific Northwest is continued warming with slightly drier summers and even wetter winters. However, 21,000 years ago, at the peak of the last Ice Age, a period known as the Last Glacial Maximum, the Southwest was wetter than it is today — much wetter — and the Northwest was drier — much drier. A team of scientists from Vanderbilt and Stanford universities have created the first comprehensive map of the topsy-turvy climate of the period and are using it to test and improve the global climate models that have been developed to predict how precipitation patterns will change in the future. Their efforts are described in a paper published online on Feb. 23 by the journal Nature Geoscience.







Tale of two droughts: What California, Syria can teach about adaptation gap (+ video)

Christian Science Monitor March 3,2015

At first glance, California and Syria appear to have little in common other than Mediterranean climates. But two new studies – focusing on severe droughts in these places half a planet apart – highlight a yawning gap in the abilities of developed and many developing countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. Each study, appearing in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents ways in which global warming is boosting the likelihood of additional droughts as severe and prolonged as those the two have experienced. But they also “are identifying the importance of risk and extreme events,” says Noah Diffenbaugh, a researcher at Stanford University in California, and the lead author of the paper focusing on California’s intense drought. That risk, he explains, involves not just increases in the probability of extreme events, but “in the vulnerability of people and ecosystems that are in harm’s way when those physical climate hazards occur.” That vulnerability is influenced by farm, land-use, and water-management policies, other social, political, and economic factors, and population growth.

As geographically distant as the two regions are, they are even further apart in their economic ability to respond and adapt to severe changes in climate. Some adaptive strategies that have worked in affluent California would be hard to implement for poorer nations, such as Syria. Beyond differences in wealth and the behavior of the climate itself, political, social, and economic factors may be as important in determining potential for adaptation and the success of those efforts as changes to the climate itself. These studies highlight the challenges international aid organizations are likely to face as distinct regions need specific intervention strategies, even when the challenges they face are strikingly similar…. In both places, long-term warming has boosted the chances of prolonged, severe drought by increasing the periods where gradually rising temperatures coincide with periods of scant precipitation, the researchers say. Prolonged periods of warmer temperatures tend to evaporate what little moisture may be available in the soil when precipitation is scarce. A prolonged drop in rain and snowfall may be traceable to natural swings in climate. But warming due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels – and climate feedbacks that reinforce the warming – raise the likelihood for the overlap between unusual dry spells and warming….



Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy comprise just one category of the climate-change-driven risks that companies and governments are beginning to plan for.Credit: Scott Brandon Peterson/Flickr

Climate Adaptation Experts Help Prepare for Disaster

Published: February 28th, 2015 By Amy Westervelt, Ensia

In 2008, floods in Thailand forced the temporary closure of four Nike factories, costing the company millions of dollars. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy demolished Verizon’s copper-wire infrastructure on the U.S. eastern seaboard, costing thousands of Verizon customers service and the company $1 billion in repair costs.

Extreme weather events like these comprise just one category of the climate-change-driven risks that companies and governments are beginning to plan for. Others include water scarcity, sea-level rise, fuel shortages and shifting migratory patterns. To help companies and governments gauge which of these risks are most relevant to them, and figure out what they can do about it, a new breed of experts — climate adaptation specialists — is beginning to emerge. Over the past few years, climate adaptation has become a field, separate from climate mitigation, which focuses on reducing emissions and minimizing carbon footprints. Climate adaptation experts now head up new adaptation practices at consulting firms or lead sustainability teams for companies and government offices. Although climate mitigation is still far more common and better funded, climate adaptation is having a moment. In recent years, Nike has been developing adaptation strategies for its Southeast Asian factories. It also has focused on locating factories in less climate-insecure areas.

….The first step in any climate adaptation project, whether for the private or public sector, is to conduct a vulnerability assessment to determine which climate-related changes might most affect the company or region, according to Nora Ferm, senior associate at Cascadia Consulting and leader of the firm’s three-year-old climate adaptation practice.”It starts with a review of the information out there and how it’s relevant to the client,” she says. “Then there will often be a stakeholder-engagement process to identify adaptation options, evaluate and prioritize them, and put together a plan. Not many people have actually gotten to the implementation phase yet, but generally when they do they’re likely to need consultants who specialize in engineering or communication.”

Climate adaptation consultants also empower clients to evaluate risks and formulate adaptation plans on their own in the future. A Cascadia project with the city of Seattle, for example, resulted in the creation of a tool the city used to evaluate all infrastructure projects. Cascadia then took that tool to Vietnam, where a coastal city used it to create a land use plan.

….While risk-assessment and planning tools are useful, one of the most important services climate adaptation consultants provide is translating climate science into clear, relevant information for business leaders and public officials…..The ability to bridge science and policy is just one of many skills Ferm says are required for those hoping to enter the booming climate adaptation industry. Prospective adaptation consultants should have a good understanding of climate science, know where to find the right information, and have good facilitation and communication skills, too.

“Part of that involves listening really well, understanding what sorts of decisions people are making already, and on what time frame, so we can help them understand how climate change factors into those decisions,” she says. “The idea is to integrate climate change into ongoing processes rather than treat it as a stand-alone that feels daunting or time-consuming or just gets forgotten. If we can develop systems that include it, that’s more likely to get traction.”///Ultimately, Schuchard says, the best climate adaptation consultants are those who can think systematically about the problem, “integrating multiple disciplines and using a traditional management framework — finance, operations, and so forth — to make sense of these issues.” 



Fitting meters has immediate effect on consumers’ water saving habits

February 25, 2015

University of Southampton research has shown consumers reduce their water consumption by 16.5 per cent after they receive a metered connection — based on the study of a five-year programme to install nearly half a million water meters in the south-east of England. This reduction is far more than the national average of ten per cent and is mainly achieved very quickly after a meter is installed. ….. The research also shows that people cut down their consumption very early in the switching process, even though metered charges aren’t activated until after three months. In the second month after the installation of a meter, consumers saved an average of 37 litres per day. In the third month, they saved an average of 50 litres per day. The reductions continued after metered charges kicked in, albeit at a slower pace, reaching an average saving of almost 70 litres after the fourth bill — or two years of metering.






The EPA Just Ripped California’s Big Renewal Energy Plan

by Chris Clarke KCET February 25, 2015 5:10 PM

As the state and federal agencies drafting a massive plan to zone the California desert for energy development struggle to put a record number of public comments online, one comment in particular may cause the document’s authors even more work. The public comment period on the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, known as the DRECP, closed Monday, and by the end of the day about 12,000 people had submitted comments on the draft plan. That’s about one comment per page of the gargantuan document, which would determine the course of renewable energy development on 22.5 million acres of the California desert in seven counties. Among the comments on the draft DRECP already made available on the plan’s website is one from a key government agency charged with protecting the environment: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And if the EPA’s comment is taken seriously, the framers of the DRECP have a whole lot more work to do. Though the EPA’s comments (PDF) start out by commending the agencies that drafted the plan, EPA goes on to suggest that the plan is lacking in its examination of potential impacts to air and water, wildlife, and public health in the desert.
In addition, the EPA bluntly suggests that the DRECP’s assumptions about the amount of renewable energy desert communities will need to provide the rest of the state are outdated, inflated, and in need of revision, and suggests that any desert energy development be focused on lands the EPA has already identified as disturbed or contaminated through its RePowering America’s Lands initiative, which has so far received scant mention in the DRECP. The agency also specifically calls out the draft plan for not paying enough attention to the DRECP’s effect on desert watercourses such as the Amargosa River, suggests that the DRECP should examine whether large renewable energy installations in the plan area should be treated as large stationary sources of air pollution similar to coal-fired plants under the Clean Air Act, and urges that the final version of the plan remove a renewable energy development area from the Silurian Valley.

The deputy head of the Bank of England’s prudential regulation authority said: ‘investments in fossil fuels and related technologies … may take a huge hit’. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Bank of England warns of huge financial risk from fossil fuel investments

Global action on climate change could cause insurers’ investments in fossil fuels to take a huge hit, says bank’s prudential regulation authority

Damian Carrington Tuesday 3 March 2015 05.55 EST Last modified on Tuesday 3 March 2015 08.45 EST

Insurance companies could suffer a “huge hit” if their investments in fossil fuel companies are rendered worthless by action on climate change, the Bank of England warned on Tuesday. “One live risk right now is of insurers investing in assets that could be left ‘stranded’ by policy changes which limit the use of fossil fuels,” said Paul Fisher, deputy head of the bank’s prudential regulation authority (PRA) that supervises banks and insurers and is tasked with avoiding systemic risks to the economy. “As the world increasingly limits carbon emissions, and moves to alternative energy sources, investments in fossil fuels – a growing financial market in recent decades – may take a huge hit,” Fisher told an insurance conference. He said there “are already a few specific examples of this having happened”, but did not name them, and added that it was clear his concerns had yet to “permeate” the sector. The new warning from one of the world’s key central banks follows a caution from its head Mark Carney that the “vast majority of [fossil fuel] reserves are unburnable” if climate change is to be limited to 2C, as pledged by the world’s governments. The bank will deliver a report to government on the financial risk posed by a “carbon bubble” later in 2015….


With climate change, US presidents matter

By John Abraham & February 26, 2015

Yesterday, President Barack Obama became the first president who has taken a stand to stop climate change…Keystone pipeline veto…


Here’s What Gas Would Have To Cost To Account For Health And Environmental Impacts

by Katie Valentine Posted on March 5, 2015 Updated: March 5, 2015

Accounting for the social costs of burning gasoline would add an average of $3.80 per gallon to the pump price, a study has found….


A New U.S. Grand Strategy

Why walkable communities, sustainable economics, and multilateral diplomacy are the future of American power.

By Patrick Doherty January 9, 2013

The strategic landscape of the 21st century has finally come into focus. The great global project is no longer to stop communism, counter terrorists, or promote a superficial notion of freedom. Rather, the world must accommodate 3 billion additional middle-class aspirants in two short decades — without provoking resource wars, insurgencies, and the devastation of our planet’s ecosystem. For this we need a strategy.

The status quo is untenable. In the United States, the country’s economic engine is misaligned to the threats and opportunities of the 21st century. Designed explicitly to exploit postwar demand for suburban housing, consumer goods, and reconstruction materials for Europe and Japan, the conditions that allowed it to succeed expired by the early 1970s. Its shelf life has since been extended by accommodative monetary policy and the accumulation of household, corporate, and federal debt. But with Federal Reserve interest rates effectively
zero, Americans’ debt exceeding their income, and storms lashing U.S. cities, the country is at the end of the road.

….A New Grand Strategic Concept

In the face of the present danger and in the best tradition of the republic, America’s response must be to lead. The country must put its own house in order and, with willing partners, author a prosperous, secure, and sustainable future. The task is clear: The United States must lead the global transition to sustainability. While some great powers and world capitals have been warning of these dangers for some time, it is clear that the effort ultimately requires an upgrade to the current international system. This will require the kind of principled, consistent leadership and hard-nosed geopolitics that only America, at its best, is able to deliver.

America must once again start at home. For a limited time, it will be able to transition its economy to generate sustainable prosperity from deep pools of demand and underutilized capital. Once America commits, with its credibility on the mend and its economy as a wind at its back, it must then lead a new global partnership of major economies to adapt the international order. The halting logic of unwieldy climate negotiations will be supplanted by harnessing the greater force of economic self-interest: The United States will have to work with its partners to forge, implement, and verify a durable transition framework among the world’s major economies. …

…Central bankers in the United States and abroad are
calling for politicians to step up with broader economic policy. Economists from Bernanke to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman agree that the predominant factor driving long-term unemployment is weakness in aggregate demand. Fortunately, due to large-scale demographic shifts over the past 20 years, the United States is sitting astride three vast pools of it. It is now imperative to design a new economic engine to exploit this demand while restoring America’s fiscal health.

Walkable communities: The first pool of demand is homegrown. American tastes have changed from the splendid isolation of the suburbs to what advocates are calling the “five-minute lifestyle” — work, school, transit, doctors, dining, playgrounds, entertainment all within a five-minute walk of the front door. From 2014 to 2029, baby boomers and their children, the millennial generation, will converge in the housing marketplace — seeking smaller homes in walkable, service-rich, transit-oriented communities. Already, 56 percent of Americans seek this lifestyle in their next housing purchase. That’s roughly three times the demand for such housing after World War II…..

Regenerative agriculture: To meet rising population and income levels, the world needs to increase global food production by 60 percent by 2050, and 100 percent of that new total will need to be regenerative — restoring our soils and cleaning our waterways in the process. For the American farmer, the increase in demand is already translating to record prices, but the heartland is held back from capturing the additional gain from regenerative methods — up to three times the profits per acre and 30 percent higher yields during drought — because of federal policy set in 1972.

It is time to restore America’s heartland. Instead of depleting soils and polluting rive…rs, the country will adopt modern methods that will bring more land into cultivation, keep families on the land, and build regional food systems that keep more money circulating in local economies….

Stranded hydrocarbon assets: As Americans realize their walkable American Dream, as farmers make more money feeding the world with regenerative farming, and as the United States rebuilds its middle class, employment and prosperity will rise and America’s carbon emissions will drop. The country can do well and do good. It must, however, also do more. The scientific community insists we must calibrate our policy to keep global warming within a 2-degree Celsius upper limit. This strategy will tune U.S. domestic and foreign policies to do so. With no further action, however, markets will begin to devalue the unburnable proven hydrocarbon assets on the books of publicly listed companies and state-owned energy producers the moment such a policy is declared. The resulting shock to hydrocarbon energy companies, which make up roughly 11 percent of the S&P 500 index, would pose a systemic risk to domestic and global markets. Globally, the top 200 hydrocarbon companies have a combined value of $7.42 trillion, and some estimates value the total stranded asset pool as high as $20 trillion, or 40 percent of global GDP. It is imperative, therefore, for the United States to convene domestic and global stakeholders to manage this market transition to avoid such an unacceptable disruption in global markets, index funds, and Americans’ retirement security. Washington should work with industry, scientific leaders, and other key stakeholders to negotiate a framework and predictable timetable to minimize the downside risk, to find non-emitting uses for hydrocarbons, and to turn the transition into another driver of innovation while redirecting investment flows into other market segments….

Minding American Strategy

America has never confronted a global challenge of the type or magnitude it faces today. If it does not change course, the United States will be racked by violent storms — both figurative and literal — as the global order breaks down. The country cannot delay. For a few short years, it has a window in which it can choose an incredibly prosperous 21st century, but that window will close. It is time once more to lead the world through difficult change. The United States must first get its own house in order. It will adapt its industry. It will build a new American Dream. It will lead the world by example while defining the future and inspiring greatness. And America will do all this while emerging from an economic depression that is wasting its most precious resource — its citizens’ talents.

It is, as the great strategist George Kennan understood, the truest test of America’s worth as a nation. And while some might say U.S. politics are not up to the task, the great purposes for which America’s founders brought forward the United States endure: liberty, justice, the common defense, and the general welfare — not only for ourselves, but also for future generations. These are the sacred goals of the United States, and they are calling a new generation to author a bold and uncompromising future that remains prosperous, secure, and sustainable.

To succeed, America must revive and update the discipline of grand strategy. It must create a civilian Office of National Strategy, within the executive branch, to organize the effort. The country must, from this moment forward, expose the framework of U.S. national strategy to democratic scrutiny and adapt it as conditions evolve. By articulating and monitoring U.S. strategy, citizens and representatives can challenge its elements and refine the metrics, targets, and actions necessary for implementation — and be less distracted by the loud voices of narrow interests.








New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right

“This is as exciting as the Public Service Commission gets.”

—By Tim McDonnell| Fri Mar. 6, 2015 6:30 AM EST

Under a new order from the state’s Public Service Commission, utility companies will soon be barred from owning “distributed” power systems—that means rooftop solar, small wind turbines, and basically anything else that isn’t a big power plant.


Renewable energy obtained from wastewater

February 24th, 2015

Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have devised an efficient way to obtain electrical energy and hydrogen by using a wastewater treatment process. The proposed system, published in Water Research, uses bacteria which consumes the organic material and produces electricity which produces hydrogen, the energetic vector of the future. The results point to further developments of this technology at industrial scale. Currently, there are treatments in which wastewater can flow out to the river or sea without causing any environmental problems. These technologies however entail high energy costs, mainly in aeration and pumping, and an elevated economic cost in treating the sludge left over from the treatment process. Wastewater contains an elevated amount of chemical energy in the form of organic contaminants. In order to make use of this energy, researchers from around the world study ways to recover it in the form of hydrogen, a process which efficiently eliminates organic matter from wastewater. It not only reduces the amount of energy needed during the process, it also obtains energy from the produced hydrogen. The key to achieve this is what is known as microbial electrolysis cells (MEC). What is needed is a very special type of bacteria, exoelectrogenic bacteria, capable of oxidising organic material and generating electricity which in turn produces hydrogen. These cells only need a bit of added voltage, much less than what is used for water electrolysis, and which is recovered with the hydrogen, thereby generating clean energy.


New tech could significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions

March 3, 2015

A new provisionally patented technology from a New Mexico State University researcher could revolutionize carbon dioxide capture and have a significant impact on reducing pollution worldwide. With support from NMSU faculty members Abbas Ghassemi, Reza Foudazi and Jalal Rastegary, Khazeni has developed a special material that can capture carbon dioxide with greater capacity than any technology currently in widespread use for that purpose. Technology licensing associate Theresa Lombard helped Khazeni obtain a provisional patent for the technology. “This technology is going to radically impact the world with regard to carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere,” Lombard said. “It’s exciting.”


Understanding electric car ‘range anxiety’ could be key to wider acceptance

Posted: 03 Mar 2015 09:39 AM PST

Drivers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles due to ‘range anxiety,’ the fear of becoming stranded with an empty battery. This phenomenon was recently addressed in a study that aims to explain range anxiety and determine whether hands-on experience can reduce drivers’ stress.



UK cities including London not as ‘smart’ as global counterparts

Posted: 03 Mar 2015 07:57 AM PST

Major cities in the UK are falling behind their international counterparts in terms of their use of smart technologies, according to a new study. The research has found that smart cities in the UK, such as London, are not as advanced as the leading smart cities across the globe, such as San Francisco, Barcelona and Amsterdam, because of a lack of citizen engagement with new smart technologies.






New on the CA Climate Commons: Rangelands and Climate Change
Climate change and rangeland scientists, ranchers, and land managers have developed scenarios to address a primary management question: How can we maintain viable ranchland and their ecosystem services in light of future integrated threats? The scenarios represent alternative futures of climate/land use/hydrological change for the Central Valley, surrounding foothills, and most of the southern Inner Coast Range. The project scientists have developed a new article to facilitate use of these rangeland scenarios “How to Use the Threat Assessments on California Rangelands Maps to Inform Land Use Decisions.”


Earth is Blue Campaign

In celebration of its 42nd anniversary, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) launched a new social media campaign – Earth is Blue – to share compelling imagery from around the sanctuary system.  ONMS shares a photo every day and a video every week highlighting the wonder and beauty of the national marine sanctuaries and the work being done to protect them. Click here to learn more!





Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources, Wed 25 March 2015, 10-11:30 PT
Mariel Murray, White House Council on Environmental Quality
Dr. Mark L. Shaffer, Ph.D., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
For more information and to register, go to:

If you have any questions regarding the Safeguarding webinar series, please contact: Shayna Carney,





Point Reyes Station, CA

The conference takes its name from Wallace Stegner’s famous “Wilderness Letter” to Congress in support of the 1964 Wilderness Act. In it he described wild landscapes as part of our “geography of hope.” Building on that, the 2015 gathering will be a conversation about how to map out a new geography of hope. The Geography of Hope Conference features panels and conversations held in a hay barn and in the West Marin elementary school gymnasium as well as art exhibits and installations at local galleries. Naturalist-led field trips to Point Reyes National Seashore let participants experience the land firsthand. Additional field trips go to privately owned farms and ranches in West Marin. Meals feature delicious food from Marin’s farms and ranches served family-style. For more information, click here.


Revelations: Celebrating Our Local Heroes and the Art of Nature  March22 2015
Join Bay Nature Institute in celebrating Julia Clothier and two other extraordinary Bay Area conservation heroes at its Annual Awards Dinner on March 22, 2015 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm.
Julia is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Local Hero Award for Environmental Education to honor her tremendous achievements educating our communities’ about the natural wonders of the local Bay Area. There will also be a presentation by San Francisco artist Josie Iselin featuring gorgeous images from her book An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed. Enjoy this once-a-year gathering that brings together the Bay Area’s conservation leaders and nature lovers from all points of the nine-county region!


2015 California Climate & Agriculture Summit  March 24 and 25, 2015
UC Davis Conference CenterCall for Workshop and Poster Presentations   


INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE  Abstract submission deadline is 1 November 2014 


ABSTRACT SUBMISSION (through November 1, 2014) and REGISTRATION (through January 25, 2015) NOW OPEN for Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century – A 2.5-day Summit at U.C. Berkeley March 25-27, 2015 convening natural and social scientists, managers and practitioners — 100 years after historic meetings at U.C. Berkeley helped launch the National Park Service — to rededicate a second century of science and stewardship for national parks.  This summit will feature visionary plenary lectures, strategic panel discussions on current controversies, and technical sessions of contributed paper and posters.   Keynote Speaker: E. O. Wilson.  Distinguished Plenary Speakers and Panelists include David Ackerly, Jill Baron, Steven Beissinger, Joel Berger, Edward Bernbaum, Ruth DeFries, Thomas Dietz, Josh Donlan, Holly Doremus, Ernesto Enkerlin, John Francis, David Graber, Denis Galvin, Jane Lubchenco, Gary Machlis, George Miller, Hugh Possingham, Jedediah Purdy, Nina Roberts, Mark Schwartz, Daniel Simberloff, Monica Turner, & Jennifer Wolch.


Regional-Sonoma County- climate adaptation forum set for April 8

Organized by the Santa Rosa-based North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative, the Sonoma County Adaptation Forum will bring together individuals from across a spectrum of sectors and disciplines who are working on measures to ensure that Sonoma County …


Communicating about Climate Impacts and Engaging Stakeholders in Solutions April 30 & May 1, 2015, 9:00am – 5:00pm, Romberg Tiburon Center, Tiburon, CA

With Cara Pike from Climate Access. $310 includes lunch and all materials — Limited scholarships are available

Bay Conference Center, Romberg Tiburon Center, 3152 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA 94920


16th Bay Area Conservation Biology Symposium
on May 2nd, 2015 Call for Abstracts & Opening of Registration

The Berkeley Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology would like to announce the 16th Bay Area Conservation Biology Symposium on May 2nd, 2015. Since the 1990s, this one-day conference has showcased the pioneering conservation biology science by graduate students at Bay Area universities and researchers at local agencies and NGOs. Our theme for this year is “Bridging Boundaries for Effective Conservation,” which will foster discussion around connectivity across institutions, disciplines, research methods, and landscapes. We now welcome abstract submissions for oral presentations and posters. Please visit the Registration & Abstracts page to submit your abstract.

  • Abstract submission closes: March 14th
  • Decisions on submitted abstracts: March 30th
  • Early registration closes: April 18th

Please visit our website at for more information including plenary speakers, schedule, and directions. This event is sponsored by UC-Berkeley’s Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management. Questions? Email us at



National Adaptation Forum– Call for Proposals
May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO

The National Adaptation Forum is a biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation, and mutual support for a better tomorrow. The Forum will take place from May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. 
Proposals are being accepted for Symposia, Training Sessions, Working Groups, Poster Presentations, and a Tools Cafe. 

Click here for more information.



22nd annual conference

California Society for Ecological Restoration (SERCAL)

“Restoration for the Next Generation” May 12-14 2015 San Diego

The annual SERCAL conference is attended by a diverse mix of researchers, students, consultants, nonprofit and agency scientists, planners, and landowners/managers, and is a great venue for professional development and for staying current with new advances in ecological restoration.  “Call for Abstracts” document ( The deadline for abstract submission is Feb. 4, 2015. Please note the five additional conference sessions (Wetlands/Water, Urban, Mitigation Banks, Special-status Plant Species, and Using Restoration to Accomplish Non-restoration Goals) – abstracts are being sought for these sessions as well. A poster session will also be held, and abstracts for this event are also welcome. The conference (May 13-14) will be proceeded by a day of field trips related to restoration in Southern California.



First San Joaquin River Restoration Program Science Symposium

June 11-12, 2015, Los Banos Community Center, Los Banos, CA.  More information will follow soon, but save the date!  


American Water Resources Association (AWRA): “Climate Change Adaptation”  June 15 – 17, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Abstracts due to AWRA website: 02/13/2015  

The focus of the conference is on ACTION – how we more effectively develop and use climate change adaptation information to respond, build resilient systems, and influence decision makers. The conference will bring water professionals from federal, state, local, and private sectors together to focus on the issues that need to be addressed to develop effective strategies for mitigating climate change impacts such as sea-level rise, changes in precipitation patterns, increased severe weather events, and worsening droughts, AND more effectively communicate such information to decision makers. Conference sessions will be devoted to addressing the following questions:

•     How can climate change adaptation be integrated into water, coastline, and riparian resource planning and management?
•     How can data, models and tools aid in adaptive actions?
•     What are social/cultural factors of climate change adaptation?
•     How are businesses and economics impacted by climate change and can they serve as drivers of action?
•     What adaptation actions should be taken to conserve, restore, protect, and enhance water quality and quantity?
•     Moving from planning to action – what steps are needed? What do decision makers need?
•     What engineering and infrastructural approaches are available to address climate change adaptation?


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.




The NERRS Science Collaborative (NSC) is soliciting proposals for two types of projects.

Science Transfer Projects

·       Proposals are due March 27

·       Awards of up to $45,000 total, for up to 2 years

·       Projects should extend, share and apply existing information, approaches, and/or techniques within the NERRS and with partners outside of the reserve system.


All questions about these funding opportunities should be submitted to  For additional information, please visit


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


TomKat Ranch Conservation Ranching Fellowship 2015

Innovations in sustainable animal agriculture, conservation ranching, business, technology, food advocacy, and community organizing are needed to truly make sustainable animal agriculture viable and sustainable.The TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation is committed to producing healthy food on working lands in a way that sustains the planet and inspires others to action.  In cooperation with our on-site partners, the ranch is an open-source learning laboratory that supports research and innovation to inform compatible and sustainable strategies for conservation and production. The Conservation Ranching Fellowship is an exciting opportunity for leaders, innovators, and professionals in the field of sustainable ranching to spend a year at TomKat Ranch working closely with TomKat’s world-class staff and on-site partners to care for the ranch’s 2,000+ acres and herd of 100% grass-fed cattle, share his/her knowledge, skills, and ideas and work with the TomKat team to develop innovative solutions to the challenges of sustainable ranching. The Conservation Ranching Fellowship is a one-year paid position that includes a competitive compensation package (including health benefits) to attract the best and brightest in sustainable ranching.  The fellow’s principal responsibility is to provide on-the-ground support and knowledge to help TomKat Ranch manage its land and animals using the most ecological, productive, and sustainable methods available. …









Happy lungs. CREDIT: shutterstock

Better Air Quality Helps Lungs Grow, Science Shows For First Time

by Ari Phillips Posted on March 6, 2015 at 11:39 am

A groundbreaking new study has found that long-term improvements in air quality are associated with better respiratory function in children during critical growth years. The study, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at lung development in children ages 11 to 15 in Southern California over the course of the last two decades as air pollution controls significantly improved air quality. It is the first time that researchers have shown that better air quality leads to the direct improvement of lung development in children. The University of Southern California Children’s Health Study measured lung development in thousands of adolescent children in communities across the Los Angeles area since 1993. The project found large gains for the children studied from 2007 to 2011, compared to children of the same age in the same communities from 1994-98 and 1997-2001. By adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, height, respiratory illness, and other variations, the study provides strong evidence that improved air quality by itself brings health benefits. “We saw pretty substantial improvements in lung function development in our most recent cohort of children,” said lead author W. James Gauderman, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “It’s strange to be reporting positive numbers instead of negative numbers after 20 years….



The warming world: Is capitalism destroying our planet? Der Spiegel

With another round of climate negotiations approaching, it is becoming increasingly clear that mankind has failed to address its most daunting problem…


Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash For a Doubtful Climate Scientist

By JUSTIN GILLIS and JOHN SCHWARTZ NY Times February 20, 2015

Newly released documents show the extent of the links between corporate interests and the published work of Wei-Hock Soon, a scientist who has tried to debunk the consensus about global warming.



Serbia’s 100 dinar bill features inventor Nikola Tesla. Credit: National Bank of Serbia

Nikola Tesla changed the world — so why did we forget him?

PRI’s The World

March 05, 2015 · 1:30 PM EST

Nikola Tesla isn’t a big name in the United States. I’d heard of him, and you might have — but probably because of the fancy new car that carries his name, not for his many stunning accomplishments….


Hidden hazards found in ‘green’ products

Posted: 05 Mar 2015 08:06 AM PST

Common consumer products, including those marketed as ‘green,’ ‘all-natural,’ ‘non-toxic’ and ‘organic’ emit a range of compounds that could harm human health and air quality, researchers have found. But most of these ingredients are not disclosed to the public.





Incredible Photo Shows a Weasel ‘Riding’ a Woodpecker

Business Insider  March 3rd, 2015











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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