Ecology

Bisect this landscape with a wall, and how will the wildlife fare? Photo: Near the US-Mexico border in Arizona by Corey Taratuta via Flickr (CC BY).

Trump's 'beautiful wall' threatens 111 endangered species

Shonil Bhagwat
The Open University
| 20th February 2017
The 3,100km concrete wall Donald Trump plans to build along the US-Mexico border would be a disaster for the border zone's ecosystems, writes Shonil Bhagwat. Among the species at risk: ocelots, bears, Bighorn sheep, the US's last wild jaguars facing genetic isolation north of the border, and the Bald eagle, the US's national bird.

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When we can't even properly regulate fairly simple things like the chemicals coming from this plant in Sarnia, Ontario, what chance have we got with truly 'wicked' problems like genes engineered to spread through populations? Photo: Jon Lin Photography vi

Gene drives: the scientific case for a complete and perpetual ban

Jonathan Latham
| 13th February 2017
At what point are technologies so complex, uncertain, or unmanageable as to be beyond regulation? The question is key to human and ecological health, writes Jonatham Latham. But instead of learning from successful approaches, such as aviation safety, we are throwing the lessons away when faced with truly complex problems - like chemicals, GMOs, and now 'gene drives'.

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Bt GMO crops are designed to combat pests like the Helicoverpa armigera moth, which causes A$25 million of damage a year in Australia alone to crops such as cotton, legumes and vegetables. But there is a cost: damage to beneficial soil fungi. Photo: CSIRO

Vital soil fungi damaged by GMO Bt cotton

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
| 24th November 2016
A study of GMO cotton varieties shows they disrupt an important beneficial soil fungus, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji, apparently due to the Bt insecticide they are engineered to express. Disruption caused by the transgenic cotton to mycorrhizal fungi, and the wider soil ecosystem, may underlie the low yields and poor pest resistance now endemic among Bt GM crops.

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New scientific insights on ecologically unequal trade

Nick Meynen
| 23rd November 2016
Conventional economic analyses of trade tend only to discern the flows of money, writes NICK MEYNEN. But by also considering biophysical metrics - such as material and energy flows, and embodied water and land - ecological economists can identify the asymmetric flows of resources obscured by the apparent reciprocity of market prices.

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'Love Planet' by emily792872 via Flickr (CC BY).

Gaia lives! Overcoming our fear of a living planet

Charles Eisenstein
| 21st October 2016
To embrace the Earth as truly alive is a step too far even for many committed environmentalists, writes Charles Eisenstein: worried that others may perceive us as unscientific, childish, woolly-headed and ridiculous. But it's a step we must take: in refusing to recognise the living Gaia that is both our creator and our home, we accept and perpetuate the philosophy of her destroyers.

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How can we act in time to prevent ecosystem collapse in eutrophic waters? The answer is in the ecology. Photo: Dr. Jennifer L. Graham | US Geological Survey / eutrophication&hypoxia on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

How to avoid system collapse? It's the ecology, stupid!

James Dyke
Patrick Doncaster
| 22nd August 2016
Ecosystems don't collapse a little at a time, writes JAMES DYKE, but all of a sudden. So how can we see the danger signs and act in time to save them? A new study of eutrophic lakes shows that the answer lies, not in easily-measured nutrient levels, but from a more subtle understanding of the lakes' shifting ecology and types of species: keystones, weeds and canaries.

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Schumacher College celebrates 25 years of ecological teaching

Satish Kumar
Editor Emeritus
| 22nd August 2016
They said it would never work but time has proved those critics wrong. As the inspirational and pioneering Devon centre that combines ecology and spiritual learning celebrates its 25th anniversary, founder and Editor Emeritus of Resurgence & Ecologist, SATISH KUMAR, describes the flourishing of this remarkable and pioneering place of learning

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Shooting grouse in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Photo: Richard Woffenden via Flickr (CC BY).

Time to close down Britain's devastating grouse-shooting industry

Eduardo Goncalves
| 18th August 2016
The disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier on a Scottish grouse moor and the loss of eight Golden eagles in five years provide the latest evidence for a ban on driven grouse-shooting, writes EDUARDO GONCALVES. But birds of prey are only the most high-profile victims of a cruel and ecologically destructive industry.

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Could the British countryside look like this one day? Gaur, a species of wild cattle, in the forest at the Kabini Wildlife Santuary, Kerala, India. Photo: rahul rekapalli via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

What if Britain really did abandon its farms and leave them to nature?

Christopher Sandom
University of Sussex
| 16th August 2016
The National Farmers Union has been issuing dire warnings that if UK taxpayers do not keep on paying landowners billions of pounds of annual subsidies after Brexit, many will simply give up farming altogether. So, asks CHRISTOPHER SANDOM, how would our countryside change if they followed through on that threat? (Or was it a promise?)

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Temporary streams are set to become an increasingly common landscape feature in the UK. The River Manifold (Staffordshire, UK) already experiences annual drying due to features of the underlying bedrock. Photo: Tory Milner.

Dry rivers are living rivers - with our care and protection

Rachel Stubbington
| 25th July 2016
Although flowing water is fundamental to river ecosystems, temporary streams are distinctive landscape features that support surprisingly diverse communities, writes Rachel Stubbington. However, the biodiversity of these dynamic ecosystems needs greater recognition and protection.

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Ecologist New Voices - Environmental artist Gary Cook

8th July 2016

One of our New Voices is the UK-base environmental painter and activist Gary Cook who will be writing for us about the visual arts. As an introduction to his work, the committed conservationist explains how his extraordinarily powerful 'info-canvases' educate people about the threats to wildlife and the need for immediate action to protect our most endangered species for future generations.

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Jo Ruxton, co-producer of 'A Plastic Ocean'. Photo: via plasticoceans.net

Plastic Ocean - why the world should declare plastic 'hazardous waste'

Lesley Henderson
Brunel University London
| 8th June 2016
Plastic is ubiquitous around the world's oceans, writes Lesley Henderson, but although it's visible from space, it can be surprisingly elusive in the water - as she heard from Jo Ruxton, producer of the investigative documentary 'A Plastic Ocean'. Solutions to this growing hazard have also proved elusive to date, hence the film's strong focus on action: educational, cultural and legal.

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Red clover cover crop at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire: it may not be high-tech, but that's not to say it's anti-science! Photo: Sandy Lane Farm via Facebook.

Organic farmers are not anti-science - we leave that to the genetic engineers

Elizabeth Henderson
| 24th May 2016
Those opposed to the mass release of GM crops and foods inadequately tested for health and ecological safety are routinely accused of being anti-science, writes Elizabeth Henderson. But it's the GM corporations and their academic allies that are suppressing scientific research, and organic farmers that are building alliances with independent scientists for a future of safe, healthy food.

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Seeking Green Liberty! Photo: Adarsh Thakuri via Flickr (CC BY).

The way to Green Liberty: stop being afraid, work together to make things better

Dr Glen Barry
| 11th May 2016
A future of green abundance for all is possible, writes Glen Barry. Instead we are mired in the destruction of the Earth's vital ecosystems, divided by obscene wealth and shameful poverty, and pitted against each other in genocidal wars over energy, resources and global dominance. To make that alternative a living reality, we must shed our fears and come together in common purpose.

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Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on the picket line supporting the junior doctors' strike, 26th April 2016. Photo: Garry Knight via Flickr (Public Domain).

In the Corbyn era, Greens must move from socialism to ecologism

Rupert Read
| 10th May 2016
Where does the Green Party go now? Last week's uninspiring election results show that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour poses a serious challenge to us Greens, who can no longer succeed by being merely left wing. We must fulfil our own destiny, representing a distinct, authentic ecological strand in politics, making the case for living as if we only had one planet - as is in fact the case.

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Cabbage white butterflies eating the leaves, flowers and pods of a plant similar to Camelina, together with a deformed butterfly that been fed a diet rich in long chain n-3 fatty acids. Compound image by GMWatch & edited by The Ecologist.

GMO lobby's false claims to defend GM oilseed against deformed butterfly findings

Claire Robinson
GMWatch
| 9th May 2016
A recent scientific study found the same long-chain omega-3 oils that are engineered into a new GM Camelina oilseed variety make butterflies grow up with deformed wings, writes Claire Robinson. Attempts by the 'pro-science' non-scientist Mark Lynas to discredit the study are a mixture of ignorance, research failures, 'straw man' arguments and outright errors.

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Maud Lake, Desolation Wilderness, El Dorado County, California. Photo: Blake Lemmons via Flickr (CC BY).

Wilderness is the salvation of the American West

George Wuerthner
| 9th May 2016
The quiet desperation of declining towns and cities across America's West is understandable, writes George Wuerthner. Of course people dream of the 'good old days' when there were wild prairies to be grazed, forests to be felled and oil wells to be sunk - and try to bring them back. But in so doing they neglect and abuse their real and enduring wealth: nature, landscape and wildlife.

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The soil fungus Aspergillus nidulans on lactophenol cotton blue wet preparation. Photo: Iqbal Osman via Flickr (CC BY).

Monsanto's Roundup toxic to soil fungus at ultra-low doses

Claire Robinson
GMWatch
| 5th May 2016
A new study shows that the market-leading Roundup herbicide kills soil microbiota at concentrations 50 times lower than used in agriculture, writes Claire Robinson. The findings raise serious new concerns about the environmental impacts of glyphosate herbicides.

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Emerald ash borer is a saproxylic beetle native to Asia which feeds on Ash. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr (CC BY)

The fungus and the beetle: ash trees face wipeout from disease double whammy

Steve Woodward
Eric Boa
| 29th April 2016
Britain's ash woods are under threat from a fast-spreading 'dieback' disease, write Steve Woodward and Eric Boa. With 3% of ash trees resistant to the fungus, the species should just be able to survive. But now scientists fear the arrival of the Emerald ash borer beetle, already infesting forests in the US and mainland Europe. Could the two combine to push our ash trees into extinction?

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