Highlights from October ESA journals


From Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

How many endangered species are there in the United States?

With only 15 percent of known species in the United States studied well enough to determine if they are imperiled or not, David Wilcove (Princeton University, US) and Lawrence Master (NatureServe, US) review and extrapolate the actual number of species in danger, based on the numbers we do have.

Reviews in Frontiers

Reviews in the October issue of Frontiers include merging land and sea conservation by considering the ecological interactions between the two in "Integrated coastal reserve planning: making the land-sea connection," and the conservation of cultural resources in "Microbial deterioration of historic stone."

From Ecology

Wandering albatrosses

Wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) soar across the Indian Ocean for thousands of kilometers in a single trip, scouring the ocean for food. Henri Weimerskirch and colleagues from the National Scientific Research Center and the Natural History Museum of France, tracked the foraging behavior of the birds in "Prey Distribution and Patchiness: Factors in Foraging Success and Efficiency of Wandering Albatrosses," which appears in the October issue of Ecology. The study indicates this species has a unique foraging strategy. Unlike most seabirds, which concentrate on more predictable foraging areas, the researchers report that wandering albatrosses rely on prey that are highly dispersed, catch few prey in the same areas, and do not adjust their foraging to maximize their energy requirements.

Coral reef fish impacted by nuclear tests

France conducted a series of underground nuclear tests between 1976 and 1995 near the Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean. Controlled underground explosions kept radiation from reaching fish; pressure waves from the testing killed them. Using nearby study sites, French scientists discovered fish in coral reefs can recover from massive die-offs within five years of a major incident. For the fish populations to return however, the rest of the ecosystem from landscape to other organisms must remain intact, and there must be similar, unaffected regions of fish nearby to repopulate the area. The focus is on large single events; the results are not applicable to harvesting, which "usually exploits part of the biomass on a regular time frame," say the authors. However, the data will be useful for designing and managing marine protective zones and other preservation techniques.

From Ecological Applications

Identifying breeding origins of migrant birds

Jeffery Kelly (Oklahoma University), Kristen Ruegg (University of California, Berkeley) and Thomas Smith (University of California, Los Angeles) combine genetic and biochemical information to predict the breeding sources of the migrating Swainson's Thrush (Catharas ustulatus) with close to 80 percent accuracy in the study, "Combining isotopic and genetic markers to identify breeding origins of migrant birds."

Effects of soil pollution

German scientists examine how polluted soil affects plants' ability to survive stress in the study, "Soil degradation slows growth and inhibits jasmonate-induced resistance in Artemesia vulgaris." According to the scientists, "little is known about the interactions of biotic and abiotic stresses under ecologically realistic conditions." After the German reunification, a phosphorus fertilizer factory was closed after operating for nearly 40 years. Operations from the factory left behind heavy metals, salts and phosphorous in the soil. Plants started to return to the area naturally, so researchers used the site to test Common mugwart (Artemesia vulgaris) plants' ability to survive both abiotic soil stress and biotic stress from grasshoppers and aphids. Both plant fitness and their resistance to the insects were strongly negatively affected.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.