Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use

Land use by early farmers, pastoralists and even hunter-gatherer societies was extensive enough to have created significant global landcover change by 3,000-4,000 years ago. This is much earlier than has been recognised, and challenges prevailing opinions concerning a mid-20th century start date for the Anthropocene. These are the findings of a new study published this … Read more

A missing link in haze formation

Air-quality alerts often include the levels of particulate matter, small clumps of molecules in the lower atmosphere that can range in size from microscopic to visible. These particles can contribute to haze, clouds, and fog and also can pose a health risk, especially those at the smaller end of the spectrum. Particles known as PM10 … Read more

We must prioritise the protection of ecosystems

Prioritising and tracking the protection of countries’ ecosystems – from wetlands to reefs, forests and more – is critical to protecting Earth’s biodiversity. That’s the plea from The University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Professor James Watson, as policy makers from 190 nations prepare to meet in Rome next week to develop the … Read more

Global relationships that determine bird diversity on islands uncovered

The study, a collection of molecular data from bird species found across 41 oceanic archipelagos, reveals how the area and isolation of islands are key to determining the diversity of species they contain. It is known that biodiversity is unevenly distributed across the planet. But why do some islands such as the Galápagos and Hawaii … Read more

Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common

The variety of finch species on the remote Galapagos Islands is the most prominent example for Charles Darwin’s and Alfred R. Wallace’s theory of evolution through natural selection. Galapagos finch species have developed distinct beak sizes and shapes and thereby have adapted to different food sources. This exemplifies how even closely related species can effectively … Read more

Soil biodiversity is fundamental to maintain the health and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems worldwide

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature Ecology and Evolution and led by researchers from the Laboratoy of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning at the Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) provides novel evidence that multiple elements of soil biodiversity are fundamental for maintaining the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems across global biomes. A gram of soil … Read more

ANU gives koalas a home and care after bushfires

Koalas displaced and injured by Australia’s bushfire crisis are being cared for and housed temporarily at The Australian National University (ANU). Three of the Snowy Mountain koalas have been named after the American aerial firefighters tragically killed in the air-tanker crash in southeast NSW last week – Ian McBeth, Paul Hudson and Rick DeMorgan Jr. The … Read more

Helping prevent eco-interventions from backfiring

Drastic ecosystem interventions like eradicating an unwanted species can sometimes backfire, but new University of Queensland-led modelling may help to avoid these ecological hiccups. Dr Matthew Adams, from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said despite all good intentions, ecological interventions can have devastating consequences. “It would be great if we could simply assume … Read more

Humans not always to blame for genetic diversity loss in wildlife

Conservationists should be wary of assuming that genetic diversity loss in wildlife is always caused by humans, as new research published today by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) reveals that, in the case of a population of southern African lions (Panthera leo), it’s likely caused by ecological rather than human factors. Published … Read more

Current model for storing nuclear waste is incomplete

The materials the United States and other countries plan to use to store high-level nuclear waste will likely degrade faster than anyone previously knew because of the way those materials interact, new research shows. The findings, published today in the journal Nature Materials, show that corrosion of nuclear waste storage materials accelerates because of changes in … Read more