Tag: Agriculture

Island Biogeography Theory Misses Mark for Tropical Forest Remnants

Species losses due to habitat fragmentation may be less bleak than predicted under the island biogeography theory, says a study of bat biodiversity in Costa Rica and Panama.

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Climate-Smart Agriculture: Integrating Adaptation and Mitigation in the Tropics

Both adaptation and mitigation strategies will help farmers in the tropics deal with climate change. The problem? These strategies are often pursued separately, reducing their effectiveness in meeting broader conservation goals.

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Plight of the Bumble Bee: Conserving Imperiled Native Pollinators

You’ve probably heard about the loss of honey bees. But did you know native bumble bees face even more alarming declines? These vital pollinators are disappearing due to pesticides and habitat loss. You can make a difference — right in your backyard.

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Of Drones and Cranes: UAV Technology Aids California Bird Conservation

Sandhill Cranes congregate in great numbers at night, crowded together in flooded fields. How can California conservationists accurately count them. Enter a new tool in bird monitoring: the drone.

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Meet the NatureNet Fellows: Daniel Karp

Meet NatureNet Fellow Daniel Karp and learn about his plan for decision support tools that will help farmers evaluate the benefit of preserving natural habitat.

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Working with Farmers and Nature

Agriculture presents one of the most difficult challenges for conservation. What if we could improve our food supply by taking lessons from nature rather than continually struggling against it?

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New Report: What Will the Urban Century Mean for Nature?

Can biodiversity thrive in an increasingly urban world — or are the predictions of disasters destined to be correct? A new UN report co-authored by TNC’s Rob McDonald has some surprising answers.

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Are We Losing Our Wetlands Conservation Legacy?

Wetlands conservation has been one of the greatest successes of the conservation movement. But are we at risk of draining that legacy away?

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Weird Nature: Is “Ugly” Produce the Next Big Thing at the Farmers’ Market?

Jon Fisher looks at unsprayed but “ugly” produce at the farmer’s market and asks: Could blemished apples be the next big thing? And are there environmental benefits?

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Quick Study: What Do New Food Safety Protocols Mean For Habitat and Wildlife?

No one wants to eat a salad full of E.coli. But are new farm-based food safety practices that aim to reduce potential contamination from wildlife really helping? And what impact could these practices have on nature and wildlife?

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Conservation Future: Announcing the 2013 NatureNet Fellows

Nine young scientists — with specialties ranging from energy infrastructure to urban ecology, Kenyan pastoral techniques to nanotechnology — inaugurate a program designed to help kick-start conservation toward addressing the challenges facing people and nature in the 21st century.

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Farming, Adapting to Climate Change & the Limits of Imagination

A new study from Conservancy scientists says irrigation needs are going to increase significantly under future climate change projections. Can farmers be equally radical in how they respond to these drier conditions?

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Quick Study: How Will Climate Change Affect Irrigation of Farm Lands in U.S.?

Quick Study is just what it says — a rapid-fire look at a new conservation science study that might turn some heads.

The Study: McDonald, R. and E. Girvetz. 2013. Two challenges for U.S. irrigation due to climate change: increasing irrigated area in wet states and increasing irrigation rates in dry statesPLoS ONE 8(6): e65589. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065589.

The Questions: Climate change models forecast higher average temperatures that will cause crop-growing seasons in the United States to become hotter and drier. How will this impact the irrigation needs of agriculture in the United States? And how will farmers respond to drier conditions?

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New Study: How Cities Can Finally Get Smart About Water

If the definition of insanity is making the same mistakes over and over, then many cities have taken a certifiable approach to securing their water supplies — and they need some radical therapy before taking the big economic, ecological and human hits that come with a permanent state of thirst.

That’s the conclusion from a new study in the journal Water Policy, whose authors compared the water supply histories of 4 cities — San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio and Adelaide, Australia. Among the lessons learned? Urban water conservation, recycling and desalination aren’t silver bullets. In fact, the best solution may lie upstream with farmers — saving just 5-10% of agricultural irrigation in upstream watersheds could satisfy a city’s entire water needs.

Brian Richter, a senior freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy and the study’s lead author, told me more about what cities need to do to say on the right side of dry.

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Kareiva: Vanishing Soils, the World’s Dirty Secret

We talk a lot about the biodiversity crisis, the energy crisis, the water crisis, the climate crisis, the food crisis, deforestation and so on. But what about the soil crisis?

Today, around the world the mean rate of soil loss is roughly ten times the rate at which soil is replenished. In some countries such as China, the rate of soil loss can be as high as 50 times greater than replenishment.

It is hard to imagine a better indicator of our failure to achieve sustainability. What could be more fundamental than the soil that grows the plants from which 99% of humankind’s calorie intake is derived?

From a biodiversity and conservation perspective, this soil loss also impinges on many of our more traditional concerns. It represents nutrient and sediment flow into our rivers and estuaries, to the detriment of fisheries.

Conservation has many narratives of profligate humanity soiling their nest and creating some sort of eco-catastrophe. Often those narratives are overstated and excessive.

But in the case of soil, the doom-and-gloom has some merit. Some historians have examined the arc of human history as a series of civilizations bankrupting their soils.

And it is not just data and science. If you have gardened and felt the comfort and seduction of warm, fertile soil in your hands, you know how primal is the link between people and soil. When someone back in the recesses of time coined the term “Mother Earth,” I have to believe she or he was thinking of warm soil.

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