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Barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus) herds in North America may reach considerable size and undertake large-scale seasonal migrations from the Arctic tundra to the boreal forest. To test the caribou decline hypothesis associated with native harvesting and fire, we have documented the long-term trends of caribou activity based on a novel approach which uses tree-ring dated trampling scars produced by caribou hooves in the extensive trails distributed over the summer and winter ranges of the Rivièreaux-Feuilles herd (RAF herd, east of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec). The age structure data of trampling scars from lichen woodlands distributed over the entire RAF range confirmed the overall trends of caribou activity from the late 1700s to present time. Over the last 200 years, the RAF herd has undergone two highs in the late 1700s and 1900s separated by a moderate activity pattern in the late 1800s. Native harvesting was possibly involved in the early 1900s decline, although at a moderate level. The reduced magnitude of caribou activity during this period has not modified the natural cycle of highs and lows, which suggests that other demographic factors were controlling the changing caribou abundance. Our data also show that only exceptionally large fires may have a minor, short-lived impact on caribou migrations but not on caribou numbers.
Global climate change is expected to severely impact Arctic ecosystems, yet predictions of impacts are complicated by region-specific patterns and nonuniform trends. Twentyfour open-water overwintering areas (or “microhabitats”) were identified to be of particular importance for eight seabird and marine mammal species in the eastern Canadian High Arctic and Baffin Bay. Localized trends in the available fraction of open-water were examined in March during 1979–2001, derived from approximate sea ice concentrations from satellite-based microwave telemetry. Declines in the fraction of open-water were identified at microhabitats in Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, coastal West Greenland, and Lancaster Sound. Increases in open-water were observed in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Foxe Basin. The biological importance of each microhabitat was examined based on species distribution and abundance. Potential consequences of reduced open-water for top marine predators include impacts on foraging efficiency and oxygen and prey availability.
We investigated unhatched eggs (n = 57) of Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) from the period 1988–2002 and compared them with eggs (n = 134) from 1971–1978. Mean concentrations of PCBs, ∑DDT and HCB in the earlier period were (mg kg−1 lipid weight) 50.1, 126.6, and 117.7, while the values from the later period were statistically significantly lower: 27.7, 4.1, 0.1, respectively. Nevertheless, the concentration of PCB is relatively constant during the last 8–10 years. The variability of residues was lower within clutches than among clutches. No age-dependent accumulation in eggs could be demonstrated. A statistically significant lower shell index was measurable for the period 1971–1978, while this index during 2001–2002 was relatively high as it was during the late 18th century. We are suggesting a threshold value for effect concentrations on shell index. Residues of the DDT-group had an influence on the number of fledged young per nest site.
Agricultural intensification, greatly accelerated as a result of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), has led to rastic reductions in the populations of many wild plant and animal species that used to be characteristic of farmland. In 1992, the EU provided the member states with its Agri-environment Regulation 2078/92 to help member states reverse these developments by means of agri-environment schemes. The question is: will the implementation of these schemes be sufficient to restore the biological diversity on farmland? Most studies that have examined the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes have focussed on farmland birds in Great Britain and The Netherlands. So far, the positive effects appear to be limited. Continuous evaluation and adaptation of these schemes is needed to enable the biodiversity on farmland to recover from the EU's former policy.
High levels of DDT residues and hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) were found in soil, well water, and surface water around a collapsed pesticide storage shed at Vikuge Farm, Tanzania. Residues of DDT and HCHs were found at three soil depths down to 50 cm. Surface soil samples contained up to 28% total DDT and 6% total HCH residues. Water samples had concentrations of up to 30 µg L−1 of organochlorine pesticides. Other compounds detected were aldrin, azinphos-methyl, carbosulfan, γ-chlordane, chlorprofam, heptachlor, hexazinone, metamitron, metazachlor, pendimethalin, and thiabendazole. Although the visible remains of pesticides have been removed, the remaining soil is itself hazardous waste and poses a risk to the environment and the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. These findings show the necessity to follow up the environmental situation at former storage sites of obsolete stocks of pesticides, and that the environmental problems are not necessarily solved by removing the visible remains.
Despite the pivotal role human factors (anthropogenic drivers) are presumed to play in global environmental change, substantial uncertainties and contradictory conclusions about them continue. We attempt to further discipline the human factors issue by estimating the effects of two anthropogenic drivers, population and affluence, on a wide variety of global environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, emissions of ozone depleting substances, and the ecological footprint. Population proportionately increases all types of impacts examined. Affluence typically increases impacts, but the specific effect depends on the type of impact. These findings refocus attention on population and material affluence as principal threats to sustainability and challenge predictions of an ameliorating effect of rising affluence on impacts.
Conservationists recognize that many protected areas have limited future prospects without the cooperation and support of local people, especially in developing countries. Since the 1980s Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) have attempted to reconcile park management with local needs and aspirations, usually with disappointing results. Achieving local cooperation and support without jeopardizing conservation goals remains a top priority for parks, however. Fortunately, the lessons from the ICDP experience provide an important opportunity to inform the next generation of biodiversity conservation programs, including those concerned with poverty alleviation as well as those working at ecosystem and landscape scales. More recent and more promising approaches have started to incorporate elements of adaptive management, new partnership models with stakeholders and the vertical integration of site-level work with policy initiatives and institutional development.
This study is focused on the global expansion of protected-area coverage that occurred during the 1980–2000 period. We examine the multi-scale patterning of four of the basic facets of this expansion: i) estimated increases at the world-regional and country-level scales of total protected-area coverage; ii) transboundary protected areas; iii) conservation corridor projects; and iv) type of conservation management. Geospatial patterning of protectedarea designations is a reflection of the priorities of global conservation organizations and the globalization of post- Cold War political and economic arrangements. Local and national-level factors (political leadership and infrastructure) as well as international relations such as multilateral and bilateral aid combine with these globalization processes to impact the extent, type, and location of protected-area designations. We conclude that the interaction of these factors led to the creation and reinforcement of marked spatial differences (rather than tendencies toward worldwide evenness or homogenization) in the course of protected-area expansion during the 1980–2000 period.
There is little evidence that nitrogen (N) cycling in the highly weathered, low-phosphorus (P), acidic soils found in Southern Hemisphere continents will differ greatly from that in North America and Europe. Evidence from the ‘south’ shows: the similarity in forms and temporal patterns in losses of N from different land uses; that the C:N ratios of the forest floor/litter layer from different continents are strongly predictive of a range of processes on a global scale; that generalizations based on Northern Hemisphere experience of the impact of N additions to ‘P-limited’ ecosystems are likely to fail for southern ecosystems where anatomical and physiological adaptation of native plants to low-P soils makes questionable the concept of ‘P-limitation’; that the greatest threats in the ‘south’ are probably changes in land use that may greatly increase N inputs and turnover; that localized increases in N inputs produce similar effects to those seen in the ‘north’.
The possible role of minerals in prebiotic chemistry is discussed. Reactions involving the transformation of inorganic forms of the biogenic elements into simple organic molecules are emphasized. Three central issues are presented in detail: i) the types of reactions minerals could possibly have promoted; ii) the availability of minerals with catalytic potential on early Earth; and iii) the available research strategy and methods to evaluate the roles minerals may have played in prebiotic chemistry on early Earth.
Recent experimental studies indicate that microorganisms play a passive role in silicification. The organic functional groups that comprise the outer cell surfaces simply serve as heterogeneous nucleation sites for the adsorption of polymeric and/or colloidal silica, and because different microorganisms have different cell ultrastructural chemistry, species-specific patterns of silicification arise. Despite their templating role, they do not appear to increase the kinetics of silicification, and at the very most, they contribute only marginally to the magnitude of silicification. Instead, silicification is due to the polymerization of silicasupersaturated hydrothermal fluids upon discharge at the surface of the hot spring. Microorganisms do, however, impart an influence on the fabric of the siliceous sinters that form around hot spring vents. Different microorganisms have different growth patterns, that in turn, affect the style of laminations, the primary porosity of the sinter and the distribution of later-stage diagenetic cementation.
Deposits of lacustrine calcite are important records of environmental changes. In order to interpret these archives, knowledge about the origin of the calcite is essential. It has been accepted that calcite precipitation can be induced by bacteria and algae. However, the detailed mechanisms are still unclear. This review summarizes what is known about the interactions between calcite precipitation and the autotrophic picoplankton. We consider findings from both field and laboratory studies. Field studies show that calcite precipitation in oligotrophic lakes is strongly linked with picocyanobacteria blooms. Laboratory experiments led to the formulation of the mechanism of precipitation induced by microalga. Experiments also showed that precipitation induced by picocyanobacteria is influenced by various factors including the uptake of inorganic carbon and the structure of the cell walls. Recent studies indicate that the influence of environmental conditions like the composition of lake water has to be taken into account as well. We conclude that in situ observations of precipitation processes at picoplankton cells under controlled conditions are needed to improve our understanding of mineral bacteria interaction.
As organic matter produced in the euphotic zone of the ocean sinks through the mesopelagic zone, its composition changes from one that is easily characterized by standard chromatographic techniques to one that is not. The material not identified at the molecular level is called “uncharacterized”. Several processes account for this transformation of organic matter: aggregation/disaggregation of particles resulting in incorporation of older and more degraded material; recombination of organic compounds into geomacromolecules; and selective preservation of specific biomacromolecules. Furthermore, microbial activities may introduce new cell wall or other biomass material that is not easily characterized, or they may produce such material as a metabolic product. In addition, black carbon produced by combustion processes may compose a fraction of the uncharacterized organic matter, as it is not analyzed in standard biochemical techniques. Despite these poorly-defined compositional changes that hinder chemical identification, the vast majority of organic matter in sinking particles remains accessible to and is ultimately remineralized by marine microbes.