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The Catrimani River basin in northern Brazil is the home of the Yanomama and has been the site of renegade gold mining since 1980. Gold-mining operations release inorganic mercury (Hg) into the environment where it is organified and biomagnified in aquatic ecosystems. Ingestion of mercury-contaminated fish poses a potential hazard to fish-eating populations such as the Yanomama. We surveyed Hg levels in Yanomama villagers living near mined and unmined rivers in 1994 and 1995, and analyzed Hg levels in piranha caught by villagers. In 1994, 90 Yanomama Indians from 5 villages and in 1995, 62 Yanomama Indians from 3 villages participated in the studies. Four villages surveyed in 1994 were located directly on the Catrimani River, approximately 140–160 km downstream from past gold-mining activities. The other village surveyed in 1994 was situated on the unmined Ajaraní River. In 1995, 2 of the Catrimani River villages were revisited, and a third Yanomama village, on the unmined Pacu River, was surveyed. Blood organic mercury levels among all villagers surveyed ranged from 0 to 62.6 µg L–1 (mean levels in each village between 21.2 µg L–1 and 43.1 µg L–1). Mercury levels in piranha from the mined Catrimani River ranged from 235 to 1084 parts per billion (ppb). Nine of 13 piranhas, measuring 30 cm or longer had total mercury levels which exceeded mercury consumption limits (500 ppb) set by both the World Health Organization and the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Unexpectedly, high mercury levels were also observed in fish and villagers along the unmined Ajaraní and Pacu Rivers suggesting that indirect sources may contribute to environmental mercury contamination in the Amazon basin.
Concentrations of 34 trace elements in hair have been determined in 47 females from an acid region in southern Sweden, who were compared with 43 females from an alkaline area. The concentrations of these elements in hair and drinking water were determined by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The hair concentrations of boron and barium were significantly higher (p < 0.001) in hair samples from the acid region, the hair levels of calcium, strontium, molybdenum, iron, and selenium were significantly higher (p < 0.001) in the alkaline region. For some metals, e.g. calcium, lead, molybdenum, and strontium, there were positive correlations between the concentrations in hair and water (rs = 0.34–0.57; p ≤ 0.001), indicating the importance of intake from minerals in water. The increased ratio of selenium/mercury concentrations in hair samples obtained in the alkaline district (p < 0.001) indicates that these subjects may have better protection against the toxic effects of mercury.
The drastic loss of seminatural grasslands and the decrease in species diversity in Europe during the 20th century are closely linked to social-economic factors. Development in agricultural production drives land-use changes, and thus controls the capacity of landscapes to maintain biodiversity. In this study, we link agricultural production changes to landscape fragmentation and species diversity. Our results show that the termination of grazing on seminatural grassland caused significant changes in landscape structure and a decline in the number of vascular plant species. The decline of grazed grasslands has been driven mainly by farm-level economic efficiency and profitability interests, which have been connected with agricultural policy measures. Since 1995, when Finland joined the European Union, the area of grazed patches in our study area has again increased as a result of a support scheme for the management of seminatural grasslands.
The inundated area of the Okavango Delta changes annually and interannually. The variability relates to regional precipitation over the catchment area in the Angolan highlands, and to local rainfall. The patterns of the wetland were captured using more than 3000 satellite images for the period 1972 to 2000, near daily NOAA AVHRR data for 1985–2000, and less frequent images of the Landsat sensors from 1972 onwards. One AVHRR image for every 10-day period was classified into land and water using an unsupervised classification method. Evaluation against Landsat TM and ERS2-ATSR data indicate an agreement of 89% for the size of estimated inundation area. Results show that the wetland area has varied between approximately 2450 km2 and 11 400 km2 during the last 30 years.
The invasion of Salvinia molesta in the Lower Senegal River Delta in Mauritania and Senegal in 1999 posed a serious threat to the socioeconomic conditions of the local people as well as to wetland biodiversity. Eventually, an effective biological control of S. molesta was obtained by means of the weevil Cyrtobagous salviniae, which was introduced in the river in Senegal and Mauritania in May 2000 and in Senegal in April 2001. In October 2001, it became apparent that the weevils were doing a magnificent job. The color of the plants was turning from green to dark-brown or black, and subsequently the plants started to sink to the bottom. Detailed monitoring of the dispersal of C. salviniae in November–December 2001 confirmed the visual observations of the outcome of biological control. In April 2002, it could be concluded that S. molesta was no longer a problem in the Senegal River.
Chemical control of desert locust (DL) is carried out over large areas of land, covering a range of different landscapes and ecosystems. There are no real restrictions for spraying in or close to environmentally sensitive areas and awareness of sensitivity is not always obvious to the people involved in control. However, concern about environmental issues in connection with DL control is growing and clear guidelines are needed. The objectives were: to identify and delineate areas particularly sensitive to pesticide contamination in northeastern Africa, e.g. protected areas, wetlands, populated places, oases, and areas with concentrations of migratory birds. These areas were matched with actual DL control during 1986–1998. The conclusion is that chemical control occurred in environmentally sensitive areas especially wetlands, e.g. temporary waters and mangroves; close to human settlements; and, to some extent, in or near protected areas and areas with numerous migratory birds.
The study provides an example of mapping tropical forest cover from SPOT-Vegetation satellite images of coarse spatial resolution (1 km) for the subregion of insular Southeast Asia. A satellite image mosaic has been generated from satellite images acquired for the period 1998 to 2000. Forest cover has been mapped by unsupervised digital classification. The mapping result has then been compared to selected forest maps from the subregion, demonstrating the potential to provide basic information on forest area extent and distribution, but also on massive forest cover change in the subregional context. Forest area estimates derived from the map for the subregion have been found comparable to those compiled by FAO. The results indicate that many of the remaining tropical forests in Southeast Asia, rich in timber resources and biodiversity, may be lost in the near future if deforestation continues at present or previous rates.
As global warming intensified toward the end of the 20th century, there was a northward shift in winter ranges of bird species in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. These pole-ward shifts were correlated to local increases in minimum winter temperatures and global temperature anomalies. This evidence, plus other recent results, suggests that during the last two decades global warming has led to massive and widespread biogeographic shifts with potentially major ecological and human consequences. Local habitat changes associated with urban sprawl affected mainly forest birds with more northern winter distributions. In Cape Cod, the effects of warming on bird distributions are more substantial at the start of the 21st century, than those of habitat alteration, but as urban sprawl continues its importance may rival that of global warming.
Our ecological footprint analyses of coral reef fish fisheries and, in particular, the live reef fish food trade (FT), indicate many countries’ current consumption exceeds estimated sustainable per capita global, regional and local coral reef production levels. Hong Kong appropriates 25% of SE Asia’s annual reef fish production of 135 260–286 560 tonnes (t) through its FT demand, exceeding regional biocapacity by 8.3 times; reef fish fisheries demand outpaces sustainable production in the Indo-Pacific and SE Asia by 2.5 and 6 times. In contrast, most Pacific islands live within their own reef fisheries means with local demand at < 20% of total capacity in Oceania. The FT annually requisitions up to 40% of SE Asia’s estimated reef fish and virtually all of its estimated grouper yields. Our results underscore the unsustainable nature of the FT and the urgent need for regional management and conservation of coral reef fisheries in the Indo-Pacific.