Monday August 19, 2019

Urbanisation is affecting Genetic makeup of Species that are crucial to the Ecosystem Health and Success: Study

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The Only Sustainable growth is degrowth. Pixabay

Washington, January 4, 2017: Urbanisation is affecting the genetic makeup of species that are crucial to the ecosystem health and success, says a study.

The findings open new opportunities for advancing our understanding of the role of humans in Earth’s evolution, said lead author Marina Alberti from University of Washington.

 “By explicitly linking urban development to heritable traits that affect ecosystem function, we can begin to map the implications of human-induced trait changes for ecological and human well being,” Alberti noted.

Rapid urbanisation poses new challenges for species, some of which will adapt or relocate while others go extinct, the researchers said.

With this study, they sought to learn whether signs of human-caused change could be detected across species in urban ecosystems worldwide, and to what extent humans and our cities and societies might be speeding up these changes.

They analysed 1,600 observations of phenotypic change — alterations to species’ observable traits such as size, development or behaviour — across multiple regions and ecosystems worldwide.

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They also assessed the relative impact of several human-caused “urban disturbances,” including the acidification and pollution of lake habitats, the relocation of animals, heat and effluents associated with a power plant, long-term harvesting of certain medicinal plants — even the apparent effects of global warming on the reproductive patterns of birds.

“We found a clear urban signal of phenotypic change — and greater phenotypic change in urbanising systems compared to natural and non-urban anthropogenic, or human-created systems,” Alberti said.

“The significance of these changes is that they affect the functioning of ecosystems,” Alberti said.

“They may inhibit the ability of seeds to disperse, cause exposure to infectious diseases, or even change the migratory patterns of some species,” Alberti noted.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (IANS)

Next Story

Territorial Waters As A Protected Area For Recovery of Ecosystem in Belize

"A healthy reef and vibrant fisheries sector is necessary for Belize to achieve its goals for reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition and increasing investment," said Belize Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade in the EDF statement.

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This photo taken March 2009 shows a Rainbow Parrot fish, front, passing by a group of yellow tail snapper off Caye Caulker Island near the second largest barrier reef that runs along the coast of Belize. VOA

Belize approved a plan Friday to set aside 10 percent of its territorial waters as a protected area, tripling the size of existing reserves in the world’s second largest barrier reef, according to an environmental group.

The major expansion of the small Caribbean island’s protected areas follows a six-year effort by international scientists and conservation groups led by Belizeans, the Environmental Defense Fund said in a statement.

The coalition found zones that can protect marine habitat and allow for recovery of degraded ecosystems, while helping replenish fish stocks, the EDF said.

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Katie McGinty, EDF’s Senior Vice President for Oceans at Environmental Defense Fund, called Friday’s expansion of protected sites a “remarkable accomplishment that is setting an example for the rest of the world.”Pixabay

Coral reefs, diverse marine ecosystems formed from tiny organisms, have faced intensifying stress worldwide from rising ocean temperatures compounded by overfishing, pollution and tourism.

Scientists say they are key barometers of global warming.

The Belize government did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation of the move.

‘Critical condition’

Parts of the Belize reef, a World Heritage Site, are in “critical condition,” according to a 2018 report from environmental group Healthy Reef for Healthy People.

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The coalition found zones that can protect marine habitat and allow for recovery of degraded ecosystems, while helping replenish fish stocks, the EDF said. Pixabay

But a 2017 decision to ban offshore oil and gas activities was a step toward its possible removal from the World Heritage Site’s “in danger” list, the group said.

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“A healthy reef and vibrant fisheries sector is necessary for Belize to achieve its goals for reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition and increasing investment,” said Belize Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade in the EDF statement.

Katie McGinty, EDF’s Senior Vice President for Oceans at Environmental Defense Fund, called Friday’s expansion of protected sites a “remarkable accomplishment that is setting an example for the rest of the world.” (VOA)