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Duck faeces shed light on plant seed dispersal

USDA Invasive Species News -

Mallards are among the most abundant and widespread duck species in the world, yet little attention has been paid to date to their role in spreading plant seeds. A new study in the Journal of Ecology reveals a number of plants that were not previously known to be part of the diet of waterbirds.

Ecuador: Deforestation destroys more dry forest than climate change

USDA Invasive Species News -

Tropical forests worldwide are at risk. Two of the main threats are the deforestation for arable land and climate change. Scientists compared the losses due to deforestation with those that would result in extreme climate change scenarios in Ecuador. Although global warming is likely to change the distribution of species, deforestation will result in the loss of more dry forests than predicted by climate change damage.

Even small changes within an ecosystem can have detrimental effects

USDA Invasive Species News -

A mutualistic relationship between species in an ecosystem allows for the ecosystem to thrive, but the lack of this relationship could lead to the collapse of the entire system. New research reveals that interactions between relatively small organisms are crucial to mutualistic relationships in an ecosystem dominated by much larger organisms, including trees and elephants.

Comprehensive study on Atlantic Forest mammals

USDA Invasive Species News -

The Atlantic Forest, the second most biodiverse forest system in South America (after the Amazon), once covered roughly 463,000 square miles of habitat. Today, only 8-12 percent of this original habitat space remains. Ninety-six co-authors compiled trait information on 39,850 individuals from 279 different mammal species and 388 separate populations into a single, comprehensive study on Atlantic Forest mammals to advance zoological research and to emphasize the urgency of protecting this area's biodiversity.

The disappearance of common species

USDA Invasive Species News -

Scientists were able to show that currently widespread insects are threatened with a serious decline in species diversity in the near future. The research team lists fragmentation of habitats and intensification of agriculture as reasons for the decline of these 'generalists.'

Evolution of China's flowering plants shows East-West divide between old, new lineages

USDA Invasive Species News -

An international team of scientists has mapped the evolutionary relationships between China's 30,000 flowering plant species, uncovering a distinct regional pattern in biodiversity. Eastern China is a floral 'museum' with a rich array of ancient lineages and distant relatives while the western provinces are an evolutionary 'cradle' for newer and more closely related species.

Forest conservation can have greater ecological impacts by allowing sustainable harvesting

USDA Invasive Species News -

New research has found that forest owners at greater risk of illegally cutting trees from their forests prefer to participate in conservation programs that allow sustainable timber harvesting. The findings of the study could be used to craft conservation contracts that are more likely to be accepted by forest owners and might succeed in preventing deforestation and forest degradation.

Potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on streams, downstream recreation, drinking water

USDA Invasive Species News -

Concerns over hydraulic fracturing, an oil and gas extraction method that injects millions of gallons of freshwater and chemicals into shale, have largely focused on potential impacts on water quality. But, as scientists now report, 'fracking' operations could have impacts on water quantity because they are withdrawing these large amounts of water from nearby streams, which house aquatic ecosystems and are used by people for drinking and recreation.

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