15 Leading Ecology News of 2018

Ecology News in 2018
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Leading Ecology News of 2018: It is a truth universally acknowledged by scientists: climate change is real as well as global pollution of air, water, and soil. In order for us to survive, we need to know as much as possible about the dangers of today.

We also need new ways to counteract them and re-wire our economy towards more sustainable practices.

The leading Ecology articles of 2018 show that our scientists have come upon many ideas that can help to reach those goals.

Top Ecology News in 2018

1. A new, unforeseen danger from plastic

plastic wasteA study was carried out to understand the interactions of Antarctic krill with microplastics fully.

  • It was shown that Antartic krill passes the microplastics through their digestive system, excreting in tiny plastic nanoparticles. The particles are less than 31 μm in diameter.
  • It is quite likely that other zooplankton species can also produce nano plastics.
  • This discovery shows that the circulation of nano plastics has to be factored in the evaluation of the dangers to the ocean.
Suggested Reading: Biological Magnification
Reference: “Turning microplastics into nanoplastics through digestive fragmentation by Antarctic krill | Nature Communications”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

2. Social media can help save the planet

social mediaA study was undertaken to evaluate the usefulness of social media, such as Facebook in biomonitoring.

  • The researchers have evaluated 39,039 conversation threads in specialized Facebook groups analyzing biodiversity based on images.
  • It was established the replies to the queries were fast, and the amount of data obtained was high.
  • This study means that using social networks and other “citizen science” approaches can be a big help in ecology and biodiversity research.
Reference: “Using Social Media for Biomonitoring: How Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Other Social Networking Platforms Can Provide Large-Scale Biodiversity Data – ScienceDirect”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

3. Volatilomics can help in biodiversity studies

biodiversityVolatilomics is a non-invasive approach that involves measuring volatile organic compounds in order to evaluate different biological processes.

  • It was proven in a laboratory setting that analyzing volatile compounds was enough to identify four different genera of algae.
  • It means that this approach, previously used in other areas of biology, can help analyze aquatic biodiversity.
Reference: “Volatile Biomarkers for Aquatic Ecological Research – ScienceDirect”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

4. DNA barcoding for monitoring biodiversity

dna barcodingMonitoring the “ecologic health” of aquatic communities is crucial both for the well-being of humans and ecosystems.

  • Existing evaluation protocol involves comparing the biodiversity before and after anthropogenic influence.
  • One of the pitfalls with this approach is the deficit of appropriate specialists that could help with identification.
  • A new “biomonitoring 2. 0” approach involving DNA metabarcoding was proposed.
  • After tweaking, it has the potential to become the future of biomonitoring.
Reference: “Why We Need Sustainable Networks Bridging Countries, Disciplines, Cultures and Generations for Aquatic Biomonitoring 2.0: A Perspective Derived From the DNAqua-Net COST Action – ScienceDirect”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

5. Fishing after coral bleaching is still possible

fishingA study was undertaken that analyzed how coral bleaching in tropical areas has affected fishing dynamics.

  • The study analyzed the changes in fishing volume in 20 years.
  • It was shown that coral bleaching caused the shift increase of herbivorous species number.
  • The overall amount of fish, caught after coral bleaching spread was comparable to the pre-bleaching situation, but the species composition changed.

The study would assist in long-term prognosis for the fishing industry and conservation efforts.

Reference: “Productive instability of coral reef fisheries after climate-driven regime shifts | Nature Ecology & evolution. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

6. Fire-produced ozone is detrimental to ecosystems

air pollutionAn analytical study has evaluated how various factors influence the overall ecosystem productivity.

  • The study used several models and evaluated the influence of different air pollutants on ecosystem dynamics.
  • It was shown that ozone and aerosols produced during fires significantly decrease ecosystem growth and productivity.
  • It means that the risk of fires in the consistently warming climate is even a more significant threat on ecosystem well-being than was thought previously.
Suggested Reading: Types of Greenhouse Gases
Reference: “Fire air pollution reduces global terrestrial productivity | Nature Communications”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

7. It is proven – polluted air kills infants

polluted airThe researchers have analyzed records of air pollution, and infant mortality in Africa made in 15 years.

  • It was consistently shown that an increase in air pollution in several regions of Africa was associated with high infant mortality.
  • At least 22% of infant deaths in Africa were directly linked to pollution.
  • This correlation remained stable and was not influenced by other parameters.

It was concluded that even a modest reduction in air pollution worldwide, would decrease the rate of infant mortality.

Reference: “Robust relationship between air quality and infant mortality in Africa | Nature”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

8. Polluted air literally makes people miserable

shanghai cityA study was conducted on 1,931 pregnant women living in different areas in Shanghai.

  • The relationship between air pollution and emotional stress during pregnancy was studied.
  • An increase in air pollution correlated with higher levels of emotional stress in pregnant women.
  • A higher level of air pollutants during pregnancy we also linked to a higher risk of depression.

As it happens, pollution is dangerous both to physical and emotional health.

Reference: “The impacts of air pollution on maternal stress during pregnancy | Scientific Reports”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

9. Water pollution would affect billions of people in 2050

water pollutionThe direct impact on the human population due to water pollution was calculated for the first time.

  • Multiple parameters were taken into account: the discharge of waste, evaporation due to global warming and level of water use by people.
  • According to the new model, nearly 2.5 billion people would be affected by water shortages and pollution.
  • Developing countries would be especially affected.

New results confirm the necessity of sustainable and affordable solutions for waste recycling.

Reference: “Organic pollution of rivers: Combined threats of urbanization, livestock farming and global climate change | Scientific Reports”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

10. Helping nature can be sustainable!

biomeA novel strategic approach was tested in one of the hotspot areas in the Atlantic forest.

  • The approach took into account many economic as well as ecological factors;
  • Its application increased the overall cost-effectiveness 8-fold;
  • Biome extinction decreased by 28%.
  • The costs were reduced up to 28 billion.

It means that allocating arable land to conservation does not always means financial drawbacks.

Reference: “Strategic approaches to restoring ecosystems can triple conservation gains and halve costs | Nature Ecology & Evolution”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

11. New ideas for CO2 Recycling

co2 recyclingOne of the most sustainable approaches to control CO2 emissions is to use it as a source of other compounds.

  • Novel structured reactors that use Sabatier reaction for CO2 valorization were constructed.
  • They could be helpful in CO2 recycling if the appropriate industrial application is found for them.
Suggested Reading: Carbon Cycle Steps
Reference: “Catalysts | Free Full-Text | Policies and Motivations for the CO2 Valorization through the Sabatier Reaction Using Structured Catalysts. A Review of the Most Recent Advances”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

12. Environmental Kuznetz curve is a bad model

industralizationAccording to the Environmental Kuznets Curve, with the growth of industrialization, environmental pollution would increase with industrialization then subside. However, is that good?

  • Analytical models have shown that development based on such a plan requires a lot of financial resources;
  • The planet may not be able to absorb the cost to the environment generated.
  • There is a need for other useful models of economic growth for developing countries in order to avoid such a scenario.
Reference: “The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) and the environmental problem of the day – ScienceDirect”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

13. Fighting CO2 emissions in EAP countries

fossil fuelsA panel investigation was carried out in order to elucidate the relationship between fossil fuel consumption, urban growth and other parameters on CO2 emissions in East Asia and Pacific countries.

  • Fossil fuel consumption and urban growth reliably increase emissions.
  • Local efforts about environmental protection are insignificant;
  • Energy conservation policies and using renewable energy sources benefits both economic growth and CO2 control.

It was concluded that concentrated environmental protection efforts in the region are necessary to counteract the increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

Reference: “Impact of fossil fuels energy consumption, energy policies, and urban sprawl on carbon emissions in East Asia and the Pacific: A panel investigation – ScienceDirect”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

14. Nanotech Vs. CO2

nanotechnologyMultiple novel methods to analyze and sequester carbon emissions were developed.

  • Spectrometry, gas chromatography and electrochemical sensors allow a better understanding of the levels of emissions worldwide.
  • Novel methods of carbon capture and storage include oxyfuel combustion, algae, biochar, and charcoal.
  • The most efficient approach to carbon capture lies with nanotechnology, to the opinion of modern scientists.
  • Sequestered carbon can be stored in the earth crust.
Reference: “CO2 capture and storage: A way forward for sustainable environment – ScienceDirect”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

15. Working with native communities helps the environment

climate changeBajo People of Southeast Sulawesi are a classic example of a traditional community that is negatively impacted by the changes in climate. A sophisticated strategy was developed in order to support and sustain these people.

  • The developed strategy took into account multiple factors, including the community traditions;
  • An information campaign was launched that educated the fishermen about climate change;
  • Methods for better fishing strategies and water decontamination were offered;
  • People were helped with the diversification of their resources so that they would be less dependent on fishing.
Reference: “Adaptation Strategy of the Bajo Fishermen towards Climate Change | Jurnal Bina Praja: Journal of Home Affairs Governance”. Accessed March 22, 2019. Link.

As one can see, we cannot be overly optimistic about our future. Pollution of water, air, and soil contribute to the decrease of biodiversity, climate change and development of economic and health problems. Only concentrated efforts of scientists, analysts and policymakers can really turn the tide.

Cite this article as: "15 Leading Ecology News of 2018," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, March 22, 2019, https://www.bioexplorer.net/ecology-news-2018.html/.

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