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Constantine Alexander
Where Nature runs Wild!
I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
Recent Activity
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These whales may use both aerobic and anaerobic respiration to dive for prey. Beaked whale. Credit: Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization. Two relatively small beaked whale species took exceptionally long, deep dives while foraging in the Bahamas, confounding expectations that larger whales dive should be able to dive for longer... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Fewer than 30 vaquitas left; project aims for temporary sanctuary. An international team of experts has gathered in San Felipe, Mexico at the request of the Mexican government (SEMARNAT) and has begun a bold, compassionate plan known as VaquitaCPR to save the endangered vaquita porpoise from extinction. The vaquita porpoise,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Five years after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the highest radiocesium (137Cs) activities outside of the power plant site were observed in brackish groundwater underneath sand beaches. We hypothesize that the radiocesium was deposited on mineral surfaces in the days and weeks after the accident through wave- and tide-driven exchange of seawater through the beach face. As seawater radiocesium concentrations decreased, this radiocesium reentered the ocean via submarine groundwater discharge, at a rate on par with direct discharge from the power plant and river runoff. This new unanticipated pathway for the storage and release of radionuclides to ocean should be taken into account in the management of coastal areas where nuclear power plants are situated. Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Hurricane Irma storm surge takes heavy toll on one of world's most important nesting areas. Hurricane Irma took a devastating toll on incubating sea turtle nests in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important loggerhead and green turtle nesting sites in the world, according to new... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222 million from the EU budget to support Europe's transition to more sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. The EU funding will mobilise additional investments leading to a total of €379 million going... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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The history of the Earth system is a story of change. Some changes are gradual and benign, but others, especially those associated with catastrophic mass extinction, are relatively abrupt and destructive. What sets one group apart from the other? Here, I hypothesize that perturbations of Earth’s carbon cycle lead to mass extinction if they exceed either a critical rate at long time scales or a critical size at short time scales. By analyzing 31 carbon isotopic events during the past 542 million years, I identify the critical rate with a limit imposed by mass conservation. Identification of the crossover time scale separating fast from slow events then yields the critical size. The modern critical size for the marine carbon cycle is roughly similar to the mass of carbon that human activities will likely have added to the oceans by the year 2100. Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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A study on damage to coastal considered only real estate loss. If nothing is done, researchers say, losses might be up to ten times higher if the predicament includes the spreading of flood- and global warming -related diseases. A study on damage to coastal considered only real estate loss. If... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Using twelve years of high resolution global lightning stroke data from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), we show that lightning density is enhanced by up to a factor of two directly over shipping lanes in the northeastern Indian Ocean and the South China Sea as compared to adjacent areas with similar climatological characteristics. The lightning enhancement is most prominent during the convectively active season, November-April for the Indian Ocean and April-December in the South China Sea, and has been detectable from at least 2005 to the present. We hypothesize that emissions of aerosol particles and precursors by maritime vessel traffic lead to a microphysical enhancement of convection and storm electrification in the region of the shipping lanes. These persistent localized anthropogenic perturbations to otherwise clean regions are a unique opportunity to more thoroughly understand the sensitivity of maritime deep convection and lightning to aerosol particles. Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Coral reef experts deliver urgent recommendations for future research. Corals live close to their temperature maxima, and even just a degree of heating over the summer months can cause a stress response called 'coral bleaching.' Why some coral species tolerate heat anomalies better than others is subject of intense research.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Suggests use of contaminants as environmental tracers following disasters. Assistant professor Kevin Weng of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science with a dolphinfish or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) collected as part of the study of Fukushima-derived radioactivity in large Pacific Ocean predators. © A. Gray aboard FV Aoshibi IV. When the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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A whale shark near the Galapagos Islands being measured by a diver using laser photogrammetry. © Jonathan Green/Galapagos Whale Shark Project. Did you know that August 30 is International Whale Shark Day? Whale sharks are the largest fishes on Earth, growing up to 18 meters (60 feet) long, but they... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Nazca Boobies. Photo by Joe Novella (CC 2.0) Within the next century, rising ocean temperatures around the Galápagos Islands are expected to make the water too warm for a key prey species, sardines, to tolerate. A new study by Wake Forest University biologists, published in PLOS ONE Aug. 23, uses... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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The Oceans Meetings brings together a panel of experts and country leaders committed to the oceans' future. The Portuguese Minister of the Sea hosts more than 50 country delegations and international organizations Speakers include Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation and Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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A female bear and her cubs on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Photo by Lisa Hupp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kodiak brown bears are abandoning salmon-their iconic prey-due to climate change, according to a new study. The bears are more interested in chowing down on early-arriving red elderberries. The likely result... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Megacities contain at least 10 million people whose wellbeing largely depends on ecosystem services provided by remote natural areas. What is, however, most often disregarded is that nature conservation in the city can also contribute to human wellbeing benefits. The most common mind set separates cities from the rest of nature, as if they were not special kinds of natural habitats. Instead, awareness that urban systems are also nature and do host biodiversity and ecosystem services opportunities, should push urban people towards increased urban forest conservation and implementation strategies. This research estimated existing and potential, tree cover, and its contribution to ecosystem services in 10 megacity metropolitan areas, across 5 different continents and biomes. We developed estimates for each megacity using local data to transform i-Tree Eco estimates of tree cover benefits to reductions in air pollution, stormwater, building energy, and carbon emissions for London, UK. The transformation used biophysical scaling equations based on local megacity tree cover, human population, air pollution, climate, energy use, and purchasing power parity. The megacity metropolitan areas ranged from 1173 to 18,720 sq km (median value 2530 sq km), with median tree cover 21%, and potential tree cover another 19% of the city. Megacities had a median tree cover density of 39 m2/capita, much smaller than the global average value of 7800 m2/capita, with density lower in desert and tropical biomes, and higher in temperate biomes. The present median benefit value from urban trees in all 10 megacities can be estimated as $482 million/yr due to reductions in CO, NO2, SO2, PM10, and PM2.5, $11 million/yr due to avoided stormwater processing by wastewater facilities, $0.5 million/yr due to building energy heating and cooling savings, and $8 million/yr due to CO2 sequestration. Planting more trees in potential tree cover areas could nearly double the benefits provided by the urban forest. In 2016 there were 40 megacities, totaling 722 million residents, nearly 10% of the human population, who would benefit from nature conservation plans where they work and live. Nature conservation strategies in megacities should work to sustain and grow the benefits of the urban forest, and improve accounting methods to include additional ecosystem services provided by the urban forest. Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Infographic Credit: Lindsay Lafreniere. Fish are expected to shrink in size by 20 to 30 per cent if ocean temperatures continue to climb due to climate change. A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia provides a deeper explanation of why fish are expected to decline in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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HOT crew member Tara Clemente collects water from the CTD rosette for sample processing. Credit: HOT Program, UHM SOEST. Microbes dominate the planet, especially the ocean, and help support the entire marine food web. In a recent report published in Nature Microbiology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM) oceanography professor... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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PNNL's ThermalTracker software can aid responsible wind farm siting and operations. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL) ThermalTracker software analyzes thermal video to help birds and bats near offshore wind farms. PNNL engineer Shari Matzner is shown here with a thermal video camera she's using for this research. Credit: PNNL. The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Anthropogenic noise is a significant pollutant of the world's oceans, affecting behavioural and physiological traits in a range of species, including anti-predator behaviours. Using the open field test, we investigated the effects of recordings of piling and drilling noise on the anti-predator behaviour of captive juvenile European seabass in response to a visual stimulus (a predatory mimic). The impulsive nature of piling noise triggered a reflexive startle response, which contrasted the behaviour elicited by the continuous drilling noise. When presented with the predatory mimic, fish exposed to both piling and drilling noise explored the experimental arena more extensively than control fish exposed to ambient noise. Fish under drilling and piling conditions also exhibited reduced predator inspection behaviour. Piling and drilling noise induced stress as measured by ventilation rate. This study provides further evidence that the behaviour and physiology of European seabass is significantly affected by exposure to elevated noise levels. Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Since private landowners are critical partners in efforts to save coastal marshes, identifying the best strategies will be essential to success. Fence Creek, Madison, Connecticut. Credit: UConn. While popular with conservation groups, coastal easements that prevent development in order to protect marshland from changes brought about by climate change and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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New study shows Shortfin mako shark fishing mortality rate is much higher than previously thought. Shortfin mako shark in the north Atlantic at Condor Bank, Azores. Credit: Patrick Doll (CC 3.0) More bad news for sharks. A new study using satellite tracking by researchers from Nova Southeastern University's Guy Harvey... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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This opinion piece explores how implementing a species royalty for the use of animal symbolism in affluent cultural economies could revolutionise conservation funding. A revenue revolution of this scale is urgently necessary to confront the sixth mass extinction that the planet is now facing. But such a revolution can only occur if the approach to conservation now evolves quickly across disciplines, continents, cultures and economies. This piece is a call to action for research-, culture-, and business-communities to implement a new ethical phase in economic policy that recognises the global cultural debt to the world’s most charismatic wildlife species. Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Due to spatio-temporal variability of lower trophic-level productivity along the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), predators must be capable of switching prey or foraging areas in response to changes in environmental conditions and available forage. The Gulf of the Farallones in central California represents a biodiversity hotspot and contains the largest common murre (Uria aalge) colonies along the CCE. During spring, one of the West Coast's most important Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) populations out-migrates into the Gulf of the Farallones. We quantify the effect of predation on juvenile Chinook salmon associated with ecosystem-level variability by integrating long-term time series of environmental conditions (upwelling, river discharge), forage species abundance within central CCE, and population size, at-sea distribution, and diet of the common murre. Our results demonstrate common murres typically forage in the vicinity of their offshore breeding sites, but in years in which their primary prey, pelagic young-of-year rockfish (Sebastes spp.), are less available they forage for adult northern anchovies (Engraulis mordax) nearshore. Incidentally, while foraging inshore, common murre consumption of out-migrating juvenile Chinook salmon, which are collocated with northern anchovy, increases and population survival of the salmon is significantly reduced. Results support earlier findings that show timing and strength of upwelling, and the resultant forage fish assemblage, is related to Chinook salmon recruitment variability in the CCE, but we extend those results by demonstrating the significance of top-down impacts associated with these bottom-up dynamics. Our results demonstrate the complexity of ecosystem interactions and impacts between higher trophic-level predators and their prey, complexities necessary to quantify in order to parameterize ecosystem models and evaluate likely outcomes of ecosystem management options. Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Text mining and analytics may offer possibilities to assess scientists' professional writing and identify patterns of co-occurrence between words and phrases associated with different environmental challenges and their potential solutions. This approach has the potential to help to track emerging issues, semi-automate horizon scanning processes, and identify how different institutions or policy instruments are associated with different types of ocean and coastal sustainability challenges. Here I examine ecologically-oriented ocean and coastal science journal article abstracts published between 2006 and 2015. Informed by the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, I constructed a dictionary containing phrases associated with 40 ocean challenges and 15 solution-oriented instrument or investments. From 50,817 potentially relevant abstracts, different patterns of co-occurring text associated with challenges and potential solutions were discernable. Topics receiving significantly increased attention in the literature in 2014–15 relative to the 2006–13 period included: marine plastics and debris; environmental conservation; social impacts; ocean acidification; general terrestrial influences; co-management strategies; ocean warming; licensing and access rights; oil spills; and economic impacts. Articles relating to global environmental change were consistently among the most cited; marine plastics and ecosystem trophic structure were also focal topics among the highly cited articles. This exploratory research suggests that scientists' written outputs provide fertile ground for identifying and tracking important and emerging ocean sustainability issues and their possible solutions, as well as the organizations and scientists who work on them. Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal
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Aquacultures are polluting Chile's rivers with a cocktail of dissolved organic substances. Salmon Farming, Chile. The waste water is conducted into the river through a pipe (center of picture). Credit: Norbert Kamjunke. Salmon lead a fairly varied life. The adult fish live in the sea but swim upstream into rivers... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2017 at Constantine Alexander's Journal