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Oil Spill Bird
Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Why the Huntington Beach oil spill is so harmful to wildlife

A ruptured pipeline spewed crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, and it may foul ecosystems for years to come.

On October 2, an oil pipeline off the coast of Southern California ruptured, spewing an estimated 144,000 gallons of crude into the Pacific Ocean. The leak created a toxic, 13-square-mile oil slick off the shore of Huntington Beach, which has since spread into coastal wetlands rich in biodiversity.

While the spill is far from the scale of infamous past disasters — the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 released roughly 930 times as many gallons into the ocean — experts say it will have sweeping impacts on Southern California’s coastal wildlife, potentially for years to come.

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Elephant
Getty Images

Earth is running low on wildlife. Plants will be next.

Many plants need to migrate to survive climate change, but they’re losing their animal rides.

The seeds of this story were planted in a steaming pile of elephant dung somewhere in the African savanna. Elephants love to stuff their faces with fruit, and fruit trees like marulas need a way to spread their seeds, so the two species have developed an intimate and symbiotic relationship. A single African savanna elephant is capable of dumping seeds up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the site of its feast, making them the most impressive seed transporters in the animal kingdom.

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White Butterfly
Alamy Stock Photo

Air pollution makes it harder for pollinators to find plants

Exposing bees, butterflies and other pollinators to air pollution severely impairs their ability to sniff out the plants they feed on. That could be bad news for both insect populations and the crops that rely on them for pollination.

A field trial found that levels of nitrogen oxides and ozone similar to those near roads led to a 70 per cent drop in the numbers of bees and butterflies on mustard plants…

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Fushia Flowers
Judy Anderson

Anthropogenic air pollutants reduce insect-mediated pollination services

This scientific study dives deeper into the relationship between insects and pollutants.

Study Highlights
• Common air pollutants (e.g. nitrogen oxides and ozone) can react with floral odors.
• Both pollutants resulted in severely reduced insect pollinator foraging efficiency.
• Specific insect pollinator groups demonstrated differential responses to pollutants.
• Metrics of insect-mediated plant pollination decreased under both pollutants.
• Air pollution has the potential to disrupt other odor-mediated ecosystem services.

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Monarch
iStock

Air pollution reduces pollination by confusing bees

Common air pollutants from both urban and rural environments may be reducing the pollinating abilities of insects by preventing them from sniffing out the crops and wildflowers that depend on them, new research has shown.

Scientists from the University of Reading, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the University of Birmingham found that there were up to 70% fewer pollinators, up to 90% fewer flower visits and an overall pollination reduction of up to 31% in test plants when common ground-level air pollutants, including diesel exhaust pollutants and ozone, were present.

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butterfly
Macro Mama on StockSnap

Air pollution makes it harder for insect pollinators to find flowers

Land conservationists, and those who care about healthy communities, can help people and decision-makers understand that transitioning to electric vehicles, which are fueled by renewable energy, will benefit the health of people and wildlife — as well as slow down climate change.

Insects play an important role in the world’s food production. Roughly 70 percent of all crop species, including apples, strawberries, and cocoa, depend on them for pollination.

Insects rely on a flower’s odor to locate a plant, but atmospheric pollutants alter these smells, making foraging more difficult. A new study in Environmental Pollution tested how much of an impact pollution has on pollinators in the field…

“We weren’t expecting nearly as severe a reduction as we found. It’s kind of crazy,” study author James Ryalls, an agricultural ecologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, tells New Scientist’s Adam Vaughan…

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Fly Fishing
iStock

Hotter summer temperatures prompt fly fishing restrictions in Montana

Warmer water contains less oxygen, which stresses fish. Habitat restoration around streams and rivers is important — but it won't be enough. Let's see if we can connect to people around climate action, because of the waters they love.

In some areas, fishing has been temporarily prohibited on hot summer afternoons when the water is too warm.

“That’s a huge impact to fisheries and to the guiding community as a whole,” Hutcheson says. “There are operations…starting their guide trips at 5 a.m. so they can get off the water by 2, or they’re simply not taking people out during the hottest times of the year, which traditionally has been some of the best fishing”…

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Herons
U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Climate and Change: Reflections on “The Sixth Extinction”

We know that climate change is making extreme weather more frequent, while at the same time making "regular" weather more erratic. The impacts on plants, animals, and communities are now widespread, contributing to farming and ranching stress as well as the sixth extinction that is human-driven.

A good book comforts us. A great book challenges us. This year’s first-year reading selection, “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, is a great book.

This book opened our eyes, engaged our minds, expanded our thinking, at times shrunk our significance, contextualized our evolution and our existence, and reminded us of both our fragility and our ephemeral nature. It also made us uncomfortable, uneasy, and uncertain at times. I can’t imagine a university’s first year reading selection, or any book, doing more than that.

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Birds
iStock

470-acre Cayuga lakefront land bought by state to become wildlife area, solar energy plant

Land trusts have an opportunity to work with climate-related projects to ensure there are multiple benefits.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced a land purchasing agreement has been reached between the Finger Lakes Land Trust and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. for the 470-acre Bell Station.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Finger Lakes Land Trust will create a public wildlife management area on the lakeshore portion of the newly acquired property…

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Chickadee
iStock

Why it matters that climate change is shrinking birds

When we think about the impacts of climate change, many of us understand the need for connected habitat. We need to understand the larger impacts, too.

Scientists have long predicted that increasing temperatures would drive reductions in body size across the tree of life, but testing this requires huge amounts of data collected consistently over decades. This type of data is only available for a tiny fraction of the world’s species, including some North American birds.

Recently, a study based on over 70,000 North American bird specimens found that warming temperatures have been shrinking birds for the past 40 years…

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