DNA in Flesh-Eating Flies’ Guts Reveal Biodiversity

Credit: Saguaro juniper

When blowflies and flesh flies settle on dead animals, they aren’t just feasting on the carrion, they are in fact sampling their DNA. Scientists have demonstrated that this DNA persists long enough to be sequenced, allowing them to gain a quick and cost-effective snapshot of mammal diversity in otherwise inaccessible rainforest environments.

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At Least a Third of All Marine Species are Still Unknown


The most comprehensive assessment of ocean life has revealed that one third to two thirds of all species are still unknown to science.

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Projections of Urban Growth Highlight at Risk Areas

Forecasts of different regions’ likelihood of urban expansion could be used to direct conservation efforts

Researchers are trying to make detailed predictions about how urban areas are likely to grow in order to forecast how the next few decades of urbanization will affect biodiversity.

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Survey of Brazil’s Atlantic Forests Reveals Loss of Key Species

The white-lipped peccary is no longer found in the Brazilian Atlantic forest.

According to a new survey of Brazil’s Atlantic forests, mammal extinctions are occurring at least twice as fast as previous estimates suggested. Jaguars, lowland tapirs, woolly spider-monkeys, and giant anteaters are almost absent from Brazil’s northeastern forests, which are among the most ancient and threatened tropical ecosystems on Earth.

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Biodiversity on Earth Increases with Global Warming


It would seem logical that periods of global warming in Earth’s history started the extinction pulses that defined the geological record. However, that’s not the case as a report that was published this week proves. The warming of Earth is accompanied by an increased biodiversity. That doesn’t mean that the mass extinction pulses won’t take place.

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A Fifth of All Invertebrates on Earth Threatened by Extinction

Nudibranch sea slugs

One in five of Earth’s invertebrate species are currently threatened with extinction. These creatures represent 99% of the biodiversity on Earth. Until now, scientists haven’t attempted a comprehensive review of the conservation status of this many species. Less than 1% of invertebrates had been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Pacific Islanders Weapons Indicate that Three Shark Species Disappeared


The analysis of the weapons used by the indigenous people of the Gilbert Islands in the central Pacific Ocean, which primarily use shark teeth, indicate that at least three species of shark have disappeared from the waters near the islands. Joshua Drew, a conservation biologist at Columbia University in New York, studied the weapons housed in the collection of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, and presented his findings at the 2012 Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting in Portland last week.

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Earth Recovered 10 Million Years After Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction


The greatest mass extinction pulse was the Permian-Triassic extinction event, and it happened about 250 million years ago, nearly wiping out life on Earth. It was Earth’s most severe extinction even, with 96% of all marine species and 70% of all terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction that affected insects, 57% of all families and 83% of all genera were extinguished.

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