Saturday, July 30, 2011

Relationships between Insecticides, Landscapes and habitat:

Landscape Change Leads to Increased Insecticide Use in U.S. Midwest
Recently a study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences linking the increased use of insecticides to landscape simplification. Replacing natural habitat with crop land causes an increase in crop pest problems. The continued growth of cropland and loss of natural habitat have increasingly simplified agricultural landscapes in the U.S. Midwest. The cause of pest increases is brought on as the removal of natural habitats destroys the habitat for the beneficial predatory insects. Creating more cropland creates a larger target area for pests giving them what they need to survive and multiply. According to Tim Meehan, the leading author of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, counties with less natural habitat have higher rates of insecticidal use than counties with more areas of natural habitat. It was noted that perennial crops provide a year round habitat for insects, birds and other animals, which are beneficial to the area.
More on this article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711151455.htm

Simplified landscapes, with lots of cropland and little natural habitat,
promote crop pest problems and increased use of insecticides.
(Credit: Illustration courtesy of Tim Meehan, UW-Madsion)
Fewer Aphids in Organic Crop Fields, Study Finds
According to the results in a study done by the Department of Animal Ecology & Tropical Biology, conventional triticale fields treated with insecticides to kill off aphids does not show any improvement and produces a bigger problem as aphid numbers increase. The problem is when fields are treated with insecticides it not only kills off the aphids but it also kills their natural enemies. They compared this to an organic crop field where they discovered three times the amount of natural enemies and five times fewer aphids.
Read the article at:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713101944.htm

By Carol Staats

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coral Reefs

"Reefs at Risk   The world’s most fragile marine ecosystems are in decline."

Photograph ©Armando Jenick  






 Coral reefs are such a mystery to the average person. Many people have  never had the chance to experience one up close and so many might not understand the need for them or how they can affect so many different   things in the ocean, if they are not cared for and preserved. 

There are  deep water reefs and shallow water reefs. The shallow water reefs  "support a quarter of all marine species" and can be compared to the  delicate nature of a rainforest. Shallow water reefs are in tropical waters  where water deep coral reefs are in cold water and are at depths of 500 meters or better. The importance of shallow water reefs to biodiversity is one the great reasons for understanding them and their care however, it is that they are the "primary production" of inorganic matter to organic making them more of an impact on the "food chain". While it is true that a majority of our deep water reefs give us the food from many of the fish we are familiar with such as " sea bass, snapper, porgy, rock shrimp and calico shrimp"(http://coris.noaa.gov/about/deep/)  it is the shallow reefs that are more diverse in productivity. 

 When coral reefs change so does the type of plants and animals that live in the waters changing forever the types of fish that people rely on and changing the circle of life. These shifts and changes are a direct result of land uses and abuses that affect the water ways which include the change in weather and temperature of the planet.

"Coral reefs protect coastlines, generate hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue, and, according to the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, provide the basis for 10 percent of the world’s diet. In Earth’s oceans, they are the charismatic canaries in a coal mine—10 percent have already been lost, and an estimated 60 percent more are at risk."

 We can each make a difference from the basic simple things we do to elevate the strain on our improper usage of land resources which will enhance and allow for the shallow reefs to regenerate and not loose the lush and diverse creatures that live in such a grand environment.




Blog post by Michelle Connolly
http://harvardmagazine.com/2011/07/reefs-at-risk#article-images