Wild Pigs Spell Trouble for North American Biodiversity

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

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A feral swine sounder causing erosion by using a wallow on Havasu National Wildlife Refuge property. Removal of these invasive feral swine supports the refuge’s mission of conservation and recovery of native wildlife. US Fish and Wildlife photo.

Wild pigs—also known as wild hogs, wild boars, feral swine, or razorbacks— are wreaking havoc around the world, from trashing European cities to invading the mystical Malaysian island of Pulau Besar by crossing coastal waters. In the US, wild pigs, aptly designated an “infestation machine,” are considered to be the most damaging invasive species. Continue reading

Climate Change and Warmer Temperatures: A Growth Opportunity for Blue Crabs

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

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Blue crabs. CC-BY-NC 2.0

With their sapphire-tinted claws, their olive green shell, and their paddle-shaped rear swimming legs, blue crabs are easily recognizable. They’re famous not only for their looks, but also for their telltale scientific name (Callinectes sapidus), which translates roughly to “savory beautiful swimmer.” Indeed, they’re prized for their tender meat and sweet, delicate flavor and are, not surprisingly, the most heavily harvested crustaceans in the geographical areas in which they live. They’re found in brackish coastal lagoons and estuaries from Nova Scotia, through the Gulf of Mexico, and as far south as Uruguay. Notably, they’re considered the Chesapeake Bay’s signature crustaceans. Continue reading

Global Warming and Economic Inequality Go Hand-in-Hand

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

Climate change is reshaping our planet—not only in its physically measurable aspects, but also in terms of humanitarian challenges. Melting glaciers, rising seas, flooding, heat waves and the like are accompanied by human displacement and migration, changes in the occurrence of infectious diseases and—as highlighted by a recent study—the intensification of global economic inequality over the past half-century.

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The Dust Bowl on the Great Plains coincided with the Great Depression. South Dakota, 1936. Credit: Wikipedia

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One Health: Connecting wildlife, environmental, and human health

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Helsinki, Finland (26–30 May 2019).

A guest post by Frances Nilsen

TriadWhat is “One Health”?
“One Health” is an organizational framework encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations in education, research, clinical practice, policy, and communication stemming from the recognition that the health of people, animals, and the environment are linked. One Health partnerships are growing internationally, mainly emphasizing prevention of infectious zoonotic diseases (those that can be passed between animals and humans), but the environmental quality connections to human and animal health are often less developed in One Health collaborations. Continue reading

Towards a Sustainable Development of River-Sea Systems (RSSs) and Coastal Areas

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Helsinki, Finland (26–30 May 2019).

A guest post by Josep Sanchís

Coastlines and estuaries are complex ecosystems that are located in the nexus of marine, riverine, terrestrial, and air environments. In such intersections, it is common to find valuable natural parks and reservoirs, often treasuring delicate environments and unique life forms. This is particularly true in the case of estuaries and the surrounding wetlands, whose brakish waters serve as home for a variety of amphibian species, specialized plants, migrant birds and many others. Humans rely on estuaries for food and recreation, and these ecosystems can be found among the most productive in the world. Not surprising, 22 of the 32 largest cities can be found on estuaries. As a result, estuaries are stressed by multiple anthropogenic pressures. The marine nearshore also provides important socio-economic resources that support fundamental sectors including, for instance, aquaculture, fishing, tourism, oil and gas extraction, power generation, and naval activity. Because of all this, the preservation of these ecological, cultural, and socio-economic resources is a priority on a global scale that joins efforts from governments, regulatory agencies, and academia. Continue reading

Can We Protect Future Generations from the Hazardous Past?

The following post is one of a series previewing the research that will be presented at the SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Helsinki, Finland (26–30 May 2019).

A guest post by Jana Asselman

Through a significant series of scientific discoveries, we now know that certain aspects or traits will be passed on to our children and grandchildren. Our DNA not only determines the blood type or eye color of the next generations but may also determine their sensitivity or predisposition to certain diseases. Yet, an increasing number of studies has suggested that we pass on much more information to the next generation that we would assume. Indeed, while we all know that exposure to chemicals and other environmental factors can significantly affect us, we often do not realize that we can also pass on these exposure effects to future generations. Continue reading

Warming of the Earth’s Oceans Leads to Worldwide Decline of Fish Populations

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

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Longline commercial fishing hooks. Credit: Isaac WedinCC BY 2.0

Overexploitation—the unsustainable use of natural resources—is one of the greatest pressures that human populations force upon ecosystems worldwide. Overfishing, a type of overexploitation based on “catching too much fish,” contributes to the well-established decline of fish stocks.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), globally, the fraction of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels has exhibited a decreasing trend, from 90.0 percent in 1974 to 66.9 percent in 2015. Further compounding this, the percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increased from 10 percent in 1974 to 33.1 percent in 2015, with the largest increases in the late 1970s and 1980s, and a slight decline in 1996. However, a study published in 2016 shows that we catch much more fish than estimated by the FAO. Daniel Pauly, lead author of the study, told The Guardian: “Our results differ very strongly from those of the FAO. Our results indicate that the decline is very strong and is not due to countries fishing less. It is due to countries having fished too much and having exhausted one fishery after another.” Continue reading