Healthy meat comes from healthy animals raised in a sustainable natural way


The newest study that supports organic farming and free ranging livestock for better quality meat comes from England. Researchers studied French rural communities where there is a long standing tradition of associating the ecological quality ofclover_cattle the land with the quality of the food produced on it.

Cattle and sheep grazed on natural grasslands help maintain biodiversity and produce tastier, healthier meat, according to a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Pasture-based farming is good for the environment, the consumer and the producer but needs stronger support from government to reach its full potential.

Detailed analysis of the nutritional qualities of the plants the animals ate on the natural grasslands showed that they provided grazing animals with a richer more diverse diet with free ranging animals equals richer diet and tastier meat than the more intensive farming.

Biodiverse beef from cattle breeds such as Longhorn was more tender and more flavor intense than meat from conventional breeds.

Chemical analysis showed that the meat from biodiverse raised animals like wild-grazed lambs, especially those grazed on heather, had higher levels of the natural antioxidant, vitamin E, than meat from animals grazed on improved grass land.

Biodiverse meat had higher levels of healthy fatty acids including the long chain omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, thought to play a key role in brain development and to protect against heart disease.

Biodiverse meat had higher levels of the anti-carcinogenic compound, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) from lambs grazed on moorland and Longhorn cattle grazed on unimproved pastures than in control meat.

Ecological quality of the land with the quality of the food produced on it should have more support to encourage groups of farmers to work together to link the natural qualities of biodiverse grasslands to areas larger than individual farms ,because quality of the place and the relationship between the agricultural and ecological landscape is so important.

Resources

Biodiversity Passes The Taste Test And Is Healthier Too – Staff Seed Daily, London, UK (SPX) January 21, 2009

http://www.seeddaily.com/reports

Image courtesy of

http://www.ruralni.gov.uk/print/clover_cattle.jpg

Number of fish in the ocean and their effect on global warming


Are there really plenty of fish in the sea? University of British Columbia fisheries researcher Villy Christensen has attempted to measure the total fish biomass in our oceans, He and his team have estimated it to be two billion tons.
Simon Jennings, a co researcher examined global ocean plant production and its efficiency as it moves through the food chain, while Christensen tallied global fish catches since 1950 and calculated how much fish there must have been in the oceans to support fisheries.

The team also found that fish play a vital role in regulating climate change by maintaining the delicate pH balance of the oceans, according to a study published in the journal Science, co-authored by Christensen and a team of international scientists.
topex_fish_browse1
“By drinking salt water, fish ingest a lot of calcium, which needs to be removed – or they will get renal stones,” says Christensen, an associate professor in the UBC Fisheries Center.


How can fish take in so much calcium?
Fish do this by binding the calcium to bicarbonate, and then excreting it as pellets of calcium carbonate, a chalk-like substance also known as “gut rocks,” in a process completely separate from food digestion. (To see an animation of this process check out the link below.

As the calcium carbonate from these pellets dissolves, it turns the seawater more alkaline, which has relevance for ocean acidification, and is impacted by the ocean’s exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2) with the atmosphere.

To gauge the global impact of this process, Christensen and Simon Jennings from the UK’s Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science took two entirely different approaches to estimate the total biomass of fish in the world’s ocean.
Two approaches to counting all the fish in the ocean
Jennings examined global ocean plant production and its efficiency as it moves through the food chain, while Christensen tallied global fish catches since 1950 and calculated how much fish there must have been in the oceans to support fisheries. The two approaches resulted in a close range of numbers: 0.8 to 2 billion tons.
“This study really is the first glimpse of the huge impact fish have on our carbon cycle - and why we need them in the ocean,” says Christensen. “We must buck the current trend of clear-cutting of the oceans and foster these unrecognized allies against climate change.”

Resources

Fish Carbonate Animation
Courtesy of University of British Columbia downloads: http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/download

Excerpts courtesy of Seed Daily
First-Ever Estimate Of Worldwide Fish Biomass And Impact On Climate Change -Staff
Vancouver, Canada (SPX) January 21, 2009. Estimate_Of_Worldwide_Fish_Biomass

Image courtesy of NASA .nasa.gov/topexfish


Crustal movements beneath the ice of Antarctica


polenet-project-crustal-movements-antarctica-changes-ice-mass-bg1

The POLENET project measures crustal movements in Antarctica in response to changes in ice mass. The top figure shows how the crust is loaded in response to an increase in ice mass during glaciations, and the bottom figure shows how the crust rebounds in response to a decrease in ice mass during deglaciation.
As ice melts away from Antarctica, parts of the continental bedrock are rising in response – and other parts are sinking, scientists have discovered. The finding will give much needed perspective to satellite instruments that measure ice loss on the continent, and help improve estimates of future sea level rise.

“Our preliminary results show that we can dramatically improve our estimates of whether Antarctica is gaining or losing ice,” said Terry Wilson, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University. Wilson reported the research in a press conference Monday, December 15, 2008 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

These results come from a trio of global positioning system (GPS) sensor networks on the continent.

Wilson leads POLENET, a growing network of GPS trackers and seismic sensors implanted in the bedrock beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). POLENET is reoccupying sites previously measured by the West Antarctic GPS Network (WAGN) and the Transantarctic Mountains Deformation (TAMDEF) network.

In separate sessions at the meeting, Michael Bevis, Ohio Eminent Scholar in geodyamics and professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, presented results from WAGN, while doctoral student Michael Willis presented results from TAMDEF.

Taken together, the three projects are yielding the best view yet of what’s happening under the ice.

When satellites measure the height of the WAIS, scientists calculate ice thickness by subtracting the height of the earth beneath it. They must take into account whether the bedrock is rising or falling. Ice weighs down the bedrock, but as the ice melts, the earth slowly rebounds.

Gravity measurements, too, rely on knowledge of the bedrock. As the crust under Antarctica rises, the mantle layer below it flows in to fill the gap. That mass change must be subtracted from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite measurements in order to isolate gravity changes caused by the thickening or thinning of the ice.

Before POLENET and its more spatially limited predecessors, scientists had few direct measurements of the bedrock. They had to rely on computer models, which now appear to be incorrect.

“When you compare how fast the earth is rising, and where, to the models of where ice is being lost and how much is lost – they don’t match,” Wilson said. “There are places where the models predict no crustal uplift, where we see several millimeters of uplift per year. We even have evidence of other places sinking, which is not predicted by any of the models.”

A few millimeters may sound like a small change, but it’s actually quite large, she explained. Crustal uplift in parts of North America is measured on the scale of millimeters per year.

POLENET’s GPS sensors measure how much the crust is rising or falling, while the seismic sensors measure the stiffness of the bedrock – a key factor for predicting how much the bedrock will rise in the future.

“We’re pinning down both parts of this problem, which will improve the correction made to the satellite data, which will in turn improve what we know about whether we’re gaining ice or losing ice,” Wilson said. Better estimates of sea level rise can then follow.

POLENET scientists have been implanting sensors in Antarctica since December 2007. The network will be complete in 2010 and will record data into 2012. Selected sites may remain as a permanent Antarctic observational network.

Scientists around the world can access POLENET data online, and schools can access educational resources as part of the International Polar Year.

Ohio State’s POLENET partners in the United States are Pennsylvania State University, the University of Texas at Austin, New Mexico Tech, Washington University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Memphis. A host of international partners are part of the effort as well.

Resources

Ice Melts Antarctic Bedrock Is On The Move Ice World  Terra Daily.  January 19, 2009

Ice Melts

Images courtesy of Ohio State University – Staff  Columbus OH (SPX) Dec 30, 2008

Utah’s wild lands take step in the right direction


arches-nat-park
Thanks for your help – we can do it.-Mother Nature!

On Saturday, January 18, 2009. Judge Urbina of the U.S. District Court (Bless him!) ruled in favor of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and other conservation groups to temporarily block the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from leasing more than 110,000 acres of Utah wilderness.

This ruling from Judge Urbina prohibits the BLM from issuing oil and gas leases for Utah wildlands until the lawsuit is resolved sometime later this year. The judge recognized the legitimacy of our concerns, especially regarding damage to air quality, and acknowledged that the lease sale could cause irreparable damage to some of Utah’s amazing wild landscapes.

Our challenge is against the BLM’s December 2008 oil and gas lease sale, which included areas near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon.  The BLM’s sale was based on hastily approved resource management plans that have opened up million acres of Utah’s public lands to potential damage.

Thanks to everyone who has taken an interest in this issue and worked so hard to prevent these leases from being issued. By continuing to work together we will protect Utah’s wild lands!

The staff at SUWA and Mother Nature

Resource

http://webmail.aol.com/40627/aol/en-us/Lite/MsgRead.aspx?folder=Inbox&uid=1.25281425&seq=0&searchIn=none&searchQuery=&start=0

image courtesy of Scott Branden

A white green turtle, a pink dolphin, pink human-understanding nature’s changes


Albino individuals usually do not survive in nature, that’s why they are such a rare view. Recently an albino ibex goat has been spotted in the Italian Alps and a rare adolescent pink dolphin was seen in Calcasieu Lake, an estuary located just at north of Gulf of Mexico in southwestern Louisiana. a-rare-pink-albino-dolphin-2

This albino dolphin had reddish eyes and glossy pink skin. It is small in comparison to the others it is traveling with and appears to be a youngster traveling with its pod.

This pink color when seen in an animal that is not this color normally is exhibiting a traitcalled albinism. It is hereditary.

Albinism is not an infectious disease and cannot be transmitted through contact, blood transfusions, or other vectors. The principal gene on the DNA in the chromosomes responsible for albinism prevents the body from making the usual amounts of the pigment melanin. Melanin determines the color and its shade.

chelonia_mydas_albino_p1440273

Most forms of albinism are the result of the biological inheritance of genetically recessive alleles (genes) passed from both parents of an individual, though some rare forms are inherited from only one parent. There are other genetic mutations which are proven to be associated with albinism. All alterations, however, lead to changes in melanin production in the body.

The chance of producing offspring with albinism if a nonalbino mates with an albino. However, if two individuals albino_girl_honduras2carrying the albino gene mate albinistic offspring can be produced. Albinism usually occurs with equal frequency in both genders.

Ocular albinism is more frequent in males and only the eyes lack pigment. People who have ocular albinism have generally normal skin and hair color, and many even have a normal eye appearance.

In oculocutaneous albinism pigment is lacking in the eyes, skin and hair. In non-humans the equivalent mutation results in lack of melanin in the fur, scales or feathers. People with oculocutaneous albinism can have anywhere from no pigment at all to almost-normal levels. Because organisms with albinism have skin that lacks (sufficiently or entirely) the dark pigment melanin, which helps protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun, they can sunburn easily from overexposure. Lack of melanin in the eye also results in problems with vision, related and unrelated to photosensitivity.

Mother nature loves all her children.

Resources

Images 1: http://news.softpedia.com/news/A-Rare-Pink-Albino-Dolphin-59167.shtml

Excerpts & images 2 & 3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albino

Other images of beautiful albinos: http://www.nordinho.net/vbull/blogs/catraven/7822-albino-animals.

http://rashmanly.wordpress.com/2008

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New ROV gets new look at life in deep Antarctica Ocean


A small ROV is the newest icy tool is being used to survey the bottom of the ocean. It can go deeper than divers can go and even float 100 meters off the bottom to study the marine invertebrate life in the deep ocean of Antarctica. Paul Dayton marine ecologist from Scripts Institute Oceanography in LaJolla, California led this study.
Resource


Courtesy of TheScientist.com


Video of the new ROV courtesy of Stacey Kim
http://www.the-scientist.com/2009/1/1/22/100/

New species of Aussie bee on the rise in US


US Government officials said they do not know how many Australian bees have been imported, but hive importer Sullivan estimates that he has sold 110,000 hives since 2005.

Disappearing BeesAussies try to control their problem bees. The Australian government has adopted emergency controls to quarantine and destroy the aggressive bees and has never detected that mite, according to materials provided by Chelsey Martin, counselor for public affairs at the Australian Embassy in Washington.

U.S. agriculture officials say they also are taking precautions. (It is a little late to take precautions after the bees have been here for five years!)

Agricultural officials started sampling Australian bees last week after they were released in the Central Valley, California.

“Bees from Australia make great sense,” said Wayne Wehling, a senior entomologist in the USDA’s permit unit. “But we certainly don’t want to bring any economic impacts onto our honeybees that we don’t already have or introduce any new pests or disease.”
Early this month, the USDA decided to permit the bee shipments to resume with some precautions, and the first plane loads arrived in San Francisco last Monday.

Beekeeper Ken Haff of Mandan, N.D., says he fears the foreign hives could kill off his apiary.
“We’ve got enough problems with our own bee diseases that we don’t know how to treat, and they open the border to a whole new species that could carry God knows what,” said Haff, a vice president of the American Honey Producers Association. “That’s a total slap in the face for us.”

Shad Sullivan, a bee wholesaler in California’s Central Valley, said that in the four years he has imported bees from Australia, he has found that the hearty imports outlive domestic bees that have been weakened by pesticides, pests and diseases.

“If the bees were truly carrying something that bad, I would have been the first to get it,” Sullivan said as a thick cloud of the buzzing insects flew overhead. “I just haven’t seen those kinds of devastation.”
Resources

Excerpts & image courtesy of YahooNews

Beekeepers fear sting of imported Australian hives -GARANCE BURKE, AP, January 17, 2009.

http://news.yahoo.com/us/disappearing_bees;_

Old growth, ancient tropical forests can be restored


More protection from deforestation of old growth tropical forests is needed to fight climate change and protect the biodiversity of life on earth. “I am gravely concerned about what is happening with tropical forests,” William Laurance, a researcher with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama told AFP. “There is a very high rate of destruction of the old growth, ancient forests.”

…”50 football pitches of virgin rainforest was being destroyed every minute amid global warming, large scale habitat fragmentation, and changes in rainfall.”rainforest21

Intense hunting in areas of the tropics was also leading to the disappearance of “hundreds of species of amphibians,” he said. “Now we have synergy among those different threats,” Laurance said.

“So when you talk about global warming for example because it’s getting hotter, species in the tropics, where it’s possible, will naturally try to move up to higher elevations where it’s a little bit cooler.

“In many cases they will be trapped by habitat construction, cattle pass, degraded lands,” he warned.

Laurance presented his findings at a conference organized in Washington by the Smithsonian Natural History museum.

The bad news

Indonesia is now in terrible shape, losing more than two million hectares (4.9 million acres) of forest per year. Borneo is being devastated,” he said.

More than half of the planet’s 20 million square kilometers (eight million square miles) of rainforests has already been cleared for human use, while another five million square kilometers (two million square miles) has been selectively logged, said Greg Asner from the Carnegie Institution.

The promising news

But he said major swathes of land, or some 350,000 square kilometers (140,000 square miles), have been abandoned by human inhabitants and are beginning to grow back.

“Moreover, the regrowth is relatively quick. The forest canopy closes after just 15 years. After 20 years, about half of the original biomass weight has grown back,” he said.

Another success story-we can do it !

tropical-forests-of-the-world

1o years ago researchers planted worn-out cattle pastures in Costa Rica with a sampling of local trees, native species of plants began to move in and flourish, raising the hope that destroyed rain forests could one day be replaced.

Cornell graduate student Jackeline Salazar counted the species of plants that took up residence in the shade of the new planted areas over that 10 year  period. She found more than 100 in each plot and many of the new arrivals were also found in neighboring remnants of the original forests.

Forest restoration aims to improve the native forests and control erosion and helping the quality of life for the local people. Carl Leopold, the William H. Crocker Scientist Emeritus at BTI. ” …pointed out that drinking water becomes more readily available when forests thrive because tree roots act as a sort of sponge, favoring rainwater seepage and preventing water running off hills and draining away.”

To revive a rain forest may take hundreds of years,but our impressive growth rates in the new forest trees is hopeful.

Leopold with colleagues from the Ithaca-based Tropical Forestry Initiative began in 1993 by planting mixtures of trees on worn-out pasture land. For 50 years the soil had been compacted under countless hooves, and its nutrients washed away. When it rained, Leopold said, the red soil appeared to bleed from the hillsides.

Carl Leopold posing with a tree in front of one of his plantings, which had been growing for more than three years in a Costa Rican rain forest.

The group chose local rain forest trees for planting, collecting seeds from native trees in the community. “You can’t buy [these] seeds,” Leopold said. “So we passed the word around among our farmer neighbors.” When a farmer reported a tree producing seeds, Leopold and his wife would ride out on horses to collect the seeds before hungry monkeys beat them to it.

The group planted mixtures of local tree species, trimming away the pasture grasses until the trees could take hold. This was the opposite of what commercial companies have done for decades, planting entire fields with a single type of tree to harvest for wood or paper pulp.

The trees the group planted were fast-growing, sun-loving species. After just five years, those first trees formed a canopy of leaves that shaded out the grasses underneath. He believes that microscopic soil fungi called mycorrhizae can take much of the credit. They have apparently survived in the soil and form a symbiosis with tree roots. Research at Cornell and BTI, he said, has shown that without mycorrhizae, many plants can’t grow well.

The promising results of the project mean that mixed-species plantings can help jump-start a complex rain forest. Local farmers who use the same approach will reduce erosion of their land, while creating a forest that can be harvested sustainably, a few trees at a time.

Resources

Experts plead to save tropical forests in peril Spacedaily.com

Excerpts courtesy of Cornell University  CronicleONLINE

How campus researchers helped to rescue a rain forest – Beth Skwarecki  April 17, 2008.

rain forest growth

Provided
Half a century after most of Costa Rica’s rain forests were cut down, researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Sciences (BTI) on the Cornell campus are attempting what many thought was impossible — restoring a tropical rain forest ecosystem.

Images courtesy of

1. CronicleONLINE

2. Map: treehugger.com/tropicalforestsworld

3. CronicleONLINE

4. CronicleONLINE

“Endangered Ecuadoran hawkbill turtle sports satellite device”


Scientists will monitor a rare hawksbill turtle as it lives out its life along the coast of Ecuador, the government says.

The satellite strapped to this turtle’s back will help the turtle’s whereabouts and hopefully shed some light on the habits, migration routes and development of this critically endangered species.

The turtle has been kept at the marine life rescue center at the Machalilla National Park in Santa Elena province in western Ecuador before being set free.

“Ecuador is one of the few countries on the Pacific coast that has been identified as a nesting site,” the presidential press office said.
hawksbill_turtle_uwater
Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua are home to more than 90 percent of the hawksbill turtle’s nesting sites, which are affected by the destruction of coastal beaches.

“While the turtle lives a part of its life in the open ocean, it is most often encountered in shallow lagoons and coral reefs where it feeds on its chosen prey, sea sponges. Some of the sponges eaten by E. imbricata are known to be highly toxic and lethal when eaten by other organisms. In addition, the sponges that hawksbills eat are usually those with high silica content, making the turtles one of few animals capable of eating siliceous organisms. They also feed on other invertebrates, such as comb jellies and jellyfish. Because of human fishing practices, Eretmochelys imbricata populations around the world are threatened with extinction and the turtle has been classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union.”

For more turtle information click.

Resources

Satellite to keep eye on Ecuadoran turtle – Staff, EARTH OBSERVATION SpaceBank
Quito, Ecuador (UPI) January 13, 2009.

http://www.spacemart.com/reports/Satellite_to_keep_eye_on_Ecuadoran_turtle_999.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawksbill_turtle

Images courtesy of

1. http://www.spacemart.com/repo/Satellite_to_keep_eye_on_Ecuadoran_turtle_999.html

2.http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~vschmidt/scicex/images/Misc_Phot/hawksbill_turtle_uwater.jpg

Bush okays shoot to kill newly recovered wolves populations


The Bush administration  will remove the gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and northern wolvesjpRocky Mountains regions from the federal endangered species list. The wolves will be removed from the endangered species list 30 days after the decision is published in the Federal Register, which officials said could happen within the next two weeks.
But wolves in Wyoming will remain under federal jurisdiction because that state has not done enough to assure their survival, Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett said.
Previous attempts by the federal government to remove wolves in both regions from the endangered list and return management authority to the states have been overruled by courts.
In the western Great Lakes region, the federal government made no policy changes.

A small population of Mexican Gray wolves in the Southwest was not affected by Wednesday’s announcement.
The decision could be reversed by President-elect Barack Obama’s administration, said Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said the matter would be reviewed but offered no other details.

David Mech, a leading wolf expert and senior research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, supported the assertion that the wolf population had rebounded.

“I’m satisfied, and most wolf biologists I know are satisfied, that wolf populations in both regions have been biologically recovered for the last five years,” Mech said.

Environmental and animal rights groups, deriding the move as a last-minute effort by the Bush administration to strip protections, promised Wednesday to return to court with another round of lawsuits.
About 1,500 wolves in the Northern Rockies were taken off the list in February 2008. But a federal judge nullified the move in July, saying state management plans could not guarantee their recovery was sustainable.
The northern Rocky Mountain wolf segment includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah.
Idaho and Montana already have crafted plans for public hunts to keep wolf populations in check. There were no immediate plans for hunts in the western Great Lakes.
Last September, a federal judge sided with animal-rights groups that accused the government of misapplying the law in when it lifted protections for about 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2007.
Gray wolves previously were listed as endangered in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota, where they were listed as threatened.

Resources
Government makes decision on gray wolf protection -  MATTHEW BROWN and JOHN FLESHER, AP. Wednesday January 14, 2009 as reported in YahooNews. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115/ap_on_re_us/gray_wolf_endangered;_ylt=AiFZ2go7QM_SwVvZykjNuYYPLBIF

Image courtesy of

http://www.koze950.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/wolves.jpg

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