The enigmatic "fairy circles" of the Namib Desert exhibit strikingly regular spatial patterns, which have mystified many observers.
(Image by Jen Guyton)

The mechanism behind Namibian “fairy circles”

Self-organization of plants or fungi into distinct geometric patterns, such as “fairy circles”, has been fascinating to scientists. One such example in the Namib Desert consists of patches of bare sand from one to 25 meters in diameter, surrounded by desert shrubs and tall grasses. The mechanism behind its pattern has been disputed for a […]

Recovery is possible for global fisheries

The world’s declining fisheries could recover in less than a decade if management reforms are implemented in time, according to researchers. Researchers looked at 4,500 fisheries in the world, representing about 78 per cent of the reported global catch using state of the art bio-economic models. The researchers found that while the majority of fisheries […]

Recipe for a waste-free world

A series of comment pieces discuss the circular economy – where industrial outputs become inputs so that goods at the end of their life turn into resources for other uses. In the first article Walter Stahel, who coined the concept of the circular economy, argues it is time to shift to a “resource-miser” economy. He […]

wo ichthyosaurs (Pervushovisaurus bannovkensis) wandering in an artist’s impression. (Image credit: Andrey Atuchin)

Solving the Disappearance of the Ichthyosaur

The Ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like reptile, ruled the oceans at the time of the dinosaurs, but then disappeared from the fossil record. Now new research seems to have figured out why. Their demise appears to be the result of climate change and a slow rate of evolution. Ichthyosaurs became extinct 90 million years ago, 28 million […]

Changing grasslands in North America

The productivity of grasslands in North America will increase in future climate scenarios, despite higher temperatures and increased drought, say researchers. They developed this forecast using a new model of the region’s hydrology and vegetation, incorporating data and images gathered from a network of cameras.   The model showed an earlier start to the growing […]

Chazdon-LEP-plot-2014

The resilience of tropical forests

  Tropical rainforests that regrow after deforestation take up carbon more quickly than established forests and recover most of their biomass within decades, according to research on forests in Central and South America. Until now the recovery rate of these forests was unknown, hindering reliable estimates of their ability to absorb and store atmospheric carbon. […]

Overlapping fishing zones could be placing strain on oceanic sharks

Overlap in the ranges of sharks and fishing vessels is placing oceanic shark species at risk from overfishing say researchers. By monitoring the ranges of eight species of oceanic sharks by satellite, and tracking two fleets of longline fishing vessels over several years, researchers found about 80 per cent of the range of oceanic sharks […]

How much fish are we really catching? (Infographic courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts)

Underestimating global fisheries catches

  Researchers have been substantially underestimating the total global fisheries’ catches by as much as 50 per cent, according to a new study. The results are based on “catch-reconstruction”, using scientific literature and asking local experts to help provide missing data. The researchers found increases in catches every year from 1950 to 1996, at which […]

(Photo Credit: Ed Roberts)

Marine protected areas failing to protect history

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are failing to protect the evolutionary diversity of fish and corals, according to a new study. The researchers conclude that over 7,000 million years of the evolutionary history of corals and 3,586 million years of fish evolution is not protected. Researchers studied 450 species of fish, which represent important components of marine biodiversity, and hundreds of species of coral, and calculated how […]

Icebergs leave trail of carbon-trapping plankton in their wake

Melting water from giant icebergs travelling across the Southern Ocean supports the growth of phytoplankton, which is responsible for as much as 20 per cent of the carbon trapped in the depths of the ocean. These icebergs enhance phytoplankton productivity for hundreds of kilometers, and their effects persist for at least one month after the iceberg […]

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