A dearth of data spurs debate over ‘insect apocalypse’

In recent months, the media have been abuzz about a series of studies that describe a looming "insect apocalypse," a steady loss of bugs that would eventually put all life on earth at risk. Now Mongabay, an online magazine that covers environmental science and conservation issues, has launched a four-part series that will examine the science behind these studies to determine whether the conclusions are premature. 

Animal populations fall by 60 percent in four decades

Global populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have declined, on average, by 60 perent since 1970s, said the World Wildlife Fund in its Living Planter Report 2018 on Monday. "The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and over-exploitation of wildlife," said WWF.

Syrian seeds shake up Europe’s plant patent regime

Salvatore Ceccarelli knew he was engaging in a subversive act when, in 2010, he took two twenty kilo sacks of bread and durum wheat seeds from a seed bank outside of Aleppo, Syria and brought them to Italy during a visit back to his home country. Now, seven years later, those seeds from the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of domesticated agriculture, with thousands of years of evolution behind them, are poised to challenge the system of plant patenting in Europe, and, soon enough perhaps, the United States.

New study says biodiversity is crucial to ecosystem health

A new analysis of data from a number of sources, by researchers at Smithsonian and the University of Michigan, found that biodiversity plays an even greater role in ecosystem resilience and overall health than previously thought—more important than even temperature and nutrients. The analysis was published in the journal Nature.

Report: Up to half of the world’s animals lost in sixth mass extinction

A sixth mass extinction of the planet’s species is already underway — and worse than thought, says new research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Vermont introduces regenerative soil bill

A bill in the Vermont Senate calls for a statewide soil regeneration program, with regular soil testing to certify that farms are improving the health of their soil through carbon content and depth of topsoil. The bill is part of a sweep of similar legislation in California, Oklahoma and Utah.

Arctic thaw sends water into entryway of ‘doomsday’ seed vault

An unexpected thaw of Arctic permafrost let water into the famed "doomsday" seed vault 1,000 kilometers from the North Pole, reported Reuters. The water, halted in the entrance hall of the seed repository, "had no impact on millions of seeds of crops including rice, maize, potatoes and wheat that are stored more than 110 metres inside the mountainside," said the news agency.

Great Barrier Reef in ‘terminal’ stages

Back-to-back coral bleachings in 2016 and 2017 have left only the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef untouched, and experts are predicting the death of the entire ecosystem.

U.S. losing grasslands faster than deforestation in Brazil

The grasslands of the Great Plains, stretching from Texas into the Canadian prairies, are disappearing faster than the forests of Brazil as farmers try to cash in crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans. In a report released today, the World Wildlife Fund says 3.7 million acres of grassland were converted to cropland in 2015, more than twice as much as the 1.4 million acres of forestland in Brazil leveled for crops and livestock.

Small-scale farmers embrace monoculture in rain forest

Just like the operators of large-scale plantations, small-scale farmers in Southeast Asia chop down rain forests to plant oil palm trees, says a study led by a researcher from Lund University in Sweden. “For the great majority of small farmers, chopping down diverse forests and investing in a single species of tree – monoculture – is the simplest and quickest path out of poverty," says the researcher Yann Clough.