Celebrate National Pollinators Week By Protecting These Endangered Species
As summer enters into full bloom, it's time to celebrate all the birds, bees and bugs that make the fruits and flowers possible. From June 18 to 24, Pollinator Partnership (P2) is celebrating National Pollinator Week, which was designated by the U.S. Senate 11 years ago and has grown into an international event.
Pollinators are birds, bees, butterflies, beetles, bats and other small mammals that help plants reproduce by moving pollen grains from the male to female part of a plant. Plants can also self-pollinate or be pollinated by the wind, but one third of every bite of food we eat is thanks to animal pollinators, P2 reports.
Here are some unique pollinators listed as endangered species in the U.S. to celebrate and protect this National Pollinators Week.
1. Mexican Long-Nosed Bat (Leptonycteris nivalis)
A Mexican long-nosed batUSFWS
While fellow agave-pollinator the lesser long-nosed bat was removed from the endangered species list this spring, the population of the Mexican long-nosed bat is still declining. These bats spend the winter in Mexico's Central Valley feeding on a variety of flowers. In the spring, mother bats and their babies move north, some of them crossing the border into Texas and New Mexico to feed on agave and cacti. They then follow late-blooming agave south again in the fall, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.
According to a Center for Biological Diversity report, the bat is one of 93 endangered, threatened or candidate species likely to be harmed by President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, and its migration patterns serve as a reminder that borders are artificial, not natural, barriers. In addition to opposing the border wall, if you live in Texas or New Mexico, you can support the Mexican long-nosed bat by avoiding entering caves or other potential roosting sites where bats may be resting, refraining from cutting plants the bats may depend upon and planting agave in your yard, Texas Parks and Wildlife advises.
2. 'Ākohekohe (Palmeria dolei)
The 'ĀkohekoheEric VanderWerf / USFWS
The 'Ākohekohe, or crested honeycreeper in English, is the largest bird of its type on the island of Maui. It used to have a range of 485 square miles on both Maui and Moloka'i but now just inhabits five percent of its historic territory, living mostly on the Haleakala volcano. It pollinates the `ōhi`a plant, which is also its main food source, according to its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) page.
Long threatened by deforestation and invasive species, the 'Ākohekohe is now further at risk as climate change expands the range of malaria-carrying mosquitoes into Maui's mountains, the Audubon Society reported in 2015. Scientists are working to reduce the mosquito population by removing larvae and introducing sterilized mosquitoes.
3. Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis)
The rusty patched bumble beeSusan Carpenter; University of Wisconsin - Madison Arboretum / USFWS
In 2017, the rusty patched bumble bee became the first wild bee species in the continental U.S. to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, Reuters reported. The species has declined by 87 percent in the last 20 years, according to its USFWS page. The USFWS blames disease, climate change, pesticides, habitat loss and intensive agriculture.
The USFWS also provides tips for backyard conservationists. It is important to plant a range of native, flowering plants that bloom from April through October. Here is a list of species the bees have been known to favor. Avoiding pesticides is also crucial. Because bees and other pollinators need safe places to nest and winter, the USFWS further recommends leaving part of your yard unmowed during the summer and some leaves unraked during the fall.
4. The Karner Blue Butterfly (Lyceaides melissa samuelis)
A male Karner blue butterflyPaul Labus / USFWS
The Karner blue butterfly depends on specialized habitats in the Midwestern and Northeastern U.S. where wild blue lupine bloom, since Karner blue caterpillars only feed on wild blue lupine leaves, according to the species' USFWS page. Wild blue lupine grow in the sandy parts of pine barrens, oak savannas and lakeshore dunes and usually require fires or other disturbances to open sunny spots for them.As fire suppression and general habitat destruction have increased, patches of wild blue lupine have decreased and with them the Karner blue butterfly's habitat. More butterflies now live in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge provides a haven. The USFWS is working to reintroduce the butterflies and their unique habitat in Ohio, New Hampshire and Indiana since habitats that support lupines and butterflies also support other rare species like frosted elfin (Incisalia iris), phlox moth (Schinia indiana), persius dusky wing (Erynnis persius), prairie fameflower (Talinum rugospermum) and the western slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus).
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.