Soil Erosion Rates Rose More Than 100-Fold In The US Following Colonization Via Deforestation & Industrial Agriculture, Research Finds (+American Indian Forest Management Practices Explained)

January 21, 2015 in Geology & Climate, Humans, Plants

Soil erosion rates increased more than a 100-fold in the southeastern US after European colonization via the large-scale deforestation and industrial agriculture that accompanied it, according to new research from the University of Vermont.

Previous to European colonization, the region had seen rates of hill-slope erosion of around an inch every 2500-years — after colonization these rates skyrocketed to an inch every 25-years (with a peak in the late-1800s/early-1900s).

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Desertification Effects, Causes, And Examples : Top 10 List

January 5, 2015 in Animals & Insects, Geology & Climate, Humans, Plants

Desertification is a process of land-degradation by which a region becomes progressively drier and drier — eventually becoming desert. Or, to put it another way — desertification is the process by which previously biologically productive land is transformed into wasteland.

There’s actually currently something of a debate over the use of the term though. As it stands, the most widely accepted definition is probably the one that’s now printed in the Princeton University Dictionary — which defines it thusly: “The process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought, or improper/inappropriate agriculture”

Desertification

There are a number of different causes/mechanisms behind the process, such as deflation (the loss of stabilizing vegetation, and of top soil); erosion; and soil-salinity-rise (via irrigation mostly). Read the rest of this entry →

3-D Structure Of The Genome Determines How Genes Are Expressed, Research Finds

August 4, 2013 in Animals & Insects, Humans, Plants

The three-dimensional structure of the genome determines how genes are expressed, new research from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Washington has found.

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For the new research, the genome’s 3D structure was analyzed in detail and at high resolution, which yielded new insight into how/why some genes are expressed and others aren’t. Some background — there’s somewhere around three meters worth of DNA tightly folded within the nucleus of every one of the human body’s cells. Depending on the ‘folding’, some genes are ‘expressed’, while others aren’t.
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Massive Arctic Greening Within Only A Few Decades? Transformation Could Make The Arctic The Center Of Human Activity

April 2, 2013 in Geology & Climate, Plants

The Arctic will experience a massive “greening” in the coming decades as a result of rising temperatures and climate change, new research from the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation has found. The research shows that rising temperatures will cause total plant cover area in the Arctic to increase significantly, with wooded areas increasing in size by as much as 50% in only a few decades. This rapid increase in vegetation will result in accelerated warming within the region and also globally.

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“Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson, primary author of the paper and a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.

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Extinction, Mass Extinctions, Extinct Species, And The Ongoing 6th Great Mass Extinction

March 7, 2013 in Animals & Insects, Fossils, Humans, Plants

Extinction is the process by which a species, genus, or family, becomes extinct — no longer existing and living in the world. It is the abolition and annihilation of something that previously existed in the world. In the case of biology, it refers specifically to the end of an evolutionary line, or a branch on the tree of life.

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The actual moment of extinction is considered to be when the last individual representative of a species or group is no longer living. But functional extinction can occur considerably earlier than that — as the result of loss of genetic diversity, range, and/or the ability for a population to breed and recover.

Most types of life, especially animals, are closely tied to their ecological niches and environments. With a loss of their living environment, and its accompanying species, extinction is almost inevitable for many types of life. Species diversification and emergence typically doesn’t occur in these circumstances, it usually happens within healthy ecosystems. The long-period of time that follows large extinction events when no new species emerge is referred to as a dead zone .

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