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 this way: “The process of fertile land transforming into desert typically as a result of deforestation, drought, or improper/inappropriate agriculture”


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.


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.


“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.


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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Deforestation Effects, Causes, And Examples: Top 10 List

December 13, 2012 in Geology & Climate, Plants

Over half of the world’s forests have been destroyed in the last 10,000 or so years — the majority of this loss has occurred in just the last 50 years, occurring simultaneously with a massive increase in the human population. The incredible scale of this loss has led to significant changes throughout many parts of the world, and in recent years these changes have been accelerating. These changes include: large-scale extinction events, desertification, climatic changes, topsoil loss, flooding, famine, disease outbreaks, and insect ‘plagues’ — among others.


Deforestation occurs primarily as a result of: agriculture, fuel use and production (firewood, charcoal, etc), timber harvesting, pasture-clearing for livestock animals, and expanding human settlements. And also, to a degree, due to large scale war — throughout history fire has often been used as a way to deprive enemy populations of necessary resources. These deforested areas almost inevitably end up as wastelands via the processes of soil erosion and desertification, if they aren’t reforested. Many of the areas of the world that were deforested thousands of years ago remain as severely degraded wastelands or deserts today.

Currently the world’s annual rate of deforestation is estimated to be about 13.7 million hectares a year — roughly equivalent to the total land-area of Greece. Roughly half of the areas deforested gets reforested to some degree, but these new-growth forests don’t function in the same ways, support the same biodiversity, nor do they provide the many benefits that old-growth forests do.

In addition to these ‘official’ numbers, forests have also been, in recent years, becoming more and more affected by the changing climate — with increasing levels of drought, growing numbers of forest fires, increasingly common powerful storms and extreme weather, an explosion in insect numbers, and the spread of disease, all taking a toll.

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