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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Boundaries Crossed, 1

Boundaries Crossed, 1

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, July 15, 2016/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change

    Illegal Deforestation in Para State, Brazil  December 2015 (credit: USAID/Rainforest Foundation)

Photo and video cameras are important tools for documenting environmental and ecological change. Images can be captured from space, an aircraft, or on foot but no matter the scale, they acquire a special relevance now as environmental change accelerates. The photos or videos can be compared with archival material to view over different time-lines; focus on a single species, a location, and diversity; or highlight ecosystem-scale alterations from human activities and a changing climate.

Publishing in Science Magazine, new research indicates boundaries around the world are now being crossed above safe limits to maintain biodiversity. The team of biologists used over 2 million records, totalling nearly 40,000 species, to model their response from land use practices and changes in local biodiversity. The alterations are being driven by large-scale conversion of grasslands and tropical forests to agricultural use such as soybean and cattle production to support expanding populations.

They authors conclude:

"across 65% of the terrestrial surface, land use and related pressures have caused biotic intactness to decline beyond 10%, the proposed “safe” planetary boundary."

Their research followed the planetary boundaries concept developed in Sweden that recognized "nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations", if not crossed. The concept is explained by one of its developers, here:


Re-photography is another important tool for documenting change occurring over short of longer time spans. Kelp reefs off the coast of Western Australia have died in less than 5 years from exceptional water temperatures. These reefs are marine "hotspots" for biodiversity and nurseries for young fish.

           

        Kelp reef re-photographed, 2011 (credit: University of Western Australia)

This crossed boundary will be covered in more detail separately.

WHB      

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