SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Natural resource

168

Agro-industrial wastes are generated during the industrial processing of agricultural products. These wastes are generated in large amounts throughout the year, and are the most abundant renewable resources on earth. Due to the large availability and composition rich in compounds that could be used in other processes, there is a great interest on the reuse of these wastes, both from economical and environmental view points. The economic aspect is based on the fact that such wastes may be used as low-cost raw materials for the production of other value-added compounds, with the expectancy of reducing the production costs. The environmental concern is because most of the agro-industrial wastes contain phenolic compounds and/or other compounds of toxic potential; which may cause deterioration of the environment when the waste is discharged to the nature. Although the production of bioethanol offers many benefits, more research is needed in the aspects like feedstock preparation, fermentation technology modification, etc., to make bioethanol more economically viable.

Concepts: Environment, Natural environment, Natural resource, Material, Recycling, Habitat conservation, Environmentalism, Ethanol fuel

165

The indoor biome is a novel habitat which recent studies have shown exhibit not only high microbial diversity, but also high arthropod diversity. Here, we analyze findings from a survey of 50 houses (southeastern USA) within the context of additional survey data concerning house and room features, along with resident behavior, to explore how arthropod diversity and community composition are influenced by physical aspects of rooms and their usage, as well as the lifestyles of human residents. We found that indoor arthropod diversity is strongly influenced by access to the outdoors and carpeted rooms hosted more types of arthropods than non-carpeted rooms. Arthropod communities were similar across most room types, but basements exhibited more unique community compositions. Resident behavior such as house tidiness, pesticide usage, and pet ownership showed no significant influence on arthropod community composition. Arthropod communities across all rooms in houses exhibit trophic structure-with both generalized predators and scavengers included in the most frequently found groups. These findings suggest that indoor arthropods serve as a connection to the outdoors, and that there is still much yet to be discovered about their impact on indoor health and the unique ecological dynamics within our homes.

Concepts: Arthropod, Ecology, Natural resource, Community, House, Rooms, Basement, Room

98

Metrics on resource productivity currently used by governments suggest that some developed countries have increased the use of natural resources at a slower rate than economic growth (relative decoupling) or have even managed to use fewer resources over time (absolute decoupling). Using the material footprint (MF), a consumption-based indicator of resource use, we find the contrary: Achievements in decoupling in advanced economies are smaller than reported or even nonexistent. We present a time series analysis of the MF of 186 countries and identify material flows associated with global production and consumption networks in unprecedented specificity. By calculating raw material equivalents of international trade, we demonstrate that countries' use of nondomestic resources is, on average, about threefold larger than the physical quantity of traded goods. As wealth grows, countries tend to reduce their domestic portion of materials extraction through international trade, whereas the overall mass of material consumption generally increases. With every 10% increase in gross domestic product, the average national MF increases by 6%. Our findings call into question the sole use of current resource productivity indicators in policy making and suggest the necessity of an additional focus on consumption-based accounting for natural resource use.

Concepts: Developed country, Economics, Natural resource, International trade, Economic growth, Trade, Resource, Natural resources

84

We assess progress toward the protection of 50% of the terrestrial biosphere to address the species-extinction crisis and conserve a global ecological heritage for future generations. Using a map of Earth’s 846 terrestrial ecoregions, we show that 98 ecoregions (12%) exceed Half Protected; 313 ecoregions (37%) fall short of Half Protected but have sufficient unaltered habitat remaining to reach the target; and 207 ecoregions (24%) are in peril, where an average of only 4% of natural habitat remains. We propose a Global Deal for Nature-a companion to the Paris Climate Deal-to promote increased habitat protection and restoration, national- and ecoregion-scale conservation strategies, and the empowerment of indigenous peoples to protect their sovereign lands. The goal of such an accord would be to protect half the terrestrial realm by 2050 to halt the extinction crisis while sustaining human livelihoods.

Concepts: Ecology, Ecosystem, Natural resource, Protection, Nature, Habitat conservation, Biogeography, Habitat fragmentation

44

Human pressures on the environment are changing spatially and temporally, with profound implications for the planet’s biodiversity and human economies. Here we use recently available data on infrastructure, land cover and human access into natural areas to construct a globally standardized measure of the cumulative human footprint on the terrestrial environment at 1‚ÄČkm(2) resolution from 1993 to 2009. We note that while the human population has increased by 23% and the world economy has grown 153%, the human footprint has increased by just 9%. Still, 75% the planet’s land surface is experiencing measurable human pressures. Moreover, pressures are perversely intense, widespread and rapidly intensifying in places with high biodiversity. Encouragingly, we discover decreases in environmental pressures in the wealthiest countries and those with strong control of corruption. Clearly the human footprint on Earth is changing, yet there are still opportunities for conservation gains.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Ecology, Earth, Natural environment, Natural resource, Sustainability, Environmental science

44

Human activities, especially conversion and degradation of habitats, are causing global biodiversity declines. How local ecological assemblages are responding is less clear–a concern given their importance for many ecosystem functions and services. We analysed a terrestrial assemblage database of unprecedented geographic and taxonomic coverage to quantify local biodiversity responses to land use and related changes. Here we show that in the worst-affected habitats, these pressures reduce within-sample species richness by an average of 76.5%, total abundance by 39.5% and rarefaction-based richness by 40.3%. We estimate that, globally, these pressures have already slightly reduced average within-sample richness (by 13.6%), total abundance (10.7%) and rarefaction-based richness (8.1%), with changes showing marked spatial variation. Rapid further losses are predicted under a business-as-usual land-use scenario; within-sample richness is projected to fall by a further 3.4% globally by 2100, with losses concentrated in biodiverse but economically poor countries. Strong mitigation can deliver much more positive biodiversity changes (up to a 1.9% average increase) that are less strongly related to countries' socioeconomic status.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Ecology, Natural environment, Soil, Ecosystem, Natural resource, Sustainability, Ecological economics

41

Overexploitation of renewable resources today has a high cost on the welfare of future generations. Unlike in other public goods games, however, future generations cannot reciprocate actions made today. What mechanisms can maintain cooperation with the future? To answer this question, we devise a new experimental paradigm, the ‘Intergenerational Goods Game’. A line-up of successive groups (generations) can each either extract a resource to exhaustion or leave something for the next group. Exhausting the resource maximizes the payoff for the present generation, but leaves all future generations empty-handed. Here we show that the resource is almost always destroyed if extraction decisions are made individually. This failure to cooperate with the future is driven primarily by a minority of individuals who extract far more than what is sustainable. In contrast, when extractions are democratically decided by vote, the resource is consistently sustained. Voting is effective for two reasons. First, it allows a majority of cooperators to restrain defectors. Second, it reassures conditional cooperators that their efforts are not futile. Voting, however, only promotes sustainability if it is binding for all involved. Our results have implications for policy interventions designed to sustain intergenerational public goods.

Concepts: Present, Time, Future, Natural resource, Sustainability, Voting, Democracy, Natural capital

37

Loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services from agricultural lands remain important challenges in the United States despite decades of spending on natural resource management. To date, conservation investment has emphasized engineering practices or vegetative strategies centered on monocultural plantings of nonnative plants, largely excluding native species from cropland. In a catchment-scale experiment, we quantified the multiple effects of integrating strips of native prairie species amid corn and soybean crops, with prairie strips arranged to arrest run-off on slopes. Replacing 10% of cropland with prairie strips increased biodiversity and ecosystem services with minimal impacts on crop production. Compared with catchments containing only crops, integrating prairie strips into cropland led to greater catchment-level insect taxa richness (2.6-fold), pollinator abundance (3.5-fold), native bird species richness (2.1-fold), and abundance of bird species of greatest conservation need (2.1-fold). Use of prairie strips also reduced total water runoff from catchments by 37%, resulting in retention of 20 times more soil and 4.3 times more phosphorus. Corn and soybean yields for catchments with prairie strips decreased only by the amount of the area taken out of crop production. Social survey results indicated demand among both farming and nonfarming populations for the environmental outcomes produced by prairie strips. If federal and state policies were aligned to promote prairie strips, the practice would be applicable to 3.9 million ha of cropland in Iowa alone.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Agriculture, Ecology, United States, Soil, Natural resource, Species richness

35

Trust and cooperation constitute cornerstones of common-pool resource theory, showing that “prosocial” strategies among resource users can overcome collective action problems and lead to sustainable resource governance. Yet, antisocial behavior and especially the coexistence of prosocial and antisocial behaviors have received less attention. We broaden the analysis to include the effects of both “prosocial” and “antisocial” interactions. We do so in the context of marine protected areas (MPAs), the most prominent form of biodiversity conservation intervention worldwide. Our multimethod approach relied on lab-in-the-field economic experiments (n = 127) in two MPA and two non-MPA communities in Baja California, Mexico. In addition, we deployed a standardized fishers' survey (n = 544) to verify the external validity of our findings and expert informant interviews (n = 77) to develop potential explanatory mechanisms. In MPA sites, prosocial and antisocial behavior is significantly higher, and the presence of antisocial behavior does not seem to have a negative effect on prosocial behavior. We suggest that market integration, economic diversification, and strengthened group identity in MPAs are the main potential mechanisms for the simultaneity of prosocial and antisocial behavior we observed. This study constitutes a first step in better understanding the interaction between prosociality and antisociality as related to natural resources governance and conservation science, integrating literatures from social psychology, evolutionary anthropology, behavioral economics, and ecology.

Concepts: Psychology, Conservation biology, Sociology, Natural resource, Behavior, Human behavior, Antisocial personality disorder, Social psychology

32

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used globally to conserve marine resources. However, whether many MPAs are being effectively and equitably managed, and how MPA management influences substantive outcomes remain unknown. We developed a global database of management and fish population data (433 and 218 MPAs, respectively) to assess: MPA management processes; the effects of MPAs on fish populations; and relationships between management processes and ecological effects. Here we report that many MPAs failed to meet thresholds for effective and equitable management processes, with widespread shortfalls in staff and financial resources. Although 71% of MPAs positively influenced fish populations, these conservation impacts were highly variable. Staff and budget capacity were the strongest predictors of conservation impact: MPAs with adequate staff capacity had ecological effects 2.9 times greater than MPAs with inadequate capacity. Thus, continued global expansion of MPAs without adequate investment in human and financial capacity is likely to lead to sub-optimal conservation outcomes.

Concepts: Biology, Population, Population ecology, Natural resource, The Strongest, Globalization, Conservation, Carrying capacity