SciCombinator

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

Concept: Natural resource

187

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

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

126

Resource management agencies commonly defend controversial policy by claiming adherence to science-based approaches. For example, proponents and practitioners of the “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” which guides hunting policy across much of the United States and Canada, assert that science plays a central role in shaping policy. However, what that means is rarely defined. We propose a framework that identifies four fundamental hallmarks of science relevant to natural resource management (measurable objectives, evidence, transparency, and independent review) and test for their presence in hunt management plans created by 62 U.S. state and Canadian provincial and territorial agencies across 667 management systems (species-jurisdictions). We found that most (60%) systems contained fewer than half of the indicator criteria assessed, with more criteria detected in systems that were peer-reviewed, that pertained to “big game,” and in jurisdictions at increasing latitudes. These results raise doubt about the purported scientific basis of hunt management across the United States and Canada. Our framework provides guidance for adopting a science-based approach to safeguard not only wildlife but also agencies from potential social, legal, and political conflict.

Concepts: Conservation biology, United States, U.S. state, Natural resource, Canada, Hunting, North America, Wildlife management

102

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

87

Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources is increasingly affecting the highly biodiverse tropics [1, 2]. Although rapid developments in remote sensing technology have permitted more precise estimates of land-cover change over large spatial scales [3-5], our knowledge about the effects of these changes on wildlife is much more sparse [6, 7]. Here we use field survey data, predictive density distribution modeling, and remote sensing to investigate the impact of resource use and land-use changes on the density distribution of Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). Our models indicate that between 1999 and 2015, half of the orangutan population was affected by logging, deforestation, or industrialized plantations. Although land clearance caused the most dramatic rates of decline, it accounted for only a small proportion of the total loss. A much larger number of orangutans were lost in selectively logged and primary forests, where rates of decline were less precipitous, but where far more orangutans are found. This suggests that further drivers, independent of land-use change, contribute to orangutan loss. This finding is consistent with studies reporting hunting as a major cause in orangutan decline [8-10]. Our predictions of orangutan abundance loss across Borneo suggest that the population decreased by more than 100,000 individuals, corroborating recent estimates of decline [11]. Practical solutions to prevent future orangutan decline can only be realized by addressing its complex causes in a holistic manner across political and societal sectors, such as in land-use planning, resource exploitation, infrastructure development, and education, and by increasing long-term sustainability [12].

Concepts: Biodiversity, Natural resource, Sustainability, Remote sensing, Land use, Orangutan, Sumatran Orangutan, Bornean Orangutan

79

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

45

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

40

Free or subsidised mosquito net (MN) distribution has been an increasingly important tool in efforts to combat malaria in recent decades throughout the developing world, making great strides towards eradicating this hugely detrimental disease. However, there has been increasing concern in the natural resource management and healthcare communities over alternative use of MNs, particularly in artisanal fisheries where it has been suggested they pose a threat to sustainability of fish stocks. So far, little evidence has been presented as to the global prevalence and characteristics of MN fishing, limiting global management initiatives and incentives for action across disciplines. We conducted a rapid global assessment of mosquito net fishing (MNF) observations from expert witnesses living and/or working in malarial zones using an internet survey. MNF was found to be a broadly pan-tropical activity, particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. MNF is conducted using a variety of deployment methods and scales including seine nets, scoop/dip nets, set nets and traps. MNF was witnessed in a broad range of marine and freshwater habitats and was seen to exploit a wide range of taxa, with capture of juvenile fish reported in more than half of responses. Perceived drivers of MNF were closely related to poverty, revealing potentially complex and arguably detrimental livelihood and food security implications which we discuss in light of current literature and management paradigms. The key policies likely to influence future impacts of MNF are in health, regarding net distribution, and natural resource management regarding restrictions on use. We outline critical directions for research and highlight the need for a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to development of both localised and broad-scale policy.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Fish, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Natural resource, Insect repellent, Mosquito net