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Aride Island is the wildlife highlight of a visit to the Inner Granitics of the Seychelles, with more bird species than any other island. Today the island literally reeks of seabirds, and teems of the wildlife of an almost wholly intact seabird island ecosystem.
The original lodge built of local timber still stands on the island, barely changed over a century. Precisely at sunset the cacophony of noddies and terns changes abruptly to that of returning shearwaters as thousands of them return to their burrows.
It’s hard not to want to spend every waking minute exploring another part of this natural island, as the birds go on about their business oblivious to your presence. About This BlogEvery hour of every day, somewhere on Earth, National Geographic explorers are at work trying to uncover, understand, or help care for some small part of the world around us. Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work.
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Canoes are vital for transportation on the rain forest rivers of the Republic of the Congo.
Limited space in dense rain forests results in many unique plants, like this fig tree in the Philippines, which produces fruit on runners that come from its trunk instead of on its branches.
Streams on Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula flow through one of the world’s outstanding examples of lowland tropical rain forest, protected here by Corcovado National Park. A species of mushroom called Amanita muscaria or fly agaric dots the floor of a temperate coastal rain forest in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The rhinoceros hornbill is named for its characteristic “casque,” the strange structure situated on top of the bird’s bill. Brazil's Atlantic forest rivals the Amazon with its eye-popping array of unique plants and animals, yet its proximity to Rio de Janeiro and other cities puts it at even greater risk. The National Geographic Society aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability.
Here's what you need to know about ?the warming planet, ho??w it's affecting us, and what's at stake.
Three-Toed Sloths have algae growing on their thick, furry coat, and they have three toes on each forelimb, and four on their back limbs. Sloths have  many adaptations that help them survive in the rainforest, one of which is its slow metabolism.
Their skin is suitable for tanning purposes, and illegal hunting still persists, but the government is making that harder to do. Leafcutter ants have jointed legs, three body parts(head, thorax, and abdomen), antennae and a hard exoskeleton.
Leafcutter ants give jobs to exterminators due to the fact that they are considered pests in most locations. Certain caterpillar species produce sweet chemicals from "dew patches" on their backs, upon which a certain ant species will feed. Interesting relationships- It is used for furniture, making baskets, and reinforcing concrete. Tip: To turn text into a link, highlight the text, then click on a page or file from the list above.
The person doing the biome info should put a heading and have the food web come after the info. The world's strongest solid rocket motor revs up, a star nursery is seen in its sharpest view yet, and more in this week's best space pictures. A composite picture shows what the sun's atmosphere looked like on Wednesday, as seen in three different wavelengths of light.
Tropical storm Frank rages off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, on August 28 in a picture from NASA's unmanned Global Hawk hurricane-monitoring airplane.
In a new picture, hundreds of young, bright stars heat up the gases of the Triangulum galaxy, creating a distinctive red glow.The image is being billed as the sharpest shot yet of the star-forming region known as NGC 604. The turquoise lagoon of French Polynesia's Mataiva atoll stands out against the dark blue of the surrounding Pacific Ocean in an image taken by an astronaut on August 13.The atolla€”a ring-shaped island enclosing a central lagoona€”is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, the largest chain of atolls on Earth. The warty is also called the great crested newt for the dramatic, jagged crest that males develop along their backs during the spring breeding season.
Go underground and meet this salamander that's both large and common, yet so secretive it’s rarely seen. Tens of thousands of lesser noddies (Anous tenuirostris) nest through the native forest canopy, their discards feeding thousands of plump Wright’s skinks (Trachylepis wrightii). Nearby we walk past a tropicbird nestled in the base of a tree trying to catch up on some sleep with its new baby. Conservation officer Milly takes us on a tour of the main colony area just after dusk, as the birds sit outside their burrows calling to loved ones returning from sea. However, eventually we must brave a surf-crashing departure so I can reach the World Seabird Conference in Cape Town next week to share the fantastic news of island conservation from this part of the world. The Congo Basin’s 500 million acres of tropical forest, second-largest in the world after the Amazon, are known for an incredible array of wildlife including great apes, forest elephants, and some 700 species of river fish. Costa Rica’s signature park boasts an array of colorful flora and fungi and an amazing variety of larger animals, from estuary-dwelling crocodiles to secretive jaguars. Identified by the white patches on its cap, this species of fungus can grow up to a foot high with a top as big as a dinner plate in some regions.It is referred to as the fly agaric because people have been known to use pieces of the mushroom to attract and kill flies. Unlike these familiar faces, the majority of rain forest species are yet to be named, formally described, or analyzed. The uses of this “horn” aren’t fully understood but casques may play a role in attracting mates or amplifying bird calls. When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin.
We're armed with crampons, ice axes, rope, GPS receivers, and bear spray to ward off grizzlies, and we're trudging toward Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Over time, many roots may grow and then wrap around the tree resulting in death of the tree. This psychological adaptation allows the sloth to feed less often, keeping it safe from predators. Conservation wise, the Sloths are in serious danger of losing their habitat due to deforestation and logging of the rainforest trees. They have a bony ridge which is present in between the front eyes, appearing to join them like spectacles.
Mating generally occurs between May & August, eggs are laid during wet season, July-August.
Conservation wise, they are abundant in their native continents, therefore they do not need conservation.
In return, the ants vigorously protect the caterpillar and have even been observed carrying the caterpillar to the nest at night for safety.


The picturea€”assembled from shots taken by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatorya€”includes a model of what the sun's magnetic field lines looked like at the time. Mataiva is unique in that its central lagoon includes a network of ridges (white, center) and small basins formed by eroded coral reefs, according to NASA's Earth Observatory, which released the photo on August 30. One scientist says the reef has the most amazing animals shea€™s ever seen on an expedition. Females, which are larger than males, can reach 7 inches (18 centimeters) in length, making these stout-bodied amphibians the continent’s largest newts.True to its name, the warty newt has skin that is covered in small bumps. Aride Island’s isolation has contributed to its protection – it is the furthest north granitic island in the Seychelles.
In 1973 the island was purchased by Christopher Cadbury and has since been managed as a Nature Reserve by the Island Conservation Society.
Ranger Juan walks us along the island pointing out each seabird species we come across; white terns, white-tailed tropicbirds, bridled terns, sooty terns, frigatebirds – they are all here.
Juan also tells us about the reintroductions of two of the most endangered Seychelles landbirds; magpie-robins (Copsychus sechellarum) and warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis) previously restricted to only one island each, as each of them casually fly past us.
Wright’s skinks have been replaced by giant millipedes across the forest floor, and we have to be careful where we step so as not to crush any burrows. Bedraggled, I am dropped off on the beach at Praslin and wander in to the airport and buy a ticket on the next plane to Mahe. One of three main instruments on the orbiting observatory, the AIA takes pictures of the sun in ten wavelengths every ten seconds. The robotic plane's mission is to study the atmosphere over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with unprecedented range and endurance.
The star "metropolis" is Triangulum's largest star nursery, stretching about 1,500 light-years across. The skin contains glands that secrete a milky, acrid-smelling substance to dissuade predators.
The surging waves make landing a challenge, and the solution to this is simply to hold on tight and drive the boat ashore as fast as possible. They typically live in pairs and are known for an amazing nesting strategy during which the male seals up the female inside a hollow tree, leaving only a tiny beak hole through which to feed her and their young. Rain forest plants, for example, produce chemicals to combat insects and disease that have led to the development of many beneficial drugs.
Overlaying several such images can show how magnetic events, such as prominence eruptions and coronal mass ejections, generate motion across the solar orb. Blistering radiation from the infant stars not only lights up the neighborhood but also carves out bubbles in the surrounding hydrogen gas, giving NGC 604 its complex structure.
Its other common name derives from the dramatic, jagged crest that males develop along their backs during the spring breeding season.These newts are generally dark colored on top and orange or yellow with black spots underneath. But rain forests around the world are being deforested at alarming rates—even as many of their species and secrets remain unknown to humans.
They also have white speckles on their flanks and a large, vertically flattened tail that bears a white streak down the side.Warty newts are nocturnal and are voracious eaters, feeding on worms, slugs, and insects on land, and tadpoles and mollusks in water. When President Taft created Glacier National Park in 1910, it was home to an estimated 150 glaciers. If the canopy is damaged in any way, the floor becomes a dense growth of vines, shrubs, and small trees.
This behavioral adaptation helps camouflage it because the algae is the same color as the tree. They are more terrestrial than most newts, but must remain near bodies of fresh water to keep their skin moist.These newts spend a significant portion of their lives in hibernation, usually from around October to March of each year.
Since then the number has decreased to fewer than 30, and most of those remaining have shrunk in area by two-thirds.
The tropical rainforest is the best home to more species and populations than all other biomes combined. On a rainy night in March, they awaken and trek back to the pond where they hatched to mate.Females lay from 200 to 300 eggs, but only about half develop into tadpoles. Fagre predicts that within 30 years most if not all of the park's namesake glaciers will disappear."Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime," says Fagre. Tadpoles emerge from their eggs in about 21 days and feed on small insects like water fleas and tiny worms. Most believe that human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, have influenced this warming trend. Like all newts, they can regrow body parts if necessary, but that ability diminishes as they age.Warty newt populations are in decline throughout their range, and they are considered an endangered species. All species in the rainforest adapt with eachother to the enviornment and the weather to survive.
A trailside sign notes that since 1901, Sperry Glacier has shrunk from more than 800 acres (320 hectares) to 300 acres (120 hectares). There are four levels of vegetation, the emergent level, which are up to 100-240 feet tall have animals such as monkeys and bats. Glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035. Animals such as giant anteaters live here.Only about one percent of sunlight hits the forest floor so it is very easy for people to walk throught the rainforest.
Arctic sea ice has thinned significantly over the past half century, and its extent has declined by about 10 percent in the past 30 years. NASA's repeated laser altimeter readings show the edges of Greenland's ice sheet shrinking. Decomposers like earthworms, termites, and fungi break down the majority of the liter very quickly as long as the heat and humidity. Spring freshwater ice breakup in the Northern Hemisphere now occurs nine days earlier than it did 150 years ago, and autumn freeze-up ten days later.
The decomposition then is quickly absorbed by the trees' shallow roots which adds to more vegetation. Thawing permafrost has caused the ground to subside more than 15 feet (4.6 meters) in parts of Alaska. From the Arctic to Peru, from Switzerland to the equatorial glaciers of Man Jaya in Indonesia, massive ice fields, monstrous glaciers, and sea ice are disappearing, fast.When temperatures rise and ice melts, more water flows to the seas from glaciers and ice caps, and ocean water warms and expands in volume. With over 80 inches of rainfall a year, they have waxy leaves to help them get rid of excess water so they don't weigh down and break. Other plants have adaptations such as grooved leaves and drip tips to also get rid of excess water. But the recent rate of global sea level rise has departed from the average rate of the past two to three thousand years and is rising more rapidly—about one-tenth of an inch a year. A continuation or acceleration of that trend has the potential to cause striking changes in the world's coastlines.Driving around Louisiana's Gulf Coast, Windell Curole can see the future, and it looks pretty wet.
In southern Louisiana coasts are literally sinking by about three feet (a meter) a century, a process called subsidence.
It's like taking the global sea-level-rise problem and moving it along at fast-forward.The seventh-generation Cajun and manager of the South Lafourche Levee District navigates his truck down an unpaved mound of dirt that separates civilization from inundation, dry land from a swampy horizon.


With his French-tinged lilt, Curole points to places where these bayous, swamps, and fishing villages portend a warmer world: his high school girlfriend's house partly submerged, a cemetery with water lapping against the white tombs, his grandfather's former hunting camp now afloat in a stand of skeleton oak snags. Even relatively small storm surges in the past two decades have overwhelmed the system of dikes, levees, and pump stations that he manages, upgraded in the 1990s to forestall the Gulf of Mexico's relentless creep. Never before have so many humans lived so close to the coasts: More than a hundred million people worldwide live within three feet (a meter) of mean sea level. Vulnerable to sea-level rise, Tuvalu, a small country in the South Pacific, has already begun formulating evacuation plans.
Megacities where human populations have concentrated near coastal plains or river deltas—Shanghai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Tokyo, and New York—are at risk. The projected economic and humanitarian impacts on low-lying, densely populated, and desperately poor countries like Bangladesh are potentially catastrophic.
The scenarios are disturbing even in wealthy countries like the Netherlands, with nearly half its landmass already at or below sea level.Rising sea level produces a cascade of effects. Furthermore, when salt water intrudes into freshwater aquifers, it threatens sources of drinking water and makes raising crops problematic. In the Nile Delta, where many of Egypt's crops are cultivated, widespread erosion and saltwater intrusion would be disastrous since the country contains little other arable land.In some places marvels of human engineering worsen effects from rising seas in a warming world.
The system of channels and levees along the Mississippi effectively stopped the millennia-old natural process of rebuilding the river delta with rich sediment deposits.
In the 1930s oil and gas companies began to dredge shipping and exploratory canals, tearing up the marshland buffers that helped dissipate tidal surges. Energy drilling removed vast quantities of subsurface liquid, which studies suggest increased the rate at which the land is sinking.
Now Louisiana is losing approximately 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of wetlands every year, and the state is lobbying for federal money to help replace the upstream sediments that are the delta's lifeblood.Local projects like that might not do much good in the very long run, though, depending on the course of change elsewhere on the planet.
Although floating ice does not change sea level when it melts (any more than a glass of water will overflow when the ice cubes in it melt), scientists became concerned that the collapse could foreshadow the breakup of other ice shelves in Antarctica and allow increased glacial discharge into the sea from ice sheets on the continent.
If the West Antarctic ice sheet were to break up, which scientists consider very unlikely this century, it alone contains enough ice to raise sea level by nearly 20 feet (6 meters).Even without such a major event, the IPCC projected in its 2001 report that sea level will rise anywhere between 4 and 35 inches (10 and 89 centimeters) by the end of the century. The high end of that projection—nearly three feet (a meter)—would be "an unmitigated disaster," according to Douglas.Down on the bayou, all of those predictions make Windell Curole shudder. The ten-year-long World Ocean Circulation Experiment, launched in 1990, has helped researchers to better understand what is now called the ocean conveyor belt.Oceans, in effect, mimic some functions of the human circulatory system. Just as arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the extremities, and veins return blood to be replenished with oxygen, oceans provide life-sustaining circulation to the planet. Propelled mainly by prevailing winds and differences in water density, which changes with the temperature and salinity of the seawater, ocean currents are critical in cooling, warming, and watering the planet's terrestrial surfaces—and in transferring heat from the Equator to the Poles.The engine running the conveyor belt is the density-driven thermohaline circulation ("thermo" for heat and "haline" for salt).
Warm, salty water flows from the tropical Atlantic north toward the Pole in surface currents like the Gulf Stream.
This saline water loses heat to the air as it is carried to the far reaches of the North Atlantic. The coldness and high salinity together make the water more dense, and it sinks deep into the ocean.
The deep, cold water flows into the South Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, eventually mixing again with warm water and rising back to the surface.Changes in water temperature and salinity, depending on how drastic they are, might have considerable effects on the ocean conveyor belt.
Ocean temperatures are rising in all ocean basins and at much deeper depths than previously thought, say scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Arguably, the largest oceanic change ever measured in the era of modern instruments is in the declining salinity of the subpolar seas bordering the North Atlantic.Robert Gagosian, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, believes that oceans hold the key to potential dramatic shifts in the Earth's climate. He warns that too much change in ocean temperature and salinity could disrupt the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation enough to slow down or possibly halt the conveyor belt—causing drastic climate changes in time spans as short as a decade.The future breakdown of the thermohaline circulation remains a disturbing, if remote, possibility. But the link between changing atmospheric chemistry and the changing oceans is indisputable, says Nicholas Bates, a principal investigator for the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study station, which monitors the temperature, chemical composition, and salinity of deep-ocean water in the Sargasso Sea southeast of the Bermuda Triangle.Oceans are important sinks, or absorption centers, for carbon dioxide, and take up about a third of human-generated CO2. Data from the Bermuda monitoring programs show that CO2 levels at the ocean surface are rising at about the same rate as atmospheric CO2. In the waters between 820 and 1,476 feet (250 and 450 meters) deep, CO2 levels are rising at nearly twice the rate as in the surface waters. In Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, a lighthouse attendant opens a large silver suitcase that looks like something out of a James Bond movie, telescopes out an attached 15-foot (4.5-meter) rod, and flips a switch, activating a computer that controls several motors, valves, and stopcocks.
Around the world, collectors like these are monitoring the cocoon of gases that compose our atmosphere and permit life as we know it to persist.When the weekly collection is done, all the flasks are sent to Boulder, Colorado. There, Pieter Tans, a Dutch-born atmospheric scientist with NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, oversees a slew of sensitive instruments that test the air in the flasks for its chemical composition. In the late 1950s a researcher named Charles Keeling began measuring CO2 in the atmosphere above Hawaii's 13,679-foot (4,169-meter) Mauna Loa. That made sense since, during spring and summer, plants take in CO2 during photosynthesis and produce oxygen in the atmosphere.
In the fall and winter, when plants decay, they release greater quantities of CO2 through respiration and decay. Keeling's vacillating seasonal curve became famous as a visual representation of the Earth "breathing."Something else about the way the Earth was breathing attracted Keeling's attention.
Carbon dioxide level has climbed from about 315 parts per million (ppm) from Keeling's first readings in 1958 to more than 375 ppm today.
The three gases together help keep Earth, which would otherwise be an inhospitably cold orbiting rock, temperate by orchestrating an intricate dance between the radiation of heat from Earth back to space (cooling the planet) and the absorption of radiation in the atmosphere (trapping it near the surface and thus warming the planet).Tans and most other scientists believe that greenhouse gases are at the root of our changing climate. The three lines on the graph follow almost identical patterns: basically flat until the mid-1800s, then all three move upward in a trend that turns even more sharply upward after 1950.
In his fire chief's truck, Brower takes me to his family's traditional ice cellars, painstakingly dug into the permafrost, and points out how his stores of muktuk—whale skin and blubber recently began spoiling in the fall because melting water drips down to his food stores. The once impenetrable permafrost that kept the foundation solid has bucked and heaved so much that walking through the school is almost like walking down the halls of an amusement park fun house.
The ramshackle conglomeration of weather-beaten houses along the seaside gravel road stands protected from fall storm surges by miles-long berms of gravel and mud that block views of migrating gray whales. Yellow bulldozers and graders patrol the coast like sentries.The Inupiat language has words that describe many kinds of ice. For Brower, these words are the currency of hunters who must know and follow ice patterns to track bearded seals, walruses, and bowhead whales.There are no words, though, to describe how much, and how fast, the ice is changing. Researchers long ago predicted that the most visible impacts from a globally warmer world would occur first at high latitudes: rising air and sea temperatures, earlier snowmelt, later ice freeze-up, reductions in sea ice, thawing permafrost, more erosion, increases in storm intensity. There, at the tip of Alaska, roughshod hunting shacks dot the spit of land that marks the dividing line between the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
Next to one shack someone has planted three eight-foot (2.4-meter) sticks of white driftwood in the sand, then crisscrossed their tops with whale baleen, a horny substance that whales of the same name use to filter life-sustaining plankton out of seawater. The baleen, curiously, looks like palm fronds.So there, on the North Slope of Alaska, stand three makeshift palm trees. Perhaps they are no more than an elaborate Inupiat joke, but these Arctic palms seem an enigmatic metaphor for the Earth's future.



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