The words “marine debris” conjure up images of plastic bottles and detergent jugs floating in the open ocean, or cigarette butts and soda cans littering beaches. Studies are now finding that tiny fibers shed from clothing in the laundry – each about the size of a grain of sand – are some of the more prevalent waste products recovered on shorelines and water samples. Mark A. Browne, a former NCEAS postdoc who participated in the Marine Debris Working Group, discussed the damage these fibers can inflict on animal and human health in the Opinion section of The New York Times. Read his opinion here.
Malaria causes around 584,000 deaths each year, most of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa. New findings now reveal that a larger area of Africa experiences ideal temperatures for malaria transmission than was previously thought. A new mapping study by the NCEAS working group Effects of global change on malaria transmission: A meta-analysis suggests future climate regimes will provide suitable temperatures for malaria to expand to new parts of Africa by 2080. More>
A new publication in Marine Ecology Progress Series provides an extensive review of two decades of literature on ecosystem and fisheries interactions. The authors recommend ways to integrate ecosystem considerations into current management practices to address ecosystem resilience to climate change and issues of data limited fisheries. More>
The Science for Nature and People (SNAP) Partnership funded The Economics of the Chinese Ivory Trade working group in 2014 shortly before the Chinese government announced its support of a ban on all ivory trade in China. The team responded quickly to the news and modified their research inquiry to help identify recommendations for how the Chinese government could enact the ban and achieve its goals while minimizing the unintended consequences. Li Zhang, Beijing Normal University, is SNAP co-PI and author of the recently published World View column in Nature entitled "China must act decisively to eradicate the ivory trade." More>
Natural capital accounts for approximately 40% of the economic wealth in Rwanda, among the highest in the world. The country understands the importance that protecting natural capital plays in their continued economic growth. Following the United Nation's adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) partnership has announced a new Expert Working Group to support the government of Rwanda’s development strategy and international initiatives in natural capital accounting. More>
In a new systematic review of existing literature, published in Ecology, the NCEAS Marine Debris Working Group explored the extent to which existing data demonstrate ecological impacts caused by marine debris. They concluded that sufficient evidence does exist to label marine debris, particularly plastics, as an environmental hazard. The authors suggest that there is sufficient evidence for decision-makers to begin mitigating the problem caused by marine debris. While the researchers do agree that there is a need to improve in the quantity and quality of research about the ecological impacts of marine debris, they claim that it should not be a deterrent to the development of marine debris mitigation plans. More>
Species conservation systems that rely heavily on declining population rates may not accurately predict a species’ conservation status, concludes a new paper published in Biological Conservation. These findings could have broad reaching implications for international wildlife policy and conservation management.
The NCEAS Red Flags and Species Endangerment Working Group compiled an extensive global time series dataset of abundance trends for over 1300 vertebrates populations in order to evaluate performance of criteria for identifying species at risk. More>
After the Interior Department’s announcement that the Sage Grouse will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act, discussions on whether or not this was the best choice have been widespread. In "A Shifting Approach to Saving Endangered Species" published in The New York Times on October 5, the author Erica Goode reports on the varying opinions amongst conservation and environmental organizations on creating a collaborative conservation plan for the Sage Grouse and future endangered animals. Goode turned to NCEAS Director Frank Davis for his thoughts on endangered species. More >
Ocean Health Index 2015 Global Score is 70 Out of 100
The global ocean score for the Ocean Health Index was announced at the second annual Our Ocean Conference held the week of October 5-9 in Valparaíso, Chile. With the updated methodology, the global ocean score for 2015 was 70 out of 100, unchanged from 2013 and 2014. This was the fourth annual update from the Index, a partnership led by scientists from the NCEAS at UC Santa Barbara and Conservation International. Since 2012, 22 nations have started using the Ocean Health Index’s regional assessment tool to improve ocean management. More >
While previously thought to have been widespread, new research shows that cheating is actually rare. Developed by a NCEAS Working Group, a new fitness-based definition of cheating generates a common framework to unite empirical and theoretical work, makes comparisons across species and studies possible, and creates an opportunity to better understand mutualistic interactions and how they tie into broader ecosystem services. More>
The National Science Foundation recently selected UC Santa Barbara to establish a new Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) National Communications Office (LNCO) operated by NCEAS. We are seeking an experienced science communications professional to lead the LNCO communication activities. More>
Since 2011, the NCEAS Working Group The effects of global change on malaria transmission: A meta-analysis has been working to understand how changes in temperature and precipitation will affect transmission of infectious diseases, to ensure better management. Thus far the Working Group has been extremely productive, finding that peak transmission of disease actually occurs at lower temperatures than was previously believed. More>
The NCEAS Marine debris: Scale and impact of trash in ocean ecosystems Working Group synthesized seabird studies dating back to the early 1960’s. The results revealed that plastics are becoming increasingly common in the guts of seabirds and predict that plastic ingestion will affect approximately 99% of all seabird species by the year 2050.More>
Creating a model that uses climate-velocity trajectories along with information on thermal tolerances and habitat preferences, scientists from the NCEAS Working Group, Towards Understanding Marine Biological Impacts of Climate Change, were able to project changes in species richness and community composition, which is crucial for adaptive ecosystem management. This new approach enables modeling of over 12 times more species than previous studies. More>
Ecological food web modeling has been a research focus since 1872 when Thomas Malthus suggested the theory that availability of resources constrains consumer population growth. Since then thousands of modeling studies have been conducted exploring the consumer-resource relationship. Yet, it was not until just recently that an NCEAS Working Group was able to connect the variables from classical consumer-resource models to create a mathematical expression which underlies the structure of all food webs. The NCEAS Parasites and Food Webs Working Group published their findings in Science. More>
The Science for Nature and People (SNAP) partnership announced plans to expand its activities in response to growing demand for solutions at the intersection of nature conservation, human well-being, and economic development — demand that is expected to increase further when the UN's Sustainable Development Goals are announced in September. Following this year’s call for proposals, the partnership has launched two new Working Groups and the scale-up of a third. The first is Biocultural Indicators across Pacific Island communities, and the second is Faith Groups & Conservation. The Evidence-Based Conservation Working Group started earlier this year will now expand considerably. More>
UC Santa Barbara has recently been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the site of the first national communications office for the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. A $3.5 million NSF grant will fund this communications office and it will be operated by UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) — taking advantage of NCEAS' experience in the support of multi-site collaboration and synthetic research, along with graduate training and environmental science communication.More>
NCEAS is celebrating 20 years as a synthesis center!
For the past two decades, NCEAS has brought together scientists, policy-makers, and resource managers in dynamic Working Groups, with the goal of tackling significant questions in ecology and the environment in order to rapidly advance scientific understanding and address critical environmental challenges for the benefit of society. The Anniversary Report explores the impacts NCEAS has had over the last 20 years, celebrates our collaborators, and highlights the programs which are driving future collaborations and discovery. More>