The Toronto Field Naturalists have been promoting a love of nature in Toronto since 1923.
This charitable, non-profit organization stimulates public interest in natural history and encourages the preservation of our natural heritage.
November Photo Spotlight
Fall Colours in Sherwood Park by Ken Sproule
ECO Annual Report Released
On Nov 3rd, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario released the 2014-2015 Annual Report. Highlights of the report are:
- The need to overhaul the Environmental Registry, which hasn't changed since 1997.
- More protection (and funding) for the Great Lakes to reduce nutrient pollution.
- A call for regulations on reflected light from buildings to lessen bird collisions.
- Better enforcement of the Environmental Compliance Approval applications.
- Charging the true cost of water to all water users.
- Reinstatement of funding to acquire and preserve natural areas that need protecting.
- Stronger measures are needed to protect species at risk.
You can download the report from the ECO website here
El Niņo's Effect
You have likely already read that this year's strong El Nino is posed to raise global temperatures so that 2015 will become the warmest year on record since recording started in 1880. But El Nino is not just affecting air temperature. Sea surface temperatures have also risen causing mass coral reef bleaching around the world. When the water temperature gets too high for a long period of time (months) corals expel symbiotic algae, which weakens them and can lead to their death. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared on October 8th that Earth's oceans were experiencing a third mass bleaching event. The first occurred in 1998 and the second in 2010. NOAA states that 38% of world coral reefs could be affected by the end of 2015. Reefs support approximately 25% of all marine species. The high water temperatures are from El Nino are exacerbated by the warming effect of climate change.
A nice write-up on this with charts and videos can be found at here
Bees Just Can't Get a Break
Diesel fumes can be added to the list of things (climate change, neonicotinoids, habitat loss) that are affecting the health of bees. Researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Reading have recently found that exposure to nitrous oxide gases chemically alters the compounds in many floral odours, making it harder for bees to find food. Diesel engines produce nitrous oxide, which is a health hazard to both humans and animals. Now we know that it also affects bee's ability to use their sense of smell to find flowers.
Delaware Children in Nature Coalition Releases a Environmental Literacy Plan
Delaware has released a document of guidelines to help educators increase students' knowledge about the environment. The document includes ways to get kids outside to learn about natural resources, ecological systems, and other environmental topics. The plan isn't mandatory but is still a good step in recognizing the need to get children involved in nature. Deleware is fairly far from Toronto but everyone can learn from their work.
The 11-page document can be found
Getting More Energy From Solar Panels
Solar panels provide a great source of renewable energy but some critics complain about the amount of space they use. Fortunately new research has identified a way of increasing the output of solar panels by more than 30% and it is relatively easy to implement. Solar power arrays are spaced apart to prevent one row from casting shade on another, but this space is wasted when it is not in shade. The solution? Add a reflector to the empty space to bounce light back onto the panels. Of course nothing is that simple so they also need to use light-reflecting mathematical modelling to avoid getting the temperature to hot - which causes the panels to become less efficient.
New Giant Galapagos Tortoise Species Discovered
There are two species of giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, not just the one as previously known (Chelonoidis porteri). Biologists have found a small, isolated group of tortoises that are a distinct species. This new species, called the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise (Chelonoidis donfaustoi), only numbers in the hundreds so needs protection and help increasing their numbers. Being officially identified as a separate species helps with getting the help they need.
You can read more
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