Droughts, natural gas flaring cuts, insect art: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

 

Drought in the southwest. Photo by Mark Henle courtesy of the Guardian.

Drought in the southwest. Photo by Mark Henle courtesy of the Guardian.

US drought to deplete Lake Mead to levels not seen since 1930s (The Guardian): Federal water managers said the drought in the southwest will drop water levels below 1,082 feet. Officials from the US Bureau of Reclamation said water obligations would be met for at least the next year with no shortages and supply will continue to be monitored.

When beliefs and facts collide (New York Times): Americans continue to stay divided in their belief of theory on how the earth was created, global warming and other issues. Surveys have concluded that many Americans don’t know all of the facts.

Natural gas flaring in North Dakota to be significantly reduced by 2020 (Huffington Post): North Dakota’s booming oil industry will face rigid restrictions in attempt to reduce flame waste byproducts from the industry by 2020. Because of the fast pace of oil drilling, much natural gas is burned off rather than given to pipelines and processing facilities who can’t keep up.

 

"Artistic endeavors of leaf cutter bees" Photo by Chris Worden courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

“Artistic endeavors of leaf cutter bees” Photo by Chris Worden courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

Insect art: competition sheds new light on garden damage (Great Lakes Echo): Experts from the Canadian Pollination Initiative and the University of Guelph teamed up to start an art contest that brings a new perspective to insect-eaten plants. Their aim is turn frustration into pride — feelings that are all too familiar when gardeners come across holey plants and leaves among other beauties.

Climate change will alter fire patterns, push caribou herds around (Conservation Magazine): Increasing heat and drought have brought on more wildfires, which have been connected to the habitat of the caribou. Although wildfires may mean less trees, the trees are not what’s important to caribou; the lichens growing on them are. These lichens are what caribou subsist on and wildfires are burning them away.

Algal blooms in the Great Lakes, wolf hunting in the U.P., energy legislation: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garica, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

A fish flops dead on the shore, due to an increase of algae. Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

A fish flops dead on the shore, due to an increase of algae. Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Echo.

Public trust demands Great Lakes phosphorus cuts (Great Lakes Echo): A team of United States and Canadian citizens known as the International Joint Commission, or IJC, have come together to create a public trust to protect the Great Lakes from “excessive nutrient runoff.”. This has created toxic algal blooms in the lakes, adversely affecting the ecosystems and causing beach closures.

Second ballot proposal to stop gray wolf hunt in U.P. approved (Detroit Free Press): A proposal to end hunting of grey wolves in the Upper Peninsula will appear on the ballot on Nov. 5 and could possibly repeal a law passed in 2012. The proposal was pushed by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and is among three other proposals about the wolf hunt that will also be on the ballot.

Scientists propose new classification system for invasive species (Conservation Magazine): Researchers across the globe came together to create a new classification scheme to better understand risks and threats to biodiversity on the planet. Rather than using a system that points out species who are endangered, they’re classifying invasive species by the adverse effects they impose on the communities they invade.

Obama pushes climate rules despite Dems’ midterm election concerns (Huffington Post): The Obama administration is set to reveal new emissions caps for factories throughout the nation to democrats’ dismay in energy-producing states during the midterm elections. Obama must start now with making an energy efficient nation, a major component to his campaign, otherwise new legislation won’t be enacted before his term ends.

Extensive Great Lakes ice and El Nino equals cooler Michigan summer  (Macomb Daily): Michigan’s frigid winter could continue to impact the state well into the summer. Extensive Great Lakes ice cover could mean higher lake levels, while the cold winter and an El Nino weather pattern mean cooler temperatures will likely continue. This could also delay severe spring storms.

 

 

Species Spotlight: Cerulean Warbler

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

The cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea) is a small, but strikingly beautiful, songbird that has been declining rapidly in the United States over recent decades.

The cerulean warbler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The cerulean warbler. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The cerulean warbler has a length of only 4.3 inches and a wingspan of 7.9 inches. Male and female cerulean warblers look rather different from each other. The males are bright blue with a white underbelly. Black streaks line their sides. Females are a dull turquoise color with a yellowish underbelly. The male cerulean warbler has a song that is distinguishable from all other warblers.

These birds spend summers breeding in the United States, ranging from the lower Great Lakes region all the way down to northern Louisiana. It is most prevalent in eastern Ohio and southern Missouri and Wisconsin.  They usually arrive to build nests and breed in the United States in late April or early May. Cerulean warblers then leave in August and migrate down to South America where they will stay until the next summer.

Cerulean warblers live in deciduous forests, choosing to build their nests higher up in the canopy than most other warblers. They piece grass stems, hair and bark fibers together in a spider web to create their nest. Here, they will lay between three and five eggs. When their eggs hatch, cerulean warblers will feed their young insects found on tree leaves.

These tiny birds face many threats to their population. Habitat destruction due to land development is a key threat. Climate change is another problem for cerulean warblers, as it may alter forest types. They also face the threat of habitat fragmentation. Brown-headed cowbirds will lay their eggs in cerulean warblers’ nests. When the brown-headed cowbird eggs hatch first, they tend to push all other eggs out of the nest.

Between 1966 and 1999, the cerulean warbler population in the United States declined 70 percent. Its population is dropping faster than any other warbler species.

Luckily, there have been two recent sightings of cerulean warblers in MNA sanctuaries. There was also nesting activity documented in one. This is a positive sign for the cerulean warbler, as there is a guarantee that their habitat will not be destroyed within the land protected by MNA.