Best of our wild blogs: 25 Sep 11

An Explosion of Inspiration: Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III from wild shores of singapore and Posters galore

BoSS III (My Takeaways)
from Trek through Paradise

Ready for the weekend
from Lazy Lizard's Tales

How did people find their way to the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III webpage?
from Otterman speaks

Life History of the Brown Awl
from Butterflies of Singapore

Ovipositiing of Damselfly (Egg-laying)
from Dragonflies & Damselflies of Singapore

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Network and connect with nature

Channel NewsAsia 24 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) is starting a network for Singaporeans who are keen on nature conservation.

It'll be similar to the successful Community in Bloom programme, which has nurtured some 400 gardening groups islandwide.

Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced the initiative at a symposium on biodiversity where he gave out awards to those who have made significant contributions to conservation efforts in Singapore.

Called Community in Nature (CIN), individuals, community groups and organisations can sign up to take part in nature awareness activities like photography and birdwatching.

Those who are keen to deepen their appreciation of nature will then be exposed to more hands-on activities, like plant salvaging and reforestation.

NParks said the aim is to engage the community and reconnect them with their natural environment.

It said the launch of CIN is in line with its City in a Garden framework, to engage and inspire communities by creating a network of individuals and groups to conserve Singapore's natural heritage.

"It is an opportunity to reconnect with nature and bringing a wide range of activities, such as photography and bird watching, and so on and so forth. And I think it will certainly enrich the lives of our Singaporeans, especially the young Singaporeans who are just spending time at gaming parlours and playing with their X-Box. Get them out of the house, go and walk, and get them a lot healthier and ready for national service," said Brig-Gen Tan.

NParks is in the process of a year-long public engagement exercise launched on August 22 to seek ideas on transforming Singapore into a City in a Garden.

- CNA/ck/ls

Singapore's biodiversity 'also key to its identity'
Straits Times 25 Sep 11;

To get people in Singapore to reach out and engage even more with nature, National Parks Board (NParks) yesterday announced the launch of a new programme Community in Nature (CIN).

Brigadier-General (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, unveiled the programme at the 3rd Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium, held at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

BG Tan emphasised the importance of nature conservation in Singapore.

Identity is not just centred on history but also on the country's biodiversity, he said, adding: 'I think it is important to embrace that and preserve as much of that as we can.'

The CIN programme engages the community and reconnects them with the natural environment through activities in three broad areas: awareness and appreciation; engagement; and co-creation.

The three broad categories may be viewed as a progression of one another. This framework allows a participant to grow from being a casual observer to becoming a more active participant in nature-related programmes.

By the co-creation stage, the focus is on participants leading the community in environmental programmes.

Mr Poon Hong Yuen, chief executive of NParks, said the first category is important because when people truly appreciate nature, a sustained interest results.

Many may volunteer 'but we want to ensure that the interest continues', he said.

Activities under the awareness and appreciation category include birdwatching and nature photography.

These activities will start next month.

BG Tan also presented awards to recognise individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation in Singapore.

The symposium, jointly organised by NParks and NUS, saw the biodiversity community addressing topics about terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Stacey Chia

A network for nature lovers
Channel NewsAsia Today Online 25 Sep 11;

The National Parks Board (NParks) is starting a network for Singaporeans keen on nature conservation. Individuals, community groups and organisations can sign up to take part in nature awareness activities like photography and bird watching.

Called Community in Nature (CIN), there will also be more hands-on activities like plant salvaging and reforestation.

"I think it will certainly enrich the lives of Singaporeans, especially the young who are just spending time at gaming parlours and playing with their X-Box. Get them out of the house, go and walk, and get them a lot healthier and ready for National Service," said Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who announced the initiative at a symposium on biodiversity yesterday.

NParks said the CIN concept is similar to the successful Community in Bloom programme, which has nurtured some 400 gardening groups here.

Email or go to to sign up.

NParks launches Community in Nature programme
Stacey Chia Straits Times 24 Sep 11;

Brigadier-General (NS) Tan Chuan Jin, Minister of State (National Development and Manpower) announced the launch of the Community in Nature (CIN) programme by the National Parks Board (NParks) at the 3rd Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium held at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Saturday.

The Symposium was jointly organised by the NParks and NUS.

The CIN programme aims to engage the community and reconnect them with the natural environment.

Activities under the CIN which will start in October, will be categorised into three broad categories: Awareness and appreciation, Engagement and Co-creation. This framework will allow participants of to grow from being a casual observer to become a more active participant in nature-related programmes.

NParks launches Community in Nature programme for nature conservation - BG (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin announced launch of Community in Nature at the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III
NParks media release 24 Sep 11;

24 September 2011 - Taking a leaf from the successful Community in Bloom programme, which has nurtured some 400 gardening groups island-wide, NParks is establishing a similar network of Singaporeans keen on nature conservation.

Called Community in Nature (CIN), individuals, community groups and organisations can sign up at to take part in nature awareness activities like photography and birdwatching (See Annex A for a list of birdwatching activities in October). Those who are keen to deepen their appreciation of nature will then be exposed to more hands-on activities, like plant salvaging and reforestation. The aim is to engage the community and reconnect them with our natural environment.

The launch of CIN is in line with NParks' City in a Garden framework. On 22 August, NParks started a year-long public engagement exercise to seek ideas on transforming Singapore into a City in a Garden. One of the focus areas is on engaging and inspiring communities by creating a network of individuals and groups to conserve Singapore's natural heritage.

At BOSS, which is jointly organised by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), MOS Tan also presented awards to recognise individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation in Singapore. This year's recipients include Ms Ria Tan, for sharing information about biodiversity through her Wildsingapore and Flickr websites, as well as 10 schools and organisations for their longstanding participation in the International Coastal Cleanup.

In its third instalment, BOSS is a forum for the biodiversity conservation community to interact, exchange knowledge and explore future collaborations. Held on 24 September at the NUS Lim Seng Tjoe Lecture Theatre 27, this year's BOSS features speakers on biodiversity conservation efforts at terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats in Singapore.

More about the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III. Also on the wild shores of singapore blog.

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Wrong place to release fireflies?

Alvin Lim The New Paper AsiaOne 24 Sep 11;

The Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is facing allegations that the Moon Night event at Night Safari has undermined conservation efforts.

The Sept 11 event, created under the purview of new CEO Isabella Loh, was held in line with the Mid-Autumn Festival. It was attended by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

A letter to The New Paper claimed that fireflies were released into a forested area in the zoo, which was the wrong habitat for this particular species.

The fireflies were bred by Night Safari, which, according to the June edition of WRS' newsletter Wildlife Times, is "working with National Parks Board (NParks) to re-introduce captive-bred fireflies to protected natural habitats".

It said Night Safari had first bred fireflies between 2001 and 2005, and the breeding programme was revived last year to cultivate the Pteroptyx valida, a species of firefly.

The letter writer said this species dwells in mangrove swamps and their chances of survival in a forest habitat are significantly less.

He claimed: "This was pointed out to Isabella by WRS Zoology staff, but she insisted on the release." He said the fireflies "will certainly die without reproducing".

The writer's claim was confirmed by a source close to WRS, who told TNP that the firefly release was "not conducted at a mangrove swamp", and that the release seemed to have been positioned for "visual significance rather than a conservation one".

In another segment of the Moon Night event, floating lanterns with lit candles were released on a boat dock of the Upper Seletar Reservoir.

The source said WRS staff members had tried to dissuade Ms Loh against releasing the floating lanterns.

They were concerned that wildlife in the reservoir would "ingest the candle wax".

Nature Society Singapore president Shawn Lum told TNP that the Pteroptyx valida thrives in a mangrove environment and not in a forest habitat.

The mangrove plants, which once thrived, are now rare in Singapore.

Dr Lum said: "The question is: Can these animals find an appropriate place to dwell after you release them?


"If they have specific feeding requirements, unless they can locate such a habitat... it might threaten their survival."

An NParks spokesman said that it had provided WRS with two breeding pairs of fireflies to aid in its study of the insect.

He added: "We also surveyed our parks and nature reserves for the presence of existing populations of fireflies, with the view of implementing measures to enhance their habitats. "This includes planting of appropriate species of mangroves..."

WRS did not respond to TNP's queries on whether the fireflies had been released in a less-than-ideal habitat, and whether the fireflies were the Pteroptyx valida species.

Meanwhile, the 17 Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students have turned down an offer by MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng to resurrect their final-year project on Halloween Horrors at a Tampines North park.

Mr Baey told TNP he received an e-mail from SP's principal yesterday informing him that the students were appreciative, but had to decline the offer due to time constraints.

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Malaysia: Conservation of turtles given a boost

The Star 24 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: Turtle conservation in Malaysia will enter a new era from Dec 1 when the country enforces its inter-governmental agreement on the Conservation and Manage-ment of Marine Turtles and their Habitats within the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA) region.

Malaysia is the 33rd state to join the agreement, following a recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) involving the Fisheries Department and WWF-Malaysia.

It entails 24 programmes and 105 specific activities focused on reducing threats, conserving critical habitat, exchanging scientific data and increasing public awareness and participation.

A WWF-Malaysia statement said it was also for promoting regional cooperation and seeking resources for implementation.

The signing of the MoU is also in line with priorities set by the Government in its 2008 National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sea Turtles.

The MoU, signed by Fisheries director-general and WWF and IOSEA coordinator Douglas Hykle, is to protect, conserve, replenish and recover marine turtles and their habitats within the region.

“Through this regional platform, WWF-Malaysia hopes the Government will give full commitment in implementing conservation measures and comprehensive programmes outlined in the Conservation and Management Plan agreed to by member states,” the statement said.

“The move is timely as turtles are migratory animals. Their protection transcends national boundaries, and collaboration between neighbouring countries is imperative,” it added.

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Malaysia: 'Trepang' breeding project in Langkawi

New Straits Times 24 Sep 11;

LANGKAWI: The Fisheries Department is breeding trepang, a species of sea cucumber (gamat), via a research and development project in the waters of Langkawi.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum said it was to diversify the species of sea cucumber bred at Teluk Yu, Ayer Hangat here.

"Trepang has many other benefits and comes in the form of gamat oil. It is used in producing cosmetics and food," he said at a Merdeka Raya celebration with fishermen at Pasir Hitam here.

A flotilla of 80 fishing boats hoisted the Jalur Gemilang in a procession from Pasir Hitam to Teluk Yu.

Johari also released 40 trepang in the breeding area at Teluk Yu.

Increasing demand for trepang had pushed the price to as high as between RM150 to RM350 per kg.

"We have identified areas in Kuala Temoyong and Pulau Tuba for expansion of the project and we also plan to increase fish breeding grounds."

Johari said the Fisheries Department was considering building a jetty at Pasir Hitam for the benefit of more than 150 fishermen. -- Bernama

Read more: 'Trepang' breeding project in Langkawi

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Malaysia: Monkeys’ antics not funny

Edmund Ngo The Star 24 Sep 11;

THE sight of a large, breathing, alpha male monkey baring its teeth is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine, especially parents with small children.

Monkeys also have unique muscular structures and with lactic acid in their bodies, they have four times the strength of a grown man.

It is no wonder then that residents of Taman Ria in Ipoh jumped sky high when a large monkey and several other smaller ones were sighted at the residential area in Bercham.

To make matters worse, they have been able to escape the traps set by the State Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) officers.

The monkeys have also caused mischief by ransacking a house and leaving droppings behind for its bewildered residents.

Despite an urge to laugh at their antics, having a rogue monkey running around a residential area is not funny and certainly no ‘monkey business’.

Various news reports have mentioned monkey attacks, some in our own country, as with the devastating tragedy that befell a family in Seremban - the baby was killed by one of the primates, mistaking it for its own offspring.

In Shimla, India, a rogue monkey bit 15 people, a rogue langur caused a person to be hospitalised while another man died from monkey attacks.

In Jaipur, India, a 65-year-old man, who tried to attract a group of monkeys with food in his hand, ended up being attacked. Passers-by came to his rescue but it was too late. The man had already died from multiple bite wounds.

These cases, however, should not serve as an excuse for us to point fingers at the creature or blame it for its instinctive behaviour.

We should, instead, ask ourselves of the effect humans have on Mother Nature.

With humans encroaching into the habitats of the primates, it is no wonder that they are being forced out of their sanctuaries and to seek shelter at playgrounds and residential areas with large trees.

No doubt, residents should not worry about our primate cousins overpowering us as depicted in the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” anytime soon. Yet, such close proximity between man and animal does pose serious risks and must be stopped.

In my opinion, trapping a monkey and later releasing it into the wild is only a temporary solution to the problem.

A better measure would be to analyse and question ourselves as to why these monkeys are showing up in areas that are densely populated like Taman Ria.

Could it be that these monkeys are pets that have escaped their cages or perhaps unwanted by their owners?

If this is the case, owners must be more vigilant and must take it upon themselves to find out more about the animals they intend to keep as pets before they actually do so.

More importantly, owners should not discard their pets like some rubbish when they don’t want them. Do it responsibly.

The loss of habitat can be resolved by creating relocation programmes. We must identify suitable jungles for the monkeys to roam free.

Having said that, future developments must also take into account the possibility of encroaching into animal habitats and disturbing the fragile ecosystem.

At the end of the day, mankind need to understand its role as the ‘bigger primate’, one that has common sense and knowledge to properly manage its surroundings without bringing danger or threat of extinction to other creatures on this planet.

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Free Condoms from the Center for Biological Diversity

Environment News Service 23 Sep 11;

TUCSON, Arizona, September 23, 2011 (ENS) - Extinction rates for plants and animals around the world have been accelerating while the human footprint grows, consuming land and water that could have provided habitat for threatened and endangered species.

Concerned about this imbalance, the Center for Biological Diversity this week began shipping out 100,000 Endangered Species Condoms from its Tucson headquarters to a network of 1,200 volunteer distributors in all 50 states.

The free condoms will be given away as part of the Center's 7 Billion and Counting campaign to highlight the world population hitting seven billion in late October. The idea is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, limiting human population growth and leaving more suitable habitat for imperiled species.

The human population has doubled since 1970, and is expected to hit seven billion by October 31 and at least nine billion by 2050.

"As the world population closes in on seven billion, there's never been a better time to talk about overpopulation and the species extinction crisis, and our Endangered Species Condoms are one of the best conversation starters out there," said Amy Harwood, the Center's overpopulation campaign coordinator.

"Since we launched this project in 2010, we've heard from thousands of people that these simple but surprising packages drive the issue home in a funny, thought-provoking way," Harwood said.

The condoms come in six different packages with original artwork and edgy slogans featuring the polar bear, jaguar, snail darter, spotted owl, coqui guajon rock frog and American burying beetle, whose slogan is, "Cover your tweedle, save the burying beetle."

All six species are listed as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Over the next few weeks, the Endangered Species Condoms will be distributed at events across the country hosted by college students, grandmothers, healthcare providers, religious leaders, musicians and activists.

"Without universal access to free birth control and engaging public education about the serious consequences of overpopulation, the global population could reach 15 billion by mid-century," said Harwood. "The Earth simply can't sustain that many people and provide a high-quality life for all species, including humans."

The Center's condom website,, has images of the six colorful condom packages, information on how overpopulation is affecting climate change, global fisheries collapse, public lands and the species extinction crisis.

It enables people to sign up to become Endangered Species Condom distributors where they live.

As part of the new campaign, the Center has launched a new website,, which includes background information, activist toolkits, updates on efforts to highlight the impact of overpopulation on species extinction and links to a new Facebook page.

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Plant hunters' legacy help Japan's threatened species

Mark Kinver BBC News 24 Sep 11;

The British tradition of collecting plants from all four corners of the world means the UK is now home to many Japanese species which are under threat in their native land, a study reports.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International found more than 350 such species in UK gardens and collections. They also counted 106 vascular plant species in UK collections that were not present in Japanese ones.

They hope the findings will help protect potentially vital specimens.

The report found two species - a shrub, Flemingia strobilifera, and a fern, Hypolepis tenuifloa - growing in the UK despite being deemed locally extinct in their Japanese homeland.

"There was a period of time where it was very much the thing to do and go out and collect plant material, and Britain was probably at the lead of it," explained Suzanne Sharrock, director of global programmes for Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

"It is fair to say that we have always had a tradition of gardening and an interest in plants.

"And - certainly among the upper classes - they wanted new and different plants that no-one else had. That was probably the spur behind it."

Biological bounty

Japan became a magnet for plant-hunters in 1854 when its rulers ended their self-imposed 200-year trade exile, after accepting it would not result in the invasion of the nation.

The archipelago provided a number of biomes, from sub-tropical to sub-Arctic, which contained a rich array of botanical delights for those in search of new and commercially important species.

It is considered one of the Asia-Pacific region's biological hotspot, with an estimated 7,000 native species of vascular plants, of which 40% are endemic to the islands.

With such biological riches waiting to be harvested, Japan attracted botanists from countries across Europe, including the Netherlands, France and Britain.

In their numbers were the likes of Ernest H Wilson, a prolific collector credited with introducing about 2,000 species from Asia to the West, including the kiwi fruit.

Even today, species from Japan continue to attract the attention of western horticulturists, from maples and their autumnal display to the flowers of azaleas that signal the arrival of spring.

Dr Sharrock acknowledged the irony of finding that the plants' popularity in the West have played a part in their decline within their native habitat, pushing some species closer to extinction.

"There is a continuing push to look for new things, and some of the species that are now under threat are definitely under threat because they have been overcollected as a result of their popularity," she told BBC News.

Red alert

The report identifies 50 Japanese gardens in the UK - including botanic gardens, arboreta and collections of Japanese plants - that collectively contain 356 species featured on the Red List of Japanese vascular plants (species with tissue to transport water and nutrients through the plant).

The species were identified through databases such as the BGCI's PlantSearch and the UK Tree Register.

They were then cross-referenced against the 2007 Japanese Red List to see which of the species were deemed to be under threat.

Dr Sharrock said that a number of species on the threatened list were relatively common sights in gardens and collections across the UK, including:

Magnolia stellata (often referred to as the star magnolia) - its flowers, which consist of up to 30 petals, open before its leaves. The first specimen was introduced to UK gardens in the late 1880s, yet within Japan it is only found in the wild and its habitat is under threat. As it is naturally only found in Japan, it is deemed to be globally endangered in the wild.
Acer pycnanthum - a rare maple, which is only found in Japan. There are an estimated 1,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild, which are distributed across approximately 60 locations. The expansion of commercial forestry is one of the main threats facing the species.

Dr Sharrock explained that in order to build on the report's findings, the BGCI would share the results with Japanese scientists.

"They feel the next step is to check the identification of these species to make sure they are correctly identified," she said. "Then it will be a case of looking at the size of the collection to see the amount of genetic diversity that is represented.

"If it is one plant growing in one place then, in terms of using it for conservation purposes, the scope is limited. But if it is a reasonable size collection or if it is found in more than one location, then it could form the basis of a conservation collection."

While the report focused on Japanese flora found in UK gardens, she added that the model could be applied to other nations as well.

"I think it is the same for all countries. Regardless of its state of development, every country in the world is grappling with extinction crises to their native plants," she observed.

"A developed country may have more resources to deal with the issue, but they also have a lot of competing demands."

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Exotic Pets Turn Invasive, Threatening Florida

Wynne Parry Yahoo News 24 Sep 11;

Florida is now officially the world capital for invasive and potentially invasive reptiles and amphibians, according to a 20-year study verifying that 56 non-native species of these animals have become established in the sunshine state.

The accommodating climate — which can suit not only tropical and subtropical specie, but those adapted to colder climes —is an element in the problem, according to Kenneth Krysko, the lead researcher and a senior biological scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Florida.

But he and the other researchers put the bulk of the blame on the pet trade, which they say is responsible for the vast majority of introductions, and impotent laws meant to prevent the release of non-natives. [Image Gallery: Invasive Species]

It's impossible to have this many non-native species establishing themselves without consequences, Krysko said.

"To think we are not going to have any problem, it doesn't make any sense — we already know we have a problem with some of the few species we have studied, and sometimes it takes decades to even determine we have a problem with a certain species," he said.

One of the most prominent of these new residents is the Burmese python, which appears to be a refugee of the pet trade. Officials worry they pose a threat to humans, as well as to native, endangered species, which turn up in the pythons' stomachs.

According to the researchers' list, the Burmese is one of six python species that have been introduced to Florida, all by the pet trade, and one of two that has become established, meaning it has survived and reproduced in its new habitat.

The introductions began in 1863 with the greenhouse frog, a native of the Caribbean, which appears to have hitched a ride with shipping cargo. Since then, 136 more non-natives have been introduced and three intercepted before they reached the wild,Krysko and his colleagues find. In the decades that followed, cargo stowaways were the dominant introductions. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the demand for exotic pets increased. The pet trade is now accountable for 84 percent of introductions, they calculate. [America's 10 Favorite Pets]

The researchers confirmed the introductions of all known nonnative reptiles and amphibians through their own fieldwork and by looking at specimens in museum collections, photographs and results from previous research. For each, they included the time of its introduction, the pathway by which the species was introduced and its status.

Releasing a nonnative species without a permit is illegal in Florida, but the law requires an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to observe someone releasing the animal in order to cite them, according to Krysko. Not surprisingly, no one has been prosecuted, he said.

In a study published in the journal Zootaxa on Sept. 15, the researchers encourage the creation of an early detection and rapid response program to quickly identify newly found introduced species so they can be eradicated.

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Not Just Oceans: Acid Levels Rising in Air, Soil, Freshwater

Environment News Service 23 Sep 11;

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia, September 23, 2011 (ENS) - Human use of Earth's natural resources is making the air, freshwaters and soils more acidic, finds new research by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Virginia.

The researchers found that the mining and burning of coal, the mining and smelting of metal ores, and the use of nitrogen fertilizer are the major causes of chemical oxidation processes that generate acid in the Earth's surface environment.

Many earlier studies have shown that the absorption of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is making the oceans more acid.

This study, the first to examine acidity of air, freshwaters and soils, as well as oceans, is published in the current issue of the journal "Applied Geochemistry."

"We believe that this study is the first attempt to assess all of the major human activities that are making Earth more acidic," said USGS scientist Karen Rice, who led the study.

She said, "We hope others will use this as a starting point for making scientific and management progress to preserve the atmosphere, waters, and soils that support human life."

Burning coal has produced acid rain that has increased the acidity of freshwater bodies and soils. Drainage from mines has increased the acidity of freshwater streams and groundwater. The fertilizer nitrogen added to crop lands has increased the acidity of soils, the scientists found.

Previous studies have linked increased ocean acidity to damaged ocean food webs, while increased acidity in soils has the potential to affect their ability to sustain crop growth.

To examine the global impact of acidification, the researchers developed a series of world maps to show current coal use, nutrient consumption, and copper production and smelting by country.

By combining this information with the anticipated population growth through 2050 and the impact of changing technology, regulations and other factors, the researchers address shifting trends in acidification.

To look at the impact of the acid producing activities, the researchers characterized the scale of environmental damage as local, regional, global, or some combination of the three.

Generating power by burning coal, for instance, can have local, regional and global impacts. Locally, it can cause acid mine drainage where the coal is mined; regionally, burning it can cause acid rain; globally, the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the acidity of the ocean.

The scientists note some progress in reducing the effects of some of these activities through increased regulations and changes in how the minerals are mined and used in some parts of the world.

"The low pH levels of streams in coal regions of the eastern United States were a major environmental concern 50 years ago," said University of Virginia geochemistry professor Janet Herman. "Changes in mining practices as well as shifting location of production brought about improvements in water quality in Appalachia."

But, they observe, other regions are expanding their use of these resources and increasing the effects of acidification.

"Exploitation of coal has grown in China where the same environmental protections are not in place," Herman said.

"Looking at these maps can help identify where the current hotspots are for producing acidity," said Rice. "The population increase map can help guide policymakers on possible future trends and areas to watch for the development of new hotspots."

For example, the populations of some countries in Africa are projected to increase in the near future. To support the growing populations, these countries likely will be forced to apply more nitrogen fertilizer to their crops than they currently use, increasing the acidification of soils and freshwater resources in a region that had not previously been affected.

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