European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2015

EGUEuropean Geosciences Union
General Assembly 2015
Vienna | Austria | 12 – 17 April 2015

New Session on “Biogeochemistry and ecohydrology in the terrestrial tropics”

Abstract submissions for the EGU General Assembly 2015 are now open and we would like to bring to your attention the following session which we hope – with sufficient interest – may become an annual event. Some young scientist support may be available (see

Title: “Biogeochemistry and ecohydrology in the terrestrial tropics”

Conveners: Jonathan Lloyd (Imperial College London), Gustavo Saiz (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)  Elmar Veenendaal (University of Waginingen)  Sarah Batterman(Princeton University)

Outline: A strong diversity in climate and soils across the tropics is associated with a wide range of vegetation types varying from sparse shrubland to high forest. Yet, how the current myriad of different vegetation types will be affected by future changes in climate remains virtually unknown. This is because, even for the most intensively studied systems, we have an only fundamental understanding of the way that carbon, nutrients and water interact with soil physical conditions and disturbances such as fire to influence tropical vegetation structure and function.
With an emphasis on comparative studies, the session will present synthesis and the reporting of new results investigating the integration of biogeochemical, ecological, and hydrological processes across the terrestrial lands. Contributions are welcome from a wide range of relevant scales from organelle to region with joint observational-modelling studies of both natural and managed ecosystems especially encouraged.

To submit an abstract:

Detailed information on how to submit an abstract can be found at:

The deadline for the receipt of Abstracts is 07 Jan 2015, 13:00 CET.

Further information about the EGU General Assembly 2015 can be found at:


How is the world’s greatest rainforest faring? It very much depends where you look…

In the Brazilian Amazon, the rate of forest destruction has plummeted to historic lows. For example, last year the deforestation rate was only about a quarter of what it was in the 1990s and early-mid 2000s, when 2-3 million hectares of forest were being felled each year — comparable to a country the size of Belgium.

And this year the news is even better. The current rate of deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia is 18% lower than it was last year.

Long-term Amazon watchers can scarcely believe it. The falling deforestation rate in Brazil is being chalked up to better enforcement of environmental laws, new protected areas, a moratorium on forest clearing for soy, and an important role for indigenous lands in limiting forest loss.

International carbon funds — led by Norway’s contribution of up to $1 billion to Brazil — have also helped.

Read more…


Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore new Asian School
of the Environment seeks two full professor level positions in ecology
as part of a terrestrial and marine initiative in Southeast Asia. The Asian
School of the Environment, a new interdisciplinary School, focuses on
Asian environmental challenges. The school integrates Earth systems,
environmental life sciences, ecology, engineering, humanities, and the
social sciences to address key issues of the environment and sustainability.

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(Re-post from ALERT)

Working in Peninsular Malaysia, Jie-Sheng Tan Soo and colleagues have found strong evidence that areas with more native rainforest are less prone to damaging floods in the wet season.

Specifically, the authors found that conversion of native rainforest to oil palm or rubber plantations increased the number of days of downstream flooding in 31 different areas.

Collectively, these findings are important because they provide another key economic justification for conserving native forests — including pristine forests and those that have been selectively logged but still retain much of their original tree cover.

Read more…

Ashton Award for Student Research


The Ashton Award for Student Research supports investigations by graduate and advanced undergraduate students working on Asian tropical forest biology.

Awards of up to $2,000 are granted to support student research expenses.

Application Information

Awards are granted through a competitive review process. Selection of recipient(s) will be based on the educational background of the student and their readiness to conduct the proposed research; the quality of the proposed research; and the relevance of the proposed research to the mission of the Arnold Arboretum.

To be considered for an award, online applications should include the following:

  • Cover letter.
  • Research statement. The statement should be 1 to 2-pages and describes your research project and how additional funding via the Ashton Award would further your research aims. Include the names of other collaborators (in addition to your advisor). References should be included but do not count as part of the page limit.
  • Research budget. Applicants should submit a simple, 1-page budget that itemizes the research and travel costs associated with the proposed project.
  • Project time-line. Applicants should submit a time-line of the project and anticipated start and end dates.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Two letters of recommendation. As part of the online submission, you must send a request to the two referees to submit a letter of recommendation (via the request section). The referee will be automatically sent an email with a link to an online submission form where they will upload a letter of recommendation. It is highly recommended that you contact your referee prior to sending the request. Please inform the referee to expect an email from with instructions for submitting a recommendation letter. Each referee must upload his/her letter of recommendation via the link by February 1.

Special Eligibility Requirements

Award available to advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

Additional Information

For questions about the award, Arboretum resources, research proposal or submission process, contact the selection committee (Email).

The Ashton Award for Student Research is made possible by the generosity of Professor Peter Ashton and his wife Mary Ashton through the Peter and Mary Ashton Training Fund.

Submit Application

Earth Expeditions graduate courses and Master’s Program from Miami University


Miami University’s Project Dragonfly is accepting applications for its master’s degrees and graduate courses that take place at conservation sites internationally and at U.S. zoos. The deadline to apply to the Global Field Program is January 28, and the deadline to apply to the zoo-based Advanced Inquiry Program is February 28. Learn more at

Earth Expeditions international graduate courses, which are discounted because of support from Miami University, can be taken for stand-alone credit or apply to a master’s degree. Applicants may reside anywhere in the world, regardless of U.S. state or country of residence. Course sites for 2015 include the Amazon, Australia, Baja, Belize, Borneo, Costa Rica, Guyana, Hawai‘i, India, Kenya, Mongolia, Namibia, and Thailand. Learn more at


(Re-post from ALERT)

The world is struggling to protect its most crucial natural areas.  Poorer countries are faring the worst, but even a wealthy nation like Australia isn’t doing very well.

In total, 156 sites on the World Heritage List are recognized for their outstanding biodiversity values — they protect parts of 31 of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots, and a portion of all of its high-biodiversity wilderness areas.

But the first World Heritage Outlook Report — released last week at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia — found that many of these sites are struggling.  Nearly a tenth (8%) are in critical condition, and nearly a third (29%) of ‘significant concern’.

Read more…

Assistant/Associate Curator Arachnology

California Academy of Sciences seeks an inspirational scientist who exemplifies the Academy’s mission to “explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth.”  The candidate is expected to develop an internationally recognized research program on arachnids, communicate effectively with diverse audiences and address local or global sustainability issues.  We value innovation and creativity in both funding and engaging public audiences. The endowed position includes an appropriate start-up package, modest annual funds for research and a full-time postdoctoral position.

California Academy of Sciences

Application Instructions:

Applicants should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, a statement of their research interests (not more than 3 pages), a statement of their sustainability and outreach goals (not more than 3 pages), and contact information for three references.  Inquiries may also be directed to Dr. Brian Fisher (, Chair of the search committee.  Review of applications will begin January 2015. We encourage submission before that date, but applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled.

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes applications from all qualified applicants to apply, including women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities.



(Re-post from ALERT)

Everywhere you look across Central and South America, native ecosystems are being imperiled by an avalanche of new mining and infrastructure projects.

Forests under assault in Panama (photo by William Laurance)

Forests under assault in Panama (photo by William Laurance)

Consider just three examples:

– In Nicaragua, a massive interoceanic canal project threatens vast expanses of rainforest and other ecosystems.  It will imperil 4,000 square kilometers of forest and wetlands, slice across several key nature reserves, and cut through the MesoAmerican Biological Corridor.  This issue is so worrisome that the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, the world’s leading scientific organization devoted to tropical research, issued a special resolution of concern.

– In Brazil, many protected areas are under assault from mining.  A paper just published in the leading journal Science shows that at least 20% of all Brazil´s strictly protected areas and indigenous reserves — an area larger than the UK and Switzerland combined — are under consideration for mining projects.  More than 44,000 square kilometers of Brazil’s protected areas have been lost to mining and other developments since 2008.

– Across the Amazon basin and Andes, at least 150 major hydroelectric dams have been proposed or are under construction.  These projects will not only flood large expanses of forest but their associated road projects will imperil some of the basin’s most remote and biologically important areas.  For instance, it is estimated that 12 dams proposed for the Tapajós River in Brazil would result in nearly 1 million hectares of additional forest loss by 2032.

Who is responsible for this tsunami of forest-destroying projects?  There is no single cause, but China’s unquenchable thirst for natural resources, the aggressive Brazilian development bank BNDES, and ambitious regional development schemes such as IIRSA are all leading contributors.

No one wants to halt responsible economic development, but this is a feeding frenzy.  Unless scientists and conservationists have a louder voice, some of the world’s most important environments could be lost forever.

ATBC Resolution: Halt the Interoceanic Canal in Nicaragua

Canal-1In June 2013, the Nicaraguan government granted a concession to the Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Corporation (HKND) to build an interoceanic canal connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, through Nicaragua, traversing Lake Cocibolca (also known as lake Nicaragua), along with multiple infrastructure development projects of considerable size. Planned developments include a 400 km2 artificial lake, multiple tourist complexes, factories to produce construction materials, and hundreds of kilometres of paved roads through otherwise inaccessible rainforest.


The Canal and its sub-projects, henceforth referred to as “the Canal”, will result in the excavation of 278 kilometres of land, lake and rivers, cutting through pristine rainforest and the largest drinking-water reservoir in Central America. The canal development is estimated to impact some 4,000 km2 of forest, coastline and wetlands that include the San Miguelito Wetland (a site protected by the Ramsar Convention, of which Nicaragua is a signatory), the Cerro Silva Natural Reserve, the Rio San Juan Biosphere Reserve, which comprises 7 protected areas, including the Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge, Indio Maiz Biological Reserve, and the Solentiname Archipelago. This reserve network is home to at least 22 known vulnerable and endangered species according to the IUCN Red List, including tapirs, jaguars, sea turtles, corals and other species; as well as some of the most unique and pristine remnants of mangroves, coral reefs, dry forest, rainforest, wetland and lacustrine habitat remaining in Central America. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor as designed by regional governments will be cut in half and the canal and its infrastructure will create a significant dispersal barrier for plants and animals.

The Canal would create substantial impacts to water quality and supply. The Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy Environmental Performance Index (EPI) has identified Nicaragua as a country with “water stress”, meaning that the volume of water available to the population is inadequate and ranks Nicaragua 136 out of 163 countries surveyed for water scarcity. Yet the impacts of the Canal on access to clean freshwater in Nicaragua are likely to be severe. The combined impacts of the canal construction process coupled with accidental oil spills from ocean-going vessels using the passage could take decades to remediate and would hinder the use of lake water for drinking, fishing, irrigation and tourism. In Lake Cocibolca alone – one-third of the length of the canal – – the 520 meter wide and 30 meter deep channel will require the removal of approximately 1.1 billion tons of sediment and material from the lake bottom. As the region’s largest fresh water reservoir, with enormous and long-term strategic value, such changes will have severe and potentially irreversible impacts on the ecology of the lake, especially in the context of a changing climate and dwindling fresh water resources. Lake Cocibolca is also vital for regional food security and is instrumental to meeting future development and agricultural needs in the semiarid and highly populated Pacific slope of Central America.

The Canal will displace local populations, including rural farmers and indigenous communities, living within and near the Canal corridor, directly affecting the livelihood of thousands of people. Thedevelopment of theCanal violates the Nicaraguan Constitution and its fundamental principles, including Law 28 of 1987 and Law 445 of 2003, which recognize and guarantee the inalienability of indigenous’ and afro-descendants’ lands, which cannot be sold, donated nor leased.

In consideration ofthe inevitable environmental and social impacts of the Canal, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the world’s largest scientific organization devoted to the study, protection, and sustainable use of tropical ecosystems urges the Nicaraguan government to:

  • Consider the positive impacts of protecting its natural resources, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage on the long term viability and sustainability of Nicaragua’s economic development, including the protection of vital ecosystem benefits such as access to clean freshwater, healthy fish stocks and ecotourism;
  • Enforce current Nicaraguan and international codes and treaties regulating land use on private and public properties designed to protect indigenous populations and native  ecosystems;
  • Invite the Organization of American States Inter American Commission on Human Rights and UNESCO to conduct a thorough, transparent and independent scientific review of the long term environmental and social consequences of the Canal project, as well as the legality and constitutionality of the Nicaraguan government’s concession with HKND;
  • Cease all activity related to the construction of the Canal and its sub-projects until these independent studies are completed, and significant concerns are appropriately addressed.

(Link to PDF of resolution: English: ATBC-resolution23-Nicaragua; Spanish: ATBC-resolution23-Nicaragua-Spanish)