Rainforest

Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 28, 2008   View Article

Dozens of ancient, densely packed, towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced today.

The finding suggests that vast swathes of “pristine” rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists.

Fungus Puts the Heat in Chili Peppers, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 11, 2008   View Article

There’s a fungus among us chili fans—and some of the spicy peppers evolve their kick to repel it, a new study says.

Chili peppers develop piquant chemicals to thwart the harmful microbes long enough to give birds and other animals a chance to disperse the pepper seeds, helping the chilies to procreate, scientists found.

Amazon Deforestation Drops Significantly, Government Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 14, 2007   View Article

The pace of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by 25 percent in a recent 12-month period, according to recently released government figures.

Even so, some conservation groups claim the decrease is due to lower demand for crops that grow on cleared forest land, and not successful environmental policies.

Ants Use Acid to Make “Gardens” in Amazon, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 20, 2006   View Article

Ants in the Amazon rain forest labor to keep their territory free of all plants except for one tree species, according to a new study. Scientists call these cultivated spaces devil’s gardens, after the local legends that hold they’re home to evil spirits. Some of the gardens are at least 800 years old.

Flesh-Eating Caterpillars Discovered in Hawaii

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2005   View Article

In Hawaiian rain forests, scientists have discovered caterpillars with a taste for escargot: They trap snails on leaves using silk webbing and then eat them alive.

These are the first caterpillars known to eat snails or mollusks of any kind, an evolutionary adaptation likely enabled by the island chain’s isolation. The insects are also the first caterpillars known to use silk to ensnare prey in a spiderlike fashion.

Insects Key to Rain Forest Diversity, Study Shows

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 10, 2005   View Article

When it comes to maintaining and accentuating the mind-boggling plant diversity of the Amazon rain forests, insects are a friend, not a foe, according to a new study.

“The point is that insect herbivores magnify the differences between the habitats,” said Paul Fine, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Drug Discovery Plan to Tap, and Help, Africa Forests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 26, 2004   View Article

The beleaguered rain forests of Madagascar are home to thousands of plants found nowhere else—and perhaps new lifesaving drugs. Could the search for medicinal plants help keep the forests of this African island nation intact?

A team of scientists hope the answer is yes.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach