Agriculture

Navajo Help Save Unique Sheep From Extinction

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 30, 2005   View Article

A unique breed of sheep is again woven into the fabric of Navajo life, thanks to a veterinary scientist and Navajo and Hispanic shepherds who rescued the breed from extinction.

The breed, Navajo-Churro, was introduced to North America in the 16th century by Spanish colonists. The Navajo, also known as the Diné, quickly adopted the breed, considering it a gift from the spirits.

Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” Is Size of New Jersey

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 25, 2005   View Article

Each year a swath of the Gulf of Mexico becomes so devoid of shrimp, fish, and other marine life that it is known as the dead zone.

Scientists have identified agricultural fertilizers as a primary culprit behind the phenomenon. Researchers are now focusing on shrinking the zone.

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.

Vintage Wine Records Trace Climate Change to 1300s

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 17, 2004   View Article

Connoisseurs may pore over grape-harvest records in search of the perfect vintage of wine. But a team of French scientists and historians is toasting the same records for the insights they yield on past climate.

In Burgundy, France, as in other parts of Europe, the first officially decreed day of grape harvesting has been carefully noted in parish and municipal archives for at least 600 years.

Can Wild Bees Take Sting From Honeybee Decline

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 20, 2004   View Article

Decades of disease and overuse of pesticides have put the squeeze on populations of the domesticated honeybee. As a result, farmers are increasingly left with fields of flowering crops that fail to bear fruit.

Since some 15 to 30 percent of the food we humans eat directly or indirectly depend on the pollination services of bees, scientists say the problem threatens to take some excitement—and potentially abundance—from our diets.

Bee Decline May Spell End of Some Fruits, Vegetables

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 5, 2004   View Article

Bees, via pollination, are responsible for 15 to 30 percent of the food U.S. consumers eat. But in the last 50 years the domesticated honeybee population—which most farmers depend on for pollination—has declined by about 50 percent, scientists say.

Unless actions are taken to slow the decline of domesticated honeybees and augment their populations with wild bees, many fruits and vegetables may disappear from the food supply, said Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Africa’s Penguins Still Reeling From “Guano” Craze

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 16, 2004   View Article

After a century-long population crash, African penguins face a tough road to recovery, conservationists say. The birds face problems old and new—from the lingering aftereffects of a 19th-century guano craze to modern woes like oil pollution and a dwindling food supply.

“Before artificial fertilizers were invented, guano [bird excrement] was the best source of nitrogen. [It was] white gold,” said Les Underhill, the director of the avian demography unit at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach