Quantification of global forest change has been lacking despite the recognized importance of forest ecosystem services. In this study, Earth observation satellite data were used to map global forest loss (2.3 million square kilometers) and gain (0.8 million square kilometers) from 2000 to 2012 at a spatial resolution of 30 meters. The tropics were the only climate domain to exhibit a trend, with forest loss increasing by 2101 square kilometers per year. Brazil's well-documented reduction in deforestation was offset by increasing forest loss in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, and elsewhere. Intensive forestry practiced within subtropical forests resulted in the highest rates of forest change globally. Boreal forest loss due largely to fire and forestry was second to that in the tropics in absolute and proportional terms. These results depict a globally consistent and locally relevant record of forest change.
Increasing incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease, in developed nations is associated with changes to the microbial environment, such as decreased prevalence of helminth colonization and alterations to the gut microbiota. We find that helminth infection protects mice deficient in the Crohn's disease susceptibility gene Nod2 from intestinal abnormalities by inhibiting colonization by an inflammatory Bacteroides species. Resistance to Bacteroides colonization was dependent on type 2 immunity, which promoted the establishment of a protective microbiota enriched in Clostridiales. Additionally, we show that individuals from helminth-endemic regions harbor a similar protective microbiota and that deworming treatment reduced levels of Clostridiales and increased Bacteroidales. These results support a model of the hygiene hypothesis in which certain individuals are genetically susceptible to the consequences of a changing microbial environment.
Life history theory attempts to explain why species differ in offspring number and quality, growth rate, and parental effort. I show that unappreciated interactions of these traits in response to age-related mortality risk challenge traditional perspectives and explain life history evolution in songbirds. Counter to a long-standing paradigm, tropical songbirds grow at similar overall rates to temperate species but grow wings relatively faster. These growth tactics are favored by predation risk, both in and after leaving the nest, and are facilitated by greater provisioning of individual offspring by parents. Increased provisioning of individual offspring depends on partitioning effort among fewer young because of constraints on effort from adult and nest mortality. These growth and provisioning responses to mortality risk finally explain the conundrum of small clutch sizes of tropical birds.
Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop-based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels. In contrast, biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages.
A recent dispersal of modern humans out of Africa is now widely accepted, but the routes taken across Eurasia are still disputed. We show that mitochondrial DNA variation in isolated "relict" populations in southeast Asia supports the view that there was only a single dispersal from Africa, most likely via a southern coastal route, through India and onward into southeast Asia and Australasia. There was an early offshoot, leading ultimately to the settlement of the Near East and Europe, but the main dispersal from India to Australia approximately 65,000 years ago was rapid, most likely taking only a few thousand years.
The effects of commercial logging on tree diversity in tropical rainforest are largely unknown. In this study, selectively logged tropical rainforest in Indonesian Borneo is shown to contain high tree species richness, despite severe structural damage. Plots logged 8 years before sampling contained fewer species of trees greater than 20 centimeters in diameter than did similar-sized unlogged plots. However, in samples of the same numbers of trees (requiring a 50 percent larger area), logged forest contained as many tree species as unlogged forest. These findings warrant reassessment of the conservation potential of large tracts of commercially logged tropical rainforest.
North American strains of Aedes albopictus, an Asian mosquito recently introduced into the Western Hemisphere, exhibit photoperiodic sensitivity and cold-hardiness characteristics similar to strains originating from temperate zone Asia. Trade statistics for used tire imports, the most likely mode of introduction, also indicate a north Asian origin. Aedes albopictus, an important vector of dengue and a potential vector of many other arboviral diseases, may therefore have the capability of infesting much of temperate North America.
The Physics Interviewing Project assists graduate physics departments in evaluating foreign applicants. Supported by some 20 universities, two interviewers, both working scientists, travel abroad and interview students individually for about 1 hour each. Prospective teaching assistants are rated on physics knowledge, problem-solving ability, and English language proficiency. Ratings on all interviewees are sent to all supporting schools and other schools as requested. The Project aids able students from countries that have no physics Ph.D. programs (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand) to obtain assistantships and Ph.D.'s abroad, assists in the technological development of those countries, and helps U.S. schools in selecting the most promising foreign candidates. A similar program should be beneficial in other sciences.