With its plentiful sun, water and land, Brazil is quickly surpassing other countries in food production and exports. But can it continue to make agricultural gains without destroying the Amazon? Jeff Tollefson reports from Brazil.
Unjustified and impractical legal requirements are stopping genetically engineered crops from saving millions from starvation and malnutrition, says Ingo Potrykus.
Feeding the world is going to require the scientific and financial muscle of agricultural biotechnology companies. Natasha Gilbert asks whether they’re up to the task.
Global patterns of species richness and their structuring forces have fascinated biologists since Darwin1, 2 and provide critical context for contemporary studies in ecology, evolution and conservation. Anthropogenic impacts and the need for systematic conservation planning have further motivated the analysis of diversity patterns and processes at regional to global scales3. Whereas land diversity patterns and their predictors are known for numerous taxa4, 5, our understanding of global marine diversity has been more limited, with recent findings revealing some striking contrasts to widely held terrestrial paradigms6, 7, 8. Here we examine global patterns and predictors of species richness across 13 major species groups ranging from zooplankton to marine mammals. Two major patterns emerged: coastal species showed maximum diversity in the Western Pacific, whereas oceanic groups consistently peaked across broad mid-latitudinal bands in all oceans. Spatial regression analyses revealed sea surface temperature as the only environmental predictor highly related to diversity across all 13 taxa. Habitat availability and historical factors were also important for coastal species, whereas other predictors had less significance. Areas of high species richness were disproportionately concentrated in regions with medium or higher human impacts. Our findings indicate a fundamental role of temperature or kinetic energy in structuring cross-taxon marine biodiversity, and indicate that changes in ocean temperature, in conjunction with other human impacts, may ultimately rearrange the global distribution of life in the ocean.
Plant breeders are turning their attention to roots to increase yields without causing environmental damage. Virginia Gewin unearths some promising subterranean strategies.
World hunger remains a major problem, but not for the reasons many suspect. Nature analyses the trends and the challenges of feeding 9 billion by 2050.
Producing enough food for the world’s population in 2050 will be easy. But doing it at an acceptable cost to the planet will depend on research into everything from high-tech seeds to low-tech farming practices.
Budget cuts earlier this year to the US agency that collects and analyses energy data are worrying industry experts. Many fear that businesses and policymakers won’t have vital information to make decisions regarding infrastructure, from building design to grid deployment.
Policies to protect the global climate offer an effective entry point for achieving society’s multiple objectives for energy sustainability
A preoccupation with binding commitments blocks progress in climate-change negotiations. It is time to correct course, says Elliot Diringer.