Friday, August 1, 2008

An emerging discipline -- aeroecology

Science Daily: Aeroecology is the emerging discipline for studying how airborne organisms -- birds, bats, arthropods and microbes -- depend on the support of the lower atmosphere that is closest to the Earth's surface.

Called the aerosphere, it influences the daily and seasonal movements, development traits, such as size and shape, and evolution of behavioral, sensory, metabolic and respiratory functions of airborne organisms. Understanding how they respond to altered landscapes and atmospheric conditions can also help mitigate adverse effects.

…Kunz, who is best known for his extensive research on bats, explained that aeroecology embraces and integrates the domains of atmospheric science, earth science, geography, ecology, computer science, computational biology, and engineering.

The unifying concept that underlies aeroecology is its focus on the planetary boundary layer of the Earth's atmosphere, or aerosphere, which supports the myriad of airborne organisms that, in large part, depend upon this natural environment for their existence. Organisms that use the aerosphere, specifically arthropods, birds and bats, are also influenced by an increasing number of anthropogenic or man-made conditions and structures, notably lighted towns and cities, air pollution, skyscrapers, aircraft, radio and television towers, plus a recent proliferation of communication towers and wind turbines that dot the Earth's landscape.

…Similarly, "climate change and its expected increase in global temperatures, altered circulation of air masses, and effects on local and regional weather patterns are expected to have profound impacts on the foraging and migratory behavior of insects, birds and bats," noted Kunz....

The northeasterly wind known as the bora, in Croatia, shot by Sebb, Wikimedia Commons

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