A comprehensive analysis of endangered species threat records and of international trade patterns shows how consumers in developed countries drive biodiversity threats in developing countries. The study reveals that, excluding invasive species, 30% of global species threats are due to international trade.
VOL.486 NO.7401 DATED 07 JUNE 2012
This press release contains:
· Summaries of newsworthy papers:
Environment: Developed nations pass the biodiversity buck
Environment: How to achieve sustainability
News and Comment: Second chance for the planet
Cancer: Therapies that hit or miss
Ecology: Biodiversity loss and impact on humanity
Geoscience: Evidence of early Earth differentiation
Ecology: How to shape the world we live in
And finally... Will automotive fuel cells hit the road?
· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo
· Geographical listing of authors
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 Environment: Developed nations pass the biodiversity buck (pp 109-112; N&V)
A comprehensive analysis of endangered species threat records and of international trade patterns shows how consumers in developed countries drive biodiversity threats in developing countries. The study, published in Nature this week, reveals that, excluding invasive species, 30% of global species threats are due to international trade.
Buying commodities can have ecological consequences, and in today’s increasingly globalized economy international trade chains can accelerate habitat degradation in locations far removed from the place of consumption. Barney Foran and colleagues linked 25,000 species threat records from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List to over 15,000 commodities produced in 187 countries, evaluating the biodiversity impacts of over 5 billion supply chains. They then associated threatened species with implicated commodities ― the spider monkey is threatened by habitat loss linked to coffee and cocoa plantations in Mexico and Central America, for example. Developed countries tend to be net importers of implicated commodities, such as coffee, tea and sugar, creating a ‘biodiversity footprint’ that is larger abroad than at home. The USA, European Union and Japan are the main final destinations of biodiversity-implicated commodities, the study shows.
The results highlight the importance of studying biodiversity loss from a global perspective, taking into account not just the local producers who directly degrade and destroy habitat but also the consumers who benefit from the degradation.
Barney Foran (Charles Sturt University and University of Sydney, Australia)
Tel: +61 2 6051 9879; E-mail: Barney.Foran@gmail.com
Edgar Hertwich (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway) N&V author
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 Environment: How to achieve sustainability (pp 68-73)
Controlling population sizes and protecting Earth’s life support systems are powerful options for achieving sustainable development. A Review in this week’s Nature explores promising efforts that could address these issues and implement changes to help reduce our impacts on the ‘natural capital’ upon which we depend.
By 2050, the global population is projected to reach between 8.1 and 10.6 billion; increasing population size and per capita impacts are severely testing the ability of Earth to provide for people’s most basic needs. In their Review, Paul Ehrlich and colleagues consider how sustainability is defined and how it can be achieved, focusing on population, Earth’s ‘natural capital’, and how to reduce inequity. They note that providing education on family planning to people in the developing world could avert around 20 million births annually. Important roles for women in environmental sustainability are also highlighted, such as an association of lower carbon dioxide emissions in nations where women have higher political status.
The authors conclude that there will be a critical opportunity at the second Rio Earth Summit in June to push for high-level policy changes that are both practical and that would greatly accelerate the transition to sustainability.
Paul Ehrlich (Stanford University, CA, USA)
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Peter Kareiva (The Nature Conservancy, Seattle, WA, USA) co-author
Gretchen Daily (Stanford University, CA, USA) co-author
News and Comment: Second chance for the planet (pp 19-28)
On 20 June, world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the second Rio Earth Summit, a conservation meeting that aims to make the world more sustainable. In this week's Nature, a special package of articles explores some of the efforts that are being made to improve outcomes for climate and biodiversity.
In the Comment section, members of Conservation International call for Brazil to lead by example, asking the host nation to repeal changes to the Forest Code that threaten 47 million hectares of natural ecosystems; back off from dam development; and launch a US$3-billion Green Development Fund. There are several good examples of 'green' practices at the local level in Brazil, say Fabio Scarano, André Guimarães and José Maria da Silva, which can and should be scaled up. In a second Comment piece, Pavan Sukhdev argues that we need to change regulations to force companies to act for the public good, as some — including German shoe manufacturer Puma and Indian information-technology firm Infosys — are already starting to do. He lays out a four-pronged plan for ensuring the evolution of corporations and the creation of a green economy.
In an accompanying News Feature, Nature’s assessment reveals that the world has made little progress towards honouring the commitments made at the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
Pavan Sukhdev (GIST Advisory, New Haven, CT, USA)
Fabio Scarano (Conservation International, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
For background information on the News Feature, please contact the press office.
 Cancer: Therapies that hit or miss (pp 80-84)
Many cancer drugs act on specific targets to exert anti-cancer effects, but drug action on 'anti-targets' should also be considered according to a report in this week's Nature. Tests in a Drosophila model of cancer find that targeted therapies that also act on anti-targets may have unwanted toxic effects, or that the result of the interaction may counter the beneficial effects of the drug. These findings suggest that drug design could be optimized by considering which anti-targets to avoid.
Kevan Shokat and colleagues introduce the concept of anti-targets while searching for multi-kinase inhibitors that target kinases involved in tumour growth in a Drosophila model of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2. Kinase signalling is a major regulator of cancer progression, and drugs that inhibit faulty kinase pathways have shown some success. The authors identify the 'anti-target' that some drugs inhibit in addition to the desired kinases; inhibition of the anti-target is associated with adverse effects. Therefore, the most attractive agents are those that target an ideal spectrum of tumour-relevant kinases while avoiding anti-targets. The authors show that such compounds improve the survival of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 model Drosophila and show efficacy against xenografted tumours in a mouse model.
Kevan Shokat (University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA)
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 Ecology: Biodiversity loss and impact on humanity (pp 59-67)
Integration of biodiversity research with policy initiatives is needed to manage and mitigate the consequences of biodiversity loss on ecosystems, according to a Review in this week’s Nature. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit stimulated a large amount of interest in understanding how biodiversity loss affects ecosystem processes, which in turn have an impact on humanity. This Review summarizes the research and considers its application to our societal needs in terms of ecosystem services, from which humans gain many benefits.
Twenty years of research has established that biodiversity is crucial for ecosystem function, but there have been debates about how the relationship works. Bradley Cardinale and colleagues review the research and develop a number of consensus statements that begin to settle these debates. For example, they establish that the impacts of biodiversity loss could rival the impacts of many other global drivers of environmental change. However, they note that there are insufficient data to evaluate the relationship between biodiversity and many of the services that it provides.
The authors conclude that we need to build on the foundations laid by the past two decades of research to improve our understanding and predictive ability of the impacts of biodiversity loss on humanity. They hope that the next generation of biodiversity research will help to develop policy and management initiatives for the global environment.
Bradley Cardinale (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
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 Geoscience: Evidence of early Earth differentiation (pp 101-104; N&V)
An analysis of Icelandic basalt rocks, thought to result from melting of a deep upwelling of hot rock in the Earth's mantle, provides insights into early Earth formation. The results, presented in this week’s Nature, indicate that the Earth’s mantle gathered its volatile components from at least two separate sources. Thus the Iceland plume represents a record of this early differentiation preserved in the present-day mantle.
Sujoy Mukhopadhyay presents noble gas measurements of gas-rich sub-glacial basalts in Iceland. His findings indicate that the plume source has a different composition to that of other mantle components, such as mid-ocean-ridge basalts, and that these sources differentiated before 4.45 billion years ago.
These results demonstrate that neither the Moon-forming impact nor billions of years of mantle convection has erased the signature of Earth's heterogeneous accretion and early differentiation. The impact on Earth that led to the formation of the Moon was thought to have probably erased such heterogeneity.
Sujoy Mukhopadhyay (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA)
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Chris Ballentine (University of Manchester, UK) N&V author
 Ecology: How to shape the world we live in (pp 52-58)
Confirmation that the global ecosystem is approaching a transition is presented in this week’s Nature, highlighting the need to improve forecasting and address human influences on such changes. The Review summarizes evidence that similar shifts have occurred in the past, and that humans are driving the most recent changes.
The realization that humans are changing Earth in ways that may affect how the planet can sustain its inhabitants has boosted interest in forecasting such responses. Anticipating these changes may be critical for guiding the future of the global ecosystem and our society. Anthony Barnosky and co-workers suggest that existing forecasting methods need to be improved, and that this could be achieved by detecting early warning signs better, considering both local and global ecological transitions, and understanding the drivers of these changes.
In addition, the authors recommend that measures are needed to deal with the impact that humans have on our ecosystem. Reducing population growth and increasing the efficiencies of food production are among the ideas proposed by Barnosky and colleagues to steer our ecosystem towards the conditions we desire.
Anthony Barnosky (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 650 245 4495; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
 And finally... Will automotive fuel cells hit the road? (pp 43-51)
A Review that considers the challenges facing the development of electrocatalysts for use in automotive hydrogen fuel-cell systems is published in this week’s Nature. Fuel cells can be powered by gas from renewable resources and emit only water ― making them an ideal solution for producing non-polluting vehicles that don’t depend on dwindling oil reserves. Although small test fleets of fuel-cell vehicles show impressive performances, considerable challenges remain to turn the technology into one that is practical.
In his Review, Mark Debe explains that to move towards a useful technology that can be mass-produced cost-effectively, substantial improvements to fuel cells are needed. Specifically, electrocatalysts ― the crucial components at the heart of fuel cells ― need to be sufficiently active and highly durable. But this will not suffice, Debe notes: it will also be essential that the catalysts perform well with smaller amounts of platinum (to bring down prohibitively high prices), and can be mass-produced with high yields and exceptional quality. He concludes that these manufacturing demands need to be urgently taken into account by researchers in the field, because despite recent developments many catalyst systems currently being explored seem unlikely to meet them.
Mark Debe (3M Center, St. Paul, MN, USA)
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ALSO IN THIS ISSUE…
 Late Miocene decoupling of oceanic warmth and atmospheric carbon dioxide forcing (pp 97-100)
GEOGRAPHICAL LISTING OF AUTHORS…
The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.
Silwood Park: 4
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
San Francisco: 3, 6, 8
Santa Cruz: 8
Stanford: 2, 4, 6, 8
District of Columbia
Ann Arbor: 4
St. Paul: 4, 7
St. Louis: 6
Santa Fe: 6
New York: 3, 4
College Station: 8
Gloucester Point: 4
From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Eiji Matsuda, Nature Tokyo
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From the UK
Rebecca Walton, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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