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Wildlife

Large animals are needed to regenerate tropical forests
March 31, 2015 08:51 AM - Alexander Montoro, MONGABAY.COM

Nearly two-thirds of tropical forests in Southeast Asia have been degraded by logging, agriculture and other human uses, and their fauna have been decimated by hunting and the bushmeat trade. But if those degraded tropical forests are to recover naturally, they will need to rely on their remaining large wild animals to disperse large tree seeds, according to a new study. The study published in mongabay.org's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science examined the importance of large mammals such as wild primates, deer, civets, wild pigs, and tapirs to the dispersion of large seeds throughout the Harapan Rainforest of Sumatra, which has been degraded by logging and agriculture. 

Its a fact: animals can predict earthquakes.
March 30, 2015 04:30 PM - Susan Bird, Care2

The Amazon rainforest teems with animal activity throughout the day and night. When animals suddenly withdraw and go silent, however, something unusual is going on. Many believe that this reaction can mean an earthquake is imminent.

Scientists now say they’ve got proof this belief is true. They’ve published their study’s findings in the journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth.

Researchers set up a series of motion-activated camera traps in Peru’s Yanachanga National Park to observe animal activity at ground level. They filmed rodents and other ground dwellers as they went about their busy forest lives.

Antarctic ice loss is accelerating
March 27, 2015 07:08 AM - British Antarctic Survey

New research published this week in the journal Science Express describes how the ice shelves around Antarctica are thinning and therefore allowing more of the ice sheet behind them to flow into the sea. 

Using nearly two decades of satellite data, the team of international researchers observed an acceleration of ice loss from the continent’s ice shelves, with an increase in loss of 70% in West Antarctica over the last decade. In the Amundsen and Bellingshausen regions, some ice shelves have lost up to 18% of their thickness in less than two decades. 

Fish face pollution a mile deep
March 25, 2015 02:57 PM - Oregon State University

Deep-water marine fish living on the continental slopes at depths from 2,000 feet to one mile have liver pathologies, tumors and other health problems that may be linked to human-caused  pollution, one of the first studies of its type has found. The research, conducted in the Bay of Biscay west of France, also discovered the first case of a deep water fish species with an “intersex” condition, a blend of male and female sex organs. The sampling was done in an area with no apparent point-source pollution, and appears to reflect general ocean conditions.

Burmese Pythons are killing the rabbits in the Florida Everglades
March 21, 2015 10:34 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

How exactly DID Burmese Pythons get so numerous in the Everglades?  Were they released by owners who didn't want them and they found they liked the ecosystem?

Nearly 80 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits that died in Everglades National Park in a recent study were eaten by Burmese pythons, according to a new publication by University of Florida and U.S. Geological Survey researchers.  

A year later, there was no sign of a rabbit population in the study area.  The study demonstrates that Burmese pythons are now the dominant predator of marsh rabbits, and likely other mid-sized animals in the park, potentially upsetting the balance of a valuable ecosystem.

Stinging nettle chemical improves cancer drug
March 20, 2015 02:20 PM - University of Warwick

A cancer drug could be made 50 times more effective by a chemical found in stinging nettles and ants, new research finds. Researchers at the University of Warwick found that when the chemical, Sodium Formate, is used in combination with a metal-based cancer treatment it can greatly increase its ability to shut down cancer cells.

Road kill: Recommendations to protect biodiversity
March 20, 2015 08:43 AM - Michelle Kovacevic, SciDevNet

Governments and donors must pay more attention to the environmental impact of road networks to limit their “devastating” effect on ecosystems, a study on global infrastructure expansion has warned. Road construction opens a “Pandora’s box” of negative impact, according to the authors of the paper, published this month in Current Biology. These include deforestation, animals hunted to extinction, land grabs by speculators betting on development, and wildfires. 

Arctic sea ice continues to shrink
March 19, 2015 02:20 PM - World Wildlife Foundation

Arctic sea ice shrank to the lowest winter extent ever recorded, according to data released today by the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record-low ice level follows earlier news that 2014 was the warmest year since record keeping began.
 
An unusually warm February in parts of Alaska and Russia contributed to the record ice low. The winter reach of Arctic ice decreased 1.1 million square kilometres compared to the average maximum from 1981 to 2010. This represents an area more than twice the size of Sweden.
 
"This is not a record to be proud of. Low sea ice can create a series of reactions that further threaten the Arctic and the rest of the globe," said Alexander Shestakov, Director, WWF Global Arctic Programme.

When whales roamed in what is now Africa
March 17, 2015 04:30 PM - Southern Methodist University

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained.”

Now paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world - and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent - to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa's mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the beaked Ziphiidae whale family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at an elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya's harsh desert region, said vertebrate paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Bill Proposed to Ban Wild Animals from Circus Performing
March 17, 2015 12:52 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Circus elephants just scored a victory with an announcement that Ringling Bros. will be retiring its performers, but big cats and other wild animals left behind may get their own victory in Pennsylvania if a state senator can get them banned.

The emotional and physical toll life on the road as performers takes on elephants has taken center stage, but for other species like big cats, life in the entertainment industry is just as bad.

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