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Wildlife

The important role of diatoms in the oceans
May 29, 2015 09:07 AM - University of Washington via ScienceDaily.

A glass of seawater is teeming with life, and recent research reveals more about what ocean water contains. Microscopic creatures in the world's oceans weigh more than all of the fish in the sea and produce about half of Earth's oxygen.

Yet the ecology of marine microbes, which are crucial for everything from absorbing carbon dioxide from the air to regulating the productivity of major fisheries, are only beginning to be understood.

Siaga population cut in half in less than a month
May 29, 2015 07:02 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

No one knows what's killing them, but scientists estimate that almost half of the world's saiga (Saiga tatarica) have perished since May 10th. To date, researchers on-the-ground unofficially estimate that 120,000 saiga have died in Kazakhstan from what appears to be a wildly virulent disease, although no cause has been ruled out. Saiga are bizarre-looking, Ice Age antelopes that once roamed Central Asia in the millions, but are now listed as Critically Endangered. 

Larvae Parasite May Contribute to Declining Honey Bee Colonies
May 27, 2015 04:12 PM - UC San Diego News Center

Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that a tiny single-celled parasite may have a greater-than expected impact on honey bee colonies, which have been undergoing mysterious declines worldwide for the past decade. In this week’s issue of the journal PLOS ONE, the scientists report that a microsporidian called Nosema ceranae, which has been known to infect adult Asiatic and European honey bees, can also infect honeybee larvae.

How shade can help trout populations
May 26, 2015 01:54 PM - Oregon State University

As snowpack levels decline with the warming climate, many streams will experience less water flow, especially during summer months, potentially exposing more fish to predation by birds and other animals. A new study has found that providing adequate shade and cover in small streams may reduce predation on trout by as much as 12 percent, from just one species of bird – the kingfisher. 

Could wind farm installation deafen marine life?
May 26, 2015 09:05 AM - Steve Williams, Care2

Wind farms may be a vital source of green energy, but new research shows that the construction of off-shore wind farms could potentially be damaging the hearing of harbour seals and other marine life. Researchers at St. Andrews University in Scotland believe that there is cause for concern that human building operations in our coastal waters, for example the pile driving process that hammers the foundation posts for wind turbines into the sea bed, could be damaging the hearing of marine mammals to an extent we hadn’t previously guessed at.

Celebrate Today - International Day for Biological Diversity!
May 22, 2015 09:08 AM - Editor, Population Matters

International Day for Biological Diversity 2015 is 22 May. The theme for the Day this year is “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”. More than 4,500 mammal, bird and amphibian species are currently deemed at risk of extinction. Not all species have been catalogued, so we do not know exactly how many we are losing each year, but a report recently published in the journal Natuesuggests that approximately 41 per cent of amphibian species, 26 per cent of mammal species and 13 per cent of bird species are likely to be lost in the near future. 

National-scale effort addresses pollinator declines
May 20, 2015 03:51 PM - Puneet Kollipara, Science/AAAS

A new White House plan to promote the health of bees and other pollinators calls for boosting research into ongoing population declines—and potential solutions. The plan, released yesterday, also recommends numerous measures to address growing concerns about the threat that bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators face from multiple factors, including pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss. By addressing scientific knowledge gaps, the research should make the plan’s suggested measures much more effective, the report says.

How Genetics Can Save Endangered Mussels
May 18, 2015 09:16 AM - USGS Newsroom

A piece of the restoration puzzle to save populations of endangered freshwater mussels may have been found, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey led study. Local population losses in a river may not result in irreversible loss of mussel species; other mussels from within the same river could be used as sources to restore declining populations. 

Bird populations responding to climate change
May 16, 2015 08:53 AM - University of Utah

With puzzling variability, vast numbers of birds from Canada’s boreal forests migrate hundreds or thousands of miles south from their usual winter range. These so-called irruptions were first noticed by birdwatchers decades ago, but the driving factors have never been fully explained. Now scientists have pinpointed the climate pattern that likely sets the stage for irruptions – a discovery that could make it possible to predict the events more than a year in advance.

The researchers found that persistent shifts in rainfall and temperature drive boom-and-bust cycles in forest seed production, which in turn drive the mass migrations of pine siskins, the most widespread and visible of the irruptive migrants. “It’s a chain reaction from climate to seeds to birds,” says atmospheric scientist Court Strong, an assistant professor at the University of Utah and lead author of the study.

Happy Endangered Species Day!
May 15, 2015 08:43 AM - Editor, Population Matters

Started in 2006, Endangered Species Day is “a celebration of wildlife and wild places” intended to promote the “importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions people can take to help protect them”. Every year on the third Friday in May — and throughout the month — zoos, aquariums, parks, botanical gardens, wildlife refuges, museums, schools, community centers, conservation groups and other organizations hold tours, speaker presentations, exhibits, children’s activities and more to commemorate the Day.

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