Wildlife

Can the corridors under high-tension lines be important opportunities for conservation?
October 17, 2014 08:06 AM - richard conniff, Yale Environment360

Often mowed and doused with herbicides, power transmission lines have long been a bane for environmentalists. But that’s changing, as some utilities are starting to manage these areas as potentially valuable corridors for threatened wildlife. Nobody loves electrical power transmission lines. They typically bulldoze across the countryside like a clearcut, 150 feet wide and scores or hundreds integrated vegetation management in right-of-way scores or hundreds of miles long, in a straight line that defies everything we know about nature. They’re commonly criticized for fragmenting forests and other natural habitats and for causing collisions and electrocutions for some birds. Power lines also have raised the specter, in the minds of anxious neighbors, of illnesses induced by electromagnetic fields. So it's a little startling to hear wildlife biologists proposing that properly managed transmission lines, and even natural gas and oil pipeline rights-of-way, could be the last best hope for many birds, pollinators, and other species that are otherwise dramatically declining.

How Offshore Wind Farms Affect Marine Species
October 17, 2014 06:07 AM - University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Offshore wind power is a valuable source of renewable energy that can help reduce carbon emissions. Technological advances are allowing higher capacity turbines to be installed in deeper water, but there is still much unknown about the effects on the environment. In a recent paper, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researcher Helen Bailey and colleagues review the potential impacts of offshore wind developments on marine species and make recommendations for future monitoring and assessment as interest in offshore wind energy grows around the world.

How Birds Cope with Turbulence
October 15, 2014 06:56 AM - University of Oxford

Researchers set out to examine how soaring birds such as eagles, vultures, and kites, are able to fly in 'gusty' turbulent flight conditions that would keep a light aircraft grounded. They gave a captive steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis), called 'Cossack', its own flight recorder backpack — a 75g black box incorporating GPS that also measured acceleration, rotation rate, and airspeed — and recorded it soaring over the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Fly genome could help us improve our health and environment
October 14, 2014 09:58 AM - BioMed Central via EurekAlert!

The house fly might be a worldwide pest, but its genome will provide information that could improve our lives. From insights into pathogen immunity, to pest control and decomposing waste, the 691 Mb genome has been sequenced and analyzed by a global consortium of scientists, and is published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The genome highlights detoxification and immune system genes that are unique to the insect, and could be subjects of further study to help humans deal with toxic and disease causing environments.

Why Cat Poop is Bad News for Sea Otters
October 13, 2014 09:19 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

A parasite spread by cat poop is causing a big problem for endangered sea otters in California, and researchers have finally figured out how. Sea otters were nearly wiped out by the fur trade at one point, but they've been slowly making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and protection under the Endangered Species Act. While they're on the road to recovery the latest numbers from the U.S. Geological Survey released last month shows they're population growth has stalled, with the biggest issue being that they're dying in record numbers.

Fish Forced Poleward
October 10, 2014 09:36 AM - The University of British Columbia

Large numbers of fish will disappear from the tropics by 2050, finds a new University of British Columbia study that examined the impact of climate change on fish stocks. The study identified ocean hotspots for local fish extinction but also found that changing temperatures will drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters.

The danger to birds from open pipes
October 9, 2014 03:33 PM - American Bird Conservancy

Open pipes, widely used for a variety of purposes across the western U.S. landscape, have been reported as a "potentially very large" source of bird mortality according toresearch by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The finding was part of a peer-reviewed study accepted for publication by the "Western North American Naturalist" and authored by Charles D. Hathcock and Jeanne M. Fair.

Elephants worth more alive, than when they are poached for ivory
October 9, 2014 08:54 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Elephants are worth 76 times more when they’re alive than dead, according to a new analysis released this past weekend. The report follows on the heels of findings by WWF that the world has lost 50 percent of its wildlife over the past 40 years, with more than half of African elephants killed for ivory in just one decade. The analysis, conducted through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's iworry campaign, compared the value of elephants to local economies to profits netted through the illegal ivory trade.

First Hookworm Vaccine Passes Brazilian Safety Trial
October 8, 2014 09:33 AM - SciDevNet, SciDevNet

A vaccine for parasitic intestinal worms has been shown to be safe in Brazilian clinical trials, according to its US developer. Hookworm parasites infect more than 600 million people worldwide, attaching themselves to the intestines to feed on blood. Infection can lead to iron deficiency and capillary damage, and may retard children’s growth and mental development.

Sea Turtles in Hawaii getting tumors and we are the cause
October 7, 2014 08:09 AM - University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

Hawai'i's sea turtles are afflicted with chronic and often lethal tumors caused by consuming non-native algae, "superweeds," along coastlines where nutrient pollution is unchecked. The disease that causes these tumors is considered the leading cause of death in endangered green sea turtles. The new research was just published in the scientific journal PeerJ. Turtles that graze on blooms of invasive seaweeds end up with a diet that is rich in a particular amino acid, arginine, which promotes the virus that creates the tumors. Scientists at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and their NOAA colleague estimate that adult turtles foraging at high-nutrient grazing sites increase their arginine intake 17—26 g daily, up to 14 times the background level.

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