Wildlife

California's Isla Rasa being abandoned by seabirds
June 27, 2015 09:11 AM - ScienceDaily

Isla Rasa, in the Gulf of California, is renowned for its massive aggregations of nesting seabirds. Over 95 percent of the world populations of Elegant Terns and Heerman's Gulls concentrate unfailingly every year on this tiny island to nest. Ever since the phenomenon was described by L. W. Walker in 1953 the island has been a magnet for tourists, naturalists, filmmakers, and seabird researchers.

During some years in the last two decades, however, the seabirds have arrived to the island in April, as they usually do, but leave soon after without nesting. The first event was the 1998 "El Niño," when oceanic productivity collapsed all along the eastern Pacific coast from Chile to California. But then colony desertion happened again in 2003, and since then it has recurred with increasing frequency in 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2015. Researchers and conservationists were asking themselves where are the birds going when they leave their ancestral nesting ground, and what is causing the abandonment of their historic nesting site.

Using Invasive Species to Defeat Another Invasive Species
June 25, 2015 10:35 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

The forests of Denver, Colo., are currently under attack by an invasive insect species from Asia. So what is the scientists’ plan to stop this assault on trees? They’re going with the controversial move of introducing a second invasive species to destroy the first one. If it sounds like that children’s song about the old lady who swallowed the spider to catch the fly, that’s because it basically is. Unleashing a second non-native species might help to eradicate the first species, but it can also unleash a series of other consequences. Previous experiments in this invasive species vs. invasive species tactic have worked out with various degrees of success, as these four examples will show.

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June 24, 2015 04:55 PM -

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Would you eat Genetically Modified Salmon?
June 24, 2015 12:53 PM - Jessie Rack, NPR

While the debate over whether to label foods containing GMO ingredients plays out across the country, another engineered food has long been waiting to hit grocery stores: genetically modified salmon.

What is the value of bees?
June 21, 2015 09:55 AM - Steve Williams, Care2

What are bees worth to our economy? A group of researchers have attempted to do the math, and the result shows exactly why we need to protect our pollinating bees but also why we can’t rely on economic worth alone to make our arguments for saving threatened species.

It may sound slightly abhorrent to put a price on a living creature–and, to an extent, it is. But calculating the monetary worth of wildlife and, in particular, their place in the overall economy has become a useful way for researchers to communicate to governments and even businesses that they need to take a closer look at preventing species die-out. When it comes to bees however, researchers have found an interesting fact that they say shows the worth and the shortcomings of this approach.

US has more oil spills than you think
June 18, 2015 06:47 AM - Roy L Hales, ECOreport

The US has more oil spills than we thought and the number doubled after production increased six years ago. Richard Stover, PhD, and the Center for Biological Diversity counted nearly 8,000 significant incidents, between 1986 and 2014, in records of the pipeline safety administration. By “significant” they mean causing injury, death, damages exceeding $50,000 in value, a loss of 5 barrels of highly volatile substances, 50 barrels of other liquids or there was an explosion. There have been more than 500 human deaths and 2,300 injuries through-out that period. The number of plant and animal casualties is much higher.

 

Pacific Fisher needs protection
June 12, 2015 07:58 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

In response to a petition and lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife today recommended state Endangered Species Act protection for the fisher in the southern Sierra Nevada portion of its range. 

Though this cat-like member of the weasel family was once wide-ranging, today only two naturally occurring fisher populations survive — one in the southern Sierra and another in Northern California. The department did not recommend protecting the fisher’s northern population. The state Fish and Game Commission will vote in August on whether to finalize protection for one or both populations.

Spider and Centipede Venom Could Help us Fight Pain and Cancer
June 12, 2015 06:53 AM - Science/AAAS

Certain spiders and centipedes—despite being separated by more than 500 million years—have independently evolved the same type of venom from an insulinlike hormone. The find, reported today, could lead to greener insecticides and potentially help fight chronic pain and cancer.

How Pigeons organize for better navigation
June 10, 2015 07:35 AM - University of Oxford

Having a hierarchical social structure with just a few well-connected leaders enables pigeon flocks to navigate more accurately on the wing, new research shows.

Hierarchical organisation also enables flocks to cope better with navigation errors made by individual birds.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Zoological Society of London created 'virtual flocks' of homing pigeons to test how different social networks affect the navigation performance of these groups. The team's simulations looked at everything from no networks (all connections between individuals were of equal strength) to random networks (some connections were stronger than others but randomly distributed) to hierarchical networks with just a few well-connected individuals leading the way.

Ladybird colors and toxicity to birds
June 5, 2015 07:31 AM - Lina MarĂ­a Arenas, Dominic Walter and Martin Stevens, University of Exeter

For one of Britain’s best-loved and colourful group of insects, ladybirds, their colour reveals the extent of their toxicity to predators, according to new research undertaken at the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge. 

The study which is published today in the journal Scientific Reports, also found that the more conspicuous and colourful the ladybird species, the less likely it is to be attacked by birds.

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