Wildlife

What does the Wolf say?
February 8, 2016 11:06 AM - UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE via EurekAlert

The largest ever study of howling in the 'canid' family of species -- which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs -- has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or "vocal fingerprints": different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species. 

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling. 

They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used -- from flat to highly modulated -- corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf. 

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought
February 5, 2016 07:21 AM -

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

Kalligrammatid lacewings looked like butterflies, but lived millions of years before butterflies
February 4, 2016 01:00 PM - JOHN BARRAT Smithsonian News

New fossils found in Northeastern China have revealed a remarkable evolutionary coincidence: an extinct group of insects known as Kalligrammatid lacewings (Order Neuroptera) share an uncanny resemblance to modern day butterflies (Order Lepidoptera). Even though they vanished some 50 million years before butterflies appeared on earth, they possess the same wing shape and pigment hues, wing spots and eyespots, body scales, long proboscides, and similar feeding styles as butterflies.

A photo of the modern owl butterfly (“Caligo Memnon”) shown beside a fossilized Kalligrammatid lacewing (“Oregramma illecebrosa”) shows some of the convergent features independently evolved by the two distantly-related insects, including wing eyespots and wing scales. (Butterfly photo by James Di Loreto/fossil photo by Conrad Labandeira and Jorge Santiago-Blay)

In an incredible example of convergent evolution, both butterflies and kalligrammatids evol

Loss of wild flowers matches pollinator decline
February 4, 2016 07:15 AM - University of Leeds

The first Britain-wide assessment of the value of wild flowers as food for pollinators shows that decreasing resources mirror the decline of pollinating insects.

Study finds toxic pollutants in fish across the world's oceans
January 28, 2016 07:19 AM - University of California, San Diego

A new global analysis of seafood found that fish populations throughout the world's oceans are contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants, collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The study from researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego also uncovered some good news?concentrations of these pollutants have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years.

Why aren't the endangered western gray whales recovering from over hunting?
January 27, 2016 06:38 AM - Oregon State Universtity

The eastern gray whales that commonly appear along the West Coast of the United States seemingly have recovered from over-hunting with new protective guidelines established in the 1970s. Their counterparts across the ocean – western gray whales – have not fared as well.

Some scientists believe that a lack of prey may be a limiting factor in the recovery of western gray whales, which number fewer than 200 in their feeding area near Russia’s Sakhalin Island. For years, researchers were unable to assess the growth of whale prey in the region because of the remote location, inaccessible conditions of winter ice cover, and the rugged weather that prevented winter sampling.

However, researchers from Russia and the United States studied an inch-long crustacean, Ampelisca eschrichtii, an amphipod that is a favorite food of the western gray whale, in samples that were collected from the Sakhalin Shelf between late spring and early fall over six years between 2002 and 2013. The research team found enough information in the limited samples to assess the missing winter-life history of these amphipods and to document their great abundance and production.

What's in YOUR fish tank?
January 26, 2016 07:19 AM - Susan Bird, Care2

If you’re an aquarium enthusiast, you no doubt have many beautiful and colorful tropical fish populating your aquarium. Perhaps you’ve studied the different species carefully to be sure they can peacefully co-exist. You know what they like to eat and what water conditions help them thrive.

Here’s a question though — did you investigate to see whether the type of fish you wanted to buy is in danger in its natural habitat? Did you ask whether it was captive-bred? 

Zebra stripe camouflage hypothesis debated
January 25, 2016 07:02 AM - Pat Bailey, UC Davis

If you’ve always thought of a zebra’s stripes as offering some type of camouflaging protection against predators, it’s time to think again, suggest scientists at the University of Calgary and UC Davis.

Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change
January 22, 2016 02:44 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.

Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

"That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."

High levels of PCBs threaten whales and dolphins
January 21, 2016 07:13 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Scientists are raising serious concerns about the future of whales and dolphins in European waters who are continuing to suffer from the effects of toxic chemicals that were banned decades ago, but continue to linger in the environment.

According to a new study led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which was just published in the journal Scientific Reports, whales and dolphins in Europe  have been found to have some of the highest levels of polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs) in the world.

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