Wildlife

Christmas gift for Gray Wolves in three states
December 26, 2014 08:32 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Christmas came early this year for gray wolves thanks to an awesome ruling handed down by a federal judge that immediately reinstated federal protection for them in the Great Lakes region.

The ruling affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and, unless overturned, will stop these three states from holding any more hunting and trapping seasons, which is expected to protect an estimated 3,700 wolves.

Carbon Dioxide Threat To Mussels' Shells
December 24, 2014 01:09 PM - The Ecologist, The Ecologist

The world's mussel population could be under threat as rising CO2 levels in atmosphere and oceans makes their shells weaker and more brittle shells - making them more vulnerable to stormy seas, and predation.

Do Weddell Seals have an Internal GPS?
December 23, 2014 01:15 PM - National Science Foundation

Weddell seals have biological adaptations that allow them to dive deep--as much as of hundreds of meters--while hunting, but also an uncanny ability to find the breathing holes they need on the surface of the ice. Now, researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) believe they have figured out how they do it--by using the Earth's magnetic field as a natural GPS. "This animal, we think, may be highly evolved with an ability to navigate using magnetic sense in order to find ice holes some distance apart and get back to them safely," explained Randall Davis of the Department of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University. If the hypothesis turns out to be true, it would represent the first evidence of such a trait in a marine mammal.

New study analyzes sound sensitivity of marine invertebrates
December 22, 2014 02:57 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Noise pollution in the ocean is increasingly recognized as harmful to marine mammals, affecting their ability to communicate, find mates, and hunt for food. But what impact does noise have on invertebrates -- a critical segment of the food web? Very few studies have attempted to answer that question. The harder question to answer might be 'How do you measure hearing in ocean invertebrates'? A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and their colleagues examined behavioral responses to sound by cuttlefish, a type of shell-less mollusk related to squid and octopi. The study is the first to identify the acoustic range and minimum sound sensitivity in these animals. Their findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, can help decision makers and environmental managers better understand the impacts of noise in the ocean.

Fish Distribution Influenced by Fishing and Climate
December 22, 2014 01:31 PM - NOAA Newsroom

Scientists studying the distribution of four commercial and recreational fish stocks in Northeast U.S. waters have found that climate change can have major impacts on the distribution of fish, but the effects of fishing can be just as important and occur on a more immediate time scale. The four species studied– black sea bass, scup, summer flounder, and southern New England/Mid-Atlantic Bight winter flounder – have varied in abundance and have experienced heavy fishing pressure at times over the past 40 years. 

Some fish adapt to climate change by following their prey
December 20, 2014 06:46 AM - NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region via EurekAlert

Not all species may suffer from climate change. A new analysis shows that Dolly Varden, a species of char common in southeast Alaska, adjust their migrations so they can keep feasting on a key food source - salmon eggs - even as shifts in climate altered the timing of salmon spawning.

The resiliency of species to climate change may depend on how well they adapt to climate-driven changes in their food and habitat, such as altered growth of plants they feed on. A mismatch in timing between predators and the availability of prey could cause some species to lose access to food. But others such as Dolly Varden that successfully adjust to shifts in climate and prey offer a climate change story with a happy ending, according to the study published in Freshwater Biology.

Crows join rank of species that exhibit advanced relational thinking
December 18, 2014 01:32 PM - Editor, ENN

Next to humans, other species in the animal kingdom such as apes and monkeys have exhibited advanced relational thinking. But are there others? The newest species to join this list of highly intelligible animals? Crows.

Something new to blame climate change on: Beavers.
December 17, 2014 08:38 AM - Springer Science+Business Media, via Science Daily.

There are consequences of the successful efforts worldwide to save beavers from extinction. Along with the strong increase in their population over the past 100 years, these furry aquatic rodents have built many more ponds, establishing vital aquatic habitat. In doing so, however, they have created conditions for climate changing methane gas to be generated in this shallow standing water, and the gas is subsequently released into the atmosphere. In fact, 200 times more of this greenhouse gas is released from beaver ponds today than was the case around the year 1900, estimates Colin J. Whitfield of the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. He led a study in Springer's journal AMBIO about the effect that the growth in beaver numbers in Eurasia and the Americas could be having on methane emissions.

The fur trade of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries nearly led to the extinction of beaver populations worldwide. After trapping was limited and conservation efforts led to the re-introduction of these animals into their natural ranges, the number of North American (Castor canadensis) and Eurasian (Castor fiber)beavers grew. The North American beaver has also been introduced to Eurasia and South America (specifically the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego); establishment of these populations has, in effect, created an anthropogenic greenhouse gas source in these landscapes.

Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum had similarities to current warming
December 16, 2014 07:55 AM - University of Utah

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

The findings mean the so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM, can provide clues to the future of modern climate change. The good news: Earth and most species survived. The bad news: It took millennia to recover from the episode, when temperatures rose by 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit).

Update on Climate Change talks in Lima, Peru
December 15, 2014 10:44 AM - JOHN UPTON, CLIMATE CENTRAL, via Discovery News

In the early hours of Sunday morning, bleary-eyed dealmakers from nearly 200 countries and the European Union set a framework for an agreement that would take an unprecedented approach to slowing climate change. Critically, however, they also delayed a host of decisions until next year, which could make reaching a landmark pact even more difficult.

With a large rally in New York to complement it, the United Nations held a Climate Summit in September. Tara explains what the gathering was really all about.

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