Success Story: Baby Tortoises Return to Pinzón
March 13, 2015 08:58 AM - Judy Molland, Care2
Wonderful news! Ten baby tortoises have been spotted on the Galapagos island of Pinzón, in Ecuador. This might not seem like such a big deal–after all, aren’t the Galapagos famous for their tortoises? But in this case, it’s been more than 100 years since the last baby tortoise was seen on Pinzón. Sadly, it was human activity that brought these cute animals to the brink of extinction. Sailors first arrived on Pinzón Island in the mid-18th century, bringing with them on their boats numerous rats that quickly gained a foothold in the fragile ecosystem, feasting on the eggs and hatchlings of the island’s tortoises who, up until then, had few natural predators.
Bristol University sheds new light on early terrestrial vertebrate
March 12, 2015 06:54 AM - University of Bristol
The first 3D reconstruction of the skull of a 360 million-year-old near-ancestor of land vertebrates has been created by scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge.
The 3D skull, which differs from earlier 2D reconstructions, suggests such creatures, which lived their lives primarily in shallow water environments, were more like modern crocodiles than previously thought.
Feds Propose to Protect 330,000 Acres for Black Pine Snakes
March 11, 2015 08:51 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect 338,100 acres of critical habitat in Mississippi and Alabama for black pine snakes, whose southeastern, longleaf pine forests have been reduced to less than 5 percent of their historic extent. The snake depends on these forests, which are being lost to agriculture and pine plantations, fire suppression and urbanization. Black pine snakes were proposed for Endangered Species Act protection last fall as the result of a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that speeds protection decisions for 757 imperiled species around the country.
What inspires people to support conservation?
March 10, 2015 09:11 AM - Cornell University via EurekAlert!
What inspires people to support conservation? As concerns grow about the sustainability of our modern society, this question becomes more important. A new study by researchers at Cornell University provides one simple answer: bird watching and hunting.
This survey of conservation activity among rural landowners in Upstate New York considered a range of possible predictors such as gender, age, education, political ideology, and beliefs about the environment. All other factors being equal, bird watchers are about five times as likely, and hunters about four times as likely, as non-recreationists to engage in wildlife and habitat conservation. Both bird watchers and hunters were more likely than non-recreationists to enhance land for wildlife, donate to conservation organizations, and advocate for wildlife-all actions that significantly impact conservation success.
Alcoholic Russian Bears may finally get the help they deserve!
March 7, 2015 08:48 AM - Megan Drake, Care2
Taken in as cubs, two bears have been living in a small trash-ridden cage at a restaurant in Sochi, Russia, for over 20 years. In an effort to help the bears, some local animal advocates notified Anna Kogan, founder of Big Hearts Foundation (BHF), an animal welfare organization that helps animal causes in Russia.
BHF worked along with the Prosecutor General in Sochi to get the bears released and sent to a sanctuary and, on February 3, 2015, the court ruled in favor of the bears.
The Story of Misha and Pasha
Never receiving veterinary care and given inappropriate food–as well as alcohol by restaurant patrons–the two male bears, named Misha and Pasha, have become addicted to alcohol.
What's a fish native to Japan doing in the ocean off the coast of Oregon?
March 6, 2015 08:07 AM - Oregon State University
A team of scientists from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is studying an unusual fish captured alive in a crab pot near Port Orford this week called a striped knifejaw that is native to Japan, as well as China and Korea.
The appearance in Oregon waters of the fish (Oplegnathus fasciatus), which is sometimes called a barred knifejaw or striped beakfish, may or may not be related to the Japanese tsunami of 2011, the researchers say, and it is premature to conclude that this non-native species may be established in Oregon waters.
But its appearance and survival certainly raises questions, according to OSU’s John Chapman, an aquatic invasive species specialist at the university’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
Amazon deforestation 'threshold' causes species loss to accelerate
March 4, 2015 03:32 PM - University of Cambridge
One of the largest area studies of forest loss impacting biodiversity shows that a third of the Amazon is headed toward or has just past a threshold of forest cover below which species loss is faster and more damaging. Researchers call for conservation policy to switch from targeting individual landowners to entire regions.
Some plants "prefer" certain pollinators and respond to them!
March 3, 2015 07:19 AM - Oregon State University
Rather than just waiting patiently for any pollinator that comes their way to start the next generation of seeds, some plants appear to recognize the best suitors and “turn on” to increase the chance of success, according to a new study published this week.
Being picky may increase access to genetic diversity and thus give the plants a competitive advantage over their neighbors, but there is a risk, the researchers say. If the preferred pollinators decline for any reason, the plants may not reproduce as easily and could decline as well.
How did Emperor Penguins survive the last ice age?
March 2, 2015 07:00 AM - University of Oxford
The study of how climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations.
The findings, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggest that while current climate conditions may be optimal for emperor penguins, conditions in the past were too extreme for large populations to survive.
In California, Beavers are essential to recovering wild salmon
March 1, 2015 04:35 PM - Miria Finn / onEarth, The Ecologist
With California's wild Coho salmon populations down to 1% of their former numbers, there's growing evidence that beavers - long reviled as a pest of the waterways - are essential to restore the species, writes Maria Finn. In the process, they raise water tables, recharge aquifers and improve water quality. What's not to love?
Beavers are the single most important factor in determining whether Coho salmon persist in California. They work night and day, don't need to be paid, and are incredible engineers.