Wildlife

Warming climate may impact animals' ability to eat some toxic plants
January 16, 2016 09:20 AM - University of Utah via ScienceDaily

University of Utah lab experiments found that when temperatures get warmer, woodrats suffer a reduced ability to live on their normal diet of toxic creosote - suggesting that global warming may hurt plant-eating animals.

"This study adds to our understanding of how climate change may affect mammals, in that their ability to consume dietary toxins is impaired by warmer temperatures," says biologist Denise Dearing, senior author of the research published online Jan. 13 in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Acoustic Sanctuaries for Marine Mammals
January 12, 2016 07:24 AM - Mike DiGirolamo, MONGABAY.COM

Imagine living in an environment of constant noise where you cannot get anything accomplished. Ocean noise pollution caused by shipping, oil and gas development, and other human activities is making this the reality for marine mammals in many places, interfering with their ability to detect prey and communicate with one another. Yet some areas of the ocean remain refuges of quiet. A new study has identified some of these acoustic sanctuaries off the coast of British Columbia in the hope that they may be protected.

Tiny chameleons deliver powerful tongue-lashings
January 7, 2016 07:20 AM - Brown University

A new study reports one of the most explosive movements in the animal kingdom: the mighty tongue acceleration of a chameleon just a couple of inches long. The research illustrates that to observe some of nature’s best performances, scientists sometimes have to look at its littlest species.

Understanding oxygen concentrations 1.4 billion years ago
January 6, 2016 07:07 AM - University of Southern Denmark via EurekAlert!

Oxygen is crucial for the existence of animals on Earth. But, an increase in oxygen did not apparently lead to the rise of the first animals. New research shows that 1.4 billion years ago there was enough oxygen for animals - and yet over 800 million years went by before the first animals appeared on Earth.

Good news about restoring river ecosystems
January 1, 2016 10:17 AM - Lizabeth Paulat, Care2, Care2

t is a commonly held belief that most ecosystems take about a lifetime to recover after damage is introduced by humans. However, researchers at Ohio State University are finding that initial recovery can be dramatic if the right conditions are present. The discovery was made while monitoring how dam removal impacted local species. 

The studies focus on the reintroduction of birds and salmon to the habitat. What they found was that if just birds were introduced, they tended to have low weight and poor numbers of offspring. However, when dams came down and salmon and fish were put together, both species flourished and impacted the surrounding ecosystem positively.

2015 Year in Review
December 31, 2015 07:10 AM - Mike Gaworecki, MONGABAY.COM

As 2015 comes to a close, Mongabay is looking back at the year that was. This year saw President Obama reject the Keystone pipeline as historic droughts and a vicious wildfire season wracked the western US and Canada. The world committed to climate action in Paris as Southeast Asia was choking on the worst Indonesian haze in years, Shell aborted its plans to drill in the Arctic for the “foreseeable” future, and ExxonMobil is being investigated for lying to the public about climate risks. Here, in no certain order, are the top 15 environmental stories of 2015.

Bird habitat changing quickly as climate change proceeds
December 28, 2015 07:06 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

The climatic conditions needed by 285 species of land birds in the United States have moved rapidly between 1950 and 2011 as a result of climate change, according to a recent paper published in Global Change Biology.

Bison get Christmas gift from Governor of Montana
December 23, 2015 08:24 AM - NRDC

In a big step forward for wild bison and all Montanans, today Governor Steve Bullock agreed to expand year-round habitat for wild bison in Montana outside Yellowstone National Park.  Historically, thousands of wild bison have been hazed or slaughtered as they migrated from Yellowstone into Montana in the spring. This decision represents a significant change in bison management.

Following is a statement from Matt Skoglund, Director of the Northern Rockies Office at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Giving wild bison from Yellowstone year-round habitat in Montana is a welcome holiday offering from Governor Bullock. While I’d certainly love to see the state go further, this decision is a big step forward for wild bison in Montana, and it will show that wild bison and people can successfully share the Montana landscape outside Yellowstone National Park. When you consider this from a science, economics, public opinion, or common sense perspective, it makes sense for Montana to give wild bison from Yellowstone year-round habitat in the state.”

Coastal Marshes More Resilient to Sea-Level Rise Than Previously Believed
December 21, 2015 07:21 AM - Duke University

Accelerating rates of sea-level rise linked to climate change pose a major threat to coastal marshes and the vital carbon capturing they perform. But a new Duke University study finds marshes may be more resilient than previously believed. 

Are you smarter than a fruit fly?
December 5, 2015 08:13 AM - Northwestern University

Northwestern University neuroscientists now can read the mind of a fly. They have developed a clever new tool that lights up active conversations between neurons during a behavior or sensory experience, such as smelling a banana. Mapping the pattern of individual neural connections could provide insights into the computational processes that underlie the workings of the human brain. 

In a study focused on three of the fruit fly’s sensory systems, the researchers used fluorescent molecules of different colors to tag neurons in the brain to see which connections were active during a sensory experience that happened hours earlier. 

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