The massive Indonesian fires
November 7, 2015 07:25 AM - lisa palmer, Yale Environment360
The fires that blazed in Indonesia’s rainforests in 1982 and 1983 came as a shock. The logging industry had embarked on a decades-long pillaging of the country’s woodlands, opening up the canopy and drying out the carbon-rich peat soils. Preceded by an unusually long El Niño-related dry season, the forest fires lasted for months, sending vast clouds of smoke across Southeast Asia.
Fifteen years later, in 1997 and 1998, a record El Niño year coincided with continued massive land-use changes in Indonesia, including the wholesale draining of peatlands to plant oil palm and wood pulp plantations. Large areas of Borneo and Sumatra burned, and again Southeast Asians choked on Indonesian smoke.
Rat poisons endanger California wildlife
November 5, 2015 08:13 AM - Center for Biological Diversity
Researchers at the University of California released a study today indicating that rat poisons increasingly pose a significant risk for California’s imperiled Pacific fishers, small, forest-dwelling mammals that are protected under the California Endangered Species Act. The study shows that increasing numbers of fishers are being exposed to, and dying from, greater varieties of rat poisons, or rodenticides, found at illegal marijuana farms. It also affirms reports and data from across the state that rodenticides continue to poison and kill numerous California wildlife species.
“These poisons are silently killing our country’s most majestic wildlife by indiscriminately causing animals to literally bleed to death from the inside out,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to ban these poisons from the market to protect fishers, bald eagles, great horned owls and kit foxes from a painful, gruesome fate.”
Yellowstone Grizzly Bear population studied by USGS
October 31, 2015 07:32 AM - USGS Newsroom
Genetic data show the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has grown since the 1980s with no loss in genetic diversity, according to a report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.
Results indicate that the effective population size of Yellowstone grizzly bears, or the number of individuals that contribute offspring to the next generation, has increased 4-fold over a 25-year period. This provides evidence that Yellowstone grizzly bears are approaching the effective size necessary for long-term genetic viability.
The northern snakehead fish
October 30, 2015 07:42 AM - USGS Newsroom
The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.
The team found that a group of adult northern snakehead collected from Virginia waters of the Potomac River south of Washington D.C. were infected with a species of Mycobacterium, a type of bacteria known to cause chronic disease among a wide range of animals.
"Mycobacterial infections are not unusual among fish, but they are nonetheless noteworthy because they can have an impact at the population level and potentially even affect other fish and wildlife," said lead author Christine Densmore, a veterinarian with the USGS.
Declines in marine, large animals disrupt Earth's nutrient cycle
October 26, 2015 09:04 PM - University of Oxford via EurekAlert!
A new study reveals that in the past large land animals, whales, seabirds and fish played a vital role in recycling nutrients from the ocean depths, spreading them far and wide across the globe and taking them deep inland. However, the paper says massive declines in their populations coupled with the extinction of most of Earth's large mammals have disrupted this efficient system of recycling important nutrients, particularly phosphorous. The researchers calculate that the ability of whales and terrestrial megafauna to transport nutrients around the globe has been reduced to just 6% of their global capacity before mass extinctions and population declines.
Oceans need more protected areas
October 26, 2015 07:32 AM - UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
Despite global efforts to increase the area of the ocean that is protected, only four per cent of it lies within marine protected areas (MPAs), according to a University of British Columbia study.
UBC Institute for Ocean and Fisheries researchers found that major swaths of the ocean must still be protected to reach even the most basic global targets.
In 2010, representatives from nearly 200 countries met in Nagoya, Japan, and adopted the United Nations' Aichi Targets, in a bid to stem the rapid loss of biodiversity. The countries committed to protecting at least 10 per cent of the ocean by 2020.
Disease-carrying ticks hitchhike into US on migratory birds
October 25, 2015 09:01 PM - Smithsonian Science News
Researchers who examined thousands of migratory birds arriving in the United States from Central and South America have determined that three percent carry ticks species not normally present in the United States. Some of the birds, they say, carry disease-causing Ricksettia ticks.
Ocean Heat Content Reveals Secrets of Fish Migration Behaviors
October 22, 2015 09:24 AM - University of Miami
Researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science developed a new method to estimate fish movements using ocean heat content images, a dataset commonly used in hurricane intensity forecasting. With Atlantic tarpon as the messenger, this is the first study to quantitatively show that large migratory fishes, such as yellowfin and bluefin tunas, blue and white marlin, and sailfish have affinities for ocean fronts and eddies.
The fish that cools off by jumping OUT of the water
October 21, 2015 04:18 PM - University of Guelph.
On hot, humid days, you might jump into water to cool down, but for the tiny mangrove rivulus fish, cooling down means jumping out of water, according to a new study from the University of Guelph.
In the study published today in the journal Biology Letters, the researchers describe how these fish air-chill themselves on solid ground in order to drop their body temperatures. The researchers also found that fish exposed to higher temperatures for a week tolerated warmer water better.
The fish jump out of the water to escape rising temperatures, said integrative biology professor Pat Wright, senior author of the study.
Mice stutter too
October 20, 2015 08:44 AM - Hanae Ermitage , Science/AAAS
About 70 million people worldwide stutter when they speak, and it turns out humans aren’t the only ones susceptible to verbal hiccups. Scientists at this year’s Society for Neuroscience Conference in Chicago, Illinois, show that mice, too, can stumble in their vocalizations. In humans, stuttering has long been linked to a mutation in the “housekeeping” gene Gnptab, which maintains basic levels of cellular function. To cement this curious genetic link, researchers decided to induce the Gnptab “stutter mutation” in mice. They suspected the change would trigger a mouse version of stammering. But deciphering stuttered squeaks is no easy task, so researchers set up a computerized model to register stutters through a statistical analysis of vocalizations.