Wildlife

Devil Rays are deep divers!
July 21, 2014 03:23 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Thought to dwell mostly near the ocean's surface, Chilean devil rays (Mobula tarapacana) are most often seen gliding through shallow, warm waters. But a new study by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and international colleagues reveals that these large and majestic creatures are actually among the deepest-diving ocean animals. "So little is known about these rays," said Simon Thorrold, a biologist at WHOI and one of the authors of the paper, published July 1, 2014, in the journal Nature Communications. "We thought they probably travelled long distances horizontally, but we had no idea that they were diving so deep. That was truly a surprise."

The mystery behind starling flocks explained
July 18, 2014 11:51 AM - University of Warwick

The mystery behind the movements of flocking starlings could be explained by the areas of light and dark created as they fly, new research suggests. The research, conducted by the University of Warwick and published in the journal PNAS, found that flocking starlings aim to maintain an optimum density at which they can gather data on their surroundings. This occurs when they can see light through the flock at many angles, a state known as marginal opacity. The subsequent pattern of light and dark, formed as the birds attempt to achieve the necessary density, is what provides vital information to individual birds within the flock.

New Insect Repellent Graphic Released by EPA
July 17, 2014 04:15 PM - US EPA Newsroom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today unveiled a new graphic that will be available to appear on insect repellent product labels. The graphic will show consumers how many hours a product will repel mosquitoes and/or ticks when used as directed. "We are working to create a system that does for bug repellents what SPF labeling did for sunscreens," said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "By providing vital information to consumers, this new graphic will help parents, hikers and the general public better protect themselves and their families from serious health threats caused by mosquitoes and ticks. We are encouraging manufacturers to submit applications so they can add the graphic to their registered repellent products."

Fertilizer Threatens Grasslands Globally
July 15, 2014 05:10 PM - Paul Sutherland, MONGABAY.COM

The world's grasslands are being destabilized by fertilization, according to a paper recently published in the journal Nature. In a study of 41 grassland communities on five continents, researchers found that the presence of fertilizer weakened grassland species diversity. The researchers surveyed grasslands in countries around the world, such as China, the U.S., Switzerland, Tanzania and Germany, and discovered that grassland communities that had not been managed by humans contained more species. They also had greater species asynchrony, which means that different species thrive at different times so that the grassland produces more consistently over time, resulting in more stable biomass production.

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks officially endangered, and that is not good news!
July 14, 2014 04:49 PM - s.e. smith, Care2, Care2

It’s not really the kind of "first" you want to be: The peculiar-looking but oddly beautiful scalloped hammerhead shark has just become the first shark species to be added to the US Endangered Species List. Sphyrna lewini, as they're known, are coastal to semi-oceanic sharks with a number of extremely vulnerable subpopulations. The move to classify them as endangered is in response to lobbying from several animal welfare groups who hoped to secure additional protections for these amazing creatures before it's too late.

Pesticide impairs bees' ability to forage
July 14, 2014 09:11 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A study that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags found long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen. The research by Nigel Raine, a professor at the University of Guelph, and Richard Gill of Imperial College, London, shows how long-term pesticide exposure affects individual bees' day-to-day behaviour, including pollen collection and which flowers worker bees chose to visit.

Our newest Astronauts are fruit flies!
July 10, 2014 06:15 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Becoming an Astronaut is a big deal! Men and women selected to go into space are very carefully chosen. They go through rigorous medical evaluations to make sure they are healthy and that their bodies can withstand the forces of liftoff and re-entry. And they go through months and months of training to prepare them for their first space flight. Now NASA is sending untested, untrained astronauts into space. Of course, they are not human, they are fruit flies! Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day. We have a lot in common. Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA's Ames Research Center. "About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues."

Cell Phone Conservation
July 9, 2014 10:35 AM - Alex Kirby, The Ecologist

Some of the world's most endangered forests may soon benefit from better protection, thanks to discarded treasures from the consumer society - mobile phones. A Californian technology startup, Rainforest Connection (RFCx), has developed a tool - made from recycled smartphones - that it says will pilot new ways to monitor and stop illegal logging and animal poaching throughout Africa's equatorial forests. RFCx has formed a partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), an international scientific charity that works for the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. The two organisations are planning to install the anti-deforestation, anti-poaching technology in Cameroon this year.

Why is the US Throwing Away $1 Billion Worth of Fish Every Year?
July 9, 2014 08:38 AM - Judy Molland, Care2

You've probably already seen the grim news about overfishing: scientists predict that world food fisheries could collapse by 2050, if current trends continue. That's because 3/4 of the world's fish stocks are being harvested faster than they can reproduce; 80 percent are already fully exploited or in decline; and in addition 90 percent of all large predatory fish are already gone. But the picture gets worse: every year, the U.S. fishing industry throws about 2 billion pounds worth of fish back into the water. A report released last month by Oceana estimates that this amounts to an annual loss of one billion dollars.

SAR11 and Methane
July 8, 2014 08:07 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

With the focus on reducing carbon emissions, we often forget about methane — another greenhouse gas that is way more powerful as an atmospheric pollutant than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions can come from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities, but can also be emitted from a number of natural sources. One newly discovered natural source: SAR11.

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