Wildlife

California drought hard on Chinook salmon
January 5, 2015 09:14 AM - Alastair Bland, Yale Environment360

Gushing downpours finally arrived in California last month, when December rains brought some relief to a landscape parched after three years of severe drought. 

But the rain came too late for thousands of Chinook salmon that spawned this summer and fall in the northern Central Valley. The Sacramento River, running lower than usual under the scorching sun, warmed into the low 60s — a temperature range that can be lethal to fertilized 

Chinook, the largest species of Pacific salmon, need cool waters to reproduce. 

Declining Monarch Butterfly Population Warrants Federal Protection
December 31, 2014 09:18 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

As conservationists continue to worry about the possibility of a world without monarchs, they’ve gotten some hope with an announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that federal protection may be warranted for these iconic butterflies. In August, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition with the FWS seeking protection for monarchs under the Endangered Species Act.

Trawling makes for skinny fish
December 29, 2014 02:05 PM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online

Trawling the seabed doesn't just remove some of the fishes living there; it also makes some of the survivors thinner and less healthy by forcing them to use more energy finding less nutritious food. That's the conclusion of a new paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, based on the work Dr Andrew Frederick Johnson undertook while studying for his PhD at Bangor University.

Penguins Affected by Tourism in Antarctica
December 29, 2014 09:16 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

A trip to Antarctica might not be a dream vacation for everyone, but it’s on the list for many who are clearly willing to trek to there. While tourists are busy exploring the scenery and greeting the penguins who live there, scientists are raising concerns about how exposure to us could increase their risk of contracting infectious diseases. Scientists and disease experts believe the immune systems of penguins, and other species in the region, are less able to deal with pathogens that are commonplace in the rest of the world because they’ve been isolated for so long with few visitors.

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.

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