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Wildlife

Burmese Pythons are killing the rabbits in the Florida Everglades
March 21, 2015 10:34 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

How exactly DID Burmese Pythons get so numerous in the Everglades?  Were they released by owners who didn't want them and they found they liked the ecosystem?

Nearly 80 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits that died in Everglades National Park in a recent study were eaten by Burmese pythons, according to a new publication by University of Florida and U.S. Geological Survey researchers.  

A year later, there was no sign of a rabbit population in the study area.  The study demonstrates that Burmese pythons are now the dominant predator of marsh rabbits, and likely other mid-sized animals in the park, potentially upsetting the balance of a valuable ecosystem.

Stinging nettle chemical improves cancer drug
March 20, 2015 02:20 PM - University of Warwick

A cancer drug could be made 50 times more effective by a chemical found in stinging nettles and ants, new research finds. Researchers at the University of Warwick found that when the chemical, Sodium Formate, is used in combination with a metal-based cancer treatment it can greatly increase its ability to shut down cancer cells.

Road kill: Recommendations to protect biodiversity
March 20, 2015 08:43 AM - Michelle Kovacevic, SciDevNet

Governments and donors must pay more attention to the environmental impact of road networks to limit their “devastating” effect on ecosystems, a study on global infrastructure expansion has warned. Road construction opens a “Pandora’s box” of negative impact, according to the authors of the paper, published this month in Current Biology. These include deforestation, animals hunted to extinction, land grabs by speculators betting on development, and wildfires. 

Arctic sea ice continues to shrink
March 19, 2015 02:20 PM - World Wildlife Foundation

Arctic sea ice shrank to the lowest winter extent ever recorded, according to data released today by the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record-low ice level follows earlier news that 2014 was the warmest year since record keeping began.
 
An unusually warm February in parts of Alaska and Russia contributed to the record ice low. The winter reach of Arctic ice decreased 1.1 million square kilometres compared to the average maximum from 1981 to 2010. This represents an area more than twice the size of Sweden.
 
"This is not a record to be proud of. Low sea ice can create a series of reactions that further threaten the Arctic and the rest of the globe," said Alexander Shestakov, Director, WWF Global Arctic Programme.

When whales roamed in what is now Africa
March 17, 2015 04:30 PM - Southern Methodist University

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained.”č

Now paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world - and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent - to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa's mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the beaked Ziphiidae whale family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at an elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya's harsh desert region, said vertebrate paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Bill Proposed to Ban Wild Animals from Circus Performing
March 17, 2015 12:52 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Circus elephants just scored a victory with an announcement that Ringling Bros. will be retiring its performers, but big cats and other wild animals left behind may get their own victory in Pennsylvania if a state senator can get them banned.

The emotional and physical toll life on the road as performers takes on elephants has taken center stage, but for other species like big cats, life in the entertainment industry is just as bad.

Zoos Boost Biodiversity Understanding
March 16, 2015 02:50 PM - University of Warwick

Zoos and aquariums around the world have a crucial role to play in helping people understand how they can protect animals and their natural habitats, new research from the University of Warwick, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and Chester Zoo has found.

How the Gecko keeps itself so clean in a dusty habitat
March 16, 2015 07:54 AM - JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY via EurekAlert.

In a world first, a research team including James Cook University scientists has discovered how geckos manage to stay clean, even in dusty deserts. 

The process, described in Interface, the prestigious journal of the Royal Society, may also turn out to have important human applications. 

JCU's Professor Lin Schwarzkopf said the group found that tiny droplets of water on geckos, for instance from condensing dew, come into contact with hundreds of thousands of extremely small hair-like spines that cover the animals' bodies. 

Invasive Carp Look for Love in all the Right Places
March 13, 2015 03:53 PM - Victoria Van Cappellen, University of Waterloo

If you’re looking for love and there are ten bars in town, your chance of meeting someone is 10 per cent.  In a town with only one bar, your odds are 100 per cent. The same thing happens in nature and is called landmarking. Butterflies and other species find mates by gathering at easily identifiable locations such as the tallest tree or mountain.

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.

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