Can ecotourism save threatened species?
February 19, 2016 06:09 AM - Griffith University
Ecotourism can provide the critical difference between survival and extinction for endangered animals, according to new research from Griffith University.
Using population viability modelling, the Griffith team of Professor Ralf Buckley, Dr Guy Castley and Dr Clare Morrison has developed a method that for the first time quantifies the impact of ecotourism on threatened species.
Giant Iceberg Causes Penguin Deaths
February 18, 2016 10:41 PM - Laura Goldman, Care2
For the past six years, an iceberg the size of Rome has blocked the access of Adélie penguins to the sea in Antarctica. To find food, they must walk a detour of nearly 40 miles to the coast.
The impact on the colony has been devastating: More than 150,000 penguins have died.
The approximately 1,800-square-mile iceberg (referred to as B09B) struck a glacier and became stuck in Commonwealth Bay back in 2010, essentially land-locking 160,000 penguins. Before then, the colony was thriving, thanks to strong winds that blew ice from the shore, making it easy to hunt for fish.
“The Cape Denison population could be extirpated within 20 years unless B09B relocates or the now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out,” wrote scientists from the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) in a study published this month in Antarctic Science.
Algal Toxins Detected in One-Third of Streams Assessed in Southeastern United States
February 18, 2016 07:12 AM - USGS Newsroom
USGS scientists have detected toxins known as microcystins produced by various forms of algae in 39 percent of the small streams assessed throughout the southeastern United States. Their recent study looked at 75 streams in portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Will you take part in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count?
February 11, 2016 07:11 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2
This weekend bird enthusiasts from around the world will become citizen scientists for a few days during the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which is happening this year February 12-15.
During this four-day event, which is organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, people will be headed outdoors to count their local birds in the name of science.
What does the Wolf say?
February 8, 2016 11:06 AM - UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE via EurekAlert
The largest ever study of howling in the 'canid' family of species -- which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs -- has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or "vocal fingerprints": different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species.
Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling.
They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used -- from flat to highly modulated -- corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf.
Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought
February 5, 2016 07:21 AM -
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.
The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.
Kalligrammatid lacewings looked like butterflies, but lived millions of years before butterflies
February 4, 2016 01:00 PM - JOHN BARRAT Smithsonian News
New fossils found in Northeastern China have revealed a remarkable evolutionary coincidence: an extinct group of insects known as Kalligrammatid lacewings (Order Neuroptera) share an uncanny resemblance to modern day butterflies (Order Lepidoptera). Even though they vanished some 50 million years before butterflies appeared on earth, they possess the same wing shape and pigment hues, wing spots and eyespots, body scales, long proboscides, and similar feeding styles as butterflies.
A photo of the modern owl butterfly (“Caligo Memnon”) shown beside a fossilized Kalligrammatid lacewing (“Oregramma illecebrosa”) shows some of the convergent features independently evolved by the two distantly-related insects, including wing eyespots and wing scales. (Butterfly photo by James Di Loreto/fossil photo by Conrad Labandeira and Jorge Santiago-Blay)
In an incredible example of convergent evolution, both butterflies and kalligrammatids evol
Loss of wild flowers matches pollinator decline
February 4, 2016 07:15 AM - University of Leeds
The first Britain-wide assessment of the value of wild flowers as food for pollinators shows that decreasing resources mirror the decline of pollinating insects.
Study finds toxic pollutants in fish across the world's oceans
January 28, 2016 07:19 AM - University of California, San Diego
A new global analysis of seafood found that fish populations throughout the world's oceans are contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants, collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The study from researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego also uncovered some good news?concentrations of these pollutants have been consistently dropping over the last 30 years.
Why aren't the endangered western gray whales recovering from over hunting?
January 27, 2016 06:38 AM - Oregon State Universtity
The eastern gray whales that commonly appear along the West Coast of the United States seemingly have recovered from over-hunting with new protective guidelines established in the 1970s. Their counterparts across the ocean – western gray whales – have not fared as well.
Some scientists believe that a lack of prey may be a limiting factor in the recovery of western gray whales, which number fewer than 200 in their feeding area near Russia’s Sakhalin Island. For years, researchers were unable to assess the growth of whale prey in the region because of the remote location, inaccessible conditions of winter ice cover, and the rugged weather that prevented winter sampling.
However, researchers from Russia and the United States studied an inch-long crustacean, Ampelisca eschrichtii, an amphipod that is a favorite food of the western gray whale, in samples that were collected from the Sakhalin Shelf between late spring and early fall over six years between 2002 and 2013. The research team found enough information in the limited samples to assess the missing winter-life history of these amphipods and to document their great abundance and production.