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Southern Rocky Mountain pikas holding their own, assessment says PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 07:27

American pikas, the chirpy, potato-sized denizens of rocky debris in mountain ranges and high plateaus in western North America, are holding their own in the Southern Rocky Mountains, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

Led by CU-Boulder doctoral student Liesl Erb, the study team assessed 69 historical sites known to host pikas in a swath of the Southern Rockies ranging from southern Wyoming through Colorado and into northern New Mexico. The results showed that 65 of the 69 historical sites that had hosted pikas -- some dating back more than a century -- were still occupied by the round-eared, hamster-like mammals, Erb said.

Hong Kong seizes nearly 800 smuggled elephant tusks PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 07:12

Hong Kong has seized nearly two tonnes of elephant ivory worth about $1.7 million hidden in a shipment from Malaysia and detained a local man over the haul, customs authorities said Wednesday.

Inspectors found 794 pieces of tusks, weighing 1,898 kilos (4,184 pounds), concealed behind stones in a container marked for factory use at the city's port on Monday, a spokeswoman for the customs department told AFP.

A 66-year-old Hong Kong man was arrested and was under investigation, she added, but declined to confirm whether the shipment was destined for China, a major market where ivory is ground up and used in traditional medicine.

Are all alien encounters bad? PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 September 2011 06:24

The pages of ecological history are filled with woeful tales of destruction from non-native species -- organisms that originated elsewhere.

Kudzu, a fast-growing vine imported from Japan, now chokes out many native plants across the southern United States, Zebra mussels native to the Caspian Sea have reduced the food supplies of native fishes in the Great Lakes, and rats imported to New Zealand have decimated the native bird populations.

Examples of the damages caused by these so-called "invasive species" are seemingly as endless as the amount of battles waged against them.

Preserving four percent of the ocean could protect most marine mammal species, study finds PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 September 2011 06:19

Preserving just 4 percent of the ocean could protect crucial habitat for the vast majority of marine mammal species, from sea otters to blue whales, according to researchers at Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Their findings were published in the Aug. 16 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Of the 129 species of marine mammals on Earth, including seals, dolphins and polar bears, approximately one-quarter are facing extinction, the study said.

The same number of fishermen, but less salmon in Spanish rivers PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 17:48

"It's not that the salmon are biting less, there are less of them," explained Eva García Vázquez, lead author and Functional Biology researcher at the University of Oviedo (Spain).

The study, published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, shows a "very marked" decline in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations in the Narcea, Sella and Cares rivers (Asturias, northern Spain), especially during the last decade, almost simultaneously with the reduction in the amount caught by recreational fishermen.

20 endangered Siamese crocodiles hatch in Laos PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 17:44

One of the world's rarest crocodile species has moved a little bit further from extinction with the hatching of 20 wild eggs plucked from a nest found in southern Laos.

Experts believe there could be as few as 300 Siamese crocodiles remaining in the world's swamps, forests and rivers, so the discovery of the nest - the first found in the mountainous, jungle-clad country since 2008 - is a significant step in the rehabilitation of a species that was declared extinct in the wild in 1992.

Look, up in the sky - it's Aeroecology PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 01:26

There are ecologists who study land, and ecologists who study the ocean -- but who looks up and studies the air that circles the entire planet? Until recently, not many.

Formally established just three years ago, aeroecology is the study of flying and floating organisms in the air they inhabit.

Biologist Thomas Kunz from Boston University is pioneering this new field. He notes that that the air is the only environment that moves freely, and quickly, around the entire planet.

"Aquatic environments are interrupted by land, and terrestrial environments are interrupted by water," said Kunz.

Restoration as science: case of the collared lizard PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 01:20

In a time when a five-year grant is considered a long-term grant, Alan R. Templeton, PhD, a professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has managed to follow some of the species he studies for 10, 20 or even 30 years.

Early in his career he studied parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, in fruit fly populations at a dump and in cactus patches in Hawaii.

"Drosophilia have fast generation times," he says, "but I studied them for 12 years. And because I followed them for 12 years, I saw patterns I wouldn't otherwise have seen. In fact, had I not stuck with it so long, I often would have made incorrect conclusions."

Australia's Coral Sea is 'biodiversity hotspot' PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 August 2011 02:51

The Coral Sea off Australia's northeast coast is one of the last remaining places brimming with large predatory fish such as sharks and tuna, a study released Saturday found.

The study found the 972,000 square kilometre (388,800 square mile) zone stretching from the Great Barrier Reef to the waters of the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, was home to many unique and endangered species.

Orange goo on Alaska shore was fungal spores PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 August 2011 02:30

An orange-colored goo that streaked the shore of a remote Alaska village turned out to be fungal spores, not millions of microscopic eggs as indicated by preliminary analysis, scientists said Thursday.

Further tests with more advanced equipment showed the substance is consistent with spores from fungi that create "rust," a plant disease that accounts for the color, said officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The gunk appeared Aug. 3 at the edge of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community at the tip of a barrier reef on Alaska's northwest coast.

Baltic sea countries do not live up to commitments: WWF PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 07:16

The nine countries with a Baltic Sea coast are not doing enough to protect the very polluted body of water, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in a report published Wednesday.

"We need less talk and more actions. If we are to succeed in saving our common sea we need to work more effectively across sectors and national borders," the head of WWF Sweden, Haakan Wirten, said when presenting the organisation's 2011 Baltic Scorecard.

Wolves may aid recovery of Canada lynx, a threatened species PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 September 2011 06:26

As wolf populations grow in parts of the West, most of the focus has been on their value in aiding broader ecosystem recovery – but a new study from Oregon State University also points out that they could play an important role in helping to save other threatened species.

In research published today in Wildlife Society Bulletin, scientists suggest that a key factor in the Canada lynx being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act is the major decline of snowshoe hares. The loss of hares, the primary food of the lynx, in turn may be caused by coyote populations that have surged in the absence of wolves. Scientists call this a "trophic cascade" of impacts.

Researchers use acoustic tools to detect underground insects that attack grapes PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 03 September 2011 06:22

University of Florida researchers are finding new ways to thwart crop-devouring pests — by being good listeners.

High-tech acoustic equipment makes it possible for them to listen in as insects gnaw on grapevine roots, making it much easier for vineyard owners to know where to focus their efforts against the pest called the grape root borer.

Will Sanders, a former UF entomology graduate student, conducted much of the research and outlines the project in the current issue of Florida Entomologist. Using sound to target the pest could one day save vineyard owners money and pay off for consumers in lower costs for grapes and wine, he said. Grapes are a $20 million annual industry for Florida.

Risk assessments to block invasive wildlife pay off, study shows PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 17:51

A University of California, Davis, environmental and resource economist collaborated on a study that was the first to estimate the net benefits of screening potentially invasive wild animals, to prevent them from being introduced to the United States.

The researchers noted that federal, state and local governments are spending tens of millions of dollars annually on efforts aimed at controlling recent invasions by such animals as the Burmese python, the Asian carp and the red lionfish.

Motion to bar Montana, Idaho wolf hunts denied PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 17:47

A federal appeals court on Thursday denied a request by environmental groups to halt wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other groups. The groups were seeking to cancel the hunts while the court considers a challenge to congressional action in April that stripped wolves of federal protections in Montana and Idaho, and in parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

Biological communities studied at historical WWII shipwrecks along North Carolina PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 01:28

In the waters off the North Carolina coast, historically-significant World War II submarines and shipwrecks rest on the seafloor, a testament to a relatively unknown chapter in U.S. history. According to a new NOAA report, the shipwrecks are not only important for their cultural value, but also as habitat for a wide diversity of fishes, invertebrates and algal species. Additionally, due to their unique location within an important area for biological productivity, the shipwrecks are potential sites for examining community change.

Lice from farmed salmon imperil wild salmon, new study confirms PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 30 August 2011 01:25

A new study on the impacts of lice on wild salmon published today by an independent team of academic researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) confirmed what many previous and unbiased studies have also shown, namely, that lice on farmed salmon can multiply and spread to wild salmon and decrease their survival.

What's unique about this new PNAS sea lice study is that it exposes serious flaws in a December 13, 2010 study published in the same journal by lead author and provincially-employed fish pathologist, Dr. Gary Marty. That study concluded lice were not harming wild salmon, and that alarms over open net-cage salmon farm impacts and calls for better management were unjustified. 

Eco-labeled seafood is not always what it seems PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 August 2011 02:53

When you buy what looks to be a nice piece of certified sustainable fish at the supermarket, you'd like to think that's exactly what you're getting. Unfortunately, things aren't always what they seem, according to researchers who have analyzed DNA isolated from store-bought, eco-labeled Chilean sea bass and report their findings in the August 23 issue of Current Biology.

The grass is always greener PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 August 2011 02:33

Recent study of grasslands shows that species variety more important to ecosystem services than previously thought.

As biodiversity declines worldwide, there is concern that this will lead to declines in the services that ecosystems provide for people, such as food production, carbon storage, and water purification. But until now it has been unclear, whether just a few or in fact a large number of the species in an ecosystem are needed to provide ecosystem services.

Further, faster, higher: Wildlife responds increasingly rapidly to climate change PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 August 2011 03:09

New research by scientists in the Department of Biology at the University of York shows that species have responded to climate change up to three times faster than previously appreciated. These results are published in the latest issue of the leading scientific journal Science.

Faster distribution changes. Species have moved towards the poles (further north in the northern hemisphere, to locations where conditions are cooler) at three times the rate previously accepted in the scientific literature, and they have moved to cooler, higher altitudes at twice the rate previously realised.

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