Extinction countdown 2, unfortunately

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Extinction countdown 2, unfortunately

Editat: set. 19, 2019, 5:52pm

Birds Are Vanishing From North America
Carl Zimmer | Sept. 19, 2019 Updated 4:47 p.m. ET

The skies are emptying out.

The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970*, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago.

The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations.

In a statement on Thursday, David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, called the findings “a full-blown crisis.”

Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction. But the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows.

There are likely many causes, the most important of which include habitat loss and wider use of pesticides. “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson’s prophetic book in 1962 about the harms caused by pesticides, takes its title from the unnatural quiet settling on a world that has lost its birds:

“On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices, there was now no sound.”

Kevin Gaston, a conservation biologist at the University of Exeter, said that new findings signal something larger at work: “This is the loss of nature.”
Common bird species are vital to ecosystems, controlling pests, pollinating flowers, spreading seeds and regenerating forests. When these birds disappear, their former habitats often are not the same...



* Kenneth V. Rosenberg et al. 2019. Decline of the Noth American avifauna. Science 19 Sep 2019: eaaw1313
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1313. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2019/09/18/science.aaw1313

Species extinctions have defined the global biodiversity crisis, but extinction begins with loss in abundance of individuals that can result in compositional and functional changes of ecosystems. Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avifauna over 48 years, including once common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance. A continent-wide weather radar network also reveals a similarly steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds over a recent 10-year period. This loss of bird abundance signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity, function and services.


7 Simple Ways to Help Birds

1. Make Windows Safer, Day and Night
Simple adjustments to your windows can save birds’ lives.

2. Keep Cats Indoors
Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives. Outdoor cats kill more birds than any other non-native threat.

3. Reduce Lawn by Planting Native Species
The U.S. has 63 million acres of lawn. That’s a huge potential for supporting wildlife.

4. Avoid Pesticides
Look for organic food choices and cut out some of the 1 billion pounds of pesticides used in the U.S. each year.

5. Drink Bird-Friendly Coffee
Bird-friendly coffee is delicious, economically beneficial to farmers, and helps more than 42 species of North American songbirds.

6. Protect Our Planet From Plastics
91% of plastics are not recycled, and they take 400 years to degrade.

7. Watch Birds, Share What You See
Bird watchers are one of science’s most vital sources of data on how the ecological world is faring.

More info at https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/seven-simple-actions-to-help-birds/

set. 23, 2019, 9:13am

Final Plan for Arctic Refuge Drilling Could Cause Extinctions, Admits Government
The decision to open the refuge's entire coastal plain to development, combined with climate change, 'may result in extinction' for some birds.

Andy McGlashen | September 17, 2019

The U.S. Department of the Interior last week took a major step toward the first-ever oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a decision that outraged but did not surprise environmentalists, the agency announced its final plan to develop one of the world’s last great wildernesses, acknowledging that its chosen course might wipe out some bird species and harm other animals that make their home on the pristine reserve.

...The Trump administration had multiple options when planning to open the 19.3 million-acre sanctuary to drillers...But on Thursday, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced that the department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had chosen the most extreme plan, one that makes the entire coastal plain eligible for leasing and comes with the fewest restrictions on industry’s footprint.

Such an aggressive approach, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) acknowledged in its final environmental impact statement, combined with the effects of climate change, could drive birds to extinction...Species that nest in the refuge “already are experiencing decreasing populations, and many could suffer catastrophic consequences from the effects of global climate change in one or more of their seasonal continental or even global habitats,” the document says. “These effects combined with development-related impacts across the ranges of many bird species may result in extinction during the 85-year scope of this analysis.”

Some 200 bird species rely on the refuge, including hardy year-round residents like American Dipper, Gyrfalcon, and Rock and Willow Ptarmigan. The area fills with birdlife each summer, including migrants from every U.S. state and six continents, such as Red-throated Loon, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, and the federally threatened Steller’s and Spectacled Eider.

According to the BLM report, development could require energy companies to pump out large volumes from the coastal plain’s limited water bodies, resulting in food and habitat loss for loons and other waterbirds. Additional species could lose nesting habitat to roads and other infrastructure, and a variety of birds will likely be injured or killed in collisions with drilling rigs, communications towers, and vehicles.

Birds are far from the only wildlife with habitat at stake on the coastal plain, a strip of tundra, rivers, and wetlands wedged between the Brooks Range foothills and the Beaufort Sea. Federally threatened polar bears, which nurture their cubs in dens along its rivers and shoreline, will likely be killed as interactions with humans become more common, the impact statement says. Caribou migrate hundreds of miles each spring to give birth on the plain, where there’s plenty to eat, sea winds to keep mosquitoes at bay, and few predators to threaten their calves. With new development, they might find less food there, and are more likely to die in vehicle collisions...


set. 24, 2019, 7:18am

Humans’ role in North American extinctions laid bare in research
September 23, 2019

Human-influenced mass extinction of giant carnivores and herbivores of North America fundamentally changed the biodiversity and landscape of the continent.

...humans have shaped the processes underlying how species co-existed for the last several thousand years.

Smaller, surviving animals such as deer changed their ecological interactions...causing ecological upheaval across the continent.

...By the end of the Late Pleistocene in North America, roughly 11,000 years ago, humans contributed to the extinction of large mammals, including mammoths and sabre-toothed cats.

...There was ecological transformation across the continent – the mammoth steppe disappeared, vegetation and fire regimes changed and large carnivores were lost.



Tóth et al.. 2019. Reorganization of surviving mammal communities after the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction
Science 20 Sep 2019: Vol. 365, Issue 6459, pp. 1305-1308 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1605 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6459/1305

Extinction leads to restructuring
By most accounts, human activities are resulting in Earth's sixth major extinction event, and large-bodied mammals are among those at greatest risk. Loss of such vital ecosystem components can have substantial impacts on the structure and function of ecological systems, yet fully understanding these effects is challenging. Tóth et al. looked at the loss of large-bodied mammals in the Pleistocene epoch to identify potential community assembly effects. They found that the demise of large mammals led to a restructuring and a shift from biotic to abiotic drivers of community structure. Understanding past changes may help predict the community-level effects of the extinctions we are currently driving.

Large mammals are at high risk of extinction globally. To understand the consequences of their demise for community assembly, we tracked community structure through the end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in North America. We decomposed the effects of biotic and abiotic factors by analyzing co-occurrence within the mutual ranges of species pairs. Although shifting climate drove an increase in niche overlap, co-occurrence decreased, signaling shifts in biotic interactions. Furthermore, the effect of abiotic factors on co-occurrence remained constant over time while the effect of biotic factors decreased. Biotic factors apparently played a key role in continental-scale community assembly before the extinctions. Specifically, large mammals likely promoted co-occurrence in the Pleistocene, and their loss contributed to the modern assembly pattern in which co-occurrence frequently falls below random expectations.

set. 28, 2019, 10:13am

Britain will have toughest trophy hunting rules in the world as Government announces ban of 'morally indefensible' act
Helena Horton | 28 September 2019

...Hunters will no longer be able to bring back endangered animal parts from Africa as part of wide-ranging legislation that will also stop the import of exotic furs and rugs.

The move, announced today by the Minister for International Wildlife Zac Goldsmith could see the lives of thousands of elephants, lions, rhinos and other endangered species saved.

There is said to have been support for this policy within Number 10, and Boris Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds has been campaigning against the issue for some time. Mr Goldsmith's appointment by Boris Johnson was seen by those who oppose trophy hunting as significant, as the animal rights campaigner was effectively put in charge of the issue.

...After a consultation, the ban is expected to pass through parliament either as primary or secondary legislation after Conservative Party Conference.

...While some countries including France, Australia and the Netherlands have banned the imports of specific animals such as lions, this ban will affect dozens of endangered animals.

The animals it will no longer be legal to import will be those on the Cites Appendix I and II lists, as well as animals on the I UCN list.

Unlike the ivory ban, where it is banned to sell the product in the UK, this just concerns imports and exports, so it will still be legal to sell rare animal skins within the UK...


Editat: set. 28, 2019, 3:37pm

>1 margd: Though still concerning, good to see a bit of nuance on the North American bird apocalypse story:
"only" 5-10% of North American birds are in serious trouble...

There Is No Impending Bird Apocalypse
What happens when the marketing campaign for new research gets more attention than the science.

Michael Schulson | Sept 28, 2019

... As public attention to the study has intensified, though, not all ecologists are convinced that the numbers in the news actually present such a clear-cut picture. In a post on the academic blog Dynamic Ecology*, Brian McGill, a macroecologist at the University of Maine, praised the study, even as he questioned whether the data actually pointed to an impending bird apocalypse.

In the post, McGill observes that, of the 2.9 billion birds lost, many belong to species that are not native to North America. Just two of those species—the European starling and the house sparrow—account for close to 15 percent of the net population loss recorded by the researchers. “The irony is that land managers and conservation agencies have actually spent a lot of money to try to drive down or eliminate invasive species,” McGill said in an interview with Undark.

McGill also argues that, for many other species—especially those that thrive on farmland—population numbers may have actually been inflated in 1970, a result of generations of forest clearance and prairie destruction. By that reckoning, some of the decline may not be a catastrophic drop, but simply a return to an earlier baseline population that precedes the arrival of Europeans.

...In his Dynamic Ecology post, McGill also observes that the species that account for most of the 3 billion figure, whether native or not, are mostly among the most abundant bird species on the continent. While that loss in biomass is concerning, he argues, it does not necessarily suggest a looming extinction event.

Todd Arnold, a conservation biologist at the University of Minnesota who studies bird population dynamics, made a similar point. “If you take away the 40 biggest decliners from the data set, then what’s left behind is hundreds of birds, some of which are declining, some of which are increasing. But, on average, the increases outweigh the declines,” Arnold said.

Many of those birds in the top 40 decliners, he continued, should absolutely signal concern. But, he said, “that’s not apocalyptic. It’s saying that, you know, between 5 and 10 percent of our avifauna is in serious trouble,” he added. “That’s a serious message. It’s maybe not quite ‘Decline of the North American Avifauna.’ ”

...Along with the desire to publish good science, (scientists) are often vying for a coveted slot in a top journal. And when placing a paper in a top journal, such as Nature or Science, some scientists have complained it helps to have a paper that will garner media attention. It also tends to come with some space limitations, McGill suggested. “They were in a Science magazine format, which gives you about three pages, and so not a lot of room to get into nuance,” he said of the Cornell researchers. “And I think they did acknowledge and raise several of the issues that I raised.

...“You can’t really have a nuanced conversation in those places.”

For researchers whose work has implications for policy and conservation, there are added considerations about how they should convey the urgency of their findings, and about how their work will reach the public and, perhaps, policymakers.

Certainly, some of the media package graphics produced as part of the study’s promotional roll-out seemed to emphasize drama over detail. ...

To some, these kinds of images may represent a clear, internet-friendly way to communicate a serious conservation issue. To others, they may run the risk of appearing sensationalist—or of helping to feed coverage that takes on apocalyptic overtones. McGill said the reception of the avifauna paper reminded him of “insectageddon”—a series of high-profile studies on insect population decline that sparked headlines worldwide but also came under scrutiny from biologists who argued that the findings had been dramatically overstated.

Manu Saunders, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New England in Australia who studies ecology and insect populations, and a prominent critic of the insect Armageddon narrative, made a similar point. “I think that the bird apocalypse wouldn’t have been such a big deal in the media if the insect apocalypse hadn’t happened,” she said. Much of the hype around an impending insect disaster, Saunders said, grew from media relations professionals at universities who took otherwise solid studies and misrepresented their conclusions in press releases. She’s concerned that the insect collapse hype has built a sensationalized “framing narrative” that is shaping the way both scientists and the media report on population changes in a variety of species.

McGill said he fears that this sort of dramatic coverage can, in time, lead the public to trust scientists less. “The scientists never claimed that it’s leading to a mass extinction, the scientists never claimed that it’s leading to a complete depopulation of birds,” he said of last week’s Science study, “but that’s what people will remember the scientists saying, 15 or 20 years from now.”...


* * Brian McGill. Sept 20, 2019.Did North America really lose 3 billion birds? What does it mean? (Post) Dynamic Biology. https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2019/09/20/did-north-america-really-lose-3-...

set. 29, 2019, 7:40am

Requiem for the last the last Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed tree frog:
...Toughie is originally from the lush rainforests of Panama, where he used to spread his large webbed hands and could glide for up to 30 feet from his home in the forest canopy above...Most of Toughie’s relatives were wiped out by a fungus in Panama in 2005...He is just a small, brownish frog with hands that look like Gollum’s. Appropriate, because he too is precious...

Leilani Münter @LeilaniMunter | 10:00 PM · Sep 28, 2019:
We miss you little frog prince. 3 yrs ago today, Toughie died & his species went extinct.
I wrote an article when I met him & his caretaker @markmandica of @amphibianfound called "The Loneliest Frog in the World"
I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it https://huffpost.com/entry/the-loneliest-frog-in-the_b_5940426

Editat: oct. 4, 2019, 4:32am

“A quarter of UK mammals & nearly half of the birds assessed are at risk of extinction. The causes of the losses are the intensification of farming, pollution from fertiliser, manure & plastic, the destruction of habitats for houses, the climate crisis & invasive alien species.”

Extinction Britain: Wildlife survey exposes shocking decline in animals (25:13)
Channel 4 News | Oct 3, 2019

The Amazon is on fire; the Arctic ice is melting. But there is an environmental crisis closer to home.

( One in seven British species is threatened with extinction, according to the new State of Nature report by the country's main wildlife and conservation charities. )



At https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/,

State of Nature 2019 (55 p)

State of Nature 2019: Scotland (13 p)

State of Nature 2019: A summary for England (4 p)

State of Nature 2019: A summary for Northern Ireland (4 p)

Editat: oct. 6, 2019, 5:00am

My impressions from working with wildlife officers in US and Canada (eons ago) are that there's demand for the strangest things, there's a lot of money to be made in illicit wildlife trade, it's closely connected with drug and other criminal activities, penalties are ridiculously small--certainly not enough to deter the bad guys.

Global wildlife trade higher than was thought
Helen Briggs | 3 October 2019

At least one in five vertebrate species on Earth are bought and sold on the wildlife market, according to a study.

Scientists from universities in the US and UK, who jointly analysed data collated on a range of species, say they are "astounded" by the figure...it is about 50% higher than previous estimates.

The wildlife trade - in the likes of horns, ivory and exotic pets - is the number one cause of animal extinction, tied only with land development.

The study, published in Science*, identified hotspots for traded birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles in regions within the Andes mountain range and Amazon rainforest, sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and Australia.

The research also identified another 3,000 or so species that look set to be traded in the future, based on their similarities with animals currently bought and sold - for example if they have bright plumage or exotic horns...



Brett R. Scheffers et al. 2019. Global wildlife trade across the tree of life. Science 04 Oct 2019: Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 71-76
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5327 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6461/71

A heavy toll

Trade in wildlife, and their parts, is well recognized for a few key species, such as elephants and rhinos, but it occurs globally, across a wide array of species. Scheffers et al. looked across tens of thousands of vertebrate species and found that one in every five species is affected by trade of some sort. The impacts of trade tend to be concentrated in certain phylogenetic groups, thus the potential for long-term impact on certain lineages is substantial. This analysis allows for prediction of potential for trade where it does not yet occur, facilitating proactive prevention.


Wildlife trade is a multibillion dollar industry that is driving species toward extinction. Of (more than) 31,500 terrestrial bird, mammal, amphibian, and squamate reptile species, ~18% (N = 5579) are traded globally. Trade is strongly phylogenetically conserved, and the hotspots of this trade are concentrated in the biologically diverse tropics. Using different assessment approaches, we predict that, owing to their phylogenetic replacement and trait similarity to currently traded species, future trade will affect up to 3196 additional species—totaling 8775 species at risk of extinction from trade. Our assessment underscores the need for a strategic plan to combat trade with policies that are proactive rather than reactive, which is especially important because species can quickly transition from being safe to being endangered as humans continue to harvest and trade across the tree of life...

Editat: oct. 14, 2019, 7:48am

Texas Pack Hounds Charge to the Rescue for Rhinos in South Africa, Nabbing 145 Poachers So Far
Shad Engkilterra | September 18, 2019

...So far, the dogs that Braman trained in Texas have helped apprehend 54 percent of the known poachers in Kruger — a marked improvement from the three to five percent of their standard K-9 units. Through September 2019, the dogs had helped capture 145 poachers and 53 guns.

Men and dogs work as a team with helicopters protecting the dogs from predators and armed men protecting the dogs from gunfire. “It’s a high-risk job for human and dog,” Van Staaten told NatGeo. “But with training and with standard operating procedures, we try to minimize the risk.”

South Africa and the rhinos aren’t the only beneficiaries of the new dog training techniques either. Braman is now teaching man’s best friend to combat human trafficking in the U.S. and successfully using animals that don’t bite.

“I learned a lot in Africa,” he said. “When I got there, I just wanted control. I had to learn patience. I had to collaborate. And it made me a better person.”

According to National Geographic, there are about 20,000 Southern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) left in the wild and just over 5,000 Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis). South Africa has approximately 80 percent of the wild rhino population within its borders. According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Western Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis longipes) have recently gone extinct, while only three Northern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) are left – all of which are females leaving no possibility of a natural breeding. All three live in Kenya, where they are kept under 24-hour guard...


oct. 23, 2019, 11:04am

Trees That Advanced Civilization Are Now Threatened
Ash-rimmed wheels carried King Tut, ash arrows won battles, and ash bats drove in home runs—but ash trees could disappear.

Simon Worrall | Sept 11, 2019



US Forest Service

Help Save the Ash: Although little can be done to save most of the ash trees alive today, their adapted genetics can be preserved through this long term seed storage program. Cooperators are needed to both find trees with seeds and make seed collections. The “Seed Collection Resources” below describe how to do both. Training to use the “Seed Collection Resources” will be made available through local events or electronically.



The National Tree Seed Centre of Natural Resources Canada in Fredericton, NB, is collecting seed from NATIVE trees for cold-storing, in order to protect genetic diversity for re-introduction after invasive Emerald Ash Borer blows through--maybe in 40 or 50 years.

Coordinator is
Donnie McPhee

Forest Genetics Technician
Atlantic Forestry Centre, Natural resources Canada
1350 Regent Street, P.O. Box 4000
Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5P7

Tel.: (506) 452-4162



(No doubt efforts in other countries to conserve ash genetics--if you can't find, check with US and Cdn programs above for leads.)

oct. 23, 2019, 11:19am


I believe I have some trees on my Kentucky property. I'm pretty sure that's the seed that fills my gutters every year.

oct. 23, 2019, 11:47am

The warming climate is making baby sea turtles almost all girls
Danielle Paquette | October 21, 2019

...(Female sea turtle) dodged plastic, fishing nets and oil spills to get this far. But another threat to her species lurks in the ground: sand temperatures that foster only one gender.

...As the earth gets hotter, turtle hatchlings worldwide are expected to skew dangerously female, scientists predict, making the animals an unwitting gauge for the warming climate.

On the tiny West African island nation of Cape Verde — home to a sixth of the planet’s nesting loggerheads — the disparity is stark. Eighty-four percent of youngsters are now female, researchers from Britain’s University of Exeter found in a July report*...



* Claire E. Tanner et al. 2019. Highly feminised sex-ratio estimations for the world’s third-largest nesting aggregation of loggerhead sea turtles. MEPS 621:209-219 (2019) - DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12963 https://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v621/p209-219/

ABSTRACT: Despite being a fundamental life-history character, there is a paucity of population-wide, data-driven studies of primary sex ratios for any marine turtle species. The Republic of Cape Verde hosts the third-largest nesting population of loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta in the world (hosting up to 15% of global nesting by the species). Weighting for the spatial distribution of nests, we estimate that 84% of female hatchlings are currently likely produced across the population, with 85% of nests laid on Boa Vista, where incubation temperatures are coolest. In future climate change scenarios (by 2100), irrespective of beach, island or sand colour, sex ratios reach over 99% female, and 3 islands (Fogo, Sao Nicolau, Santiago) would cease to produce males, with >90% of nests incubating at lethally high temperatures. Given that most of the population cannot move to nest on cooler islands, we highlight that temporal refugia are amongst the primary means available to this population to adapt. Under a low-emissions scenario, without phenological adaptation, there would only be an estimated 0.14% males produced across the whole population, while under mid- and high-emissions scenarios, male production may cease on most islands.

Editat: oct. 26, 2019, 10:50am

>11 2wonderY: DH belongs to a Nutgrowers Club of landowners and ag profs who are searching for the magic genotypes of elm and chestnut trees that can withstand their pests. I have offer of butternut saplings for nature area I work with.

Trees are so long-lived that cooperation of many citizens is crucial to any recovery. No less for seed recovery as in re-introduction! Once Emerald Ash Borers arrive you may have one season to contribute seeds before the trees succumb.

As someone who lives in area of Ground Zero, I can confirm that it's unexpectedly depressing to lose those mature shade trees...

oct. 29, 2019, 11:26am

How to share Earth with other animals
Russell McLendon | October 24, 2019

A renowned biologist wants us to set aside half the planet for wildlife, part of a growing effort to avert the first man-made mass extinction.

...Half an Earth is better than none

This idea has been around for years, manifested in programs like the WILD Foundation's "Nature Needs Half" campaign, but it has gained more traction recently. And it may now have one of its most eloquent arguments yet, thanks to a 2016 book by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson titled "Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life."

"The current conservation movement has not been able to go the distance because it is a process," Wilson writes in the book's prologue. "It targets the most endangered habitats and species and works forward from there. Knowing that the conservation window is closing fast, it strives to add increasing amounts of protected space, faster and faster, saving as much as time and opportunity will allow.

"Half-Earth is different," he adds. "It is a goal. People understand and prefer goals. They need a victory, not just news that progress is being made. It is human nature to yearn for finality, something achieved by which their anxieties and fears are put to rest. We stay afraid if the enemy is still at the gates, if bankruptcy is still possible, if more cancer tests may yet prove positive. It is further our nature to choose large goals that while difficult are potentially game-changing and universal in benefit. To strive against odds on behalf of all life would be humanity at its most noble." ...


Editat: nov. 1, 2019, 11:07am

Sebastian Seibold et al. 2019. Arthropod decline in grasslands and forests is associated with landscape-level drivers. Nature volume 574, pages 671–674 (Oct 30, 2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1684-3


Recent reports of local extinctions of arthropod* species, and of massive declines in arthropod biomass, point to land-use intensification as a major driver of decreasing biodiversity. However, to our knowledge, there are no multisite time series of arthropod occurrences across gradients of land-use intensity with which to confirm causal relationships. Moreover, it remains unclear which land-use types and arthropod groups are affected, and whether the observed declines in biomass and diversity are linked to one another. Here we analyse data from more than 1 million individual arthropods (about 2,700 species), from standardized inventories taken between 2008 and 2017 at 150 grassland and 140 forest sites in 3 regions of Germany. Overall gamma diversity in grasslands and forests decreased over time, indicating loss of species across sites and regions. In annually sampled grasslands, biomass, abundance and number of species declined by 67%, 78% and 34%, respectively. The decline was consistent across trophic levels and mainly affected rare species; its magnitude was independent of local land-use intensity. However, sites embedded in landscapes with a higher cover of agricultural land showed a stronger temporal decline. In 30 forest sites with annual inventories, biomass and species number—but not abundance—decreased by 41% and 36%, respectively. This was supported by analyses of all forest sites sampled in three-year intervals. The decline affected rare and abundant species, and trends differed across trophic levels**. Our results show that there are widespread declines in arthropod biomass, abundance and the number of species across trophic levels. Arthropod declines in forests demonstrate that loss is not restricted to open habitats. Our results suggest that major drivers of arthropod decline act at larger spatial scales, and are (at least for grasslands) associated with agriculture at the landscape level.*** This implies that policies need to address the landscape scale to mitigate the negative effects of land-use practices.

* An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Euarthropoda, which includes insects, arachnids (spiders), myriapods (centipedes), and crustaceans (woodlice or pillbugs). (Wikipedia)

** The trophic level of an organism is the number of steps it is from the start of the chain. A food chain starts at trophic level 1 with primary producers such as plants, can move to herbivores at level 2, carnivores at level 3 or higher, and typically finish with apex predators at level 4 or 5. (Wikipedia)

*** Landscape-scale conservation is a holistic approach to landscape management, aiming to reconcile the competing objectives of nature conservation and economic activities across a given landscape. Landscape-scale conservation may sometimes be attempted because of climate change. It can be seen as an alternative to site based conservation. (Wikipedia)

nov. 1, 2019, 11:43am

There's a story today in the hard copy Daily Nation here in Kenya suggesting that we actually only have about half the number of lions in the country than previously thought, due to inaccuracies in earlier counts.

nov. 2, 2019, 9:14am

America is also disappearing into the sunset.

nov. 8, 2019, 11:51am

Fake rhino horn invented to ruin poachers' market (BBC)

Scientists have developed a technique for making fake rhino horn, which they hope will undermine the illegal market in the genuine article...

nov. 12, 2019, 12:22am

Moth populations in steady decline in Britain, study finds

Long-running survey finds 1976 heatwave boom has been followed by dropping numbers

Mouse deer species not seen for nearly 30 years is found alive in Vietnam

Silver-backed chevrotain caught on camera after it was feared lost to science

Both from the Guardian

nov. 14, 2019, 6:59am

‘Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn (Guardian)

The “unnoticed insect apocalypse” should set alarm bells ringing, according to conservationists, who said that without a halt there will be profound consequences for humans and all life on Earth.

A new report suggested half of all insects may have been lost since 1970 as a result of the destruction of nature and heavy use of pesticides. The report said 40% of the 1million known species of insect are facing extinction...

nov. 14, 2019, 7:16am

I've been noticing the greatly diminished number of birds in the mid-Ohio Valley. We used to have a reasonable number of Canadian Geese pass through seasonally. I've seen perhaps three this year.

Is it only starlings that do that aerial ballet? I've noted a small flock of 3 dozen or so who are practicing their formation flying every evening on my way home.

I make my yard as bird friendly as possible, and the robins and house finches stick around, but not much else.

Editat: nov. 14, 2019, 11:33am

Waterfowl in North America are one of the groups doing relatively well--perhaps to Ducks Unlimited habitat work. Canadian Geese are tending to over-winter farther north, however: https://www.michiganradio.org/post/why-canada-geese-spend-winter-northern-cities. When I was a kid, it was unusual for my hunter-uncle to bag ones. Now, however, they can be real pests in parks. They honk all night offshore--my husband translates, "My rock!" "My rock!"

According to Cornell Ornithology Lab, the biggest bird declines are seen in
grassland (-53%)
shore (-37%)
boreal forest (-33%)
western forest (-29%)
Arctic tundra (-23%)
eastern forest (-17%)

Aerial insectivores (swallows) are also having a hard time, I believe.

Invasive starlings are unwelcome around our nestboxes and feeders, but fall murmurations are a thing of wonder, that's fer sure!

...Young et al. analyzed still shots from videos of starlings in flight (flock size ranging from 440 to 2,600), then used a highly mathematical approach and systems theory to reach their conclusion. Focusing on the birds' ability to manage uncertainty while also maintaining consensus, they discovered that birds accomplish this (with the least effort) when each bird attends to seven neighbors.

In following this role of seven, then, the birds are part of a dynamic system in which the parts combine to make a whole with emergent properties — and a murmuration results...


nov. 20, 2019, 9:58am

How climate change could kill the red apple (BBC)

Humans have favoured red apples for generations, but rising temperatures could spell the end of a rosy red treat

nov. 20, 2019, 11:07pm

One-third of tropical African plant species at risk of extinction (Guardian)

A third of plant species in tropical Africa are threatened with extinction, a new study suggests. Plants are crucial to many ecosystems and life in general, providing food and oxygen, as well as being the source of myriad materials and medicines. However, human activities including logging, mining and agriculture pose a major threat.

While the extinction risk of animals around the world has been well studied, the risk facing many plants remains unclear: 86% of mammal species have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its Red List, compared with only 8% of plant species. Now experts say they have come up with a rapid approach to give a preliminary classification.

“Our approach can help to prioritise either species or regions on which proper IUCN Red Listing should focus”...

Editat: nov. 21, 2019, 3:12am

I wrote the Iranian government a couple times (very politely) in support of Niloufar Bayani, who worked as an undergraduate in an acquaintance's lab. Her group set camera traps for the rare Asiatic Cheetah, but a US associate's public remarks against the Iranian regime apparently brought unwelcome scrutiny of their efforts. Though her ten-year sentence is ridiculous, at least she didn't die mysteriously in Iranian prison like one of her colleagues. Hopefully some day soon, rapprochement will result in her early release. Already imprisoned since January 2018 for 'spying', she reportedly gave defiant testimony in court about psychological, physical, and pharmaceutical torture during her detention...

Cheetah Researchers Accused Of Spying Sentenced In Iran
KAYLEIGH E. LONG 20 November 2019

Scientists and conservationists condemned the verdict, warning about the dangers of mixing politics and conservation...


nov. 21, 2019, 11:20pm

Pangolins are a victim of political instability in South Sudan (Mongabay)

- Researchers have confirmed seven cases of pangolin trafficking in South Sudan, with much higher numbers likely.
- High demand for pangolin scales and meat in Asian markets has brought pangolin species in Asia — and now in Africa as well — to the brink of extinction.
- Stronger wildlife monitoring and trafficking enforcement are essential in an African country filled with invaluable species and political conflict...

nov. 24, 2019, 1:38am

Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ After Australia Bushfires Destroy 80% Of Their Habitat
Trevor Nace | Nov 23, 2019

As Australia experiences record-breaking drought and bushfires, koala populations have dwindled along with their habitat, leaving them “functionally extinct.”

The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas have been killed from the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.

Recent bushfires, along with prolonged drought and deforestation has led to koalas becoming “functionally extinct” according to experts.

Functional extinction is when a population becomes so limited that they no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem and the population becomes no longer viable. While some individuals could produce, the limited number of koalas makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely and highly susceptible to disease....


(Video clip is tough to watch...)

nov. 25, 2019, 11:26am

>27 margd: A little breathing room for the koalas...

No, koalas are not 'functionally extinct', but they are in trouble
Michael Le Page | 7 May 2019

updated 25 November 2019...This story was written in May 2019. The claim that koalas are functionally extinct was repeated after forest fires in November 2019. This time it has also been claimed that 80 per cent of their habitat has been destroyed. But ecologist Diana Fisher says the fires damaged only 1 million hectares of the 100 million hectares of forest in eastern Australia, and that koalas are still nowhere near functionally extinct...

...But koalas haven’t passed this point?
Some local populations of koalas are indeed heading towards functional extinction, says Adams-Hosking. “But Australia is a big country, there are koalas all over the place and some of them are doing fine,” she says. “You can’t just make that statement broad-brush.” Adams-Hoskins also questions the AKF’s claim that just 80,000 koalas remain. In 2016, she and colleagues estimated that there are around 300,000.

That sounds better…
No one knows for sure how many are left. What we do know is that koala numbers are falling as the eucalyptus forests they live in and feed on are cut down to make way for cities and farms. Habitat loss is the biggest threat, as it is to most wildlife.

What about climate change?
It is already having a big impact, says Adams-Hosking, causing some populations to decline 80 per cent. Koalas can’t cope with day after day of temperatures above 36°C, as has been happening in the west of the country during the many recent heatwaves. Extreme droughts are also harming the eucalyptus trees they feed on.


nov. 26, 2019, 8:46am

>27 margd: >28 margd: The little koala had to be euthanized... :(

des. 1, 2019, 3:25am

Interesting to think about the last spiral down of a species in extinction. A few--very few-- recover

‘Allee effects’ – a phenomenon first identified in the 1950s whereby, in a shrinking population, the average health and fitness of each individual tends to decline over time.

For overview on Alleee effect mechanisms for various groups, see Fig 1 in Drake, J. M. & Kramer, A. M. (2011) Allee Effects. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):2 . https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/allee-effects-19699394/

Taxonomic groups for which there is evidence of Allee effects are terrestrial arthropods, aquatic invertebrates, mammals, birds, fish, and plants.

Recent modelling suggests that Neanderthal extinction can be explained by dwindling numbers (inbreeding and Allee effects). They persisted for hundreds of thousands of years before final spiral: climate change and arrival of humans (competition, conflict, new pathogens) must have contributed to initial decline in numbers. https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/neanderthals-may-have-died-out-without-help-fr...

des. 11, 2019, 5:23am

Flightless bird provides 'spark of hope' amid environmental crisis (Guardian)

The Guam rail, a flightless bird typically about 30cm long, usually dull brown in colour and adorned with black and white stripes, has become a rare success story in the recent history of conservation.

Previously extinct in the wild, the bird has been saved by captive breeding programmes and on Tuesday its status was updated on the IUCN red list of threatened species to critically endangered, along with nine others whose numbers have recently improved...

des. 11, 2019, 11:55pm

Donald Trump Jr killed rare endangered sheep in Mongolia with special permit (Guardian)

On a hunting trip to Mongolia earlier this summer the US president’s son Donald Trump Jr killed a rare species of endangered sheep. A permit for the killing was retroactively issued after Trump met with the country’s president, according to new reporting from ProPublica.

Trump was accompanied by security from both the US and Mongolia on the trip, the outlet reported. The argali sheep, with its large horns, is considered a national treasure there, and permission to kill one is “controlled by an opaque permitting system that experts say is mostly based on money, connections and politics”.

In between the killing and the issuing of the permit the month after he left the country, Trump is said to have met with the president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga, suggesting the possibility of special consideration being given to the son of the US president...

Editat: des. 14, 2019, 6:15am

Sad echoes of critters we aae losing:

The Cultural Frontline
Can art save endangered animals? (26:00)

Released On: 14 Dec 2019
Available for over a year

How artists are working to challenge the destruction of the natural world


des. 14, 2019, 6:42am

Lowly invertebrates are also suffering extinction.*So many reasons to care--intrinsic worth, food web impacts, but also our own self-interests, e.g.,

Deep Sea @DeepSeaImage | 6:25 PM · Dec 12, 2019:
The iconic glass sponge Aphrocallistes beatrix is very important because of its potential health benefits.
This sponge has been found to contain a compound that may be able to help fight pancreatic and breast cancer.
#deepsea #MarineLife #seasponge #glasssponge
Image ( https://twitter.com/DeepSeaImage/status/1205267416479076352/photo/1 )

* __________________________________________________​

Anthony Ricciardi @EcoInvasions | 5:32 PM · Dec 13, 2019
A Hawaiian tree snail Achatinella apexfulva went extinct
after the last known individual "George" died in a lab tank on New Year's Day.
Its extinction in the wild resulted from predation by the invasive rosy wolfsnail,
introduced to control another invader

These species went extinct in 2019
"It's a huge shame."
* __________________________________________________​

Anthony Ricciardi @EcoInvasions | 3:20 AM · Dec 14, 2019
It is rare for a marine invertebrate to be listed as critically endangered.
The Mediterranean pen shell has been overfished for years;
but the main cause of its rapid recent demise is a new pathogen that appeared in 2016 and has spread quickly.

Mediterranean pen shell listed as critically endangered - The Greek Times
A fan mussel found only in the Mediterranean was officially added to the list of critically endangered species,
after scientists recorded a dramatic decline in its population numbers caused by a newly discovered pathogen...

des. 27, 2019, 4:50am

Fresh waters suffer particularly high extinction rates...the latest, this one in China:

Dr Charlie Gardner @CharlieJGardner | 6:16 AM · Dec 24, 2019:
The Chinese paddlefish i̵s̵ ̵ was one of the largest - and most absolutely frickin magnificent - freshwater fish in the world
Since yesterday it is officially #extinct
Image ( https://twitter.com/CharlieJGardner/status/1209432767773204480/photo/1 )


IvanJarićbcDavid et al. 2019. Extinction of one of the world's largest freshwater fishes: Lessons for conserving the endangered Yangtze fauna. Short Communication. Science of The Total Environment. Available online 23 December 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.136242 . https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719362382#

• The giant Chinese paddlefish (up to 7 m in length) was found to be extinct.
• The timing of extinction was estimated to be by 2005–2010.
• The paddlefish became functionally extinct by 1993, prior to extinction
• Conservation efforts on endangered Yangtze fishes are urgently needed.

The mega river ecosystem of the Yangtze River was once home to diverse aquatic megafauna but is increasingly affected by various anthropogenic stressors that have resulted in continuous loss of biodiversity, such as the probable extinction of Yangtze River Dolphin. The Chinese paddlefish, Psephurus gladius, was one of only two extant members of a relict lineage that was most diverse and widespread 34–75 million years ago. It is also one of the largest freshwater fish species, reaching up to 7 m in length. The Chinese paddlefish was once common in the Yangtze River, with c.25 t being harvested per annum during the 1970s. Populations have, however, declined drastically since the late 1970s as a result of overfishing and habitat fragmentation. Here, a basin-wide capture survey during 2017–2018 found 332 fish species, but did not find a single live specimen of Chinese paddlefish. Furthermore, 140 historically reported fish species have not been found and most of them are considered highly endangered. Based on 210 sightings of Chinese paddlefish during the period 1981–2003, we estimated the timing of extinction to be by 2005, and no later than by 2010. In addition, the paddlefish probably became functionally extinct (i.e. it was unable to reproduce) by 1993, before it went extinct. It is likely that the lack of reproduction was among the major causes of extinction. As no live specimens exist in captivity, and no living tissues are conserved for potential resurrection, the fish should be considered extinct according to the IUCN Red List criteria. The delayed extinction of Chinese paddlefish resulted from multiple threats, suggesting that optimizing conservation efforts on endangered Yangtze fauna is urgently needed.

des. 30, 2019, 8:29am

Good news that South Africa's Strategic Management of Rhinoceros seems to have decreased poaching. Still sounds like more than the population can carry, so lots yet to do, if we're to avoid extinction of these magnificent beasts.

Donations can be sent to www.stoprhinopoaching.com . One US dollar converts to 14 South African rand! Didn't work with my credit card though--will try again...

The 2010s: Nearly 8000 rhinos poached in Mzansi this decade
Lukhanyo Mtuta | 28 December 2019

NEARLY 8000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa over the past decade. That’s according to the Stop Rhino Poaching NPO, a local website dedicated to raising awareness and support for the war against rhino poaching.

...For the past few years, government and environment organisations alike have been working tirelessly to curb the poaching crisis, while attempting to preserve and grow existing numbers of the endangered animals.

...South Africa was home to 74% of Africa’s remaining rhino population...15 625 white rhino and 2 046 black rhino...

In 2014, the Cabinet adopted the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach to draw together the work of the Department of Environmental Affairs together with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster and Agencies.

Since its adoption, there’s been a decrease in poaching incidents from 1 175 in 2015 to 769 in 2018.

“We will need to wait for the official figures from Environment Minister Barbara Creecy to be released, but all indications are that there will have been a further decrease in poaching for 2019,” said (Stop Rhino Poaching founding director Elise) Serfontein.

...due to a collective approach...Technology has also seen a rise of video technology security solutions to assist in anti-rhino poaching methods, including drone technology...


gen. 4, 2020, 6:22am

'Silent death': Australia's bushfires push countless species to extinction
Millions of animals have been killed in the fires but the impact on flora and fauna is more grim even than individual deaths
Graham Readfearn | Fri 3 Jan 2020

...Ecologists say the months of intense and unprecedented fires will almost certainly push several species to extinction. The fires have pushed back conservation efforts by decades, they say, and, as climate heating grips, some species may never recover.

...Now ecologists fear the bushfires represent the catastrophic beginning of a bleak future for the country’s native flora and fauna.

...Bushfires don’t just burn animals to death but create starvation events. Birds lose their breeding trees and the fruits and invertebrates they feed on. Ground-dwelling mammals that do survive emerge to find an open landscape with nowhere to hide, which one ecologist said became a “hunting arena” for feral cats and foxes.

...He said footage of kangaroos and flocks of birds fleeing fires was no evidence of their survival. With fires extending so widely, they run out of places to escape.

...the critically endangered long-footed potoroo

...The endangered Hastings River mouse

....the vulnerable rufous scrub-bird.

...One estimate of the number of animals affected by the fires has come from the University of Sydney ecologist Prof Chris Dickman...about 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles had been affected – but not necessarily all killed. His estimate did not include bats, which are susceptible to fires and are also critical for moving around seeds and pollination.

...the endangered mountain pygmy possum.

...species such as the yellow-bellied glider and the greater glider, already threatened by climate change, would be severely affected

...the endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby – a species already “right on the edge of extinction”

...Three-quarters of threatened species in Australia are plants, many of which exist in only small pockets, such as the dark-bract banksia and the blue-top sun orchid...


Editat: gen. 5, 2020, 5:56am

Might be worthwhile asking one's Rep in Congress to co-sponsor and pass SAVE Right Whales Act of 2019 (S. 2453/H.R. 1568)... Something as direct and short as, " Please co-sponsor and pass SAVE Right Whales Act of 2019 (S. 2453/H.R. 1568). The Right Whale powered America's earliest economy and culture. It ranks with the Bald Eagle and Grizzly Bear as a pre-eminent icon of America."

The right whale is facing extinction — we must act now
Jamie Rappaport Clark — 12/22/19

...While the days of Yankee whaling are long gone, so are those of healthy right whale populations. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium estimates that no more than 400 survive today. Even more alarmingly, this number includes only 95 females of reproductive age — and maybe as few as half that number has successfully calved...

Right whales no longer die of old age. Vessel collisions and fishing entanglements are shaving decades off their average lifespans — from more than 70 years down to about 30 to 40 years. Painful entanglements are a fact of life for right whales; nearly 85 percent have the scars to prove it. Entanglements kill whales in many ways, from drowning that may take an hour to slow, agonizing deaths over months by infection or starvation.

Even if they escape entanglements, females may be so weakened by stress that they cannot calve for years. Recent calving rates reflect the crisis. In the past three years, only 13 calves have been born, less than one-third of the previous average annual birth rate. The math is simple: if right whale deaths continue to outpace births, the species will be functionally extinct within a few short decades.

...This week, Congress passed the FY2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act, allocating $3 million to right whale research and protection — a 200 percent increase from last year. However, one of the most critical initiatives to promote the species’ recovery is the . The bill would authorize $5 million a year for 10 years to support research and development of right whale conservation measures, including testing and implementing innovative technologies to reduce fatalities. (Senate passed. House must co-sponsor and pass.)

One of those key technologies is ropeless fishing gear...A number of American companies are already working with scientists and engineers to test and develop ropeless systems. The SAVE Right Whales Act will expedite this trend, spark further innovation, and ensure that neither the right whale nor the thousands of jobs in the lobster industry go extinct...


Editat: gen. 5, 2020, 9:08am

>37 margd: Australian fires. contd.

Just spoke to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.
They estimate that at least half the island's koalas have died, many many more horrifically injured.
The island's koalas were Australia's 'insurance population' as they were not affected by chlamydia.* #AustraliaBurns #AustraliaFires

-Lucy Carter (ABC) @lucethoughts | 7:51 PM · Jan 4, 2020

* https://www.livescience.com/62517-how-koalas-get-chlamydia.html

gen. 8, 2020, 4:32pm

A season in hell: bushfires push at least 20 threatened species closer to extinction
January 8, 2020

John Woinarski
Professor (conservation biology), Charles Darwin University

Brendan Wintle
Professor Conservation Ecology, University of Melbourne

Chris Dickman
Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, University of Sydney

David Bowman
Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, University of Tasmania

David Keith
Professor of Botany, UNSW

Sarah Legge
Professor, Australian National University

...Beyond counting the wildlife casualties, responses are needed to help environmental recovery. Priorities may differ among species and regions, but here is a general list:

(Caption of photo: Care and rehabilitation of animals injured in a bushfire is key.)

quickly protect unburnt refuge patches in otherwise burnt landscapes

increase control efforts for pest animals and weeds that would magnify the impacts of these fires on wildlife

strategically establish captive breeding populations of some threatened animals and collect seeds of threatened plants

provide nest boxes and in special circumstances plant vegetation providing critical food resources

care for and rehabilitate injured wildlife and establish monitoring programs to chart a hoped-for recovery.

Some of these actions may be mere pinpricks in the extent of loss. But any useful action will make a small difference, and perhaps help alleviate the community’s profound sense of dismay at the damage wrought by these fires...


gen. 10, 2020, 8:12am


Our Aussie icons are losing their homes & their lives to catastrophic bushfires

URGENT APPEAL: Across the country, over 8.4 million hectares of Australian land has been burned to the ground. That’s more than the Amazon and Californian fires combined. Over 900 million animals have lost their lives, and 480 million animals have been killed by fire in NSW alone, including thousands of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, birds and other iconic wildlife. Your support is urgently needed to care for injured wildlife and restore their homes.

Koalas are heading towards extinction in New South Wales and southeast Queensland as early as 2050. Will you help launch a critical and bold plan to save them, before it's too late?

Whilst we may not have the full picture yet, we already know we will need a national wildlife and nature recovery plan. Help is urgently needed for the national emergency fund to help raise $30 million to deliver:

• Wildlife response - including partnering with wildlife response organisations, communities and scientist nationally for a swift and effective response and recovery at scale.
• Habitat restoration for people and nature - including restoring forests and damaged wildlife habitat, stopping deforestation, including cultivating habitat connectivity, core habitat and Indigenous and rural fire management.
• Future proofing Australia - including driving innovative solutions to help mitigate climate change, driving climate preparedness, species adaptation and long-term wildlife and nature conservation efforts towards securing Australia’s natural resources for people and nature.



WWF’s “Towards Two Billion Trees” plan to aid koala bushfire recovery
01 Dec 2019



Your generosity makes it possible for us to:

Carry out translocations and restore threatened wildlife populations.
Manage Australia’s largest network of cat and fox-free areas.
Remove feral herbivores and weeds.
Deliver ecologically friendly fire management.
Undertake feral cat and fox control ‘beyond the fence’.
Undertake strategic research to secure the survival of Australia’s threatened wildlife.


gen. 10, 2020, 12:23pm

A photo of a rhino footprint somewhere in South Sudan, taken by wildlife rangers a few weeks after reports by local people of an adult rhino with a calf. Not conclusive proof of the existence of northern white rhinos in South Sudan, but very encouraging, and the search continues. If found, their location will not be made public.

gen. 11, 2020, 8:36am

Tortoise with species-saving sex drive returns to Galápagos (BBC)

A giant tortoise whose legendary libido has been credited with saving his species from extinction is to return to the wild on the Galápagos Islands.

Diego was among 14 male tortoises selected to take part in a breeding programme on Santa Cruz Island.

The programme has been a success, producing more than 2,000 giant tortoises since it began in the 1960s.

Diego's sex drive was said to be one of the main reasons.

The 100-year-old tortoise has fathered hundreds of progeny, around 800 by some estimates.

The programme has now finished, and Diego will be returned to his native island of Española in March, the Galápagos National Parks service (PNG) said...

gen. 11, 2020, 10:20am

>42 John5918: Hide, 'lil Rhino, hide!

(Procreate, daddy Tortoise, procreate?). :)

gen. 16, 2020, 2:46pm

"Traditional diversity-rich human landscapes, and the livelihoods and identities that depend on them, face global threats. Mosaics of crops, forest, and pasture have been maintained for millennia around the world. Now, they are under increasing threat from climate change and large-scale land use change to accommodate global demands for commodities. So are the livelihoods and cultural identity of the peoples that live in them..."

"our analysis pinpoints five priority interventions (“levers”) and eight leverage points for intervention in the indirect drivers of global social and economic systems where they can make the biggest difference."


Sandra Díaz et al. 2019. Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change. Science 13 Dec 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6471, eaax3100 DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3100 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6471/eaax3100

The time is now
For decades, scientists have been raising calls for societal changes that will reduce our impacts on nature. Though much conservation has occurred, our natural environment continues to decline under the weight of our consumption. Humanity depends directly on the output of nature; thus, this decline will affect us, just as it does the other species with which we share this world. Díaz et al. review the findings of the largest assessment of the state of nature conducted as of yet. They report that the state of nature, and the state of the equitable distribution of nature's support, is in serious decline. Only immediate transformation of global business-as-usual economies and operations will sustain nature as we know it, and us, into the future.

...Levers and leverage points for transformative change...
(i) developing incentives and widespread capacity for environmental responsibility and eliminating perverse incentives;
(ii) reforming sectoral and segmented decision-making to promote integration across sectors and jurisdictions;
(iii) taking preemptive and precautionary actions in regulatory and management institutions and businesses to avoid, mitigate, and remedy the deterioration of nature, and monitoring their outcomes;
(iv) managing for resilient social and ecological systems in the face of uncertainty and complexity to deliver decisions that are robust in a wide range of scenarios; and
(v) strengthening environmental laws and policies and their implementation, and the rule of law more generally.

The scenarios analysis and expert-input process further found that efforts focused on the following eight leverage points yield disproportionately large effects:
(i) enabling visions of a good quality of life that do not entail ever-increasing material consumption;
(ii) lowering total consumption and waste, including by addressing both population growth and per capita consumption differently in different contexts; (iii) unleashing existing, widely held values of responsibility to effect new social norms for sustainability, especially by extending notions of responsibility to include the impacts associated with consumption;
(iv) addressing inequalities, especially regarding income and gender, that undermine the capacity for sustainability;
(v) ensuring inclusive decision-making and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of and adherence to human rights in conservation decisions;
(vi) accounting for nature’s deterioration from both local economic activities and telecouplings..., including, for example, international trade;
(vii) ensuring environmentally friendly technological and social innovation, taking into account potential rebound effects and investment regimes; and (viii) promoting education, knowledge generation, and the maintenance of different knowledge systems, including in the sciences and indigenous and local knowledge, especially regarding nature, conservation, and nature’s sustainable use.
Although change at some of these levers and leverage points may encounter resistance individually, action at other levers and leverage points can enable such changes.

The review also revealed that innovative governance approaches that are integrative, inclusive, informed, and adaptive...are needed to effectively apply these levers to leverage points. Integrative approaches focus on the relationships between sectors and policies and ensure policy coherence and effectiveness, and inclusive approaches, including rights-based ones, reflect a plurality of values and thus promote equity. Informed governance entails new strategies for knowledge production and coproduction that are inclusive of diverse values and knowledge systems. Last, adaptive approaches—including learning, monitoring and feedback loops—help coping with inevitable uncertainties and complexities.

gen. 17, 2020, 3:43am

Huge ‘hot blob’ in Pacific Ocean killed nearly a million seabirds
Kenya Evelyn | 16 Jan 2020

...A study* released by the University of Washington found the birds, called common murres, probably died of starvation between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016.

...The blob stems from a years-long severe marine heatwave, believed to be caused by an anticyclone weather system that first appeared in 2013. The weather phenomenon known as El Niño accelerated the warming temperatures beginning in 2015 and, by 2016, the rising heat resulted in water temperatures nearly 11F (6C) above average.

Anticyclones form when a mass of air cools, contracts and becomes more dense, increasing the weight of the atmosphere and the surface air pressure.

Heat maps at the time showed a huge red blob growing, spanning more than 380,000 sq miles (1m sq km). That’s nearly 1.5 times the size of Texas or four times the size of New Zealand.

...mostly likely starved to death. The seabird must eat half its body weight to survive, but food grew scarce amid intense competition from other creatures. Warming ocean waters gave fish such as salmon and halibut a metabolism boost, causing a fight for survival over the limited supply of smaller fish.

...other effects...a vast bloom of harmful algae along the US west coast that cost fisheries millions of dollars in revenue. Other animals also died off, including sea lions, tufted puffins and baleen whales.

... a limited food supply resulted in...the 2015 and 2016 breeding seasons, more than 15 colonies did not produce a single chick.

...Researchers cannot determine how long it will take for the population to rebound – or if it ever will.

...Meanwhile, another huge heat blob has formed off the Washington coast and up into the Gulf of Alaska, and is growing.



* John F. Piatt et al. (2020) Extreme mortality and reproductive failure of common murres resulting from the northeast Pacific marine heatwave of 2014-2016. PLOS. Published: January 15, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226087 . https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0226087#sec012

About 62,000 dead or dying common murres (Uria aalge), the trophically dominant fish-eating seabird of the North Pacific, washed ashore between summer 2015 and spring 2016 on beaches from California to Alaska. Most birds were severely emaciated and, so far, no evidence for anything other than starvation was found to explain this mass mortality. Three-quarters of murres were found in the Gulf of Alaska and the remainder along the West Coast. Studies show that only a fraction of birds that die at sea typically wash ashore, and we estimate that total mortality approached 1 million birds. About two-thirds of murres killed were adults, a substantial blow to breeding populations. Additionally, 22 complete reproductive failures were observed at multiple colonies region-wide during (2015) and after (2016–2017) the mass mortality event. Die-offs and breeding failures occur sporadically in murres, but the magnitude, duration and spatial extent of this die-off, associated with multi-colony and multi-year reproductive failures, is unprecedented and astonishing. These events co-occurred with the most powerful marine heatwave on record that persisted through 2014–2016 and created an enormous volume of ocean water (the “Blob”) from California to Alaska with temperatures that exceeded average by 2–3 standard deviations. Other studies indicate that this prolonged heatwave reduced phytoplankton biomass and restructured zooplankton communities in favor of lower-calorie species, while it simultaneously increased metabolically driven food demands of ectothermic forage fish. In response, forage fish quality and quantity diminished. Similarly, large ectothermic groundfish were thought to have increased their demand for forage fish, resulting in greater top-predator demands for diminished forage fish resources. We hypothesize that these bottom-up and top-down forces created an “ectothermic vise” on forage species leading to their system-wide scarcity and resulting in mass mortality of murres and many other fish, bird and mammal species in the region during 2014–2017.

gen. 21, 2020, 10:44am

>46 margd: That's appallingly gruesome.

gen. 25, 2020, 6:14am

"Of the estimated 0.17 Gt of biomass of terrestrial vertebrates on Earth today, most of this is represented by livestock (59%) and living human beings (36%) — only about 5% of this total biomass is taken up by wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians." (See figure at website.)

The state of global biodiversity — it’s worse than you probably think
CJA Bradshaw (Conservation Bytes) | Jan 2020?

The biomass of terrestrial vegetation worldwide has halved over human history, with a corresponding loss of more than 20% of this realm’s original biodiversity.

More than 70% of the Earth’s land surface has been altered by humans.

There have been over 700 vertebrate, and nearly 600 plant, extinctions recorded since the 16th Century, and many more species have likely gone extinct unnoticed.

Massive population declines that are the precursors to extinction have also occurred worldwide; since only 1970, more than 60% of all terrestrial vertebrate individuals have disappeared, such that there are now at least one million species threatened with extinction out of an estimated 7.3– 10.0 million eukaryotic species on the planet.

The total global biomass of wild animals today is

feb. 2, 2020, 11:02pm

UK wildlife at risk due to regulatory gaps created by Brexit, says report (Guardian)

Hedgehogs, dragonflies and bees are among wildlife at risk due to big gaps in environmental protections following the UK’s departure from the EU, according to a new report.

Commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and WWF, the study claims the UK faces losing regulations preventing hedgerows being cut during the nesting season and vital buffer strips from being ploughed or sprayed with pesticides.

Other regulations currently based in EU law, which safeguard ponds and protect carbon-locking bare soils from draining or blowing away, could also be lost...

feb. 3, 2020, 4:08pm

Rewilding :)

Large African herbivores have helped to repair their environment
Andrew Mitchinson | 16 January 2020

The reintroduction of ruminant herbivores to a national park in Mozambique has controlled the encroachment of a notoriously invasive plant species.

he population of large animals in the Gorongosa National Park collapsed during the Mozambican civil war (1977–92), and led to encroachment of the invasive shrub Mimosa pigra. Writing in Nature Ecology & Evolution, Guyton et al.1 report that Gorongosa’s repopulation with large herbivores has reduced the abundance of mimosa to pre-war levels.

By analysing faecal samples from Gorongosa’s five main ruminant herbivores, including waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus...), the authors found that mimosa was the main component of the diets of these species in 2013–18. They also found that the shrub’s density and biomass were greater in fenced enclosures that excluded herbivores than in unfenced areas.

The authors therefore conclude that the burgeoning populations of native large herbivores are consuming mimosa, and have thereby conferred resistance to its invasion in just ten years. The findings suggest that rewilding is a potentially useful strategy for reversing a common form of environmental degradation in Africa’s protected areas.

Nature 577, 476 (2020)
doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00093-6


feb. 6, 2020, 12:45pm

Second Mexico monarch butterfly activist found dead
3 February 2020

A second activist campaigning for the conservation of monarch butterflies and the woods in which they hibernate has been found dead in Mexico.

Raúl Hernández worked as a tour guide at a butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán state.

His body, which bore signs of beatings and a head injury, was found two days after the funeral of Homero Gómez.

Mr Gómez managed a monarch butterfly sanctuary in the same state and had received threats, his family said...Mr Gómez's body was found in a well on 29 January. ( He had suffered a blow to the head before drowning in the well. ) He was a tireless campaigner for the conservation of the monarch butterfly and the pine and fir forests where it hibernates. The sanctuary he managed opened in November as part of a strategy to stop illegal logging in the area, which is a key habitat for the species...


Editat: feb. 7, 2020, 6:00am

Bumblebee populations recently declined 46% in North America and by 17% across Europe, apparently due to climate change (heat waves).
We can help bumble bees by planting native flowers, minimizing pesticide use, leaving cover if possible such as leaves and logs.
Also, citizen scientists help can establish range of various species in N America by submitting photos of bumble bees to the U Ottawa research team
( https://www.bumblebeewatch.org/ ).

Climate Change: It’s a Buzzkill for Bumblebees, Study Finds
Kendra Pierre-Louis and Nadja Popovich | Feb. 6, 2020

Hot temperatures linked to climate change, especially extremes like heat waves, are contributing to the decline of these fuzzy and portly creatures, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.*

Researchers found that bumblebee populations had recently declined by 46 percent in North America and by 17 percent across Europe when compared to a base period of 1901 to 1974. The biggest declines were in areas where temperatures spiked well beyond the historical range, which raises concerns that climate change could increase the risk of extinction for bees, which are already threatened by pesticide use and habitat loss.

“The scale of this decline is really worrying,” said Peter Soroye, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Ottawa and lead author of the study. “This group of organisms is such a critical pollinator in wild landscapes and agricultural regions.”...


* Peter Soroye, Tim Newbold, and Jeremy Kerr. 2020. Climate change contributes to widespread declines among bumble bees across continents. Science 07 Feb 2020: Vol. 367, Issue 6478, pp. 685-688. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8591 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6478/685
Increasing temperatures and declines

One aspect of climate change is an increasing number of days with extreme heat. Soroye et al. analyzed a large dataset of bumble bee occurrences across North America and Europe and found that an increasing frequency of unusually hot days is increasing local extinction rates, reducing colonization and site occupancy, and decreasing species richness within a region, independent of land-use change or condition (see the Perspective by Bridle and van Rensburg). As average temperatures continue to rise, bumble bees may be faced with an untenable increase in frequency of extreme temperatures.

Climate change could increase species’ extinction risk as temperatures and precipitation begin to exceed species’ historically observed tolerances. Using long-term data for 66 bumble bee species across North America and Europe, we tested whether this mechanism altered likelihoods of bumble bee species’ extinction or colonization. Increasing frequency of hotter temperatures predicts species’ local extinction risk, chances of colonizing a new area, and changing species richness. Effects are independent of changing land uses. The method developed in this study permits spatially explicit predictions of climate change–related population extinction-colonization dynamics within species that explains observed patterns of geographical range loss and expansion across continents. Increasing frequencies of temperatures that exceed historically observed tolerances help explain widespread bumble bee species decline. This mechanism may also contribute to biodiversity loss more generally.

feb. 9, 2020, 11:11pm

The bitter end: Last woolly mammoths plagued by genetic defects (Reuters)

A cautionary tale about what happens when a species is reduced to small isolated populations, as is happening to so many animals today. "It should be a warning about the consequences of climate change."

feb. 11, 2020, 7:03am

The desolation of extinction. Do they know?
Around 40 Amur leopards survive in the wild in the far east of Russia.
Beautiful, haunting photo by Valery Maleev @siberian_times
Image ( https://twitter.com/Jamie_Woodward_/status/1227136873082097665/photo/1 )

- The Ice Age ❄️@Jamie_Woodward_2:46 AM · Feb 11, 2020

Editat: feb. 13, 2020, 10:24am

New research suggesting conservation action prevented 21–32 bird & 7–16 mammal extinctions since 1993.
Otherwise extinction rates would have been 2.9–4.2 times greater.
These actions involved controlling invasive species, which was most crucial for birds.
Image ( outcomes chart birds & mammals v. interventions https://twitter.com/EcoInvasions/status/1227692558672855041/photo/1 )

- Anthony Ricciardi @EcoInvasions | 3:34 PM · Feb 12, 2020

Friederike C Bolam et al. Feb 12, 2020. How many bird and mammal extinctions has recent conservation action prevented? BioRxIV ( This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review ) doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.11.943902 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.11.943902v1.full.pdf


Aichi Target 12 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims to 'prevent extinctions of known threatened species'. To measure its success, we used a Delphi expert elicitation method to estimate the number of bird and mammal species whose extinctions were prevented by conservation action in 1993 - 2020 (the lifetime of the CBD) and 2010 - 2020 (the timing of Aichi Target 12). We found that conservation prevented 21-32 bird and 7-16 mammal extinctions since 1993, and 9-18 bird and 2-7 mammal extinctions since 2010. Many remain highly threatened, and may still become extinct in the near future. Nonetheless, given that ten bird and five mammal species did go extinct (or are strongly suspected to) since 1993, extinction rates would have been 2.9-4.2 times greater without conservation action. While policy commitments have fostered significant conservation achievements, future biodiversity action needs to be scaled up to avert additional extinctions.

feb. 15, 2020, 12:35pm

Audubon Campaigns Webinar Series: How to Approach and Talk to an Elected Official (March 10, 2020)

...Talking to an elected official can be intimidating. The National Audubon Society's experienced Campaigns Team will demystify this important part of a campaign. Learn how to approach an elected official, who to bring along, what you should prepare, and how you should follow up. Campaigns are won when elected officials make the changes we demand.

All are welcome! Whether you’re just interested in getting more involved, or are already a chapter member, Audubon Ambassador, campus activist, volunteer, or staff member, you are part of a nationwide conservation movement. All you need to join is the desire to get involved and change the world for good...



Examples of Audubon's current campaigns in US:
Audubon Advocates Increase in Avian Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2021
New Attack on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Enhancing Sustainability and Resilience of Our Infrastructure

feb. 26, 2020, 10:23am

"Jinbu", traditonal Chinese beliefs about the powers of certain foods that create demand for wildlife, e.g., 'Bats, which are thought to be the original source of both the current coronavirus and the SARS virus, are said to be good for restoring eyesight — especially the animals’ granular feces, called “sands of nocturnal shine” (夜明砂)."

Why Did the Coronavirus Outbreak Start in China?
Yi-Zheng Lian | Feb. 20, 2020

...traditional Chinese beliefs about the powers of certain foods, which have encouraged some hazardous habits. There is, in particular, the aspect of Chinese eating culture known as “jinbu,” (進補) meaning, roughly, to fill the void. Some of its practices are folklorish or esoteric, but even among Chinese people who don’t follow them, the concept is pervasive.

...For men, it is most important to fill the energy void, which is related to virility and sexual prowess; for women, the stress is on replacing blood, which improves beauty and fertility. Rare plants and animals from the wild are thought to bring the best replenishment, especially when eaten fresh or raw. Winter is said to be the season when the body needs more “jinbu” foods.

...what is notable about China is that these beliefs about the special powers of some foods have been accepted, are now a given, even among people who do not put them into practice. They have become firmly embedded in the Chinese collective consciousness...


març 4, 2020, 2:33am

Pesticides impair baby (bumble) bee brain development
Imperial College London | March 3, 2020

...Lead researcher Dr. Richard Gill, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Bee colonies act as superorganisms, so when any toxins enter the colony, these have the potential to cause problems with the development of the baby bees within it. Worryingly in this case, when young bees are fed on pesticide-contaminated food, this caused parts of the brain to grow less, leading to older adult bees possessing smaller and functionally impaired brains; an effect that appeared to be permanent and irreversible. These findings reveal how colonies can be impacted by pesticides weeks after exposure, as their young grow into adults that may not be able to forage for food properly. Our work highlights the need for guidelines on pesticide usage to consider this route of exposure."

...(bumblebees)exposed to (neonicotinoids as babies)...had a smaller volume of an important part of the insect brain, known as the mushroom body.

The mushroom body is known to be involved in learning ability in insects, and poor performance on the learning task correlated with smaller mushroom body volume. This supports the suggestion that smaller mushroom body volume associated with pesticide exposure is the cause of the bees' poor performance.
Bees that were exposed to pesticides during larval development but not as adults showed similar learning impairment and mushroom body volume reduction when tested at both three and 12 days as an adult. This suggests that at least within the unexposed nine days they were adults, the effects of larval exposure could not be overcome, pointing to a potentially permanent effect...


DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2442 Insecticide exposure during brood or early-adult development reduces brain growth and impairs adult learning in bumblebees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rspb.2019.2442

Editat: març 6, 2020, 11:16pm

Good news...

Return of the burbot: 'great lost fish' to be reintroduced to UK (Guardian)

Forget dreams of wolves, bears or lynx – the next animal to be restored to the British countryside could be a river bottom-dwelling fish that resembles a giant tadpole.

The burbot, much-maligned for its unprepossessing appearance with a fleshy appendage dangling from its chin, was last sighted in British rivers in 1969.

A reward for spotting it remains unclaimed and now a costed reintroduction plan is being drawn up for Natural England, the government’s conservation watchdog.

“The chance to bring back burbot to our rivers is hugely exciting,” said Jonah Tosney, operations director of the Norfolk Rivers Trust, which is masterminding the reintroduction plan. “Unlike beavers, lynx and sea eagles, they haven’t been gone for long; only about 50 years. Anglers still remember catching them. We’re hopeful that recent work to improve water quality and to restore habitat has brought our rivers back to a good enough state to support England’s great lost fish”...

And bad news...

Hooded vultures 'on brink of extinction' in Africa after mass poisoning (Guardian)

Nearly 1,000 hooded vultures have died in a mass poisoning in Guinea-Bissau, pushing the endangered species towards the brink of extinction in Africa, according to conservationists... The likeliest cause of death is accidental poisoning after strychnine – which is banned in Europe – was used to control the feral dog population around rubbish dumps where vultures, which scavenge on dead animals, also feed...

Vulture populations have plummeted in Africa in recent years. The birds are often the accidental victims when poisoned baits are used to kill lions, hyenas and other wildlife. Vultures are also killed in “sentinel poisoning” incidents in which poachers deliberately target the birds because their rapid arrival above animal carcasses can help police and wildlife rangers identify elephant and rhino poaching... In Africa, mass poisoning events largely linked to wildlife crimes are causing the loss of thousands of vultures each year, with other single incidents killing 600 vultures and 400 vultures in southern and eastern parts of the continent...

març 7, 2020, 2:31am

Cool about the burbot. They DO look like giant tadpoles with soft (scaleless?) skin, greenish sometimes with white underbellies, if I recall correctly. Cool water species so surprised UK's live in rivers. I've only seen them in Great Lakes and nearby inland lakes. They are members of the cod family, dyk?

Sad about the vultures. DYK that while Old World vultures are raptors, New World species are more closely related to storks (= convergent evolution?). Apparently being more stork-like, N American species are less likely to kill a near-dead animal, although they do check out my dog when she lays in the grass. (Our Jack Russell is white with ginger spots--must look like deer belly to vultures.) Their heads are featherless to keep carrion-free, and they pee onto their legs to wash them. We have turkey vultures around here: one of the grossest bits of maternal behavior I've ever observed was a mom feeding her babies on crest of a roof--with regurgitated (road kill?). They soar beautifully and take forever it seems to get airborne. Fascinating birds.

Editat: març 11, 2020, 12:14am

Good news and bad news from the Guardian:

‘I swapped my gun for binoculars’: India’s hunters turn to conservation

Villagers are downing their weapons and protecting swathes of ancient forest and its wildlife in Nagaland state

Kenya's rare white female giraffe 'killed by poachers'

Death of giraffe and her calf leave just one male specimen alive

març 20, 2020, 12:47am

Win for conservation as African black rhino numbers rise (Guardian)

Numbers of African black rhinos in the wild have risen by several hundred, a rare boost in the conservation of a species driven to near extinction by poaching.

Black rhinos are still in grave danger but the small increase – an annual rate of 2.5% over six years, has swollen the population from 4,845 in 2012 to an estimated 5,630 in 2018, giving hope that efforts put into saving the species are paying off.

The painstaking attempts to save the black rhino have included moving some individuals from established groups to new locations, increasing the species’ range and ensuring viable breeding populations, as well as protecting them through stronger law enforcement efforts. Numbers of all of the three subspecies of black rhino are now improving...

Editat: març 30, 2020, 6:05am

Good news for now, but this endangered wolf would have its habitat curtailed by proposed wall on Mexican border.

Mexican Wolf Population Goes Up in U.S. With at Least 163 Now in Arizona and New Mexico
Rosie McCall | 3/19/20

Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) saw a boost in 2019, with numbers increasing 24 percent. This brings the total up to 163 wild animals or more, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reported.

Wildlife officials identified 76 wolves in Arizona and 87 in New Mexico, up from the 131 wolves counted at the end of 2018. According to the FWS, there are at least 42 packs of two or more individuals, and a further 10 lone wolves. Of the 28 packs that have been monitored since last spring, a minimum of 21 contained pups.

Meanwhile, mortality rates appear to be down. Fourteen deaths were recorded last year, a 33 percent drop from the 21 recorded in 2018...


març 24, 2020, 2:02pm

A manatee is worth more alive’: the mission to save Africa’s sea mammals (Guardian)

Once branded ‘rogue animals’, the elusive creatures were on the brink of extinction, but hope is rising for their survival...

març 30, 2020, 12:09am

UK wildlife enjoys humans' lockdown but concerns raised over conservation (Guardian)

Animals are getting some peace and people are reconnecting with nature, but wildlife crimes may be going unnoticed...

març 31, 2020, 7:33am

Free download: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-32394-3

"Biological Invasions in South Africa"
Editors: Brian W. van Wilgen, John Measey, David M. Richardson, John R. Wilson, Tsungai A. Zengey
Part of the Invading Nature - Springer Series in Invasion Ecology book series (INNA, volume 14)

This open access volume presents a comprehensive account of all aspects of biological invasions in South Africa, where research has been conducted over more than three decades, and where bold initiatives have been implemented in attempts to control invasions and to reduce their ecological, economic and social effects. It covers a broad range of themes, including history, policy development and implementation, the status of invasions of animals and plants in terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments, the development of a robust ecological theory around biological invasions, the effectiveness of management interventions, and scenarios for the future. The South African situation stands out because of the remarkable diversity of the country, and the wide range of problems encountered in its varied ecosystems, which has resulted in a disproportionate investment into both research and management. The South African experience holds many lessons for other parts of the world, and this book should be of immense value to researchers, students, managers, and policy-makers who deal with biological invasions and ecosystem management and conservation in most other regions.

març 31, 2020, 4:32pm

Virus which causes COVID-19 threatens great ape conservation
25 Mar 2020

The possibility of infection is a conservation risk. We do not yet know whether great apes are susceptible to the SARS CoV-2 virus, but we do know that wild chimpanzees were infected with human coronavirus OC43 in Côte d’Ivoire, and that great apes can be infected with many other human respiratory pathogens.

Among humans, the SARS CoV-2 virus is highly infectious and may survive in the environment for a few days. This being the case, we must assume that great apes are susceptible and prevent them from being infected.

....it could take months—if not years—to develop (vaccine).

In the meantime, the International Union for Nature’s Primate Specialist Group/Section on Great Apes and the Wildlife Health Specialist Group have published a joint statement, recommending that “great ape visitations by humans are reduced to the minimum needed to ensure the safety and health monitoring for the great apes”, and are emphatic that strict adherence to best practices for great ape tourism and disease prevention is critical.

Beyond this, the groups recommend that suspension of great ape tourism and reduction of field research should be considered and call for mechanisms “to offset loss of profit and employment from tourism” and to support public health in local communities. To this end, as of 23 March 2020, the majority of gorilla tourism sites have been closed.


abr. 4, 2020, 12:28am

Endangered wild dogs snapped in South Sudan (Fauna Flora)

One of the continent’s rarest and most elusive carnivores has been captured on camera in South Sudan.

African wild dogs – also known as painted hunting dogs, due to their exquisite markings – are categorised as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The greatest single threat to their survival is habitat fragmentation, which exposes them to contact with people and domestic animals, resulting in human-wildlife conflict and transmission of deadly diseases such as canine distemper. These ruthlessly efficient pack hunters require huge territories, so their remaining strongholds mainly comprise some of Africa’s largest and relatively undisturbed tracts of habitat.

Southern National Park is one such area, but until now its hidden depths have remained largely unexplored...

abr. 4, 2020, 8:03am

Conservation is going to the dogs
Detection canines are playing a vital role in saving rare plants and animals
Alison Pearce Stevens | April 2, 2020 at 6:45 am

...Working Dogs for Conservation, or WD4C. The Montana-based organization trains dogs to help with conservation projects. These programs include searching for invasive species like the zebra mussels and tracking rare and endangered animals. Some WD4C dogs live in Africa, where they help park rangers fight wildlife poaching, the illegal killing of wild animals.

These dogs aren’t ordinary pets. Some started out as service or military dogs and didn’t do well in those lines of work. Most detection dogs did start off as pets, (Kayla) Fratt says. But they’re “ball-crazy” and full of energy. And that can be too much for some owners to handle.

...These dogs learn that when they smell a certain scent, they get to play with their ball. Each dog is trained to detect specific odors. It might be those zebra mussels. Or it could be the poop from a certain species of animal — or the animal itself. It might even be plants or plant parts.

Chinese bushclover...droppings from diseased deer...Or one type of bear from another. Some dogs can even identify scat from one individual animal

...scat from orcas (killer whales). Sitting at the bow of a boat, they sniff the air blown toward them from a pod of orcas. When a whale poops, the dog leans in that direction, telling the boat driver where to go. Researchers can then scoop the goopy poop into a plastic container and take it back to the lab for study...This work has led researchers to conclude that orcas that live off the coast of Washington “are on their way out”...hunger...pollution

tracking wolves and their prey....affecting other predators in the area...coyotes, cougars, bobcats and black bears.

“We know where we found the scat,” (Samuel Wasser first put dogs to use in his research in 1997. Wasser is a conservation biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle) says. And from the poop, “we get DNA, telling us who pooped and what they were eating.” This lets the team see how the various carnivores are moving around. And that’s leading to insights about how competition with wolves is changing the diet of those other carnivores.

...A dog’s height, coat and paws are important things to consider when choosing a dog for a project, (Washington University in St. Louis, Mo, Karen DeMatteo) says. Searches in tall vegetation need tall dogs. Short dogs have to work too hard just to break through the brush, she says. They’ll wear out too quickly. If the area is thorny, then dogs with longer fur will be better protected. But if there are lots of ticks or burrs, that long fur will become a problem and shorter-haired dogs should be used instead. Even the shape of the foot matters, she notes. Narrow feet will sink in mud or sand. Wide feet that splay out to support the dog’s weight are better in those situations.

...Exposing the dogs to a variety of samples actually helps them narrow down what they are looking for. They’re able to ignore odors that might have come from how the samples were collected or stored. And if there are other species that eat the same foods, it’s important to include those when training the dog, DeMatteo says. Otherwise, “the dog may locate samples that you are not looking for,” she says. For example, it may find both coyote and wolf scat when you only want wolves.

Just as important as the dog and training is the handler....both need special training before they can work in the field...trust. “Our dogs never run away,” Wasser says. “Because we’re holding their most treasured reward — their ball — and they know it.”

...rewarding and exciting...hard work and attention to detail...protect threatened and endangered animals...creates a close, lasting (dog-owner) partnership that really makes a difference.

Dogs aren’t always a good thing for conservation, especially when they run free. Some dogs escape captivity and become feral, or wild. Others belong to people who let them run loose. In either case, dogs can — and do — endanger local wildlife...hunt and kill...spread diseases...compete with local predators...hunt livestock...When this happens in areas with wolves or other wild predators, those predators are usually blamed and sometimes killed.


abr. 9, 2020, 12:30am

Wildlife destruction 'not a slippery slope but a series of cliff edges' (Guardian)

New study finds ocean ecosystems likely to collapse in 2020s and land species in 2040s unless global warming stemmed...

abr. 14, 2020, 12:45am

abr. 14, 2020, 1:47am

>72 John5918: What amazing creatures rhinos are!

(No less amazing the lengths we humans will go to snatch a species back from the precipice--so much easier to not drive them there in the first place...)

abr. 16, 2020, 12:59am

Coronavirus: Fears of spike in poaching as pandemic poverty strikes (BBC)

Conservation groups say nature must be a cornerstone of economic recovery plans for the sake of people, health and economies.

The call comes amid fears of a "spike in poaching" as rural communities lose vital income.

In Cambodia, 1% of the entire population of one critically endangered bird was wiped out in a single event.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said three of only a few hundred remaining giant ibis were poisoned.

And more than 100 painted stork chicks were killed at Cambodia's Prek Toal Ramsar Site, the largest water bird colony in Southeast Asia.

Conservationists are noticing increases in hunting of protected species since the spread of coronavirus began to disrupt traditional economic and social systems in rural areas, said the WCS...

abr. 16, 2020, 1:01am

>73 margd: What amazing creatures rhinos are!

About eighteen months ago I was at the David Sheldrick elephant and rhino orphanage in Nairobi and they had a baby rhino there. A very lovable little creature.

abr. 19, 2020, 12:26am

Covid-19 – a blessing for pangolins? (Guardian)

Covid-19 is a human disaster. However, for one group of animals, there may be a silver lining. Pangolins are one of the most heavily trafficked animals in the world, and as a result they are endangered. But in the past few weeks they have been linked to the initial outbreak of the Covid-19 disease in China. The evidence is inconclusive, but it has already prompted the Chinese government to take action. If more actions against the wildlife trade follow, the incident could prove to be a turning point for pangolin conservation...

Editat: abr. 26, 2020, 8:01am

Land-dwelling insects are definitely declining the authors say, while bugs living in freshwater are increasing..."We believe that because we see these increases in fresh water insects, that are related to legislation being put in place, it makes us hopeful that if we put in place the right types of legislation for land insects we can also make them recover...The nice thing about insects is that most have incredibly large numbers of offspring, so if you change the habitat in the right way we will see them recover really fast." ( Dr Roel Van Klink, from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research )

margd: Fresh water insects are doing okay for now, but with CO2 acidification, those in non-limestone (un-buffered) basins will face their own apocalypse within decades, I fear... Even now, because of climate change nesting swallows (insectivores) are often out of sync with emergence of aquatic insects, and nesting success suffers.

Nature crisis: 'Insect apocalypse' more complicated than thought
Matt McGrath | 23 April 2020

The global health of insect populations is far more complicated than previously thought, new data suggests.

Previous research indicated an alarming decline in numbers in all parts of world, with losses of up to 25% per decade.

This new study, the largest carried out to date, says the picture is more complex and varied.

Land-dwelling insects are definitely declining the authors say, while bugs living in freshwater are increasing.

...This new study, the largest on insect change to date, aims to give a more complete understanding of what's really happening to bugs worldwide.

Drawing on data from 166 long-term surveys across 1,676 sites, it paints a highly nuanced and variable picture of the state of insect health.

The compilation indicates that insects like butterflies, ants and grasshoppers are going down by 0.92% per year, which amounts to 9% per decade, lower than many published rates.

This is not as bad as previous reports but the authors stress that it is still substantial.

"That is extremely serious, over 30 years it means a quarter less insects," said lead author Dr Roel Van Klink, from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. "And because it's a mean, there are places where it is much worse than that."

...The losses were strongest in the US West and Midwest and in Europe, especially in Germany.

...However while many land-based species are declining, the new study shows that insects that live in fresh water, like midges and mayflies, are growing by 1.08% per year. This positive trend was strong in northern Europe, in the western US and since the 1990s in Russia. The researchers believe this is because of legislation that has cleaned up polluted rivers and lakes.

...While the findings are complicated the authors believe they offer hope for the future.

"We believe that because we see these increases in fresh water insects, that are related to legislation being put in place, it makes us hopeful that if we put in place the right types of legislation for land insects we can also make them recover," said Dr Van Klink.

"The nice thing about insects is that most have incredibly large numbers of offspring, so if you change the habitat in the right way we will see them recover really fast."...



Roel van Klink et al. Meta-analysis reveals declines in terrestrial but increases in freshwater insect abundances.
Science 24 Apr 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6489, pp. 417-420. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9931 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6489/417

Local drivers of decline matter
Recent studies have reported alarming declines in insect populations, but questions persist about the breadth and pattern of such declines. van Klink et al. compiled data from 166 long-term surveys across 1676 globally distributed sites and confirmed declines in terrestrial insects, albeit at lower rates than some other studies have reported (see the Perspective by Dornelas and Daskalova (below)). However, they found that freshwater insect populations have increased overall, perhaps owing to clean water efforts and climate change. Patterns of variation suggest that local-scale drivers are likely responsible for many changes in population trends, providing hope for directed conservation actions.

Recent case studies showing substantial declines of insect abundances have raised alarm, but how widespread such patterns are remains unclear. We compiled data from 166 long-term surveys of insect assemblages across 1676 sites to investigate trends in insect abundances over time. Overall, we found considerable variation in trends even among adjacent sites but an average decline of terrestrial insect abundance by ~9% per decade and an increase of freshwater insect abundance by ~11% per decade. Both patterns were largely driven by strong trends in North America and some European regions. We found some associations with potential drivers (e.g., land-use drivers), and trends in protected areas tended to be weaker. Our findings provide a more nuanced view of spatiotemporal patterns of insect abundance trends than previously suggested.


Maria Dornelas and Gergana N. Daskalova. 2020.Nuanced changes in insect abundance. Science 24 Apr 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6489, pp. 368-369
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6861 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6489/368

Drastic declines in insect biomass, abundance, and diversity reported in the literature have raised concerns among scientists and the public. If extrapolated across Earth, biomass losses of ∼25% per decade project a potential catastrophe developing unnoticed under our noses. The phrase “insect Armageddon” has captured the collective attention and shined a spotlight on one of the most numerous and diverse groups of organisms on the planet. Yet, insects are critically understudied. For example, the BioTIME database—a compilation of biodiversity time series—contains records for 22% of known bird species but only 3% of arthropods (the phylum that includes insects and spiders). On page 417 of this issue, van Klink et al. conduct a thorough global assessment of insect abundance and biomass trends and paint a more nuanced picture than that predicted by extrapolations ).

maig 18, 2020, 6:14am

A biologist friend worked on L Erie in the 1970s to protect migrating Trumpeter Swans . He passed a few years ago, so good to read about swan turnaround.
(Range maps at https://www.trumpeterswansociety.org/swan-information/swan-library/swan-library/... .)

Tales of recovery: Trumpeter swan
Dan Kraus | April 15, 2020

Their call is unforgettable. When you hear it for the first time, “trumpeter” makes perfect sense. Even when silent, a trumpeter swan remains impressive. With a wingspan that can stretch to three metres, this white swan is the largest species of waterfowl in the world.

...Status in Canada:

1990: near extinction

1978: rare

1996: not at risk

What worked: Quick action to protect remnant populations, ambitious reintroductions, diverse partnerships and dedicated conservationists....


Editat: maig 18, 2020, 3:25pm

Australia might welcome wascally wabbit virus, but in Europe and North America, at least, it may have ramifications for threatened species:

A highly contagious and fatal virus is spreading in several states. Its victims are rabbits.
Karin Brulliard | May 18, 2020

...wildlife officials hoped North America’s native wild rabbits, which are different from European species, might be immune.

So far, the virus has killed four native species, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, to which the USDA reports various animal diseases: desert and mountain cottontails and black-tailed and antelope jack rabbits. Those are all abundant, but wildlife officials say they are worried about more fragile members of the rabbit family, as well as broader ecosystem effects. In Europe, researchers have linked lynx declines in some areas to rabbit die-offs.

In Texas, there is concern for the rare Davis Mountain cottontail but also the possibility lower rabbit numbers could force animals that eat them — among them, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions — to target other prey, such as the dwindling population of pronghorn antelope. “It could have an effect on those predator numbers as well,” said Bob Dittmar, a wildlife veterinarian at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

In California, a handful of native rabbit species, including the federally endangered riparian brush rabbit, are at risk. It is possible the virus also could infect the pika, a mountain-dwelling mammal that belongs to rabbits’ lagomorph family and is threatened by climate change, Clifford said.

“This has the potential to depress those populations, and if we have depressed prey, then potentially we have predators who often heavily rely on rabbits that may have trouble finding some food,” said Clifford, referring to species including golden eagles and foxes.

Scientists and conservationists already are discussing moving endangered riparian brush rabbits into captivity to prevent their exposure to the virus, Clifford said.

Wildlife officials said the focus is on mitigating the spread in domestic populations, via quarantines and sanitation, and instructing the public to stay away from dead rabbits and report them to authorities. The specter of the virus has already halted some adoptions of domestic rabbits — often the most common animal at shelters after dogs and cats — and rescues by wildlife rehabilitation groups.

...the American Rabbit Breeders Association, whose members show their animals at more than 4,000 events a year...The association has asked the USDA to ease restrictions on vaccine imports and pleaded with U.S. companies to release a vaccine...



USDA Emerging Risk Notice
October 2019
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus, Serotype 2 (3 p)

maig 19, 2020, 7:05am

An extinct bird just ‘evolved itself’ back into existence (Esquire)

The Aldabra white-throated rail bird was declared extinct, a victim of rising sea levels almost 100,000 years ago. However, the flightless brown bird has recently been spotted...

the re-incarnated Aldabra bird is a product of ‘iterative evolution’. That’s when old genes thought to have died out re-emerge at a different point in time. That means that while a bird’s ancestors might have disappeared, that DNA still remains – and provided the environment is right, there’s nothing to stop those ancient genes from replicating in modern times...

But don’t get your hopes up that this means dinosaurs and wooly mammoths will be popping up next. This scientific phenomenon only occurs within species that are nearly identical to their ancestors...

maig 19, 2020, 7:10am

>80 John5918: Still doesn't solve that age old question - why did the chicken cross the road?

maig 19, 2020, 7:40am

>81 2wonderY:

To get to the ancient genes?

maig 24, 2020, 12:21am

Rare whistling dogs spotted in Gujarat after 50 years (Times of India)

After nearly five decades, the rare Asiatic wild dog or dhole have been sighed in the wild in Gujarat... also known as the whistling dog due to its peculiar contact call...

maig 25, 2020, 3:37pm

Scientists find genes to save ash trees from deadly beetle
Queen Mary University of London | May 25, 2020

An international team of scientists have identified candidate resistance genes that could protect ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a deadly pest that is expected to kill billions of trees worldwide.

In the new study, published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution,* researchers from Queen Mary University of London and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, sequenced the genomes of 22 species of ash tree (Fraxinus) from around the world and used this information to analyse how the different species are related to each other.

Meanwhile, collaborators from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service in Ohio tested resistance of over 20 ash tree species to EAB by hatching eggs attached to the bark of trees, and following the fate of the beetle larvae. Resistant ash trees generally killed the larvae when they burrowed into their stems, but susceptible ones did not.

The research team observed that several of the resistant species were more closely related to susceptible species than to other resistant species. This meant the UK-based genome scientists were able to find resistance genes, by looking for places within the DNA where the resistant species were similar, but showed differences from their susceptible relatives.

Using this novel approach, the scientists revealed 53 candidate resistance genes, several of which are involved in making chemicals that are likely to be harmful to insects.

The findings suggest that breeding or gene editing could be used to place these resistance genes into ash species currently affected by EAB.

EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America over the last 10 years. Whilst individual ash trees can be protected by using insecticides, the only long-term solution for saving American ash populations is to breed trees with resistance to EAB.

The beetle is also a threat to European ash populations. It was discovered near Moscow around 15 years ago and has now spread into Ukraine....



* Laura J Kelly et al. 2020. Convergent molecular evolution among ash species resistant to the emerald ash borer, Nature Ecology & Evolution (May 25, 2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1209-3 , http://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-020-1209-3

Recent studies show that molecular convergence plays an unexpectedly common role in the evolution of convergent phenotypes. We exploited this phenomenon to find candidate loci underlying resistance to the emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis), the United States’ most costly invasive forest insect to date, within the pan-genome of ash trees (the genus Fraxinus). We show that EAB-resistant taxa occur within three independent phylogenetic lineages. In genomes from these resistant lineages, we detect 53 genes with evidence of convergent amino acid evolution. Gene-tree reconstruction indicates that, for 48 of these candidates, the convergent amino acids are more likely to have arisen via independent evolution than by another process such as hybridization or incomplete lineage sorting. Seven of the candidate genes have putative roles connected to the phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathway and 17 relate to herbivore recognition, defence signalling or programmed cell death. Evidence for loss-of-function mutations among these candidates is more frequent in susceptible species than in resistant ones. Our results on evolutionary relationships, variability in resistance, and candidate genes for defence response within the ash genus could inform breeding for EAB resistance, facilitating ecological restoration in areas invaded by this beetle.

maig 27, 2020, 2:09am

South Sudan: an unexplored Eden of biodiversity (phys.org)

South Sudan: one of Africa's wildlife Edens, a global biodiversity hotspot wedged between the continent's tropical jungles and dry, desolate deserts... South Sudan boasts Africa's biggest wetland, the Sudd, and its largest intact savanna...

A trio of extremely rare Nubian giraffe... There's only a few hundred left in the world...

Every year, some 1.2 million antelopes and gazelles cross this enormous ecosystem... In scale and scope, the migration is rivalled only by the fabled wildebeest crossing in the Mara and Serengeti...

South Sudan is also custodian to hardy populations of lions, elephants and countless other endangered species that survived—against all odds—decades of war and near-decimation by poachers...

In recent years, rare and elusive species like bongos, painted dogs and red colobus monkeys have been photographed... inviting speculation about what else lurks in this underexplored land...

Editat: maig 28, 2020, 9:13am

Ai-yi-yi... March 31 post (#22) in climate thread: "Rare ozone hole opens over Arctic — and it’s big" ( https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00904-w )

Mass Extinction Event Caused by Erosion of the Ozone Layer
University of Southampton May 27, 2020

...during a time of rapid global warming, the ozone layer collapsed for a short period, exposing life on Earth to harmful levels of UV radiation and triggering a mass extinction event on land and in shallow water at the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary.

Following melting of the ice sheets, the climate was very warm, with the increased heat above continents pushing more naturally generated ozone destroying chemicals into the upper atmosphere. This let in high levels of UV-B radiation for several thousand years.

Lead researcher Professor John Marshall, of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science, who is a National Geographic Explorer, comments: “Our ozone shield vanished for a short time in this ancient period, coinciding with a brief and quick warming of the Earth. Our ozone layer is naturally in a state of flux — constantly being created and lost — and we have shown this happened in the past too, without a catalyst such as a continental scale volcanic eruption.”

During the extinction, plants selectively survived, but were enormously disrupted as the forest ecosystem collapsed. The dominant group of armored fish became extinct. Those that survived — sharks and bony fish — remain to this day the dominant fish in our ecosystems.

These extinctions came at a key time for the evolution of our own ancestors, the tetrapods. These early tetrapods are fish that evolved to have limbs rather than fins, but still mostly lived in water. Their limbs possessed many fingers and toes. The extinction reset the direction of their evolution with the post-extinction survivors being terrestrial and with the number of fingers and toes reduced to five.

Professor Marshall says his team’s findings have startling implications for life on Earth today: “Current estimates suggest we will reach similar global temperatures to those of 360 million years ago, with the possibility that a similar collapse of the ozone layer could occur again, exposing surface and shallow sea life to deadly radiation. This would move us from the current state of climate change, to a climate emergency.”...


John E. A. Marshall et al. 2020. UV-B radiation was the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary terrestrial extinction kill mechanism. Science Advances Vol. 6, no. 22, eaba0768 (27 May 2020) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba0768 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/22/eaba0768

There is an unexplained terrestrial mass extinction at the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary (359 million years ago). The discovery in east Greenland of malformed land plant spores demonstrates that the extinction was coincident with elevated UV-B radiation demonstrating ozone layer reduction. Mercury data through the extinction level prove that, unlike other mass extinctions, there were no planetary scale volcanic eruptions. Importantly, the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary terrestrial mass extinction was coincident with a major climatic warming that ended the intense final glacial cycle of the latest Devonian ice age. A mechanism for ozone layer reduction during rapid warming is increased convective transport of ClO. Hence, ozone loss during rapid warming is an inherent Earth system process with the unavoidable conclusion that we should be alert for such an eventuality in the future warming world.

maig 29, 2020, 5:44am

>84 margd:, related.

A legendary Ozark chestnut tree, thought extinct, is rediscovered
The chinquapin was supposed to have been wiped out by blight. Now one determined Missouri naturalist is hand-pollinating trees in secret groves to bring it back.
Robert Langellier | June 24, 2019

...the Ozark chinquapin tree, once a keystone Ozark forest species. Decimated by chestnut blight in the mid-1900s, any viable trees were thought to be long gone—that is, until (Steve) Bost found a few healthy hangers-on in the 2000s. Now he’s trying to bring the tree back from the edge of blight in a non-traditional way. And he’s succeeding.

Bost, a 61-year-old Missouri State Parks naturalist, had never even heard of the Ozark chinquapin until about two decades ago. Quickly growing obsessed, he set out on a quest to find surviving chinquapins all around the Ozarks and beyond. Acting on tips, he would sometimes drive to Mississippi and Alabama on time off, hiking around the woods for days looking for one. He says tree field guide authors claimed the tree was gone.

It wasn’t. With the help of other Ozarkers, Bost has located 45 large trees that have resisted chestnut blight, mostly in Missouri and Arkansas. With the support of private and state agencies, he’s leading the effort to bring them back. The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, which Bost founded, has 15 more test plots in addition to the one we visited—adding about 1,000 test seedlings and saplings to the 45 healthy wild trees. Still, the Ozark chinquapin's continued existence is so fragile that the foundation treats their locations as classified information, protecting the few remaining seed-producing trees from foragers.

...the infamous chestnut blight crossed the Mississippi (mid 1900s) and the Ozark chinquapin went from being a vital Southern tree to nearly vanishing from cultural memory. The only apparent remnants were Sisyphean stump sprouts, functionally useless shoots that would grow for a few years, become infected with blight, die back to the roots before they could produce nuts, and start over again.

...Bost is going to great pains to keep the Ozark chinquapin line pure. The American chestnut, the chinquapin’s more famous cousin that was also decimated by chestnut blight, is undergoing a genetic concession that Bost refuses to make. In hopes of muscling that tree through to survival, researchers create DNA hybrids that are 15/16 American chestnut and 1/16 blight-resistant Chinese chestnut.

...He prefers the laborious process of collecting pollen from a healthy tree, drying it, jarring it, and driving it 20 hours to another healthy chinquapin to hand-pollinate it...The hope is to develop a genetic line that can resist the blight enough to once again play a significant role in the Ozark ecosystem. Even with only 45 healthy adult trees, that might be realistic.

...Castanea ozarkensis has managed to cling to more genetic diversity than the devastated Castanea dentata, the American chestnut.

...Still, the order is tall (to breed) back from near-extinction to once again play a vital role in its ecosystem...


juny 2, 2020, 7:37am

Loss of land-based vertebrates is accelerating, study finds
Stanford University | June 1, 2020

Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Peter H. Raven. 2020. Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction. PNAS first published June 1, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1922686117 https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/05/27/1922686117

The ongoing sixth mass extinction may be the most serious environmental threat to the persistence of civilization, because it is irreversible. Thousands of populations of critically endangered vertebrate animal species have been lost in a century, indicating that the sixth mass extinction is human caused and accelerating. The acceleration of the extinction crisis is certain because of the still fast growth in human numbers and consumption rates. In addition, species are links in ecosystems, and, as they fall out, the species they interact with are likely to go also. In the regions where disappearing species are concentrated, regional biodiversity collapses are likely occurring. Our results reemphasize the extreme urgency of taking massive global actions to save humanity’s crucial life-support systems.

The ongoing sixth mass species extinction is the result of the destruction of component populations leading to eventual extirpation of entire species. Populations and species extinctions have severe implications for society through the degradation of ecosystem services. Here we assess the extinction crisis from a different perspective. We examine 29,400 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and determine which are on the brink of extinction because they have fewer than 1,000 individuals. There are 515 species on the brink (1.7% of the evaluated vertebrates). Around 94% of the populations of 77 mammal and bird species on the brink have been lost in the last century. Assuming all species on the brink have similar trends, more than 237,000 populations of those species have vanished since 1900.

We conclude the human-caused sixth mass extinction is likely accelerating for several reasons.

First, many of the species that have been driven to the brink will likely become extinct soon.

Second, the distribution of those species highly coincides with hundreds of other endangered species, surviving in regions with high human impacts, suggesting ongoing regional biodiversity collapses.

Third, close ecological interactions of species on the brink tend to move other species toward annihilation when they disappear—extinction breeds extinctions.

Finally, human pressures on the biosphere are growing rapidly, and a recent example is the current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, linked to wildlife trade. Our results reemphasize the extreme urgency of taking much-expanded worldwide actions to save wild species and humanity’s crucial life-support systems from this existential threat.

juny 5, 2020, 4:48am

Overexploitation and agriculture are more immediate threat than climate change to seriously endangered species.

Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers
Sean L. Maxwell, Richard A. Fuller, Thomas M. Brooks & James E. M. Watson | 10 August 2016

The threats of old are still the dominant drivers of current species loss, indicates an analysis of IUCN Red List data by Sean Maxwell and colleagues.

Here we report an analysis of threat information gathered for more than 8,000 species. These data revealed a contrasting picture. We found that by far the biggest drivers of biodiversity decline are overexploitation (the harvesting of species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth) and agriculture (the production of food, fodder, fibre and fuel crops; livestock farming; aquaculture; and the cultivation of trees)...


juny 18, 2020, 5:34pm

Amazon river dolphin risks extinction if Brazil moratorium not renewed
Peter Yeung | 16 June 2020

The Amazon river dolphin (also known as the pink river dolphin, or boto) is the largest of the world’s freshwater dolphins. It lives in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems.

For years, the dolphin’s populations, though protected in Brazil, trended downward, halving every decade there, as poachers hunted the animals, using their fatty blubber as bait to catch a carnivorous catfish known as the piracatinga, which is drawn to the scent of rotting flesh.

In 2015, the government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tried to curb this chronic criminal behavior and protect the dolphins by introducing a five-year moratorium on catching piracatinga.

Now that moratorium has lapsed and scientists are urging its quick renewal to prevent the Amazon river dolphin from going extinct. But so far, Brazil’s Bolsonaro administration has failed to take steps to restore the piracatinga ban.

...In January 2015, under the government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, that chronic criminal behavior led to the introduction of a five-year moratorium on catching piracatinga in order to better protect the dolphins.
Adult male Amazon river dolphin carcass after being used for bait.

But that moratorium ended earlier this year and has yet to be renewed by the Jair Bolsonaro administration, which is undermining many other of Brazil’s environmental laws. Experts warn that the failure to extend it could lead to the extinction of the largest freshwater dolphin in the world — a fate that befell China’s Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) in 2007, following years of overfishing, pollution and habitat degradation.

...But that moratorium ended earlier this year and has yet to be renewed by the Jair Bolsonaro administration, which is undermining many other of Brazil’s environmental laws. Experts warn that the failure to extend it could lead to the extinction of the largest freshwater dolphin in the world — a fate that befell China’s Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) in 2007, following years of overfishing, pollution and habitat degradation...


Editat: juny 20, 2020, 9:30am

Will African forests recover again as they did 2,500 years ago?
Unlikely as chimpanzees are hunted for bushmeat preventing them spreading fruit around the surround land in their poo...
- Mark Maslin @ProfMarkMaslin | 8:04 AM · Jun 18, 2020


Pierre Giressea et al. 2020. Understanding the 2500 yr BP rainforest crisis in West and Central Africa in the framework of the Late Holocene: Pluridisciplinary analysis and multi-archive reconstruction. Global and Planetary Change. Available online 9 June 2020, 103257. In Press, Journal Pre-proof. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2020.103257 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092181812030148X


• A suite of palaeoecological records across Central and West Africa demonstrate the scale and broad synchroneity of climate change around 2500 yr BP that fragmented the rainforest canopy when the dry season was extended.
• Human populations were at extremely low densities at this time and the archaeological record supports this. Hence, humans were not responsible for this scale of impact.
• Natural processes, i.e. climate and seed dispersers, such as chimpanzees facilitated the forests growing back, including the colonization by light-demanding species such as the oil palm, not humans.
• The implications of this work are highly significant for Central and West Africa today, where similar climatic phenomena are starting to be experienced, but this time it is associated with major human impact, including deforestation, agricultural expansion and the bushmeat trade, which is removing important natural dispersers, and potentially facilitating the transmission of diseases to humans.


Numerous palaeoclimatic and prehistoric reconstructions have been reported at both the local scale and across the very large area of tropical Central Africa, clearly highlighting the Late Holocene Rainforest Crisis (LHRC) which mainly developed from ca. 2500 to 2000 yr BP. The broad synchroneity of this interval is striking and has been revealed in many different deep lakes from humid or montane forest, lakes or swamps marginal to tropical forest, and swamp forests where the oscillations of the surface water table produce temporary emersions. In parallel, a chronological review is presented of the Bantu arrival in these areas, including indicators for burning, metallurgy and land clearance. Nevertheless, evidence of human occupation, such as artefacts or deposits containing charcoal is exceptional and generally absent in most areas. Although the archaeological data exhibit a gradual southward densification of human occupation throughout Central Africa, the increase of settlements clearly began after 2350 yr BP, not before 2500 BP. However, some authors have interpreted the geochemical signal of increased erosion in the Congo Basin or the opening up of the forest around Lake Barombi Mbo in Cameroon as being attributed to agricultural clearance, or even the supply of charcoal required for metallurgy. In short, these early Bantu settlers (in such modest densities) may have been responsible for some local landscape degradation (clearance, fire, metallurgy), but these same settlers could not, under any circumstances and across all Central Africa, be held responsible directly or indirectly for the synchronous changes of lake levels, draining vast swamps and opening up of the tropical forest canopy, which was due to an increased dry season, while the recovery with the recolonization of light demanding species, including oil palms (Elaeis guineensis) assisted by dispersers such as chimpanzees, was likewise due to natural processes. Therefore, it can be concluded that no data available validate the hypothesis that the major erosion or vegetation destruction ca. 2500 yr BP, was the result of large population movements. Indeed, the evolution of the environments of Central Africa are linked to the natural responses induced by general palaeoclimatic processes, observed synchronously not only in northern and eastern Africa, but globally. The natural recovery and resilience of these forests until the last centuries contrasts with the situation currently being faced.

juny 24, 2020, 11:29am

'My land is now owned by lions': Maasai farmers offer Kenya's wildlife a lifeline (Guardian)

Kenya has lost 70% of its wildlife in 30 years, but conservancy schemes could halt the decline – and benefit local communities...

juny 28, 2020, 9:25am

The secretive government agency planting 'cyanide bombs' across the US (Guardian)

Wildlife Services kills thousands of animals at ranchers and farmers’ behest. But it operates with little oversight – and critics describe it as out of control...

“The United States government put a cyanide bomb 350ft from my house, and killed my dog and poisoned my child,” said {the child's mother}...

These devices which are like anti-personnel mines but which spray cyanide when triggered came to light when a boy was injured and his dog killed by one. Local law enforcement officers attended the scene suspecting a pipe bomb - they had no idea that these devices had been planted in their area by their own government.

jul. 2, 2020, 12:32am

Hundreds of elephants found dead in Botswana (BBC)

Mystery surrounds the "completely unprecedented" deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana over the last two months...
No one knows why the animals are dying, with lab results on samples still weeks away, according to the government. Botswana is home to a third of Africa's declining elephant population...

jul. 2, 2020, 12:54pm


jul. 8, 2020, 7:03am

>69 John5918:

This morning a small pack of African wild dogs passed my house. An amazing sight of this rare and beautiful animal.

jul. 12, 2020, 4:30am

European hamster added to 'critically endangered' list (BBC)

You might want to hold Mr Snuffles extra tight tonight, because European hamsters have been added to a list of critically endangered animals...

Human influence on the hamsters' habitats is being investigated as the cause of the species' decline. IUCN says global warming, industrial development, light pollution and plantations may be possible causes.

European hamster numbers have dropped by up to 75% in numbers across the French region of Alsace, in Germany and across Eastern Europe because female hamsters now give birth to fewer babies than they once did...

jul. 12, 2020, 8:24am

>97 John5918: Aw, cute! Sad that so many lemurs (also cute) are also endangered, per article: "There are 33 species of lemur which have been named by IUCN as critically endangered, with 103 of 107 types of lemur threatened with extinction."

I can't understand why there isn't a national push to save the North Atlantic "Right" Whale--it was hugely important in 19th c US economy. As much a US icon as the Bald Eagle? Environmentalists on west coast of Florida watch for new calves and Canada has reduced ship speeds, but still, "The North Atlantic whale is said to be "one step from extinction", with fewer than 250 mature individuals believed to have been alive at the end of 2018." :(

jul. 13, 2020, 4:24am

A few months ago, science gave this rare lizard a name – and it may already be headed for extinction (The Conversation)

Bushfires are a threat to most animal species. But for one rare lizard living on a rocky island in the sky, a single blaze could wipe the species off the planet.

The Kaputar rock skink (Egernia roomi) is thought to have have one of the smallest ranges of any reptile in New South Wales – at the summit of a single extinct volcano, Mount Kaputar.

The existence of this mysterious skink was informally known for decades, and in August last year the species was finally scientifically described. But months later, it may already be headed for extinction...

jul. 14, 2020, 8:12am

Poor Australia...

Cats Are Making Australia's Bushfire Tragedy Even Worse
Matt Simon | 01.15.2020

Cats are scientifically, objectively, monumentally terrible for the planet. In the US alone, free-ranging domestic cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals a year, to say nothing of reptiles and amphibians. They are a scourge of the highest order.

Now felines are poised to exacerbate the ecological crisis unfolding in Australia as an unprecedented fire season rips across the continent. Scientists have previously shown that feral cats hunt surviving animals across recently burned lands in Australia, exploiting many of the victims’ injured or weakened state. One study found that a feral cat journeyed 19 miles to a burn scar. Roaming cats might stay away for up to 50 days, massacring helpless locals on a now barren landscape. (They’re likely using a combination of sight and smell to pinpoint bushfires by their smoke.)...


jul. 15, 2020, 12:11am

Increase in invasive species poses dramatic threat to biodiversity – report (Guardian)

Tourism, transport and the climate crisis found to be major drivers of rise in alien plants and animals, which can decimate ecosystems...

Editat: jul. 15, 2020, 3:35am

>101 John5918: Yep, piled on to all the other anthropogenic factors, invasive species too often drive the final stake... And very rarely can they be eradicated or contained once they've invaded a new ecosystem.

Essl, F et al. 2020. Drivers of future alien species impacts: An expert-based assessment. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15199 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.15199

Understanding the likely future impacts of biological invasions is crucial yet highly challenging given the multiple relevant environmental, socio‐economic and societal contexts and drivers. In the absence of quantitative models, methods based on expert knowledge are the best option for assessing future invasion trajectories. Here, we present an expert assessment of the drivers of potential alien species impacts under contrasting scenarios and socioecological contexts through the mid‐21st century. Based on responses from 36 experts in biological invasions, moderate (20%–30%) increases in invasions, compared to the current conditions, are expected to cause major impacts on biodiversity in most socioecological contexts. Three main drivers of biological invasions—transport, climate change and socio‐economic change—were predicted to significantly affect future impacts of alien species on biodiversity even under a best‐case scenario. Other drivers (e.g. human demography and migration in tropical and subtropical regions) were also of high importance in specific global contexts (e.g. for individual taxonomic groups or biomes). We show that some best‐case scenarios can substantially reduce potential future impacts of biological invasions. However, rapid and comprehensive actions are necessary to use this potential and achieve the goals of the Post‐2020 Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

jul. 15, 2020, 4:44am

But on a more positive note:

Team Lioness: the Kenyan women rangers risking their lives for wildlife (Guardian)

eight rangers in the all-female International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Team Lioness, a patrol unit among 76 rangers from the local Maa community. Their job is to protect wildlife from poaching, trafficking in bushmeat and human-wildlife conflict...

“I risk my life to spare their life {wildlife},” says Amleset, who is on a regular 20km patrol to visit the local community, tracking and recording GPS coordinates of wildlife sightings, as well as threats like snares or any suspicious activity along the way. “I grew up here with wildlife as our friends. We are thriving together. The water point, we share together with wildlife. The grass we use to herd the cattle, we} herd together with wildlife”...

jul. 17, 2020, 7:19am

Rewilding: Farmers plan to turn East Anglia into one of the world’s largest restored nature reserves (Independent)

Bison are being reintroduced in Kent, beavers are back in the Forest of Dean, white tailed eagles are soaring over the Isle of Wight and pine martens are making a return to England and Wales.

The UK is in the midst of a surge in reintroductions of animals along with the “rewilding” of tracts of land, as a growing recognition of the depleted state of our once-abundant wildlife takes hold.

One of the most ambitious projects aiming to harness this wave of enthusiasm has been launched by three East Anglian farmers who aim to return to nature a total area of land more than one and a half times the size of London, during the next 50 years...

jul. 17, 2020, 8:20am

North Atlantic right whales now officially 'one step from extinction' (Guardian)

With their population still struggling to recover from over three centuries of whaling, the North Atlantic right whale is now just “one step from extinction”, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN last week moved the whale’s status on their Red List from “endangered” to “critically endangered” – the last stop before the species is considered extinct in the wild...

jul. 25, 2020, 2:43pm

World's largest freshwater fish (Beluga sturgeon) being hunted to extinction in Europe
Arij Limam | 25-Jul-2020

..."It's estimated that the number of sturgeon in major basins has declined by 70 percent over the past century," Roselina Stoeva, sturgeon project coordinator for WWF Bulgaria, told CGTN Europe. "And that's just because of the unprecedented illegal harvest of caviar."

...The WWF says the gravest threat to the survival of beluga sturgeon today is poaching to supply Europe's flourishing illegal trade in wild caviar and meat.

...Considered the biggest freshwater fish in the world, it continues to grow throughout its lifespan of up to a century – although over-harvesting means beluga sturgeon no longer get quite as huge as the biggest example on record.

"Not many Europeans can even imagine that the fish that used to grow up to 7.2 meters long and weigh more than 1,500 kilograms still inhabits the Danube river," said Stoeva. Even nowadays, the beluga sturgeon can still grow up to 4.5 meters long – almost the height of a double-decker bus – and weigh 1,000 kilograms, or twice the weight of an adult polar bear.

Among the places they can be found are the Lower Danube and the Black Sea. And while Bulgaria and Romania remain the only countries in the European Union where beluga sturgeon still reproduce naturally, they're also native to rivers, lakes and coastlines, and can be found in Asia and North America.

...But as well as being harvested for roe, the beluga sturgeon faces other problems such as water pollution, damming, destruction and fragmentation of its habitats, affecting the entire ecosystem.

Dams built in its natural habitats block the fish's migratory route and puts it at risk. Conservationists say the overall monitored sturgeon populations have dramatically declined by 91 percent for the period between 1970 and 2016.

...In an upcoming report on migratory fish, WWF say that globally monitored populations of freshwater fish declined by an average of 76 percent between 1970 and 2016 – and Europe's average declines have been more pronounced: about 93 percent of all migratory fish.

"This is indicative of how little people actually engage with the protection of species that inhabit the European continent," said Stoeva. "We need to discontinue the misconception that wildlife crimes and all sorts of nature crises happen only outside of Europe. Europeans are just not used to thinking that things are happening here just at their doorsteps."...


ag. 7, 2020, 3:21am

"...herbivores, especially herbivorous reptiles and large-bodied herbivores, consistently have the highest proportions of threatened species..."

Trisha B. Atwood et al. 2020. Herbivores at the highest risk of extinction among mammals, birds, and reptiles. Science Advances 05 Aug 2020: Vol. 6, no. 32, eabb8458 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb8458 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/32/eabb8458


As a result of their extensive home ranges and slow population growth rates, predators have often been perceived to suffer higher risks of extinction than other trophic groups. Our study challenges this extinction-risk paradigm by quantitatively comparing patterns of extinction risk across different trophic groups of mammals, birds, and reptiles. We found that trophic level and body size were significant factors that influenced extinction risk in all taxa. At multiple spatial and temporal scales, herbivores, especially herbivorous reptiles and large-bodied herbivores, consistently have the highest proportions of threatened species. This observed elevated extinction risk for herbivores is ecologically consequential, given the important roles that herbivores are known to play in controlling ecosystem function.


Numerous studies have helped to identify species’ traits that correlate with extinction risk to shed light on current patterns in the Anthropocene extinction crisis... Findings from some of these past studies, alongside a host of single species research focused on extinction threat in charismatic predators, have led to the general assumption that predators are, for a variety of reasons, at a higher risk of extinction than other trophic groups... By systematically examining the patterns of at-risk species across different trophic groups* , our study identified that the threat of extinction is trophically skewed. However, contrary to many of these previous expectations, we found herbivores to be the most at-risk trophic group among mammals, birds, and reptiles. Although geography and habitat influenced taxonomic class-specific results, herbivores consistently had the highest representation of at-risk species in the present day, the recent past, and the late Pleistocene. In many cases, reptiles were the primary group driving our observed patterns in extinction risk of modern herbivores. This result is noteworthy, given that much has yet to be determined regarding their contemporary functional roles in ecosystems...

We identified a few instances where predators show elevated risk of extinction. When more detailed diet categories were analyzed, both piscivores and scavengers had elevated risk compared to background levels. Consistent with the higher extinction risk in piscivores, we found that elevated risk of extinction in predators occurred almost exclusively in marine habitats, which suggests that extinction pressures threatening predators may be greater in the ocean than on land. Past research has proposed that, in many regions, humans are preferentially and unsustainably exploiting marine organisms at the top of the food chain... However, this research has focused mainly on fish..., which we did not include in our study. A likely productive future research endeavor would be to determine how the inclusion of bony and cartilaginous fishes and other taxonomic classes not in this study (e.g., invertebrates) would influence interpretations about how trophic group shapes extinction risk overall, as well as how it influences our observations about the relative risk for different trophic groups in terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Although we were unable to identify a single anthropogenic driver for the global decline in herbivores, we did find that certain drivers disproportionately affect some groups of herbivores more relative to other trophic groups. For example, we found that invasive species affect herbivorous reptiles disproportionately compared to omnivores and predators. Invasive vertebrates (e.g., rats), insects (e.g., fire ants), and plants (e.g., Hottentot fig) have all been implicated in the decline and even extinction of several reptiles... Furthermore, we found that invasive species, pollution, and habitat alteration affect small herbivorous birds disproportionately. However, for both of these cases, it is unclear why these anthropogenic drivers would target herbivores more than other trophic groups. A new challenge for conservation biology will be to identify clear mechanisms responsible for this apparent association between trophic group and extinction risk. These studies are likely to include investigations into the interactive effects of multiple anthropogenic drivers and their impact upon intrinsic species traits that are associated with herbivory.

Our study determined that trophic group is an important factor driving extinction risk in reptiles, mammals, and birds. Past studies examining the effect of trophic group or diet on extinction risk have found either no effect of trophic group...or that higher-order predators are at the highest risk of extinction... These past studies, however, focused on select groups of organisms like animals in the order Carnivora..., or squamate reptiles..., suggesting that these more focused studies mask the more general role of trophic group as a significant variable that influences extinction patterns in mammals, birds, and reptiles collectively. Critically, our results show that any future endeavors to explain patterns of extinction risk in mammals, birds, and reptiles need to account for trophic group.

In addition to trophic group, our study found that body size is an important trait that independently drives extinction risk in mammals and birds and interacts with trophic group to influence extinction risk in reptiles. Since the late Pleistocene, the average body mass of organisms has been declining because of size-selective threats that are robustly linked to human activities... Our results agree with findings from past studies that the selection against large-bodied organisms is likely to continue under business as usual management scenarios... Our study adds to this body of literature by showing that, except for predatory reptiles, large-bodied organisms across all three trophic groups are at a high risk of extinction, but herbivores are disproportionately the most at-risk trophic group within these large-bodied species. The ecological effects of the loss of large-bodied herbivores will depend, to some degree, on the capacity of smaller-bodied species to compensate numerically and/or functionally... Many body size–specific functions (e.g., dispersal of large-seeded fruits by sloths) cannot, however, be replicated by simply increasing abundances of smaller-bodied species...

Prehistoric extinctions of megaherbivores drastically changed the structure and functioning of Earth’s ecosystems by altering vegetation dynamics, fire regimes, carbon cycling, and biogeochemical cycling... Our results highlight that Earth is once again experiencing declines and extinctions that are disproportionately affecting large herbivores. However, how these declines and extinctions of herbivores are likely to affect the trajectory of life on Earth is not yet known, but studies have linked modern herbivores with ecosystem processes as diverse as the evolution of plant and predator traits, ecosystem resilience/resistance, nutrient cycling, fire regimes, greenhouse gas dynamics, plant regeneration, and primary production...

* trophic groups in this study: herbivores, omnivores, carnivores

ag. 8, 2020, 8:19am

We are omnivores, and big ones, individually and collectively... (#107)

"Add all of us up, all 7 billion human beings on earth, and clumped together we weigh roughly 750 billion pounds. That, says Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is more than 100 times the biomass of any large animal that's ever walked the Earth. And we're still multiplying. Most demographers say we will hit 9 billion before we peak, and what happens then?..." https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2012/10/22/163397584/how-human-beings-almo...

We may not go extinct as a species, but 90% chance that within 20-40 years, we will be decimated and society as we know it will collapse, according to theoretical paper below. In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond documents choices on resource-use made by mostly island societies and subsequent outcomes.


Physicists: 90% Chance of Human Society Collapsing Within Decades
Jordan Davidson | Aug. 03, 2020

Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades...

...used advance statistical modeling to look at how a growing human population can cope with the loss of resources, mainly due to deforestation. After crunching the numbers, the scientists came up with a fairly bleak assessment of society's chance of surviving the climate crisis.

"Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10 percent in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse," the authors write in the study abstract.

From all the issues that the climate crisis raises like rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather, drought, flooding, and crop failures, scientists zeroed in on deforestation since it is more measurable right now. They argue that forest density, or its current scarcity, is considered the cataclysmic canary in the coal mine...

...(at) the current rate of deforestation would mean that all forests would disappear within 100-200 years.

...The trajectory of such rapid resource use to supply a rapidly growing human population would result in the loss of planetary life-support systems necessary for human survival, including carbon storage, oxygen production, soil conservation and water cycle regulation...In the absence of these critical services, "it is highly unlikely to imagine the survival of many species, including ours, on Earth without forests" the study points out. "The progressive degradation of the environment due to deforestation would heavily affect human society and consequently the human collapse would start much earlier"...

...The model developed by the physicists depicts human population growth reaching a maximum level that is undermined by the shrinking of forests, which will not have enough resources left to sustain people. After this point, "a rapid disastrous collapse in population occurs before eventually reaching a low population steady state or total extinction … We call this point in time the 'no-return point' because if the deforestation rate is not changed before this time the human population will not be able to sustain itself and a disastrous collapse or even extinction will occur" ...

...The paper assumes that some measurements (such as population growth and deforestation rate) will remain constant, which is certainly not guaranteed. Forest is also taken as a proxy for all resources, which could be seen as too simplistic...

The authors point out that it will take a massive amount of collective action to reverse direction and save our society from collapse.



Mauro Bologna & Gerardo Aquino. 2020. Deforestation and world population sustainability: a quantitative analysis. Nature Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 7631 ( 06 May 2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-63657-6

In this paper we afford a quantitative analysis of the sustainability of current world population growth in relation to the parallel deforestation process adopting a statistical point of view. We consider a simplified model based on a stochastic growth process driven by a continuous time random walk, which depicts the technological evolution of human kind, in conjunction with a deterministic generalised logistic model for humans-forest interaction and we evaluate the probability of avoiding the self-destruction of our civilisation. Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse.

ag. 15, 2020, 6:56am

We May Finally Know What Killed The Woolly Rhinos, And It Wasn't People
AFP | 14 AUGUST 2020

A woolly brown rhinoceros that weighed two tons once roamed northeastern Siberia before mysteriously disappearing around 14,000 years ago. Was its demise caused by humans, or the warming climate of the time?

A new study by a Swedish and Russian team of scientists who examined DNA fragments from the remains of 14 of these prehistoric mammals...say the population of the animal - also known by its scientific name Coelodonta antiquitatis - remained stable for millennia as they lived alongside humans, before dropping sharply toward the end of the last ice age.

...Humans arrived in this part of Siberia 30,000 years ago. Though they hunted the rhinos, the animal's population remained steady for 12,000 more years until an abrupt period of warming known as the Bolling-Allerod.

...Today, the closest living relative of the woolly rhino is the Sumatran rhino. Frequently poached and facing the destruction of their habitat, there are fewer than 80 left in existence.

Here, no one can argue that humans are free of blame.



Lord et al. 2020. Report: Pre-extinction Demographic Stability and Genomic Signatures of Adaptation in the Woolly Rhinoceros
Current Biology 20, 1–9. (October 5, 2020) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.046 https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(20)31071-X.pdf (17 p)

Ancient DNA has significantly improved our understanding of the evolution and population history of extinct megafauna. However, few studies have used complete ancient genomes to examine species responses to climate change prior to extinction. The woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) was a cold-adapted megaherbivore widely distributed across northern Eurasia during the Late Pleistocene and became extinct approximately 14 thousand years before present (ka BP). While humans and climate change have been proposed as potential causes of extinction...knowledge is limited on how the woolly rhinoceros was impacted by human arrival and climatic fluctuations... Here, we use one complete nuclear genome and 14 mitogenomes to investigate the demographic history of woolly rhinoceros leading up to its extinction. Unlike other northern megafauna, the effective population size of woolly rhinoceros likely increased at 29.7 kaBP and subsequently remained stable until close to the species’ extinction. Analysis of the nuclear genome from a 18.5-ka-old specimen did not indicate any increased inbreeding or reduced genetic diversity, suggesting that the population size remained steady for more than 13 ka following the arrival of humans. The population contraction leading to extinction of the woolly rhinoceros may have thus been sudden and mostly driven by rapid warming in the Bølling-Allerød interstadial. Furthermore, we identify woolly rhinoceros-specific adaptations to arctic climate, similar to those of the woolly mammoth. This study highlights how species respond differently to climatic fluctuations and further illustrates the potential of palaeogenomics to study the evolutionary history of extinct species.

ag. 26, 2020, 9:54am

Turtle conservationists in Kingston, Ontario were happily anticipting hatch of turtles in nests they were protecting. Turtle species are all of concern in Ontario, so they were especially sad to be poached, presumably for Asian market: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/devastating-loss-of-turtle-eggs-by-poachers-says-kings.... The growing trade threatens some slow-growing turtle species with extinction.

Poachers have been targeting Florida box turtles, like this one, for markets in Asia.
Dina Fine Maron | October 28, 2019

It’s hard to pin down the scale of the pet trade in wild-caught U.S. turtles, experts say, but U.S. law enforcement probes have turned up an increasing number of big turtle trafficking cases in recent years. In each, the poachers and sellers have been responsible for helping transfer large numbers of turtles across states borders and on to Asia. Ryan Bessey, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent who’s been focusing on the exotic turtle trade, says demand for these animals in Asia “has skyrocketed in the last five to ten years.” According to Bessey, North American species, including diamondback terrapins, box turtles, spotted turtles, and wood turtles seem to be particularly popular in the Asian exotic pet trade.

...“Much of Asia has always revered turtles for longevity and traditional Chinese medicine,” says Eric Goode, founder of the Turtle Conservancy. Now, with newfound wealth in the region, he says, turtles are just another rare, coveted item to collect, like wine, fine art, and cars. Demand has already wiped out large numbers of native turtles in Asia, making American turtles even more attractive, experts say.

Court documents, interviews with turtle experts, and studies point to China and Hong Kong as primary destinations for trafficked American turtles. Still, other Asian nations—Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia—are also popular markets for pet turtles. “The Asian turtle market is taking turtles out of Africa, Mexico, South America”—not just the U.S., adds Goode, who does surveys of turtles for sale at markets in Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Japan.

...A 2018 analysis of the global conservation status of turtles and tortoises puts the problem in East Asia in stark terms: “An unsustainable turtle trade has gradually spread and expanded, first regionally and then globally, as wild turtle populations have been sequentially exploited, with many rendered commercially and ecologically extinct.”

...Global turtle demand has even made conservationists cautious about discussing locations of turtle populations at academic conferences or in published papers. (Poachers have been known to mine the academic literature for clues about potential targets.) Jacqueline Litzgus, a biology professor at Laurentian University, in Ontario, Canada, says she won’t even discuss vague geographic details at meetings.

At one of her Ontario study sites for wood turtles in the mid-1990s, she says, some “70 percent” of the turtles disappeared in just one or two years after a student did a thesis paper on them, which the poachers may have been able to obtain. No one ever found any turtle carcasses, Litzgus says, so she and her colleagues surmised that poaching—not disease—was to blame.

...(Ryan Bessey, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent who’s been focusing on the exotic turtle trade) says there’s a fine line between spurring interest in turtles and making sure that the enthusiasm doesn’t encourage people to take them from the wild. “There are threats around every corner for turtles,” he says.

“Even posting a photograph of one of these turtles, if taken with an iPhone, is a problem because it has an embedded latitude and longitude,” (Willem Roosenburg, a turtle expert at Ohio University in Athens and the president of the Herpetologists League) says.

“Let turtles be,” adds Bessey. “Don’t grab a turtle you see crossing the road and take him home—just put him (HER?) on the other side of the road in the direction he (SHE?) was going.”


ag. 30, 2020, 4:01am

Hawaii’s Invasive Predator Catastrophe
John R. Platt | July 21, 2020

Feral cats and pigs and black rats are putting many species on the fast track toward extinction

...seabirds—including Newell’s shearwaters (Puffinus newelli) and Hawaiian petrels (Pterodroma sandwichensis)—obviously have a much easier time getting up the tops of these mountains. (than researchers do)

So, unfortunately, do several species of invasive predators—including feral cats, black rats and feral pigs—that have put these ground-nesting birds, and so many other native Hawaiian species, on the fast track toward extinction.

...Like many island endemics, Hawaii’s bird species grew up without mammalian predators, so they’re ill-adapted to the teeth and claws that arrived with human society. The cats descended from housecats, while pigs escape from agricultural sites and rats descended from stowaways on ships.

That’s why the Kaua’i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project has spent the past nine years constructing fences and establishing other predator controls—work that is proving essential in giving these native birds a chance.

The first step in controlling predators is quantifying the threat.

According to a paper Raine and his colleagues published earlier this year in The Journal of Wildlife Management, introduced predators killed at least 309 endangered seabirds at six monitored breeding colonies between 2011 and 2017. That’s quite a blow for each of these endangered species...



ANDRÉ F. RAINE et al. 2020. Managing the Effects of Introduced Predators on Hawaiian Endangered Seabirds,The Journal of Wildlife Management 84(3):425–435; 2020; DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21824 https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/jwmg.21824

Introduced predators are one of the greatest threats facing seabirds worldwide. We investigated the effects of multiple introduced predators on 2 endangered seabirds, the Newell's shearwater (Puffinus newelli) and the Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), on the island of Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi, USA. Between 2011 and 2017, we recorded 309 depredations of which 35.6% were by feral cats, 50.2% by black rats (Rattus rattus), 10.4% by pigs (Sus scrofa; feral pigs), and 3.9% by barn owls (Tyto alba). Cats were the most destructive of the predators because they killed more breeding adults than chicks, which had
repercussions on breeding probability in following years. Cats and rats were also the most prevalent of all the predators, depredating birds at all of the sites under consideration regardless of how remote or inaccessible. We also considered the effectiveness of predator control over the study period. Reproductive success at all sites increased once predator control operations were in place and depredations by all species except barn owls decreased. Furthermore, we modeled population trajectories for all sites with and without predator control. Without predator control, population trajectories at all sites declined rapidly over 50 years. With predator control operations in place, populations at all sites increased; thus, controlling introduced
predators at endangered seabird colonies is important for their management.

ag. 30, 2020, 5:16pm

Painting Eyes on Cow Butts Could Save Cattle and Lion Lives
The four-year study in Botswana found cattle with eye marks painted on their behinds were less likely to be killed by predators
Alex Fox |August 20, 2020

...Of the 683 cows with eyes painted on their bums, zero were killed by predators during the four year study. On the other hand, 15 of the 835 unpainted and four of the cross-painted cattle met bloody ends. Lions were by far the deadliest predators in the study, killing 18 cows.

The biggest caveat to the study’s findings is that the eye-marked cows were always alongside cows with more traditional looking backsides. Jordan called these cows “proverbial sacrificial lambs,” noting that future studies will be needed to probe whether an entire herd of four-eyed cows would still go unscathed. The other question is whether the watchful bovine butts might lose their efficacy over time.

But Jordan says any protection offered by something as simple and low cost as painted eye marks is worth exploring when it comes to reducing conflicts between predators and people’s livestock.

“Protecting livestock from wild carnivores–and carnivores themselves–is an important and complex issue that likely requires the application of a suite of tools, including practical and social interventions,” Jordan says in the statement. “The eye-cow technique is one of a number of tools that can prevent carnivore-livestock conflict–no single tool is likely to be a silver bullet.”
The researchers are hopeful that their work might one day help lions and people live in greater harmony.



Cameron Radford et al.2020. Artificial eyespots on cattle reduce predation by large carnivores. Communications Biology volume 3, Article number: 430 (7 Aug 2020) https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-020-01156-0

Eyespots evolved independently in many taxa as anti-predator signals. There remains debate regarding whether eyespots function as diversion targets, predator mimics, conspicuous startling signals, deceptive detection, or a combination. Although eye patterns and gaze modify human behaviour, anti-predator eyespots do not occur naturally in contemporary mammals. Here we show that eyespots painted on cattle rumps were associated with reduced attacks by ambush carnivores (lions and leopards). Cattle painted with eyespots were significantly more likely to survive than were cross-marked and unmarked cattle, despite all treatment groups being similarly exposed to predation risk. While higher survival of eyespot-painted cattle supports the detection hypothesis, increased survival of cross-marked cattle suggests an effect of novel and conspicuous marks more generally. To our knowledge, this is the first time eyespots have been shown to deter large mammalian predators. Applying artificial marks to high-value livestock may therefore represent a cost-effective tool to reduce livestock predation.

ag. 31, 2020, 2:00am

Zimbabwe investigates mysterious death of 11 elephants (Guardian)

Parks authorities in Zimbabwe are investigating the mysterious death of 11 elephants in a forest in the west of the country after ruling out cyanide poisoning and poaching...

And just to give a taste of what life is like for rangers searching for the elusive northern white rhino much further to the north of the continent, here's an extract from a recent report:

the airstrip there is under water and people have had to move to higher ground, with their livestock... The 17 man team returned. They faced serious difficulties as floods submerged the marshes and streams. 7 of them were severely ill of malaria, 2 had (suspected) snake bites, while all suffered hunger... Major challenges encountered: (1) wading through the marshes was difficult and the next search will require boats; (2) food and drugs shortages; (3) Power for communication equipment...

set. 10, 2020, 12:08am

Wildlife in 'catastrophic decline' due to human destruction, scientists warn (BBC)

Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, according to a major report by the conservation group WWF. The report says this "catastrophic decline" shows no sign of slowing. And it warns that nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before...

Editat: set. 13, 2020, 12:07am

Most wildfire coverage on American TV news fails to mention link to climate crisis (Guardian)

A media watchdog analysis found that just 15% of broadcast news segments over a September weekend made the connection to climate breakdown...

set. 13, 2020, 12:12am

In the Amazon, forest degradation is outpacing full deforestation (The Conversation)

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased abruptly in the past two years, after having been on a downward trajectory for more than a decade...

But what fewer people realise is that even forests that have not been cleared, or fully “deforested”, are rarely untouched. Indeed, just 20% of the world’s tropical forests are classified as intact. The rest have been impacted by logging, mining, fires, or by the expansion of roads or other human activities. And all this can happen undetected by the satellites that monitor deforestation. These forests are known as “degraded”, and they make up an increasingly large fraction of the world’s remaining forest landscapes. Degradation is a major environmental and societal challenge...

set. 13, 2020, 9:11am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

set. 13, 2020, 9:16am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

set. 13, 2020, 1:38pm

Humans pushed cave bears to extinction, their DNA suggests
Ben Guarino | August 15, 2019



Joscha Gretzinger et al. 2020. Large-scale mitogenomic analysis of the phylogeography of the Late Pleistocene cave bear. Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 10700 (15 August, 2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-47073-z

The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is one of the Late Pleistocene megafauna species that faced extinction at the end of the last ice age. Although it is represented by one of the largest fossil records in Europe and has been subject to several interdisciplinary studies including palaeogenetic research, its fate remains highly controversial. Here, we used a combination of hybridisation capture and next generation sequencing to reconstruct 59 new complete cave bear mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) from 14 sites in Western, Central and Eastern Europe. In a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis, we compared them to 64 published cave bear mtDNA sequences to reconstruct the population dynamics and phylogeography during the Late Pleistocene. We found five major mitochondrial DNA lineages resulting in a noticeably more complex biogeography of the European lineages during the last 50,000 years than previously assumed. Furthermore, our calculated effective female population sizes suggest a drastic cave bear population decline starting around 40,000 years ago at the onset of the Aurignacian, coinciding with the spread of anatomically modern humans in Europe. Thus, our study supports a potential significant human role in the general extinction and local extirpation of the European cave bear and illuminates the fate of this megafauna species.

set. 16, 2020, 12:10am

World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report (Guardian)

‘Humanity at a crossroads’ after a decade in which all of the 2010 Aichi goals to protect wildlife and ecosystems have been missed...

Editat: set. 16, 2020, 4:15am

Animal populations worldwide have declined nearly 70% in just 50 years, new report says
Sophie Lewis | September 10, 2020

...Nearly 21,000 monitored populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, encompassing almost 4,400 species around the world, have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report 2020.* Species in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as global freshwater habitats, were disproportionately impacted, declining, on average, 94% and 84%, respectively.

Every two years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) releases its landmark report, revealing how far species populations have declined since 1970 — an important marker for the overall health of ecosystems. The latest report indicates that the rate populations are declining "signal a fundamentally broken relationship between humans and the natural world, the consequences of which — as demonstrated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — can be catastrophic."

...exponential growth of human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization over the last 50 years as key reasons for the unprecedented decline of Earth's resources — which it says the planet is incapable of replenishing...

The overuse of these finite resources by at least 56% has had a devastating effect on biodiversity, which is crucial to sustaining human life on Earth.



* WWF (2020) Living Planet Report 2020 - Bending the curve of biodiversity loss.
Almond, R.E.A., Grooten M. and Petersen, T. (Eds).
WWF, Gland, Switzerland
83 p

set. 16, 2020, 5:29am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

Editat: set. 19, 2020, 10:42pm

>1 margd: contd.

My hummingbirds are still hanging around. I had hoped to fatten 'em up and maybe encourage them to hold back a bit until hurricanes finished. Hadn't considered considered wildfire smoke... First frost last night, though--they can't hang around much longer. :(

Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds have been found dead in New Mexico
Alaa Elassar | September 14, 2020

The mystery started August 20 with the discovery of a large number of dead birds (in NM)...

"It's just terrible," (Martha Desmond, a professor at NM State U's department of fish, wildlife and conservation ecology)... "The number is in the six figures. Just by looking at the scope of what we're seeing, we know this is a very large event, hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions of dead birds, and we're looking at the higher end of that."

Dead migratory birds -- which include species such as warblers, bluebirds, sparrows, blackbirds, the western wood pewee and flycatchers -- are also being found in Colorado, Texas and Mexico.

...Residents and biologists reported seeing birds acting strangely before they died. For example, birds that are normally seen in shrubs and trees have been spotted on the ground looking for food and chasing bugs. Many were lethargic and unresponsive so they were getting hit by cars...swallows, which are aerial insectivores that don't even walk, were sitting on the ground and letting people approach them...

One of the factors biologists believe may have contributed to the deaths of the birds is the wildfires burning in California and other Western states, which may have forced the birds into early migration before they were ready. (not enough fat--migration is extremely taxing in best of times)

Some birds might have had to change their migratory pathways, while others could have inhaled smoke and sustained lung damage.

While the fires and dry weather in New Mexico may have amplified the number of migratory bird deaths, that still leaves many questions.

"We began seeing isolated mortalities in August, so something else has been going on aside the weather events and we don't know what it is. So that in itself is really troubling...We lost 3 billion birds in the US since 1970 and we've also seen a tremendous decline in insects, so an event like this is terrifying to these populations and it's devastating to see."


Editat: set. 21, 2020, 3:50pm

Darn! In GLs area, toxins from cyanobacteria such as Microcystis are a never-ending problem, e.g., https://twitter.com/IJCsharedwaters/status/1308122334277128192. Doesn't seem to be a summer that a dog isn't harmed or killed by playing in tainted waters... Toledo, Ohio once had to stop taking water from L Erie during a bloom. Even if the stuff doesn't kill you, there is potential for nerve damage... Hope this won't be an ongoing hazard for elephants... A candidate for hellscape bingo... Climate change + nutrient pollution.

Toxins in water blamed for deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana (3:06)
Brent Swails and Zamira Rahim | Updated 12:48 PM ET, Mon September 21, 2020

(CNN)More than 300 elephants in Botswana have been killed by toxin-producing cyanobacteria in waterholes, government wildlife officials said Monday. But that explanation doesn't satisfy some conservationists.

The deaths, which took place over the course of three months, were first recorded in May and reported in early July. Their cause was initially a mystery; Botswana ordered laboratory tests to be carried out on carcass, soil and water samples as speculation grew over the deaths.

Cyanobacteria are routinely found in water, but not all produce toxins. Scientists worry that climate change will trigger the bacteria to produce more toxins as water temperatures rise and conditions become more favorable for the bacteria to grow.

Botswana is home to 130,000 African elephants -- more than any other country on the continent. Last year, the country scrapped an elephant hunting ban it had in place since 2014, sparking international outcry...


set. 23, 2020, 7:09am

Good news on critically endangered Javan Rhinos, which are closest living relative to extinct Woolly Rhinoceros.
(Woolly Rhino photo https://twitter.com/Jamie_Woodward_/status/1308126410377170945/photo/1 )
(Javan Rhino calf & mom photo https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/w6wu0jm6mjgaomu8t90y.jpg )

Two Critically Endangered Javan Rhino Babies Spotted in Indonesia
George Dvorsky | Sept 22, 2020

Introducing Helen and Luther, two Javan rhino calves spotted by camera traps at Ujung Kulon National Park in western Java, Indonesia. This 12,600-acre park is the only spot on Earth to host these rare rhinos, which were once widespread throughout Eurasia and Africa but are now on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

...Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) have one horn and loose folds of skin bearing a resemblance to armor plating. Adults are typically 10 feet long (3 meters) and can stand over 5 feet tall (1.5 meters). They’re one of only five rhino species still left in the world, with Ujung Kulon being their exclusive home.

...The population of Javan rhinos was down to just 62 individuals in 2013, the result of poaching and loss of habitat. Four Javan rhinos were born in the park last year, and now Helen and Luther this year. In a statement, Wiratno, the director general of Nature Resources and Ecosystem Conservation at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, said these births are an encouraging sign, as it suggests the presence of a suitable habitat for the rhinos, including adequate access to food.

And in fact, there’s reason to believe the population is rising; as of August 2020, there are now 74 Javan rhinos living in the park, including 40 bulls and 34 cows...


oct. 3, 2020, 7:46am

U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly, a former US astronaut, had questioned why researchers could not count every single maternal den in an area that spans tens of millions of square miles...

Long-delayed Trump administration study finds that climate change threatens polar bears
Juliet Eilperin | Oct. 2, 2020

....The study...notes that shrinking sea ice in the Arctic threatens the survival of polar bears while enhancing the opportunity for fossil fuel exploration there. “The long-term persistence of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) is threatened by sea-ice loss due to climate change, which is concurrently providing an opportunity in the Arctic for increased anthropogenic activities including natural resource extraction”...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had been seeking the report’s release for at least three months, according to several individuals briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The agency is legally required to cite the U.S. Geological Survey study before it can determine whether drilling can proceed on ConocoPhillips’ $3 billion Willow Project on Alaska’s North Slope without causing too much harm to the region’s polar bears, which are protected by federal law.

The analysis also finds that 34 percent of the western U.S. Arctic’s maternal dens are on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has implications for the Trump administration’s plans to auction oil and gas leases on the refuge. That is the same area the Interior Department approved for leasing in August, which has been off limits to drilling for four decades.

In an email to agency employees Thursday, (U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly ) confirmed that he had held up the study’s release but said it was wrong to suggest he did it “solely to benefit the oil and gas industry.”

“It is, however, an influential paper, and it will have potential regulatory and policy impacts,” Reilly wrote. “It is therefore important that I understand — and I am satisfied with — the science used in the report.”

Reilly had questioned why researchers could not count every single maternal den in an area that spans tens of millions of square miles, according to two internal memos obtained by The Post, and wanted to know why the report included data collected by a longtime federal polar bear researcher who now works for an advocacy group.

Agency scientists had explained to the director, a former U.S. astronaut, that it was impractical to identify each female polar bear’s den and that the former USGS scientist played no role in crafting the report...



Atwood, T.C., Bromaghin, J.F., Patil, V.P., Durner, G.M., Douglas, D.C., and Simac, K.S., 2020, Analyses on subpopulation abundance and annual number of maternal dens for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020-1087, 16 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201087. https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr20201087

The long-term persistence of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) is threatened by sea-ice loss due to climate change, which is concurrently providing an opportunity in the Arctic for increased anthropogenic activities including natural resource extraction. Mitigating the risk of those activities, which can adversely affect the population dynamics of the southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) subpopulation, is an emerging challenge as polar bears become more reliant on land and come into more frequent contact with humans. The Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether industrial activities will have a negligible impact on the SBS subpopulation. Information important to making that determination includes estimates of subpopulation abundance and the number of maternal dens likely to be present in areas where industrial activities occur. We analyzed mark-recapture data collected from SBS polar bears sampled in Alaska during 2001–16 using multistate Cormack-Jolly-Seber models. Estimated survival rates were relatively high during 2001–03, lower during 2004–08, then higher during 2009–15 except for 2012. Estimated abundance in the Alaska part of the SBS was consistent with the estimated survival rates, declining from about 1,300 bears in 2003 to 525 bears in 2006 and then remaining generally stable during 2006–15. The point estimate for the Alaska part of the SBS in 2015, the last year in which abundance could be estimated, was 573 bears (95-percent credible interval = 232, 1,140 bears). To estimate the expected number of terrestrial dens likely to be present in a given region in a given year, we used a Bayesian modeling approach based on calculations derived from SBS demographic and denning data. We estimated that the entire SBS subpopulation produced 123 dens per year (median; 95-percent credible interval = 69, 198 dens), 66 (median; 95-percent credible interval = 35, 110 dens) of which were land-based. Most land-based dens were located between the Colville and Canning Rivers (which includes the Prudhoe Bay-Kuparuk industrial footprint), followed by the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

oct. 20, 2020, 5:02pm

Unbelievable what gets trafficked...I temporarily worked out of a USFWS special agents office, and it was a constant parade of surprises. :(

Thousands of flying squirrels captured in Florida, trafficked with estimated $1M worth, officials say
Wilson Wong | Oct. 20, 2020

Flying squirrels, a protected wild animal in Florida, are sold internationally in the pet trade. The poachers captured as many as 3,600, officials said.

Seven people were charged in a trafficking operation that trapped thousands of flying squirrels in Florida with an estimated retail value of over $1 million and sold them to buyers in Asia, state wildlife officials said.

Flying squirrels, a protected wild animal in Florida, are sold internationally in the pet trade.

Six suspects have been arrested while one remains a fugitive. The seven face a variety of felony charges that include racketeering, money laundering and dealing in stolen property.

Poachers captured as many as 3,600 of the small creatures in multiple counties in central Florida over a three-year period, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement on Monday. They had set almost 10,000 flying squirrel traps...


oct. 28, 2020, 10:38am

The Hainan gibbon is now the rarest primate and among the rarest mammals. A new national park could give China's depleted Hainan gibbon population a better chance of recovery, but challenges remain, according to a new #LetterToScience:

Hui Liu et al. 2020. Recovery hopes for the world's rarest primate (Letter). Science 05 Jun 2020: Vol. 368, Issue 6495, pp. 1074 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc1402 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6495/1074.1

oct. 30, 2020, 4:18pm

In Ontario, biologists manage Eastern Wolves of Algonquin Park, when a problem reported, by triangulating on their howls to find den. If evidence of livestock kills, those wolves and none other, are killed. If you kill "innocent" animals, you disrupt niche for other wolves to move in. In Michigan, the farmer with the most problems, who thus was permitted to kill the most wolves, ran a really sloppy operation, "composting" large numbers of dead livestock, which of course attracted wolves to scavenge and eventually kill. Or so I understand...

Trump Administration Removes Endangered Species Protections For Gray Wolf In Lower 48 States
New Rule Returns Wolf Management To States, Tribes
Danielle Kaeding | October 29, 2020, 4:30pm

Protections for most gray wolves will once again be eliminated under a final rule announced by the Trump administration. The decision removes gray wolves, except for the Mexican wolf, from the endangered species list in the lower 48 states. The final rule would take effect in January.

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt made the announcement on Thursday at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife refuge in Bloomington, Minnesota. Bernhardt said last year that the agency planned to propose a rule to de-list the gray wolf, touting the animal's recovery as one of the nation's great conservation successes.

"Today's action reflects the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to species conservation based on the parameters of the law and the best scientific and commercial data available," said Secretary Bernhardt in a news release. "After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery. Today’s announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law."

The announcement comes days before the election and would allow Wisconsin's wolf hunt, which was first held in 2012 when the wolves were last de-listed, to resume. Wisconsin is a key battleground state in the U.S. presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden...


nov. 1, 2020, 5:44am

Endangered Iberian lynx is being saved from extinction with breeding programme and thousands of rabbits
Today, this rare cat can be seen in its heartland in Andalusia in southern Spain, across the border in Portugal and all the way up to Barcelona
Graham Keeley | October 30, 2020

...The Iberian lynx is a fussy eater. Despite its speed and agility, it has a monastic diet, feeding almost exclusively on rabbits. This dependence on one food source partly threatened the existence of one of the world’s most endangered felines. By 2002, conservationists discovered that Iberian lynx numbers had fallen to 94, but nearly 20 years later their population has recovered to 894, according to a survey last year.

Decades of being persecuted as vermin by man, the loss of its natural habitat because of building in the countryside, and a succession of diseases which decimated the rabbit population, had almost driven the lynx to extinction. Twenty years ago, when a conservation programme began, this rare cat was classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature...

Now, after an ambitious breeding programme, Iberian lynx numbers have recovered, partly thanks to the sacrifice of more than 100,000 rabbits introduced to the cats’ habitats in southern Spain at a cost of €10 a time. Building breeding centres and mapping “black spots” where lynx get run over by cars helped, as did gaining the support of landowners, hunters and the public.

Today, this rare cat can be seen in its heartland in Andalusia in southern Spain, across the border in Portugal and all the way up to Barcelona. But this feline is not out of the woods yet; it is still officially classed as endangered...


nov. 1, 2020, 5:53am

Huge spider assumed extinct in Britain discovered on MoD training site (Guardian)

Described as ‘gorgeous’ by the man who found it, the great fox-spider has not been seen since 1993...

Pheasant and partridge classified as species that imperil UK wildlife (Guardian)

Pheasants and partridges are to be classified alongside Japanese knotweed and grey squirrels as species that imperil native wildlife, the government has announced. People with shooting interests in England will have to apply for a licence to release the non-native birds near nature reserves...

nov. 7, 2020, 11:37pm

Back from the dead: Race to save Romania's 65 million-year-old fish (BBC)

On a tiny stretch of the fast-flowing Valsan river in Romania lives one of the rarest fish in Europe, and quite possibly the world. The 65-million-year-old Asprete was first discovered by a biology student in 1956, and for decades it has teetered on the brink of extinction...

Official estimates number the population at around 10-15 specimens... One day in late October, Andrei Togor, a 31-year-old fish biologist, was monitoring angling fish species of the Asprete when he discovered 12 specimens in a small section of the Valsan river...

nov. 10, 2020, 8:32am

Fears for a million livelihoods in Kenya and Tanzania as Mara River fish die out (Guardian)

Fish are being driven to extinction in the Mara River basin, putting the livelihoods of more than a million people in Kenya and Tanzania in jeopardy, according to WWF. A report by the wildlife NGO details how farming, deforestation, mining, illegal fishing and invasive species could sound a death knell for the transboundary river...

nov. 10, 2020, 11:03pm

Newly discovered primate 'already facing extinction' (BBC)

A monkey that is new to science has been discovered in the remote forests of Myanmar. The Popa langur, named after its home on Mount Popa, is critically endangered with numbers down to about 200 individuals...

Editat: nov. 14, 2020, 7:50am

Parasitology--now there was an undergrad class that left me amazed at the diversity--and grossness--of creation!

The World’s Parasites Are Going Extinct. Here’s Why That’s a Bad Thing
Up to one-third of parasite species could vanish over the next few decades, disrupting ecosystems and even human health
Ben Panko (Smithsonian) | September 7, 2017

...Smithsonian-run National Parasite Collection, a 125-year-old accumulation that contains more than 20 million parasite specimens from thousands of species dating back to the early 1800s—a massive yet still relatively small slice of global parasite diversity...has specimens primarily from North America but represents every continent...

...Even under the most optimistic (climate) scenarios, roughly 10 percent of parasite species will go extinct by 2070. In the most dire version of events, fully one-third of all parasites could vanish.

This kind of die-off would have myriad unfortunate consequences. Consider that parasites play an important role in regulating the populations of their hosts and the balance of the overall ecosystem. First, they kill off some organisms and make others vulnerable to predators.

...Parasites can also have more indirect effects. Periwinkle snails infected with the trematode species Cryptocotyle lingua, for instance, eat significantly less algae along their Atlantic coast homes, because the parasite weakens their digestive tracts. Their small appetites make more algae available for other species to consume. And there are millions of undiscovered parasite species, whose ecological niches we can only guess at...

...Parasites and their hosts have often evolved together over many years to maintain a delicate balance. After all, parasites usually have little interest in killing their hosts, Phillips explains, since that would mean losing their homes and sources of nutrients. That’s why tapeworms are rarely fatal to the people who get them; the worms have evolved to travel to your gut and feed on the food you ingest, but they rarely siphon off enough calories to actually kill you.

But when a known parasite goes extinct, it creates new open niches in an ecosystem for other invasive species of parasites to exploit. That can create opportunities for new encounters between parasites and hosts that aren't familiar with each other, and haven’t yet developed that non-lethal relationship. In 2014, for instance, a tapeworm species foreign to humans was found in a man’s brain in China, leading to seizures and inflammation of the brain...


Colin J. Carlson et al. 2017. Parasite biodiversity faces extinction and redistribution in a changing climate. Science Advances 06 Sep 2017: Vol. 3, no. 9, e1602422 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602422 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/9/e1602422

Climate change is a well-documented driver of both wildlife extinction and disease emergence, but the negative impacts of climate change on parasite diversity are undocumented. We compiled the most comprehensive spatially explicit data set available for parasites, projected range shifts in a changing climate, and estimated extinction rates for eight major parasite clades. On the basis of 53,133 occurrences capturing the geographic ranges of 457 parasite species, conservative model projections suggest that 5 to 10% of these species are committed to extinction by 2070 from climate-driven habitat loss alone. We find no evidence that parasites with zoonotic potential have a significantly higher potential to gain range in a changing climate, but we do find that ectoparasites (especially ticks) fare disproportionately worse than endoparasites. Accounting for host-driven coextinctions, models predict that up to 30% of parasitic worms are committed to extinction, driven by a combination of direct and indirect pressures. Despite high local extinction rates, parasite richness could still increase by an order of magnitude in some places, because species successfully tracking climate change invade temperate ecosystems and replace native species with unpredictable ecological consequences.

nov. 27, 2020, 8:19am


Landscape of fear: why we need the wolf (Scotland)
Cal Flyn | Nov 24, 2020

...As wolf numbers rise across the continent – as packs grow, split and reform – here we sit on our island, watching through our fingers, patrolling our perimeters. There is no serious consideration of releasing wolves into the UK countryside – at least, not in the foreseeable future.

Efforts to reintroduce the comparatively small and harmless lynx, for example – seen by some as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of bringing back wolves – remain extremely controversial, while beavers “unofficially” released into Scotland’s Tayside 15 years ago, where they continue to thrive, are a major source of contention.

Farmers, perhaps fairly, feel they have enough to contend with already. The wider public is wary, too. Still, proponents of rewilding hope that, one day, wolves might run free through our wild and rewilded lands. But many barriers stand between now and then. Even under Lister’s hampered plans, returnee wolves would not be reintroduced, but contained behind high fences. The only thing marking them apart from other captive wolves – of which we have a small number in this country – would be the size of the enclosure...


des. 4, 2020, 10:49pm

Earth Is on the Cusp of the Sixth Mass Extinction. Here’s What Paleontologists Want You to Know (Discover)

Rhinos, elephants, whales and sharks — the list of endangered species is long and depressing. But it’s not just these big, beautiful, familiar animals at risk. Earth is hemorrhaging species, from mammals to fish and insects. The loss of biodiversity we’re facing right now is staggering, thanks to habitat loss, pollution, climate change and other calamities.

There have been five mass extinctions in the history of planet Earth. We’re on the threshold of a sixth. But extinction events don’t happen overnight. They unfold over millions of years. For humans that live maybe 80 or 90-some years, that’s very hard to wrap our minds around.

To get an idea of how to think about the sixth mass extinction, I spoke to people who’ve intensively studied the first five: paleontologists. I asked them what they’d like the rest of us to know. And I asked them what, in these scary times, gives them hope...

gen. 11, 12:14am

'Who doesn't love a turtle?' The teenage boys on a mission – to rewild Britain with reptiles (Guardian)

At 17, they were meant to be taking their A-levels this year. But Harvey Tweats and Tom Whitehurst have a big ambition: to replace the toads, frogs and lizards we have lost...

gen. 20, 5:46am

Endangered Arabian tahr spotted and tagged on Al Ain mountain (The National News, UAE)

Wildlife experts in Abu Dhabi have spent six months monitoring the movements of an elusive and endangered mountain-dwelling animal to learn how best to protect it. Environment Agency Abu Dhabi spotted and tagged an Arabian tahr at Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain last August. The rare horned animal, related to the mountain goat, is only found in small numbers in the mountains of the UAE and Oman. In the UAE, it is localised to Jebel Hafeet, Abu Dhabi's tallest mountain, and the Al Hajar mountains... the species was endemic to the emirate and had been living on Jebel Hafeet "since the mountain has been there". The agency has been monitoring the tahr and working on ways to protect it and increase the population since its establishment in 2014... “Accurate assessment of the population shows it is endangered, because it is confined to a very small space on the mountain and has a very small population. We estimated around 15 of them are on Jebel Hafeet, and it has not gone up”...

gen. 20, 11:08pm

Elephants counted from space for conservation (BBC)

At first, the satellite images appear to be of grey blobs in a forest of green splotches - but, on closer inspection, those blobs are revealed as elephants wandering through the trees. And scientists are using these images to count African elephants from space. The pictures come from an Earth-observation satellite orbiting 600km (372 miles) above the planet's surface. The breakthrough could allow up to 5,000 sq km of elephant habitat to be surveyed on a single cloud-free day...

gen. 21, 11:00am

Invasive dreissenid mussels compete with native bivalve species for food which they filter out of the water column. They also colonize on larger native bivalves preventing them from opening shells. Some natives are endangered. Important, but more detail than almost anyone would want to know:

Zebra and Quagga Mussel Impacts on Native Mussels
Invasive Mussel Collaborative | Jan 13, 2021 (pre-recorded webinar)

This 1:10:38 webinar pre-recorded Jan 13, 2021 features presentations on the effects of the fish community on Dreissenid colonization of native Unionid species and the status of native mussels within the Detroit River, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario basins.

Presenters include:
Doug Kapusinski, Ph.D, Unites States Army Corps of Engineers
Dave Zanatta, Ph.D, Central Michigan University
Lyubov Burlakova, Ph.D, The State University of New York – Buffalo State


feb. 9, 10:29am

The Wild World of Mink and Coronavirus
Mink on the lam and corona’s reverse spillover
Kate Golden | Jan 7 2021

...(Arnold Groehler, president of the Wisconsin Trappers Association) worries about what SARS-CoV-2 might do among thousands of captive mink. “It can mutate from the mink, and what will it turn into next? What other animal species will it affect next? I don’t think anybody knows yet.”

The animals most at risk right now are the mink on farms—and perhaps their fellow captive mustelids, the endangered black-footed ferret.

These ferrets, once spread across much of the American West, have been reintroduced from near-extinction over the past 40 years through a painstaking captive breeding program, which includes artificial insemination and even training the kits how to hunt.

In northern Colorado, the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center, which houses about 170 adult ferrets, or two-thirds of the captive breeding population, has locked down like a mink farm—no nonessential visitors allowed; handwashing, PPE, temperature checks, disinfection of cages. The population of ferrets has been split into pods, much like American schoolchildren.

Before SARS-CoV-2, the ferrets’ biggest threat was another zoonotic disease: sylvatic plague, from the same bacterium that causes bubonic plague. It was also introduced by people, via ships.

For mink or ferrets, people are the disease reservoir. Though perhaps there is relief in sight. Three companies are presently working on mink vaccines that may be ready by the spring, (Hugh Hildebrandt, one of two main mink vets in Wisconsin) said. Some mink will be vaccinated before many of us are. About 120 black-footed ferrets at the Colorado captive center have already been inoculated with an experimental vaccine created at the National Wildlife Health Center.

There are also some reasons for hope in the nature of the virus and the mink. As infectious as it is, SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t seem to stick around long outside its hosts—unlike Aleutian mink disease virus, which lasts for months, or the chronic wasting disease-causing prions that can persist in soil for years.

The wild American mink, too, naturally follows CDC guidelines better than many of us have, preferring solitude to the company of its conspecifics.

As Groehler, the trapper, put it: “Wild mink socially distance very well.”


feb. 22, 7:36am

Sept 4, 2020

On August 18th, the BioRescue team successfully collected ten oocytes (immature egg cells) from the last two northern white rhinos, females Najin and Fatu, in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. This has been the third time the team collected the egg cells in order to fertilise them and to produce viable embryos. In a lab, six out of ten oocytes were injected with northern white rhino semen - despite the fact that only two oocytes were clearly matured. Unfortunately, as the quality of oocytes was poor, this time none of them developed into a viable embryo that could be used for an embryo transfer in future.

Prof. Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the BioRescue project, says: “This is a highly advanced scientific procedure that really pushes the boundaries of what is possible in in-vitro fertilisation in rhinoceroses – and in scientific process we cannot expect that every single attempt would be successful. We still have three cryopreserved pure northern white rhino embryos from the first two egg collections as a basis for our future progress. Now it’s clear how crucial it is to collect as many oocytes as possible and to develop as many embryos as possible. We can only hope that our work will not be disrupted again the way it was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Eggs and consequently embryos are necessary for the artificial reproduction of the northern white rhino and any uncollected genetic material is lost forever.”



10 more eggs have been harvested from the only 2 northern white rhinos left in the world
Alisha Ebrahimji | August 19, 2020

feb. 23, 7:49am

Scientists clone the first U.S. endangered species
A black-footed ferret was duplicated from the genes of an animal that died more than 30 years ago.
AP | Feb 18, 2021

...Cloning eventually could bring back extinct species such as the passenger pigeon. For now, the technique holds promise for helping endangered species including a Mongolian wild horse that was cloned and last summer born at a Texas facility.

“Biotechnology and genomic data can really make a difference on the ground with conservation efforts,” said Ben Novak, lead scientist with Revive & Restore, a biotechnology-focused conservation nonprofit that coordinated the ferret and horse clonings.

...Even before cloning, black-footed ferrets were a conservation success story. They were thought extinct — victims of habitat loss as ranchers shot and poisoned off prairie dog colonies that made rangelands less suitable for cattle — until a ranch dog named Shep brought a dead one home in Wyoming in 1981.

Scientists gathered the remaining population for a captive breeding program that has released thousands of ferrets at dozens of sites in the western U.S., Canada and Mexico since the 1990s.

Lack of genetic diversity presents an ongoing risk. All ferrets reintroduced so far are the descendants of just seven closely related animals — genetic similarity that makes today’s ferrets potentially susceptible to intestinal parasites and diseases such as sylvatic plague.

...a “frozen zoo” run by San Diego Zoo Global maintains cells from more than 1,100 species and subspecies worldwide.

...Elizabeth Ann was born to a tame domestic ferret, which avoided putting a rare black-footed ferret at risk. Two unrelated domestic ferrets also were born by cesarian section; a second clone didn’t survive.

Elizabeth Ann and future clones of Willa will form a new line of black-footed ferrets that will remain in Fort Collins for study. There currently are no plans to release them into the wild...


feb. 23, 12:45pm

Valuing Freshwater Fish is critical for people and nature
The World's Forgotten Fishes report is a celebration of freshwater fishes – and it’s a call to action too.

Rivers, lakes and wetlands are among the most biodiverse places on earth. They cover less than 1% of the planet’s total surface, yet they’re home to almost a quarter of all vertebrate species – including over half of all the world’s fish species.

It’s an extraordinary fact: 51% of all known species of fish live in freshwater - 18,075 species. And more are being discovered all the time....

Freshwater fishes account for almost 1/4 of all the world’s vertebrate species;
​Freshwater fishes provide food for 200 million people;
And livelihoods for 60 million;
Recreational fishing is valued at over US$100 billion per year;
But 1/3rd of freshwater fishes are threatened with extinction;
And 80 species are already extinct.

Promoting thriving populations of freshwater fishes and the ecosystems within which they thrive is a priority for WWF and the 15 organisations and alliances that produced this report.*


beautiful report:

*The World's Forgotten Fishes
World Wildlife & 15 NGOs | 2021
47 p

feb. 24, 10:00am

The North Atlantic Right Whale is an iconic species from colonial days, especially New England. Amazing that more is not being done to save this critically endangered species...

Most Vessels Ignored Voluntary Slowdown Meant to Protect Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales
February 22, 2021

Oceana Canada releases findings of a season-long investigation; calls on Transport Canada for a mandatory slowdown in the Cabot Strait

...At least 33 North Atlantic right whales have died since 2017, 21 of them in busy Canadian waters. Of the ten deaths in Canada for which there was a known cause, eight were related to vessel strikes.

The report, The Edge of Extinction, outlines the plight of one of the most endangered marine mammals on the planet, with only about 360 North Atlantic right whales left, and highlights steps the federal government must take to protect the remaining few and help ensure the species’ survival...

Oceana Canada is calling on Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to take the following actions:

Improve the voluntary Cabot Strait slowdown to make it a mandatory, season-long measure;

Extend speed restrictions throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence to all vessels, including those smaller than 13 metres;

Increase transparency of fishing fleet movements by releasing all Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data publicly and to Global Fishing Watch;

Reduce the amount of fishing rope in the water through continued long-term support for ropeless gear and time-area closures;

Expand the development and use of a comprehensive array of technologies to monitor right whales (e.g., acoustic, satellite, infra-red) and use the resulting data to better understand their movement and to trigger slowdowns and/or fisheries closures when required; and

Commit long-term funding for post-mortem work so that teams can build their capacity, respond quickly and conduct the most thorough analysis possible.

To access Oceana Canada’s full report and to sign the petition urging the government to act swiftly to end needless right whale deaths, visit oceana.ca/RightWhaletoSave...