Saturday, 31 May 2014

White-faced darter dragonfly reintroduced to Cheshire

A project to reintroduce a rare dragonfly to Cheshire has had "a successful start", a wildlife trust has said.

LeucorrhiniaDubiaMale.jpgThe white-faced darter dragonfly was last recorded in the county in 2003.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) have placed 100 larvae into pools in Delamere Forest in the hope that they will thrive.

It is only the second time a dragonfly reintroduction has been attempted, following a project in Cumbria in 2010.

'Long-term hope'
The dragonfly, which CWT said was "one of the UK's rarest", is only found in Cumbria, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Scotland.

Dr Vicky Nall, who led the project, said it had been a "tense" time for her team, as they waited to see the "first tentative emergence of the darters and begin the painstaking process of counting the dried larval cases they leave behind".

Fossilised crocodile tooth 'largest of its kind in UK'

The fossilised tooth of a prehistoric crocodile has been recorded as the largest of its kind found in the UK.

The 2in (5.5cm) tooth was dredged from the seabed near Chesil Beach, Dorset.

It belonged to an ancient relative of modern crocodiles, known as Dakosaurus maximus.

Researchers from the the University of Edinburgh and curators from the Natural History Museum identified it after it was bought at an online auction by a fossil collector about a year ago.

The shape of its skull and teeth suggests it ate similar prey to killer whales

The tooth, which has a broken tip, is now in the fossil collection of the London-based museum.

'Exceptionally dangerous'
Dakosaurus maximus grew to about 4.5m (15ft) in length and swam in the shallow seas of Europe 152 million years ago, according to the team's research published in the scientific journal Historical Biology.

The shape of its skull and teeth suggest it ate similar prey to killer whales, using its broad, short jaws to swallow fish whole and to bite chunks from larger prey.

Dr Mark Young, from the university's school of biological sciences, said: "Given its size, Dakosaurus had very large teeth.

"However, it wasn't the top marine predator of its time, and would have swum alongside other larger marine reptiles, making the shallow seas of the Late Jurassic period exceptionally dangerous."

Five Alaska Wolf Pups Rescued by Firefighters

By Becky Oskin, Senior Writer | May 28, 2014 01:29pm ET

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge firefighter Brian Nichols holds a wolf pup rescued from an abandoned den near the Funny River Fire.
Credit: Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Firefighters rescued five wolf pups from an abandoned den Tuesday (March 27) as they battled the massive Funny Rive Fire in southern Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. The pups had not been hurt by the blaze, according to a Facebook post by firefighters with the Kenai Wildlife National Refuge, who discovered the den.

Medics with the fire crew fed the fuzzy brown puppies glucose (sugar water) and plucked porcupine quills from their skin. In reward, they got some excited licks from the tiny pups. With help from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the litter was taken to Anchorage, where they await a permanent home.

The Fiercer Sex: Why Female Scorpions Sting More Quickly

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer | May 28, 2014 05:00pm ET

Female scorpions may sting more quickly to compensate for their slower running speed, new research shows.

And that sluggish running, and extra female fierceness, may be a result of the extra weight they carry from pregnancy, the researchers said.

"The females are heavier, and they can't sprint as fast," said study co-author Bradley Carlson, an ecologist at The Pennsylvania State University. "Heavier ones have to compensate for that by stinging more." 

The fiercer sex
Past studies had suggested that female scorpions tended to be extra aggressive, wielding their venom-packed stingers more quickly in comparison to males.

Cats found to eat more in the winter

May 28, 2014

University of Liverpool

Cats eat more during the winter and owners should give their pet more food during this time, research has found. The study found that cats ate approximately 15% less food during summer, and the vets have concluded that the extra effort to keep warm in winter and the temptation to rest during hot summer days contributed to the swing in activity levels during the year.

Unusual parenting behaviour by Southeast Asian species of treefrog discovered

May 28, 2014

National University of Singapore

A Southeast Asian species of treefrog practices parental care to increase the likelihood of survival of its offspring. Chiromantis hansenae (C. hansenae), is currently the only species in the treefrog family in Southeast Asia that is known to exhibit such behavior. Researchers observed that this frog exhibits a form of parental care, known as egg attendance, in which a parent remains with the egg mass at a fixed location. These frogs care for their offspring by covering the egg mass with its body. Occasionally, the females will make trips down to the pond, presumably to soak up more water, and return to secrete the liquid over the egg mass, keeping it moist.

New Ramsar site for Andorra

Parque Natural Comunal de los Valles del Comapedrosa is to become Andorra’s third Ramsar site and bring the total area of Ramsar Sites in Andorra to 6,870 hectares. 

The site (1,543 hectares) is located at the headwaters of the Arinsal basin and comprises of 74 high mountain wetlands, including permanent rivers and streams, freshwater springs, small glacial lakes and non-forested peatlands, They provide an important concentration of biodiversity and water reservoir within the Alpine biogeographic region and support numerous endemic Pyrenean species, as well as threatened flora and fauna.

The park has visitor facilities such as a viewpoint at Roc de la Sabina, interpretative trails and an extensive network of footpaths. 

Sites are recognised by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat as a Wetland of International Importance and that the country’s commitment to maintain the ecological character of them. 

Panama saves whales, protects world trade

May 28, 2014

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

A new scheme to separate boat traffic coming into the Panama Canal from humpback whales migrating through tropical waters, based on two research papers, has been approved by the International Maritime Organization. Panama is a leader in global commerce and a steward of exceptional marine biodiversity. Nearly 17,000 commercial vessels cross the Gulf of Panama each year. This number is expected to increase significantly when new locks now under construction permit larger, "post Panamax" vessels to transit the Canal and enter its ports.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Full Moon Lures Ferocious Muskie Fish to Bite

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer | May 28, 2014 05:00pm ET

Werewolves and vampires aren't the only creatures likelier to bite during the full moon.

The best time to catch a muskie, one of the country's largest and most ferocious fish, is during a full or new moon, new research has found. The new study provides scientific backing to decades of fishing lore.
Big fish
The muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is the largest freshwater fish in North America and can grow as long as 6 feet (1.8 meters) and weigh up to 70 lbs. (32 kilograms).

Bats and badgers may be rehomed for Thame development

Bats and badgers living on the site of a proposed industrial development in Oxfordshire could be rehomed.

The protected animals were discovered at the Cotmore Wells Farm site on Towersey Road, Thame.

A colony of common pipistrelle bats are living in the roof of an old farm building and a large badger sett has been discovered under another building.

Developer Stoford needs a licence from Natural England before the animals can be moved.

The site is due to be used by a haberdashery company and a printing firm

The firm, which submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council last month, said it would cost £18,000 to move the animals to new purpose-built homes.

A spokesman said they would be moved to an area of the wider farm site "within very close proximity".

If the licence is approved the animals are likely to be rehomed in the autumn.

Fish more inclined to crash into each other than bees

May 28, 2014

Lund University

Swimming fish do not appear to use their collision warning system in the same way as flying insects, according to new research that has compared how zebra fish and bumblebees avoid collisions. The fish surprised the researchers.

New Zealand to speed up its shark-finning ban

New Zealand’s proposed ban on all shark finning is to be brought forward two years earlier than previously planned, to October 2014 the Government has said.

“We announced a ban on shark finning earlier this year that would phase in the ban by October 2016, but in response to consultations we now believe it is possible to implement a ban in October 2014,” said Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith “This is good news and builds on New Zealand’s strong reputation for sustainability and protecting our natural environment. Sharks are an important part of the marine ecosystem and we need to ensure the 113 species of shark in our waters survive.”

In January it was announced that the ban would be in three stages, with the first tranche of shark species being protected by the shark finning ban from 1 October 2014, a second tranche from 1 October 2015, and that only the highly migratory blue sharks would be left until 1 October 2016.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said. “Ending shark finning was always going to present practical challenges for the fishing industry, and there was a need to give them time to adjust. I’m very pleased that the industry has risen to that challenge, and worked with MPI, DOC and other stakeholders to look at options for a more rapid implementation of the ban. 

“It’s important to note that it is already an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to fin a shark and return it to the sea alive. Under the extended ban, it will also become illegal to catch a shark, kill it, remove its fins and dump the carcass at sea.”

Wasp uses zinc-tipped drill to lay eggs

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Footage captured by scientists has revealed the power of a parasitic wasp, which has evolved a zinc-tipped drill to bore into fruit.

The wasps penetrate the fruit in order to lay their eggs inside.

A team from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore found that wasps' fruit-drilling and egg-laying tool - which is thinner than a human hair - has teeth enriched with zinc.

The researchers' study is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

The researchers think the fig wasp's egg-laying technique could inspire the design of new tools for microsurgical techniques.

Microscopic drill
The female parasitic fig wasp bores its way through a tough, unripe fig to find the larvae of other pollinating insects already developing inside. Its own offspring will then feed on these larvae as they develop within the safety of the fig.

Lead researcher Dr Namrata Gundiah said: "She uses her ovipositor... pushing this needle inside [the fruit] at the location, where she has decided to lay her eggs.

'Listening' helps scientists track bats without exposing animals to disease

May 29, 2014

Virginia Tech

A sampling technique known as acoustic monitoring -- listening to bats in their environment -- has been improved, thanks to new research. The noninvasive tracking technique avoids transmission of diseases that could occur with handling bats. Acoustic monitoring -- listening to bats in their environment as they commute between feeding areas using echolocation to "see" their surroundings and find insect prey -- has become commonplace over the last decade.

Australian tour operator bans elephant rides in Asia

Elephant rides have been banned by the Australian tour operator, Intrepid Travel, on all of its trips. the decision follows three years of research, carried out by WSPA, assessing the welfare of captive elephants at entertainment venues in Asia. 

WSPA Senior Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor, Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach said: "Wild animals belong in the wild – not in entertainment. We welcome all progress within the tourism industry towards recognising this fact and taking action to prevent cruelty. 

"Helping people to understand the choices they can make whilst travelling can create positive experiences for them and for the animals that they encounter along the way. 

"We urge all tour operators to support animal friendly tourism and to help every customer make animal-friendly choices when travelling."

Demand from tourists has led venues to force elephants to work for them and behave unnaturally. WSPA research concludes that this causes pain and suffering to the elephants, and that the tourism industry has added to the number of elephants being poached from the wild.

Asian relative of cane toad threatens Madagascar havoc

By Rebecca Morelle
Science correspondent, BBC News

A relative of the cane toad, which has devastated wildlife in Australia, has invaded Madagascar, scientists report.

The Asian common toad was first seen on the island in March, and there have been several sightings since.

In a letter to the journal Nature, researchers warn that the arrival of the amphibian could cause "an ecological disaster" and wreak havoc on the country's unique fauna.

They say that urgent action is needed to remove the toads before they spread.

The fear is that the poisonous amphibians could poison local wildlife and carry diseases, such as the deadly chytrid fungus that has killed amphibians around the world.

One of the authors, Jonathan Kolby, of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, said: "It's worrying because Madagascar has amazing endemic biodiversity - plants, animals and amphibians that are found nowhere else.

"And this one species has the propensity to damage that."

The team believes the toads could cause an ecological disaster for Madagascar's animals

The amphibians were first seen in Toamasina, the main port of Madagascar. It is thought that they arrived in shipping containers from their native home in South East Asia.

"They are a very hardy and adaptable species," said Mr Kolby.

"They can handle a long ride on the ocean in a container, and then hop out wherever they end end up. And this is most likely how they got there."

The fear is that the warty brown creatures could repeat the damage that their relative, the cane toad (Rhinella marina), caused in Australia.

Cane toads, native to Central and South America, were introduced to Australia in the 1930s, initially to control pests, but they are now widespread and number in their millions.

They produce toxins that are deadly to the local birds, mammals and reptiles that prey on them and they have had a dramatic impact on the country's wildlife.

Asian common toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) are smaller than cane toads, but they are also venomous - and researchers think Madagascar's animals could be especially vulnerable.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Zoologger: Only known 'potter' frog packs eggs in mud - via The Anomalist

17:05 27 May 2014 by Sandhya Sekar
For similar stories, visit the Zoologger Topic Guide

Zoologger is our weekly column highlighting extraordinary animals – and occasionally other organisms – from around the world

Species: The kumbara night frog, Nyctibatrachus kumbara
Habitat: Stream and river beds in the forests of the Western Ghats of southern India

It's good to be different. If you're a new rock band there's no point sounding like Coldplay, because Coldplay has that sound sewn up and you won't be able to compete.

It's a similar situation in frog reproduction. A newly discovered species from southern India differentiates itself in part by being the only known amphibian to coat its eggs in mud. The mud may well protect the eggs, but that is probably not the whole explanation.

The new species, called the kumbara night frog (Nyctibatrachus kumbara) is one of several frog species crammed together into a small area. That means it pays them to be as different as possible. Indeed, they are a different size to their neighbouring species, they mate differently – and they smear mud all over their developing offspring.

Local myth leads to discovery of new crab genus - via The Anomalist

Ananya Dutta,TNN | May 28, 2014, 01.03 AM IST

PUNE: The sightings of small orange-red coloured crabs during the monsoon in the vicinity of the Phansad wildlife sanctuary in Raigad district gave rise to local talk that the creatures came from Australia and had invaded the eco-system.

When called in to investigate the claims, scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) discovered that the truth was more fascinating than the story that the locals reiterated.

"A closer look at the crustaceans revealed that not only was it a species that had not been recorded so far, but also its characteristics were so distinct that it could not be classified under any of the existing genera for crabs. This was a species from an entirely new genus," said P S Bhatnagar, officer-in-charge of the western regional centre of the ZSI.

Bhatnagar was leading a survey team from the ZSI in the sanctuary, when local forest officials asked them to look into the matter.

Spiders Pose as Bird Poop to Evade Predators

By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | May 29, 2014 11:57am ET

Many animals camouflage themselves to avoid being eaten by predators, but few are as strange as a spider that disguises itself as bird poop.

The orb-web spider's silver body and the white, silken, disclike decoration on its web give it an uncanny resemblance to bird droppings. The spiders may use this disguise to avoid being captured by predatory wasps, researchers say.

Handcuffs, Bear-Traps and Spikes Lift the Lid on Some Unique Insect Sexual Habits (Op-Ed)

By James Gilbert, University of Sussex | May 28, 2014 03:59am ET

This article was originally published at The Conversation.The publication contributed the article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Handcuffs, spikes and traps – you would think they were part of some bondage aficionado’s bedroom collection. But what are they doing in the insect world?

A new study I worked on sheds light on why some bushcrickets – usually gentle creatures – get pretty violent when it comes to sex, and in the process helps to settle a decades-old debate about their odd mating habits.

In just a few species of bushcrickets, scattered across the evolutionary tree, we found that males have evolved horrific-looking clasping devices near their genitals. They use them to hold females down for as long as possible after sex is done – that is, after they have transferred all their sperm. This results in long mating sessions, up to seven hours in some cases.

Son of late Ky. snake handler recovering from bite - via Stephen Puckett

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The son of a snake-handling Kentucky preacher who died from a snakebite says he's recovering from his own rattlesnake wound.

Cody Coots tells the Lexington Herald-Leader ( ) he was bitten on a finger as he removed snakes from a cage on Monday.

The 21-year Coots says he declined medical treatment from an ambulance crew. Instead, he says he relied on prayer for healing.

Coots says he told the Lord he wouldn't go to the hospital.

He says his hand swelled and he vomited repeatedly, but by Tuesday the pain was gone.

Coots is a fourth-generation snake handler and had been bitten five times previously.

His father, Jamie Coots, died of a snakebite in February. Following his death, Cody Coots took over as pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Butterfly 'eyespots' add detail to the story of evolution

A new study of the colorful "eyespots" on the wings of some butterfly species is helping to address fundamental questions about evolution that are conceptually similar to the quandary Aristotle wrestled with about 330 B.C. – "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

After consideration, Aristotle decided that both the egg and the chicken had always existed. That was not the right answer. The new Oregon State University research is providing a little more detail.

The study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, actually attempts to explain the existence of what scientists call "serial homologues," or patterns in nature that are repetitive, serve a function and are so important they are often retained through millions of years and across vast numbers of species.

Autonomous airboats monitor hippo dung in Kenya's Mara River basin

May 27, 2014

Carnegie Mellon

Small, autonomous airboats, disguised to look like crocodiles, helped scientists measure water quality this spring in Kenya's Mara River. An estimated 4,000 hippos use the river as a toilet with potentially deadly effects for fish living downriver.

Intertwined evolution of human brain and brawn

May 27, 2014


The cognitive differences between humans and our closest living cousins, chimpanzees, are staggeringly obvious; however a new study suggests that human muscle may be just as unique.

Concerns grow over farm drugs used like 'sweets'

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News

The widespread use of antibiotics on farms without medical supervision has been condemned at a meeting of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

There are particular concerns about the US where authorities say it contributes significantly to resistance.

There are also worries that a new US-EU trade deal will see a watering down of tougher European laws on their use.

The OIE says it has tried to broker a compromise between the two regions.

But so far this has been unsuccessful.

It's estimated that 80% of the antibiotics purchased in the US are used on farm animals.

The drugs are given as prophylactics to livestock to help them avoid illnesses that are transmitted easily between beasts confined in large-scale feed lots.

The drugs are also used to boost the animal's weight.
But the large-scale use has prompted concerns that microbes will develop resistance.

New design crayfish traps will save platypus from drowning

The Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC) has been carrying out trials on a new design of a type of crayfish trap called an opera house trap. Opera house traps are widely sold in Australia to deploy in rivers to catch crayfish for eating. Unfortunately, these same rivers are populated by air-breathing platypus that cannot escape from the traps once they have entered them and so drown. The new design is fitted with a circular escape hatch in the roof, through which platypus can find their way back out. The research, funded by the Taronga Conservation Society, involved 34 adults and 24 juvenile platypus to establish how easily the animals found the escape holes. 

Of the four animals tested during daylight hours, all escaped within one minute of being introduced to a trap. At night, 63 per cent of tested animals managed to find their own way out within one minute and 19 per cent in 1-2 minutes. All exited via the escape hatch in the roof. Given that a platypus can hold its breath for approximately two and a half minutes when active, these findings suggest that a large proportion of wild platypus are likely to escape from a modified trap before they drown.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

What do robins, badgers and buzzards have in common? They're all on the Tories' kill list

Britain's wildlife is trapped between traditional Tories and their neoliberal counterparts, who think any green regulation a burden, Monday 26 May 2014 14.00 BST

Robins. Starlings. Pied wagtails. Badgers. Herring gulls. Buzzards. Cormorants. Grey squirrels. Foxes. The kill list created by the UK government is getting so long it is starting to look like the work of a psychopath. What can be compelling the coalition to be so brutal?

The biggest challenge for nature lovers remains all the things that we and our politicians are not doing – our passivity when faced with habitat loss and climate change, which is creating a sixth great wave of extinction. But confronting these profound problems is more difficult when conservationists are forced to perpetually fight off the steps the government is taking to exterminate specific species. But what are the official reasons for each slaughter?

• The government agency responsible for protecting the environment, Natural England, wants to amend regulations to permit the rapid destruction of robin, pied wagtail and starling nests when they present "a health and safety hazard", such as being found in ventilation flues.

• Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is persisting with a four-year pilot badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire because scientists have shown that culling badgers produces a small reduction in bovine TB in cattle over nine years.

• The "removal" (Defra's preferred word for kill) of 475 breeding pairs of herring gulls and 552 breeding pairs of lesser black-backed gulls in the Ribble Valley was sanctioned by the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, last year because BAE Systems made a request to reduce risk to aircraft at an aerodrome.

Why Spider Fangs Are Nature's Perfect Needles

By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | May 27, 2014 11:17am ET

A spider's fangs are natural injection needles, making them perfectly suited for piercing the skeletons of prey and delivering a kiss of venom, a new study finds.

The toothy barbs of a large wandering spider are curved in order to hold the spider's prey in place, and their conical shape helps them resist deformation. Understanding the biomechanics of spider fangs could inspire new medical injection devices, researchers say.

"For biomedical applications, for example, the spider fang may lead to the design of new infusion techniques, new blood-bypassing instruments and many other life-saving technologies," said Benny Bar-On, a biomaterials scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany and co-author of the study published today (May 27) in the journal Nature Communications. 

Press Complaints Commission rules badger TB image is misleading

Being nocturnal, badgers would more normally be seen like this and not in broad daylight as in the image that caused the complaint

A photograph printed in a weekly farming publication of cows and badgers together in broad daylight alongside stories about bovine TB could have ‘misled’ the public into thinking this kind of interaction was normal, according to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

A complaint was made against Farmers Weekly for using the photograph – which has also been used in other publications – in such a way that the public could have been led to the conclusion that badgers were constantly in direct contact with cattle, and thus were to blame for bovine TB (bTB). After the PCC contacted the publication it agreed to offer a clarification that the photo was not taken on a farm.

Jude Walker, from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS), said the photograph was taken 25 years ago in a wildlife sanctuary when the rescued badger was being re-acquainted with outdoor life. Normally badgers and cows would rarely meet in daylight. Even at night they would rarely have nose-to-nose contact as in the photograph. 

Colossal peat bog discovered in Congo

By Rebecca Morelle
Science correspondent, BBC News

Footage shows the team trekking to find the bog, as Dr Simon Lewis explains

A vast peatland has been discovered in a remote part of Congo-Brazzaville.

The bog covers an area the size of England and is thought to contain billions of tonnes of peat.

Scientists say investigating the carbon-rich material could shed light on 10,000 years of environmental change in this little-studied region.

Dr Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds, said: "It's remarkable that there are parts of the planet that are still uncharted territory."

He added: "Few people venture into these swamps as they are quite difficult places to move around in and work in."

Satellite images initially hinted at the presence of the enormous tropical peatland, but an expedition, starting from Itanga village in April, confirmed it was there.

The discovery team, from the University of Leeds, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Congo and Congo-Brazzaville's Marien Ngouabi University, had to contend with dwarf crocodiles, gorillas and elephants as they explored the area. But they said the biggest challenge was soggy feet.

The great hike of zebra migration

Posted by: Leya Musa / 5 hours ago

The longest migration to date for wildlife has been recorded with zebras travelling a round trip of 500km between Namibia and Botswana. The distance covered each year by several thousands of zebras was discovered following radio tagging of some of the animals. The study was undertaken by researchers from WWF, Elephants without Borders and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

Eight plains zebras (Equus quagga) had radio collars fitted and were monitored over a 2 year period. The zebras were discovered to migrate between the Chobe River in Namibia and Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park. The total straight-line round trip would cover 500kms.

“This unexpected discovery of endurance in an age dominated by humans, where we think we know most everything about the natural world, underscores the importance of continued science and research for conservation” said Dr. Robin Naidoo, senior conservation scientist at WWF.

Zebras tranquillised from air to study migration

Hybridization Between Native And Invasive Species Of Trout Accelerated By Climate Change

Scientists have discovered that the rapid spread of hybridization between a native species and an invasive species of trout in the wild is strongly linked to changes in climate.

In the study, stream temperature warming over the past several decades and decreases in spring flow over the same time period contributed to the spread of hybridization between native westslope cutthroat trout and introduced rainbow trout – the world’s most widely introduced invasive fish species –across the Flathead River system in Montana and British Columbia, Canada.

Experts have long predicted that climate change could decrease worldwide biodiversity through cross-breeding between invasive and native species, but this study is the first to directly and scientifically support this assumption. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, was based on 30 years of research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Montana, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Hybridization has contributed to the decline and extinction of many native fish worldwide, including all subspecies of cutthroat trout in western North America, which have enormous ecological and socioeconomic value. The researchers used long-term genetic monitoring data coupled with high-resolution climate and stream temperature predictions to assess whether climate warming enhances interactions between native and nonnative species through hybridization.

Nature studies: Stay away from the dolphins kept in tanks. The only ones to see live wild

Sometimes features of our lives with which everyone is familiar can disappear so completely that the next generation has no idea they ever existed. So it is, thankfully, with the dolphinarium.

You need to be fifty or over to remember the time when every other British theme park or seaside resort seemed to have an aquarium that housed performing dolphins, with the peak year being 1972, when – believe it or not – there were no fewer than 36 of them operating in this country, from Brighton to Battersea Park in London, and from Knowsley Safari Park near Liverpool to Windsor Safari Park. Now they’ve all long since gone, every one of them; the last closed its doors in 1993.

It was all part of a zoological craze which swept the world at the end of the 1960s, following the international success of the US TV series Flipper, the story of a fictional bottlenose dolphin which was the wild pet of a marine park ranger in Florida. In a few short years, dolphinaria appeared in every major country, with wild dolphins and later orcas, or killer whales, being captured by the hundred so they could perform tricks for tourists in their concrete tanks.

Light-colored butterflies and dragonflies thriving as European climate warms

Butterflies and dragonflies with lighter colours are out-competing darker-coloured insects in the face of climate change.

In a new study published in Nature Communications, scientists from Imperial College London, Philipps-University Marburg and University of Copenhagen have shown that as the climate warms across Europe, communities of butterflies and dragonflies consist of more lighter coloured species. Darker coloured species are retreating northwards to cooler areas, but lighter coloured species are also moving their geographical range north as Europe gets warmer.

Grape-treading elephant attraction withdraws permit application

Posted by: Ainsley Hay / posted on May 27th, 2014

The tide is turning against interactions with elephants by the paying public. The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (NSPCA) stance is that such “activities” play no part in ethical tourism and have no conservation or welfare benefit for the animals.

The Meerendal Wine Estate in Cape Town had applied to create an elephant tourist attraction at their wine estate. The National Council of SPCAs and the SPCA Cape of Good Hope have been vocal in our opposition of this, and we are delighted to report that thanks to public pressure, the estate has retracted its application.

Formal opposition was submitted to Cape Nature, the permit-issuing authority, by the NSPCA and other animal welfare groups, plus concerted public pressure.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Can US eliminate invasive species by eating them?

HOUSTON (AP) — It seems like a simple proposition: American lakes, rivers and offshore waters are filling up with destructive fish and crustaceans originally from other parts of the world, many of them potential sources of food.

So why not control these invasive populations by getting people to eat them?

The idea has gained momentum recently from the lionfish, which invaded the Gulf of Mexico but was successfully marketed to restaurants and today appears to be in decline.

But businesses and scientists have struggled to repeat this apparent triumph with other species. Some, such as Asian carp, are not appetizing to Americans. Others, like feral hogs, reproduce too quickly to make a dent. And then there's the question of whether turning them into sought-after cuisine undermines the larger goal of eliminating them.

Woman Getting Off Bus Knocked Out By Airborne Deer

The Huffington Post | by Hilary Hanson

Posted: 05/24/2014 10:59 am EDT Updated: 05/24/2014 11:59 am EDT
Sometimes there are no antlers to senseless violence.

A Washington, D.C. woman was getting off a bus Friday morning when a leaping deer sprang out of nowhere and knocked her to the ground.

"Just like a big white light hit me, I fell to the floor, and I didn't get back up," Dena Lyles told WJLA. "I'm still in a little pain, but I'm gonna be okay."

Witnesses said the deer had been walking up the road, but appeared to become startled by the crowd of people outside the bus and was attempting to jump over them.

Or, maybe the deer just heard about the whitetail who boarded a bus by jumping through the windshield in Pennsylvania last year, and he just wanted to join in on the fun.

If you're seriously worried about a bounding deer ruining your bus trip, try taking public transportation behind the former Iron Curtain.

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