2011 Briefs : April-June

Giant freshwater turtle in Vietnam to receive medical treatment
April 3, 2011

A giant freshwater turtle (Rafeteus swinhoei), one of four of its species left in the world, was captured last week so that it could receive medical treatment. Considered to be "a symbol of Vietnam's independence", the over 100-year old turtle had been seen in recent months with open sores on its neck and legs. According to turtle expert Ha Dinh Duc, "...the turtle is fine and stable."

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12952474

India to enlist endangered plants, animals on Red List
April 3, 2011

From the article:

In a bid to strengthen its efforts at conservation of endangered plant and animal species, India has decided to initiate the Red listing process on regular basis. A high-level Environment Ministry panel has decided to bring its first report on the country's endangered species -- both plants and animals -- by the end of next year.

"To begin with, two documents, one each on 'Red list of Indian Plants' and 'Red list of Indian Animals' would be released during the COP-11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in New Delhi in October 2012," a Ministry document said.

The Red listing process would follow the framework of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) regional guidelines and criteria, it said....As per the latest (2011) quantitative evaluation done by the IUCN, there are 57 critically endangered species of animals in India.

Full story: http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?717479

Endangered species permit applications
April 4, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 64
FWS-R6-ES-2011-N056; 60120-1113-0000-D2

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites public comment on the receipt of applications to conduct activities pertaining to the enhancement or curvival or endangered species. Submit written data or comments by May 4, 2011 to the Assistant Regional Director -- Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0486; facsimile 303-236- 0027.

From the announcement:

Applications

The following applicants have requested issuance of enhancement of survival permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Renewals

Applicants: Rockford Plettner, Nebraska Public Power District, Columbus, Nebraska, TE-039100; Kathleen Triby, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Malta, Montana, TE-127250; and Chadwin Smith, Headwaters Corp., Kearney, Nebraska, TE-183430.
These applicants request renewed permits to take interior least terns (Sterna antillarum athalassos) and piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' ranges for the purpose of enhancing their survival and recovery.

Applicants: Brian Holmes, Bureau of Land Management, Meeker, Colorado, TE-121911; Ben Janis, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule, South Dakota, TE-131398; and Duane Shroufe, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona, TE-163125.
These applicants request renewed permits to take black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Applicants: U.S. Geological Survey, South Dakota Coop Unit, Brookings, South Dakota, TE-104580; Patrick Braaten, U.S. Geological Survey, Ft. Peck, Montana, TE-047285; Rob Holm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery, Riverdale, North Dakota, TE-062035; and Jeffery Powell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, Yankton, South Dakota, TE-109048.
These applicants request renewed permits to take pallid sturgeons (Scaphirhynchus albus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Applicants: Melvin Coonrod, EIS Environmental and Engineering Consulting, Helper, Utah, TE-044836; Jim Friedley, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Ignacio, Colorado, TE-047381; William Butler, ERO Resources Corp., Denver, Colorado, TE-040510; and Peter Smith, Smith Environmental and Engineering, Westminster, Colorado, TE-044780.
These applicants request renewed permits to take Southwestern willow flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Applicant: National Park Service, Prairie Cluster Ecological Monitoring, Republic, Missouri, TE-047288.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to take Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Applicant: Claire Crow, National Park Service, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, TE-057485.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to take Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus), Arctomecon humilis (Dwarf bear-poppy), Astragalus holmgreniorum (Holmgren milk-vetch), and Astragalus ampullarioides (Shivwitz milk-
vetch) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing their survival and recovery.

Applicant: Rabdy Chapo, Lincoln Children's Zoo, Lincoln, Nebraska, TE-210754.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to take Salt Creek tiger beetle (Cicindela nevadica lincolniana) in conjunction with
recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Display Renewal

Applicant: Robert Brynda, Landry's Downtown Aquarium, Denver, Colorado, TE-046427.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to possess bonytail chub (Gila elegans), humpback chub (Gila cypha), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi) for public display and propagation in conjunction with recovery activities for the purpose of enhancing their
survival and recovery.

Applicant: Tony Korth, Ak-sar-ben Aquarium, Gretna, Nebraska, TE- 039090.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to possess pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) for public display and propagation in conjunction with recovery activities for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival and recovery.

Applicant: Tracy Brower-Thessing, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado
Springs, Colorado, TE-040748. The applicant requests a renewed permit to possess black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) and Wyoming toad (Bufo baxteri) for public display and propagation in conjunction with recovery activities for the purpose of
enhancing their survival and recovery.

Applicant: Eddie Overbay, Texas Zoo, Victoria, Texas, TE-051840.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to possess black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) for public display and propagation in conjunction with recovery activities for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival and recovery.

Applicant: Brent Anderson, Living Planet Aquarium, Sandy, Utah, TE- 131638.
The applicant requests a renewed permit to possess bonytail chub (Gila elegans), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), June sucker (Chasmistes liorus), and razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus) for public display and propagation in conjunction with recovery activities for the purpose of enhancing their survival and recovery.

Applicant: Lee Jackson, National Mississippi River Museum, Dubuque, Iowa, TE-37337A.
The applicant requests a permit to take Wyoming toad (Bufo baxteri) for public display and propagation in conjunction with
recovery activities for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival and recovery.

Amendments

Applicant: Lee Simmons, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE, TE- 053961.
The applicant requests a permit amendment to add surveys for Salt Creek tiger beetle (Cicindela nevadica lincolniana) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

New

Applicant: Stephen Spomer, Lincoln, NE, TE-37351A. The applicant requests a permit to take Salt Creek tiger beetle (Cicindela nevadica lincolniana) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-04/pdf/2011-7879.pdf

CCF cheetah, Chewbaaka, dies
April 5, 2011

Chewbaaka, the cheetah raised by Cheetah Conservation Fund founder Dr. Laurie Marker, has died at the age of 16. After a rabid kudu jumped into his enclosure, Chewbaaka attempted to kill the kudu and was fatally injured. Chewbaaka originally came to CCF in 1995 when he was 10 days old, and had been with the organization ever since.

Full tribute and photos on CCF's website: http://app.streamsend.com/private/FoPQ/DV3/8pBJatG/browse/13687365

Common wasps compete with New Zealand ants for food
April 6, 2011 By Matt Kaplan

A new study published in Biology Letters describes how the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) "air drops" native New Zealand ants (Prolasius advenus) as a way to compete for scarce food sources. The common wasp is native to North America but were introduced to New Zealand in the 1970s. In the experiment, scientists presented small pieces of tuna to the wasps and ants and witnessed the following behavior:

When a wasp approached a mound of food swarming with ants, the wasp would pluck an ant from the pile, fly a ways off, and drop the still-living insect from its jaws.

...In the vast majority of instances, the wasps and ants avoided or ignored each other. However, the researchers documented 341 cases when the ants were aggressive toward the wasps, charging at the larger bugs, biting them, or spraying them with formic acid, a natural defense mechanism.

In just 90 encounters the wasps were the aggressors, including 62 cases of ant dropping. The researchers suspect the other 28 times were ant-dropping attempts that the wasps fumbled.

The researchers believe this is the first time this behavior has been described.

Full story and video of the behavior: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/04/110406-aliens-wasps-ants-drop-food-new-zealand-animals-science/

CITATION: Granger J, Lester PJ. 2011. A novel interference behaviour: invasive wasps remove ants from resources and drop them from a height. Biology Letters [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0165

Proposed rule to list dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered
April 7, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 67
FWS-R2-ES-2010-0041;MO 92210-0-0008

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announce a public comment period on the Decemeber 14, 2010 proposed rule to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) under the Endangered Species Act of 1974. Comments must be received by May 9, 2011 and may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov; or through the mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2010-0041; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wally "J'' Murphy, Field Supervisor, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113; by telephone 505-761-4781 or by facsimile 505- 346-2542.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-07/pdf/2011-7339.pdf

Release of orphan chimpanzees using GPS tracking deemed successful
April 7, 2011

In 2008, a team of researchers released 12 orphan chimpanzees into the wild in the Haut Niger National Park, Guinea, West Africa.

From the article:

The release was the first of its kind to use VHF-GPS store-on-board ARGOS tracking collars to monitor the progress of the chimpanzees. The ARGOS system emits GPS points to satellites downloadable via the internet. It is also only the second time that rehabilitated chimpanzees have been released back into the wild in an area where other wild chimpanzees live.

...Six males and six females between eight and 20 years old were released in June 2008. Over two years after the release, nine chimpanzees remain free-living with two males and three females forming a group at the original release site. Two of these females gave birth to healthy offspring and another female successfully integrated into a wild chimpanzee community.

...The GPS points stored on the collars allowed researchers to monitor the chimpanzees' behaviour including their habitat use, day travel range and association patterns. The ARGOS system also facilitated several rescue missions to retrieve chimpanzees when they strayed too far from the protected release site.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110407121638.htm

CITATION: Humle T, Colin C, Laurans M, Raballand E. 2010. Group release of sanctuary chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the Haut Niger National Park, Guinea, West Africa: ranging patterns and lessons so far. International Journal of Primatology 32(2):456. doi: 10.1007/s10764-010-9482-7

SAFE method helps conservationists to prioritize work with endangered species
April 7, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A new tool called "Species Ability to Forestall Extinction" (SAFE) "should help conservationists select which species to focus on saving and which, perhaps controversially, should be let go." According to the authors, the tool is meant to be used in conjunction with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and not as a replacement.

From the article:

"The idea is fairly simple—it's the distance a population is (in terms of abundance) from its minimum viable population size. While we provide a formula for working this out, it's more than just a formula—we've shown that SAFE is the best predictor yet of the vulnerability of mammal species to extinction," co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modeling at the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute, says in a press release.

... The SAFE index team analyzed 95 mammals species and found nearly 60% are close to a 'tipping point' that could push the species to extinction, while 25% are worse off and already close to extinction. Such analyses should allow conservationists a better tool to determine where to spend funds and time.

The research is published in this week's issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0407-hance_safe.html

CITATION: Clements BR, Bradshaw CJA, Brook BW, Laurance WF. 2011. The SAFE index: using a threshold population target to measure relative species threat. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (published online ahead of print). doi:10.1890/100177.

Controversy over proposed Mekong River dam
April 8, 2011 By Jane Qiu

A proposed hydroelectric dam on the Mekong River is causing controversy in Laos, which is planning a project that would build 7 additional dams on the river. People who live in the region are concerned that the Xayaburi dam would have an adverse affect on their lives, as it would cover over 49 sq kilometers (approximately 19 sq miles) and force over 2,000 people to relocate. Additionally, conservationists are saying that the project would block 69% of the habitat of "several migratory fish species, including the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas)." In addition to the loss of fish habitat, conservationists are concerned that the project would "trap river sediments, devastate biodiversity and diminish seasonal flooding that sustains floodplain farming."

A decision is expected to be reached by the Mekong River Commission by April 22.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110408/full/news.2011.220.html

Biodiversity may clean up water
April 8, 2011 By Vivienne Raper

A new study published in last week's Nature shows how biodiversity improves water quality and helps "shield waterways against nitrogen pollution." Scientists are hoping that these results would influence developing countries to focus on maintaining biodiversity in their rivers and lakes, which would then help them to save money on water treatment.

From the article:

Scientists have long known that ecosystems with more biodiversity are better at mopping up pollutants like nitrogen. But there was little experimental evidence for why this happens. A leading theory is that different species make maximum use of nutrients because they each fill a unique biological habitat — niche.

[Bradley Cardinale] tested this theory in a laboratory experiment on algae.

He grew one to eight species of common algae in 150 artificial river channels. Some artificial streams had a single habitat, whilst others mimicked several natural habitats created by differences and disturbances in water flow in the streams.

Cardinale found that nitrogen uptake increased in more biodiverse streams, as long as there were varied habitats available in the stream. One stream with eight species removed nitrogen 4.5 times faster than the average for a single species stream, implying also "that biodiversity may help to buffer natural ecosystems against the ecological impacts of nutrient pollution".

Full story: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/biodiversity-may-clean-up-water.html

CITATION: Cardinale BJ. 2011. Biodiversity improves water quality through niche partitioning. Nature 472:86-89. doi: 10.1038/nature09904

Effects of invasive plants on biodiversity depends on scale
April 11, 2011

New research published in this month's Biodiversity Special Issue of the American Journal of Botany looks to reconcile the conflicting hypotheses about invasive species' effects on biodiversity. One popular theory is that "invasive species may be one of the most important threats to biodiversity," while another claims that "plant invasions are rarely the cause for native species extinctions." Kristin Powell, from Washington University in Missouri, and colleagues have shown that these different theories are most likely the result of the different spatial scales of previous studies.

By conducting a meta-analysis of the literature and by modelling potential scenarios, Powell and her co-authors determined that at small local scales, invasives can severely limit biodiversity and wipe out local species, but at larger regional scales, the effect of invasives is lessened.

However, the mix of rare and common native plants also play a role in how invasives effect an area's biodiversity. From the article:

...[In] order for invasive species to drive native species extinct at the regional (or broader scale) level the model indicated that the system must have many rare species which are strongly and disproportionally influenced by invasive species relative to the more widespread, common species. In all other scenarios, invasive species would have bigger or similar impacts at the local rather than the regional scale -- which is what the meta-analysis, based on the literature, also showed.

"It is not surprising that invasive plants cause larger declines in diversity at smaller spatial scales, as plant competition is a local, ecological process," Powell notes. "One process that can lead to fewer native plant extinctions at broader scales is if invasive plants generally affect common species proportionately more than rare species" Powell states. "We are currently investigating if there are commonalities across several plant invasions in how strongly common versus rare plant species are affected by invasive plants."

Powell and her colleagues emphasize that although invasives seem to have a larger affect on local areas, they have the potential to "alter population and meta-population dynamics of native species, which may lead to broad-scale extinctions in the future."

Full press release: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110408163917.htm

CITATION: Powell KI, Chase JM,  Knight TM. 2011. A synthesis of plant invasion effects on biodiversity across spatial scales. American Journal of Botany 98(3):539. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1000402

Bonobos' low aggression levels may be explained through neuroanatomy
April 11, 2011 By Brian Vastag

A new study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience describes the comparative analysis of the brains of bonobos (Pan troglodytes) and chimpanzees (Pan paniscus). The results of the study shows that the striking difference in aggression levels between the two closely related species may be a result of their different neuroanatomy.

From the article:

In the study, James Rilling of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta scanned the brains of 13 living and dead bonobos and chimps. One imaging method, used with the living animals, built pictures of gray matter, the large-scale structures of the brain. The second technique, used on the deceased animals, filled in lines of white matter, the neuronal wires connecting various brain regions.

Compared with those of chimps, bonobo brains displayed bigger, more-developed regions thought to be vital for feeling empathy, perceiving distress in others and feeling anxiety, Rilling said. Even more notable, he said, is that bonobo brains carry a thick connection between the amygdala, a deep-seated emotional center that can spark aggression, and a higher brain region, the ventral anterior cingulate cortex, which helps control impulses.

Chimp brains displayed a much thinner connection along this aggression-suppression pathway, meaning the channel carries less information.

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/brain_differences_may_explain_varying_behavior_of_bonobos_and_chimpanzees/2011/03/29/AFP2wUND_story.html

CITATION: Rilling JK, et al. 2011. Differences between chimpanzees and bonobos in neural systems supporting social cognition. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsr017

Balboa Park listed among the "coolest" city parks
April 11, 2011 By Ratha Tep

Balboa Park was recently included in a list compiled by Travel + Leisure magazine of the twelve "coolest" city parks in the United States. The article points out that the park is instrumental to the city's tourism industry, stating: "Balboa Park is the single greatest tourist attraction in San Diego, where total park-derived tourist spending came to $114.3 million..."

From the article:

The sprawling 1,200-acre Balboa Park packs in more than two dozen cultural institutions, including the Tony Award–winning Old Globe theater, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the famed San Diego Zoo, one of the world’s few zoos with resident giant pandas. The park overlooks a seriously beautiful backdrop (the Pacific Ocean) and has buildings so stunning that some exteriors were filmed by Orson Welles to represent the grand fictional estate Xanadu in Citizen Kane.

Full list of the "coolest" city parks: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-coolest-city-parks/1

NYU and MediaCommons to examine open peer review process
April 11, 2011 By Jennifer Howard

NYU and MediaCommons (a digital scholarly network affiliated with the Institute for the Future of the Book) have recently been awarded a Mellon Foundation grant to examine the open peer review, or peer-to-peer (P2P), process. P2P gives "anyone who's interested a chance to weigh in on scholarly content before it's published," rather than only academics.

From the article:

The idea of P2P review has generated a lot of interest in the humanities lately. Last year, for instance, Shakespeare Quarterly tried its first-ever open peer review experiment with a special issue on Shakespeare and new media. That went well enough that the journal decided to try it again, this time with a forthcoming issue on Shakespeare and performance.

Thanks to the Mellon money, over the next year representatives from MediaCommons and the NYU Press and libraries will meet with an advisory board of scholars and take a closer, critical look at open peer review. The group will consider four topics, the NYU Press announcement said. It will “assess the value and shortcomings of P2P review for the evaluation of scholarship.” It will create “a road map for scholars and publishers” by laying out flexible “criteria and protocols” to guide open peer review experiments across disciplines. It will look at what technology used for P2P review needs to be able to do. And it will weigh whether existing tools and online platforms are adequate to support those needs.

The study aims to provide an impartial look into the viability of such a review process.

Full blog post at the Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/taking-a-closer-look-at-open-peer-review/30877

Genetic differences of bee species influences eusocialty levels
April 11, 2011

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences focuses on the evolution of "eusociality," which is a "system of collective living in which most members of a female-centric colony forego their reproductive rights and instead devote themselves to specialized tasks...that enhance the survival of the group." Different species of bees exhibit various levels of eusociality, with honey bees and stingless bees considered to be "highly eusocial" and many other types of bees considered to be "primitively eusocial."

However, researchers at the University of Illinois, dislike the term "primitively eusocial," as it suggests that eusociality is a progressive evolution. Rather, the different levels of eusociality are independent evolutionary events.

From the article:

...[The] researchers worked with Roche Diagnostic Corp. to sequence active genes (those transcribed for translation into proteins) in nine species of bees representing every lifestyle from the solitary leaf-cutter bee, Megachile rotundata, to the highly eusocial dwarf honey bee, Apis florea. Then Illinois crop sciences professor and co-author Matt Hudson used the only available bee genome, that of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, as a guide to help assemble and identify the sequenced genes in the other species, and the team looked for patterns of genetic change that coincided with the evolution of the differing social systems.

...The analysis did find significant differences in gene sequence between the eusocial and solitary bees. The researchers also saw patterns of genetic change unique to either the highly eusocial or primitively eusocial bees. The frequency and pattern of these changes in gene sequence suggest "signatures of accelerated evolution" specific to each type of eusociality, and to eusociality in general, the researchers reported.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-genetic-insight-social-bees.html

CITATION: Woodard SH, et al. 2011. Genes involved in convergent evolution of eusociality in bees. PNAS [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103457108

Endangered species permit applications
April 11, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 69
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N070; 80221-1113-0000-F5

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities
with endangered species. Comments must be received before May 11, 2011. Send all written data or commetns to: U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916- 414-6464; fax: 916-414-6486). Please refer to the respective permit
number for each application when submitting comments. For further information, contact: Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife
Biologist; see ADDRESSES (telephone: 760-431-9440; fax: 760-431-9624).

From the announcement:

Permit No. TE-210235
Applicant: Matthew W. McDonald, Idyllwild, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (September 1, 2010, 75 FR 53708) to take (harass by survey) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-36500A
Applicant: Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Camarillo, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, band, locate and monitor nests, and population monitor) the least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities in Ventura County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-820658
Applicant: AECOM, San Diego, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (February 3, 1997, 62 FR 5030) to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino); take (harass by survey, capture, handle, relocate, and release) the unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni); take (harass by survey, capture, handle, release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), the Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens), and Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus); and take (locate and monitor nests) the California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni), light-footed clapper rail (Rallus longirostris levipes), and Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-062907
Applicant: Forde Biological Consultants, Camarillo, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (March 20, 2007, 72 FR 13121) to take (harass by survey, capture, handle, measure, and release) the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus) and mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-045994
Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Western Ecological Research Center, San Diego Field Station, San Diego, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (June 14, 2010, 75 FR 33633) to take (trap, capture, handle, take biological samples, attach transmitters, and release) the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus) and take (apply hormone treatments, conduct cryopreservation activities, augment populations, and remove infertile eggs) the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) in conjunction with surveys, population monitoring, reproductive analysis, and genetic activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-005535
Applicant: Gilbert O. Goodlit, Ridgecrest, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (May 1, 2009, 74 FR 202337) to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-38413A
Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Henderson Field Station, Henderson, Nevada, California.
The applicant requests a permit to remove/reduce to possession the Eureka Valley dune grass (Swallenia alexandrae) and Eureka Dunes evening primrose (Oenothera californica) in conjunction with population monitoring, germination, and growth studies from Eureka Valley within Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-034293
Applicant: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (November 15, 2000, 65 FR 69043) to take (survey, electrofish, measure, collect biological samples, assess health, PIT tag, salvage, transport, hold in captivity, translocate, release, display, and kill) the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) and the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) in conjunction with research involving distribution and abundance, die off, entrainment and genetic studies in Klamath County,
Oregon, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-212445
Applicant: Robert A. Schell, San Rafael, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (May 1, 2009, 74 FR 202337) to take (survey, capture, handle, collect biological samples, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with genetic analysis throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-066455
Applicant: Scot A. Chandler, Murrieta, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (January 31, 2003, 68 FR 5037) to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-37418A
Applicant: William T. Bean, Berkeley, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, mark, release, and recapture) the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring studies at the Ciervo-Panoche Natural Area in eastern San Benito and western Fresno Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-807078
Applicant: Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Petaluma, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (May 1, 2009, 73 FR 20337) to take (locate and monitor nests) the California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni) in conjunction with population monitoring activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-38475A
Applicant: Jeffrey M. Lemm, Poway, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, trap, capture, handle, implant tags, collect, take biological samples, transport, release, captive rear, captive breed, augment populations, and release to unoccupied sites) the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) in conjunction with surveys, population monitoring, captive breeding, reproductive analysis, and genetic activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species'
survival.

Permit No. TE-166393
Applicant: Pete C. Trenham, Bellingham, Washington.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (November 6, 2007, 72 FR 62669) to take (survey, capture, handle, identify, measure, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with conducting focused training seminars in occupied habitat throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-195305
Applicant: Andres Aguilar, Merced, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to an existing permit (October 29, 2008, 73 FR 64360) to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), in conjunction with surveys and genetic research Contra Costa, Glenn, Merced, San Luis Obispo, Solano, Stanislaus, and Ventura Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-11/pdf/2011-8509.pdf

Budget rider would lift wolf protections
April 12, 2011 By Kim Murphy

Last month, conservation groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had come to an agreement over a long and protracted court battle over the de-listing of Rocky Mountain wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis). The agreement would have allowed Idaho and Montana to manage their wolf populations, while still protecting wolves in Wyoming, a state which has a shoot-on-sight philosophy.

However, a rider has been attached to the federal budget which would "allow Congress to cancel federal protections for an endangered species."

From the blog post:

...The rider attached by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) as part of the budget compromise -- scheduled to be voted on by the end of the week -- would require federal wildlife managers to go forward with a 2009 Fish and Wildlife Service plan to de-list wolves not only in Montana and Idaho, but also in portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

Both Washington and Oregon have small, fledgling wolf populations that conservationists fear could be quickly wiped out if hunting, baiting and trapping of wolves resumes.

...Ranch owners and hunters in Montana and Idaho. who are concerned that increasing numbers of wolves are having a devastating impact on sheep and elk, say there have been more than enough studies and court cases -- it’s time, they say, to put states back in charge of wildlife.

Full story: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/04/wolves-northern-rockies-budget-rider-montana-idaho.html

New mandate for renewable energy in California
April 12, 2011 By Tiffany Hsu

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a new mandate that would introduce higher renewable energy standards in California. The law requires that 33% of electricity in the state come from renewable sources by 2020, and also that "utilities draw some of their power from small local projects based near customers -- known as distributed generation."

From the article:

The new law, known as a renewable portfolio standard, is the most aggressive of any state. Several attempts to introduce a federal version have stalled in a divided and preoccupied Congress.

California had previously required investor-owned utilities such as Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric to generate 20% of their electricity from clean sources by 2010, with a three-year grace period.

The law signed Tuesday will also apply to municipal utilities such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which manage about a quarter of the state’s electricity load.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/04/renewable-energy-rps-california-electricity-jerry-brown.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GreenspaceEnvironmentBlog+%28Greenspace%29

Decreasing penguin survival rates in Antarctic
April 12, 2011 By Deborah Zabarenko

A long-term study on the survival rates of juvenile chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarctica) and Adelies penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in the Antarctic shows that their survival rates have decreased drastically from when the study began in the 1970s. At the beginning of the study, juvenile penguins (from 2 to 4 years of age) had about a 50% chance of survivng their "first independent trip back to their colonies from their winter habitat"; the chance of survival is now only at 10 percent.

Wayne Trivelpiece from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and his colleagues conclude in their study that this decrease in survival rates is due to a warmer climate cutting "deeply into [the penguins'] main food source, shrimp-like creatures called krill.

From the article:

Krill form the basis of the marine food web, supporting organisms ranging from fish and penguins to whales. Krill feed on phytoplankton -- basically, ice algae -- that grow lushly on the undersides of ice floes.

These tiny crustaceans are specially adapted to graze for the tiny plants among the ice crystals. But in the last few decades, winter ice has formed later in the season and has covered less area and spring melt comes earlier. Without ice, krill's feeding is disrupted and populations fall.

The Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands have experienced some of the most drastic climate warming on the planet. According to the article, "[mean] winter temperatures have risen 9 to nearly 11 degrees F (5-6 degrees C) in that area since the mid-20th century, compared to the rise in world mean temperatures of less than 2 degrees F (about 0.74 C) for all of the 20th century."

Full story: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/11/us-climate-penguins-idUSTRE73A7M020110411

CITATION: Trivelpiece WZ, et al. 2011. Variability in krill biomass links harvesting and climate warming to penguin poopulation changes in Antarctica. PNAS [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1043/pnas.1016560108

Proposed listing of Three Forks springsnail and San Bernardino springsnail as endangered
April 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 70
FWS-R2-ES-2009-0083; 92210-1117-0000-B4

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the Three Forks springsnail (Pyrgulopsis trivialis) and the San
Bernardino springsnail (Pyrgulopsis bernardina) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). If the proposed rule is finalized, it would extend the Act's protections to these species. The USFWS also proposes to designate critical habitat for both species under the Act. In total, approximately 4.5 hectares (11.1 acres) are being proposed for designation as critical habitat for Three Forks springnail in Apache County, and approximately 0.815 hectares (2.013 acres) for San Bernardino springsnail in Cochise County, Arizona.

Comments must be received by June 13, 2011. Submit comments by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov; U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2009-0083; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. For further information, contact: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona, 85021; telephone 602-242-0210; facsimile 602-242-2513.

Full announcment: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-12/pdf/2011-8176.pdf

Rare Bactrian camel born at Longleat Safari Park
April 13, 2011

A Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) named "Lemmy" was recently born at Longleat Safari Park to mom Bhali, 13, and dad Khan, nine. Bactrian camels are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, "with just 600 in China and 350 in Mongolia in 2004 - set to decrease by 80 per cent within the next 50 years." Lemmy is the first Bactrian camel to be born at the park in two years, and is now one of eight at the park.

Photos and the full post: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/04/rare-camel-baby-gets-kisses-from-mom.html

Decrease in bat population would increase farm pesticide use
April 13, 2011 By David Mercer

Researchers have published a study that responds to the question of why people should care about bats and their decimation by white-nose syndrome. As the disease is spreading to US states where agriculture is extremely important to the local economy, scientists believe that the results of the study which measures the effectiveness of bats as a means of pest control may convince farmers and regulating bodies.

From the article:

Bats save American farmers at least $3.7 billion a year in pest-control costs by eating insects that feed on crops, a benefit that could be in jeopardy as a disease that has killed more than a million bats in the Northeast spreads to the Midwest.... They and others fear the disease could eventually affect fruit- and vegetable-growing areas in the West as well.

...White-nose syndrome has devastated the populations of migratory bat species such as the little brown bat in the Northeast since it was discovered in New York in 2006. Since then, the fungus that causes the disease has spread south and west to 16 states and parts of Canada. More than a million bats have died, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The study appears in this week's Science.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-disease-farm-pesticide.html

CITATION: Boyles JG, Cryan PM, McCracken GF, Kunz TH. 2011. Economic importance of bats in agriculture. Science 332:41-42. doi: 10.1126/science.1201366

EarthFair events at Balboa Park
April 13, 2011 By Nina Garin

EarthFair, one of the largest Earth Day celebrations in the country, is taking place this Sunday in Balboa Park. The event this year will feature "hundreds of eco-friendly vendors, tasty organic food, recycled goods and much more."

Excerpts from the article:

Children’s Earth Parade: This joyous walk down the Prado brings scout troops, school clubs, sports teams, musicians, museum groups, church organizations and plenty of kids in costume. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends by 11 a.m. There will also be a children’s area with face painting, crafts and activities located by the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.

eARThGallery: Local artists will display and sell earth-friendly pieces from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pan American Plaza. You’ll see art using recycled or reused materials as well as works depicting the state of natural resources in San Diego.

Cleaner Car Concourse/eHome exhibit: Those looking to make a major move toward environmental consciousness can wander to the clean-car area at Pan America Plaza that showcases hybrids and vehicles that run on alternative fuel. There will also be a home exhibit area where people can learn about everything from solar electricity to how to live completely off the electrical grid.

Entertainment: There will be three stages throughout the park. The Children’s Stage, in the kids’ area, will features music and storytelling. The Moon Stage at Park Boulevard and Presidents Way will welcome pop and rock musicians. And the Folk Music Stage, by the U.N. building, brings some of the city’s best folk musicians.

Booths: The overwhelming presence at the event are the booths. You’ll find everything from green-friendly politicians and organizations to clothes made from organic material and earth-friendly home goods. And while the event is free, you may want to bring some cash, as there will be plenty of shopping opportunities.

Vegetarian food: Don’t look for hamburgers or greasy pizza at this food court. Presidents Field is turned into a healthy, vegetarian zone. Look for vegan burgers, beet salads, hummus, fair-trade coffee, fresh fruits and veggies, and more. The spacious eating area will have a stage and lots of room for post-lunch dancing.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/apr/13/planet-party/

Endangered species permit applications
April 13, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 71
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N074; 96300-1671-0000-P5

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities
with endangered species. Comments must be received by May 13, 2011, to Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov. For further information, contact: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

Applicant: Oklahoma City Zoological Park, Oklahoma City, OK; PRT-30321A
The applicant requests a permit to import a captive-held male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) born in the wild from African Lion Safari & Game Farm Ltd., Ontario, Canada, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through propagation.

Multiple Applicants
The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Franklin Brown, Rainbow City, AL; PRT-33362A
Applicant: David Phillips, St. Paul, MN; PRT-37678A
Applicant: Carlos Ramirez, Houston, TX; PRT-38803A

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-13/pdf/2011-8861.pdf

Importance of conserving small populations of tree species
April 14, 2011

A new study published in the journal Molecular Ecology shows that the rarity of tree species may not always be caused by humans, but instead by natural causes. Dr. Lara Shepherd from the Institute of Fundamental Sciences and Leon Perrie, a botany curator at Te Papa, studied scattered populations of the fierce lancewood tree (Pseudopanax ferox). Fierce lancewood is an endangered tree native to New Zealand.

From the article:

Dr. Shepherd says her study found the scattered populations of lancewood across New Zealand were genetically very different from each other. “Unexpectedly, even populations with very few individuals had significant levels of genetic variation,” Dr. Shepherd says. “This indicates that the isolated populations that we see today are remnants from a time when fierce lancewood was much more widespread. It is likely that its decline is at least in part natural, beginning before humans arrived.”

She says that during the past two million years the Earth has undergone numerous climatic changes, cycling between warm interglacial periods of time, like the one we are experiencing at present, and much colder glacials.

...The study has implications for conservation, she says. “At present some populations of threatened plants may be ignored if other populations are considered safe. However, this study indicates that even small populations may be worth conserving, because they may be genetically distinct.”

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-humans-blame-rarity.html

CITATION: Shepherd LD, Perrie LR. 2011. Microsatellite DNA analyses of a highly disjunct New Zealand tree reveal strong differentiation and imply a formerly more continuous distribution. Molecular Ecology 20(7):1389-1400. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05017.x

Yale symposium on taxonomic naming conventions
April 14, 2011 By Nancy Burton

This Friday, scientists are gathering to debate the nearly three century old method for naming newly discovered species. At the symposium called "Naming Nature: A conversation on the nature, uses and limitations of biological taxonomies," evolutionary biologists and other academics will discuss the idea that it is time to overturn the widely used Linnaean system.

From the article:

The Linnaean system divides the natural world into neat ranks and gives species joint Latin names, such as Homo sapiens for humans, with groupings based on physical similarity.

The reformists at the Yale conference, including Yale geology professor Jacques Gauthier, evolutionary biologist Michael Donoghue, and Smithsonian zoologist Kevin de Queiroz, say the Linnaean system has had its day.

"The Linnaean system is simply not up to the task of handling the sheer amount of information we're amassing about diversity," Donoghue said.

Their idea is to replace the Linnaean system with something called "PhyloCode." Under this system, life forms are ranked by shared ancestors and Darwinian principles -- in other words by their branch on the molecular family tree.

Donoghue and his colleagues have already converted the Yale Herbarium's plant collection from the Linnaean system to PhyloCode.

Converting from one system to the other generally does not require a name change, Donoghue said, except to correct a name to reflect new knowledge of evolutionary relationships.

However, not all scientists are in favor of adopting the PhyloCode

But not everyone is in favor of adopting the PhyloCode. Richard Prum, a Yale evolutionary biologist, instead suggests a name registry that would be a "registry of meanings with names."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-lots-newly.html

New nature reserve to be established to protect endangered saola
April 14, 2011

The Saola Natural Reserve will be established in the Annamite mountains along the border of Viet Nam and Laos to protect the endangered saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis).

From the article:

The saola, described as a primitive member of the bovine family which includes cattle, sheep and antelopes, was discovered only in 1992 by a joint WWF and Vietnam Department of Forestry survey. Threatened by illegal hunting with snares and dogs for its horns, the current population of saola is thought be to a few hundred at maximum and possibly only a few dozen at a minimum. None have survived in captivity.

...“The establishment of this new Saola Nature Reserve shows a strong commitment by the Vietnamese Government and Quang Nam Province in the conservation of this highly threatened endemic species,” said Ms. Tran Minh Hien, Country Director of WWF Vietnam.

“This new reserve will create a biodiversity corridor connecting the East of Vietnam to West side of Xe Sap National Park in Laos.”

Conservation organizations working in the area hope that these new reserves will prevent the extinction of the saola, but will also assist local biodiversity efforts.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-survival-elusive-saola.html

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research releases Southern California mountain yellow-legged frog eggs
April 14, 2011 By Adam Backlin

Last Thursday, scientists from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research released about 300 Southern California mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) into streams and pools in the University of California, Riverside’s James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve, part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. By mimicking winter conditions in the lab by placing the frogs in modified refrigerators, researchers at the Institute were able to induce hibernation, thereby setting the stage for successful breeding conditions. Last month, the hibernated females laid about 5,000 eggs, many of which will be "raised to tadpoles in the lab and then released into native habitat" in the summer. In the wild, there are only about 200 endangered adult frogs in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains.

Full post: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5088-San_Diego_Zoo_to_Release_Endangered_Frog_Eggs

Endangered species applications
April 15, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 73
FWS-R3-ES-2011-N071; 30120-1113-0000-F6

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities
with endangered species. Written comments must be received by May 16, 2011. Send written comments to the Regional Director, Attn: Lisa Mandell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056; or by electronic mail to permitsR3ES@fws.gov. For more information contact Lisa Mandell at (612) 713-5343.

From the announcement:

Permit Application Number: TE38769A.
Applicant: Sarah A. Bradley, Salem, MO.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats (Myotissodalis) and gray bats (Myotisgrisescens) on the Mark Twain National Forest. Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38785A.
Applicant: Merrill B. Tawse, Mansfield, OH. The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats within Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38789A.
Applicant: BHE Environmental, Inc., Cincinnati, OH.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats and gray bats throughout the range of the species (within IL, IN, IA, MI, MO, OH, KY, TN, AL, GA, AR, MS, NC, SC, FL, PA, and NY). Permit renewal is also requested for threatened and endangered mussel species within AZ, NM, OK, TX, IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI, AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, VA, and WV and threatened and endangered fish species within those States and CO, KS, MT, NE, ND, SD, UT, and WY. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild through studies to monitor habitat use, surveys to document presence of
the species, and through population assessments.

Permit Application Number: TE38793A.
Applicant: Kenneth S. Mierzwa, Eureka, CA.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release of larvae; collection of excuviae) Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlorahineana) in Will County, Illinois. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38821A.
Applicant: Stantec Consulting Services, Louisville, KY.
The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture and release) Indiana bats, gray bats, Ozark big-eared bats (Corynorhinustownsendiiingens), Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorhinustownsendiivirginianus), the Copperbelly water snake (Nerodiaerythrogasterneglecta), Carolina Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomyssabrinuscoloratus), and the bog turtle (Clemmysmuhlenbergii) throughout their range within OK, IL, IN, IA, MI, MO, OH, AL, AR, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN, CT, DE, MA, MD,NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, VA, and WV. Permit renewal is also requested for threatened and endangered mussel and fish species within those States. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild through studies to monitor habitat use, surveys to document presence of the species, and through population assessments.

Permit Application Number: TE38835A.
Applicant: Land Conservancy of West Michigan, Grand Rapids, MI.
The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (habitat management; presence/absence surveys; prescribed fire) Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeidesmelissasamuelis) on the Maas Preserve, Kent County, Michigan. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38837A.
Applicant: J.F. New Associates, Inc., Walkerton, IN.
The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture and release) Indiana bats and gray bats within Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The applicant requests a permit amendment to include Virginia big-eared bats and to expand the geographic scope of the permit to include the range of all three species within States above and Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38838A.
Applicant: Dr. Michael Hoggarth, Westerville, OH.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Federally listed mussels within Ohio. Species included on Dr. Hoggarth's existing permit are: purple catspaw pearlymussel (Epioblasma obliquata obliquata), fanshell (Cyprogeniastegaria), white catspaw (Epioblasmaobliquataperobliqua), pink mucket pearly mussel (Lampsilisabrupta), rayed bean (Villosafabalis), sheepnose (Plethobasuscyphyus), clubshell (Pluerobemaclava), rabbitsfoot (Quadrulacylindricacylindrica), and snuffbox mussel (Epioblasmatriquetra). The applicant requests a permit amendment to
take Federally listed mussels within an expanded geographic scope including: Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38842A.
Applicant: Sanders Environmental Inc., Bellefonte, PA.
The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture; radio-tag; release) Indiana bats within Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The applicant requests a permit amendment to include gray bats and to expand the geographic scope of the permit to include the range of both species within the States above and Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38849A.
Applicant: Macalester College, St. Paul, MN.
The applicant requests a permit renewal/amendment to take (capture and release) Higgins' eye pearlymussel (Lampsilishigginsi), winged mapleleaf mussel (Quadrulafragosa), sheepnose mussel, snuffbox mussel, and spectaclecasemussel (Cumberlandiamonodonta) within the Chippewa River, Mississippi River, and the St. Croix River within Minnesota and Wisconsin. The proposed research involves community monitoring and habitat analysis. The applicant also requests authority to conduct host suitability trials and brooding studies on sheepnose mussels collected in the Mississippi River Basin in Minnesota and Wisconsin; this research involves temporarily holding females and collecting glochidia. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38856A.
Applicant: Skelly and Loy, Inc., Harrisburg, PA.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) Indiana bats and Virginia big-eared bats throughout the range of the species within Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. The proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38858A.
Applicant: The Holden Arboretum, Kirtland, OH.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey and collect seed) Houghton's goldenrod (Oligoneuronhoughtonii) on lands within Crawford and Kalkaska Counties, Michigan. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38860A.
Applicant: Jason M. Garvon, Sault Sainte Marie, MI.
The applicant requests a permit to take (conduct habitat surveys; monitor nesting sites; erect nesting enclosures) Piping plover (Charadriusmelodus) throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Proposed activities are for the recovery and enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38862A.
Applicant: George R. Cunningham, Omaha, NE.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) Topeka shiners (Notropistopeka) throughout Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. Proposed activities are for the recovery and enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38866A.
Applicant: David Mech, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Paul, MN.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, radio-tag, use chemical immobilization, assess and treat health conditions, implant isotopes, salvage, and release) gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Minnesota, and other locations within the 48 continental States of the United States to monitor the status of the species. The proposed research is for the recovery of the species in the wild.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-15/pdf/2011-9151.pdf

Pandas at San Diego Zoo off exhibit for breeding
April 15, 2011

Last weekend, pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at the San Diego Zoo were taken off exhibit to encourage mating sessions. Bai Yun, 19, and Gao Gao, 20, are typically kept separate all year, except during the three days a year when Bai Yun reaches peak estrus. [Bai Yun has successfully given birth to five cubs since her arrival at the Zoo in 1996.] By monitoring hormone levels and social behaviors Bai Yun, researchers at the Zoo believe that Bai Yun is ready for breeding and have therefore taken both adult pandas off exhibit. Yun Zi, Bai Yun's last cub born in 2009, will be on exhibit over the weekend instead.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/04/adult-pandas-at-san-diego-zoo-get-privacy-this-weekend-in-anticipation-of-mating.html

Dwindling support for paraecologists may hinder future tropical ecology research
April 15, 2011 By Craig Simmons

Summary from www.aaas.org:

Three premier research outfits are scaling back ambitions—and struggling to maintain local staffs as funds grow scarce.

Paraecologists—locals trained to do the nuts and bolts of ecology research—are an example of excellent science on a shoestring. By hiring and training locally, scientists can boost productivity and cut costs, all while supporting conservation. Over the past 2 decades, paraecologists have discovered thousands of species and churned out hundreds of peer-reviewed articles. Although most paraecologists start with little science knowledge, some have gone on to earn advanced degrees and take key positions in national forest management and conservation. But paraecologists may be a vanishing breed; money woes are threatening the concept of local, long-term hiring for field research.

Full article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6027/298.full

3rd annual Biomimicry Conference in San Diego
April 15, 2011

San Diego Zoo Global announces the 3rd annual Biomimicry Conference in San Diego presented by mirasol by Qualcomm. [From the Qualcomm website: Mirasol is a low-energy display technology used in mobile devices that mimics the "phenomenon that makes a butterfly's wings shimmer".]
The two-day conference features the following events and sessions:

Thursday, April 14, San Diego Zoo, 2–8 p.m.
San Diego Zoo
· Keynote Speaker, “Why Biomimicry, Why Now?”
· Rapid-fire sessions on new nature-based innovations
· Biomimicry bus tour of the San Diego Zoo
· Wine and networking reception
· Dinner and keynote speaker, “Biomimicry and a New Economy”

Friday, April 15, Prado Ballroom, Balboa Park, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Prado Ballroom, Balboa Park
· Keynote speakers on the potential of nature-inspired innovation
· Practical case studies of companies implementing biomimicry solutions
· Interactive workshops on biomimicry innovation, economics and design
· Closing reception and networking event

Saturday, April 16
· Post-conference tours and programs at San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park (families welcome)

Confirmed Speakers
· James Burke, award-winner science historian and host of the BBC series, Connections.
· Matt Mason, best-selling author of The Pirate’s Dilemma.
· David Schenone, Innovation Director for Advanced Concepts at Nike
· Jane Fulton Suri, Managing Partner and Creative Director at IDEO

More information can be found at the San Diego Zoo website: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/conservation/biomimicry/events/2011_biomimicry_conference

Ways to celebrate California Native Plant Week in Orange County
April 15, 2011 By Ron Vanderhoff

Last year, the California state legislature declared the third week of April to be California Native Plant Week. Some suggestions on how to celebrate the week with local resources in Orange County from the article:

•With a friend, take a walk in a natural area and pay special attention to the plants. Perhaps your visit might be to Crystal Cove State Park, one of the preserves in Laguna Canyon, or even a bit further afield in the foothills of our Santa Ana Mountains. Orange County has dozens of choices....

•Visit a local botanical garden or arboretum and visit the California native plant section. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the premier native garden in California, is in Claremont, less than an hour away. Even nearer are the native plantings at The Fullerton Arboretum or the outstanding native garden at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

•Participate in the Orange County Native Plant Garden Tour. This is a free, one-day self-guided tour of gardens throughout Orange County that feature all or mostly native plants. The date of this year's tour is May 7, but you can make your commitment to attend this week. Addresses and driving directions will be available the week before the tour. For information go to http://www.occnps.org.

Full article: http://articles.dailypilot.com/2011-04-15/news/tn-dpt-0416-vanderhoff-20110415_1_plants-native-garden-santa-ana-botanic-garden

Balboa Park Online Collaborative members shift collections online
April 17, 2011 By James Chute

The Balboa Park Online Collaborative, which "[launched] in 2008 on a $3 million, three-year grant from the Benbough Operating Foundation...is fundamentally changing the way [Balboa Park] institutions interact with their visitors." Over the last three years, 20 Balboa Park museums and cultural organizations have been making more of their collections available online, hoping to engage with their audience through the web.

From the article:

“There really is no other collection of cultural institutions in the country that is working in such a focused way with technology,” said Deborah Klochko, director of the Museum of Photographic Arts and the chair of the committee representing the member museums that meets with the BPOC staff.
“There are big museums like the Indianapolis Museum of Art, or MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) in New York, places that have huge, huge budgets that are doing some important work with technology, but the diversity (in range, size and types of institutions) we have is unique. So to get us wired, to get us into the digital age, is really important. It’s vital.”

Even five years ago, many institutions were still guarding their resources and carefully controlling public access, fearful that if they revealed too much online, visitors might not come to their museums or, worse, might co-opt their hard-won visual assets. But museums (and zoos and theater companies) have found putting their collections online and interacting with users encourages people to want to see the real thing. And if they don’t put their own information and images online, someone else will.

BPOC is also helping members to aggregate resources and have recently installed several wireless internet hubs around the Park. One of the current projects is assisting the Natural History Museum to make a searchable online collection of the already digitized 44 years worth of Laurence Klauber's diaries.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/apr/17/balboa-park-expands-into-the-digital-age/

Sugarcane cools climate, study finds
April 18, 2011

From the article:

Brazilians are world leaders in using biofuels for gasoline. About a quarter of their automobile fuel consumption comes from sugarcane, which significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions that otherwise would be emitted from using gasoline. Now scientists from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology have found that sugarcane has a double benefit. Expansion of the crop in areas previously occupied by other Brazilian crops cools the local climate. It does so by reflecting sunlight back into space and by lowering the temperature of the surrounding air as the plants "exhale" cooler water.

....The researchers emphasize that the beneficial effects are contingent on the fact sugarcane is grown on areas previously occupied by crops or pastureland, and not in areas converted from natural vegetation. It is also important that other crops and pastureland do not move to natural vegetation areas, which would contribute to deforestation.

The study appears in this week's online version of Nature Climate Change.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110417185345.htm

CITATION: Loarie SR, Lobell DB, Asner GP, Mu Q, Field CB. 2011. Direct impacts on local climate of sugar-cane expansion in Brazil. Nature Climate Change [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1038/nclimate1067

Bird feathers show pollution rise
April 18, 2011

By studying feathers collected from the black-footed albatross (Pheobastria nigripes) in two U.S. museum collections, researchers have discovered that there has been an increase in toxic mercury over the last 120 years that is probably the result of human pollution.

From the article:

The feathers, which dated from 1880 to 2002, showed "increasing levels of methylmercury that were generally consistent with historical global and recent regional increases in anthropogenic mercury emissions," the study said.

Methylmercury is a neurotoxin that can cause central nervous system damage and comes from burning fossil fuels.

..."Using these historic bird feathers, in a way, represents the memory of the ocean," said study co-author Michael Bank, a research associate in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health. "Our findings serve as a window to the historic and current conditions of the Pacific, a critical fishery for human populations," Bank said.

The highest concentrations in feathers were linked to exposure by the birds in the post-1990 timeframe, which coincided with a recent spike in pollution from Asian carbon emissions in the Pacific region, the study said.

The open-access article appears in this week's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Full article: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/bird-feathers-show-pollution-rise

CITATION: Vo AE, Bank MS, Shine JP, Edwards SV. 2011. Temporal increase in organic mercury in an endangered pelagic seabird assessed by century-old museum specimens. PNAS [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1013865108

San Diego Natural History Museum receives $7 million grant
April 18, 2011 By Mike Lee

The San Diego Natural History Museum has received a $7 million state grant to begin construction on an exhibit called "Habitat Journey/Viaje por los habitats", which will build upon the permanent exhibit "Fossil Mysteries".

From the article:

The biggest one-time grant ever received by the San Diego Natural History Museum will be used to construct a new permanent exhibit about the major habitats of Southern California, museum officials said Monday.

The $7 million state grant, made official last week, will pay for the 8,000-square-foot installation, which is supposed to be completed for Balboa Park's centennial celebrations in 2015. It's expected to eventually boost visitor numbers, membership sales and the bottom line for the museum, which is trying to emerge from the recession like most other institutions.

...The habitat displays were conceived about a decade ago as a companion to Fossil Mysteries. They will cover bio-regions such as the Colorado River, the California desert, the mountains and the coastal zone. The idea is to showcase the connections between the regions and explain why San Diego is often described as a “global biodiversity hotspot." “The animals and plants and environmental challenges of each ecosystem will be revealed in Habitat Journey/Viaje por los habitats, inspiring students, residents, and visitors to go outside and explore,” Hager said. “With their renewed sense of place, we believe people -- including those who will be our future leaders -- will make decisions that will help to preserve our quality of life.”

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/apr/18/museum-reels-in-7-million-for-major-exhibit/

Richard Branson to create sanctuary for lemurs in the Caribbean
April 18, 2011 By Rory Carroll

The British entrepreneur has come up with a controversial plan to create a sanctuary for endangered lemurs on an island he owns in the Caribbean. The lemurs are native to Madagascar off of the African Coast, about 8,000 miles away from Branson's Moskito Island in the British Virgin Islands. The island is 50 hectares and "home to the stout iguana, the turnip-tailed gecko and the dwarf gecko." Branson has said that he wants to "help conserve a species threatened by deforestation in Madagascar...where political turmoil has accelerated illegal logging." His plan includes taking lemurs from zoos in Canada, Sweden and South Africa.

From the article:

"We have had a lemur project in Madagascar the past few years and seen that things are getting worse for them so we thought about finding a safe haven," [Branson] told the Guardian. "We brought in experts from South Africa to Moskito island and they said it would be perfect."

But other experts say the introduction of an alien species from 8,000 miles away could harm the lemurs and local wildlife.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's species survival commission told the BBC the project could contravene its code for translocations and said the harm from introducing species outweighed benefits.

Other experts said it was too soon to judge. "It could be a brilliant or terrible idea but we just don't know yet," said Penelope Bodry-Sanders, the founder of Lemur Conservation Foundation, a Florida-based group which has a sister reserve in Madagascar. "We don't know what pathogens the lemurs will bring to the Caribbean or what pathogens they will receive. It is great that Mr Branson cares, and he has a history of acting responsibly, but we need more information. The jury is out on this."

...Authorities on the British Virgin Islands have approved the plan and the first shipment of 25 ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) is due within weeks. The red-ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) is expected to follow, possibly followed by another primate, sifakas.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/18/richard-branson-lemur-moskito

Promoting small-scale planting of trees in dryland areas
April 18, 2011

A new policy brief has been published by the research network NCCR North-South that "argues for policies that promote planting trees in drylands on a small scale, because large-scale projects can negatively affect local ecosystems."

From the article:

International aid agencies and governments have been promoting large-scale planting for more than a century. But the practice is becoming increasingly controversial.

Advocates say it improves land control, raises its value, helps combat desertification and creates jobs. Opponents argue that planting trees in large areas means that communities using the land get evicted. New forests can also change ecosystems and negatively impact biodiversity.

Small-scale forests are a sustainable solution, say the authors. They have none of the drawbacks of large-scale projects yet benefit the environment by storing carbon and restoring degraded land. To encourage this practice, developing countries can use carbon payments as an incentive. As these payments are not high enough, farmers should be allowed to plant tree species that can also provide other services. But future research must evaluate whether using the same piece of land for different purposes brings more benefits.

Click here to download the full policy brief from NCCR North-South

Full article: http://www.scidev.net/en/policy-briefs/promoting-small-scale-planting-of-trees-in-dryland-areas-1.html

Embryo DNA swaps appear safe so far, committee tells British government
April 19, 2011 By Ewen Callaway

A new report in the UK focuses on the safety of "allowing DNA swaps that, when combined with in vitro fertilization, may spare children from inherited mitochondrial diseases." The authors of the report examined two different approaches: maternal spindle transfer (MST), which "invovles transferring the chromosomes of an unfertilized egg into another woman's egg, stripped of its nucleus," and pronucelar transfer, where "scientists shuttle the nucleus of a fertilized egg into another fertilized egg, lacking mitochondrial mutations and removed of its nucleus." A 2009 study reported that rhesus macaques conceived through MST were born healthy and develop normally, and a 2010 study on pronuclear transfer on human embryos found that the embryos developed normally up to the 100-cell blastomere stage.

From the article:

In a letter to the health minister released today, several groups including the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust called on the government “to publish a timetable for the introduction of regulations so that once sufficient pre-clinical evidence is established, clinical treatment is not unduly delayed.”

If Britain does legalize the nuclear transfer techniques, it would be the first nation to do so. However, the Australian government is considering a similar proposal, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I think it’s about time,” says Mitalipov, who hopes to one day secure approval to try these approaches on patients in the United States. “HFEA is a pioneer and I really applaud their courage.”

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2011/04/ivf.html

Australian zoos campaign for palm oil labeling
April 19, 2011

From the article [emphasis added]:

Three of Australia's major zoos say providing better labelling for palm oil will lay the foundations for saving the world's orangutan populations. Executives from the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth zoos have told a Senate inquiry into the Truth In Labelling Act, which was introduced by independent Senator Nick Xenophon, that consumers want palm oil clearly labelled rather than being included as a generic vegetable oil.

They believe providing better labelling would give consumers the right to exercise choice, which would ultimately lead to better practices worldwide and more sustainable production in the orangutans' native forests.

However, Australian supermarket executives say that it is currently too difficult to label products as having certified sustainable palm oil, because such an industry does not yet exist.

Full article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/19/3195997.htm?section=justin

Study of deer mice on California's Channel Islands provides new information on hantavirus
April 19, 2011

New research published in the journal American Naturalist, led by John Orrock of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues, looked for "relationships between biological and physical island characteristics and the prevalence of Sin Nombre" on the Channel Islands off the coast of California. Sin Nombre, which is a highly virulent form of hantavirus, is carried by the wild deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) that live on the islands.

From the article:

They show that just three ecological factors--rainfall, predator diversity and island size and shape--can account for nearly all the differences in infection rates between the eight islands.

The study also provides some of the first evidence to support a recent hypothesis that predators play an important ecological role in regulating disease--sometimes known as the "predators are good for your health" hypothesis.

"These findings support an emerging consensus that ecological factors such as food web structure and species diversity play a key role in determining the prevalence of zoonotic diseases and human health risk," says Alan Tessier, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

Using the data collected after the 1993 Four Corners outbreak of the Sin Nombre Virus in the U.S. Southwest, researchers looked for "relationships between biological and physical island characteristics and the prevalence of Sin Nombre on each of the eight islands." Their findings showed that higher rates of infection among the deer mice were strongly associated with more precipitation, and by adding in "the physical characteristics of the islands and the number of predators accounted for a total of 98 percent of the variation."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-deer-mice-california-channel-islands.html

CITATION: Orrock JL, Allan BF, Drost CA. 2011. Biogeographic and ecological regulation of disease: prevalence of Sin Nombre Virus in island mice is related to island area, precipitation, and predator richness. The American Naturalist 177(5):691-697. doi: 10.1086.659632

Lincoln Park Zoo plans Earth Day party
April 19, 2011 By Sharon Dewar

The Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting its annual Earth Day celebration on April 22, which includes fun activities for both people and animals.

From the press release:

Every hour, on the hour, from 10am to 3pm on both Friday and Saturday, animals will encounter fun enriching surprises that are sure to delight guests and animals alike. Each day begins with big cats stalking and hunting deer and zebra-shaped piñatas stuffed with meaty treats. Watch an eagle or owl swoop down to attack a fake snake and learn a thing or two about recycling from gorillas, bears and other zoo residents.

The animals are not the only ones to have all the fun this Earth Day. Guests can exercise their green thumbs making Seed Surprises to plant in their backyard. The seed surprise will result in a bundle of blooms. This free, all-ages activity takes place at Nature Boardwalk near the Patio at Café Brauer.

More information on the Lincoln Park Zoo can be found on their website at: www.lpzoo.org.

Full post: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5112-Lincoln_Park_Zoo_Plans_Earth_Day_Party

Hundreds of barrier islands newly identified in global survey
April 19, 2011

A new survey identifies a total of 2,149 barrier islands worldwide, compared to the 1,492 islands identified in a 2001 survey. The new survey used a combination of satellite images, topographical maps, and navigational charts to pinpoint the islands which were found along "all continents except Antarctica and in all oceans, and make up roughly 10 percent of the Earth's continental shorelines."

From the article:

Barrier islands help protect low-lying mainland coasts against erosion and storm damage, and can be important wildlife habitats. The nation with the most barrier islands is the United States, with 405, including those along the Alaskan Arctic shoreline.

..."This provides proof that barrier islands exist in every climate and in every tide-wave combination," says Orrin H. Pilkey, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "We found that everywhere there is a flat piece of land next to the coast, a reasonable supply of sand, enough waves to move sand or sediment about, and a recent sea-level rise that caused a crooked shoreline, barrier islands exist."

Barrier islands often form as chains of long, low, narrow offshore deposits of sand and sediment, running parallel to a coast but separated from it by bays, estuaries or lagoons. Unlike stationary landforms, barrier islands build up, erode, migrate and rebuild over time in response to waves, tides, currents and other physical processes in the open ocean environment.

...Stutz and Pilkey say the survey's findings – which formed part of Stutz's dissertation when he was a doctoral student at Duke – illustrate the need for a new way to classify and study barrier islands, one that takes into account the complex interplay of local, regional and global variables that shape where the islands form and how they evolve.

The study appears in this month's issue of Journal of Coastal Research.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-hundreds-barrier-islands-newly-global.html

CITATION: Stutz ML, Pilkey OH. 2011. Open-ocean barrier islands: global influence of climatic, oceanographic, and depositional settings. Journal of Coastal Research 27(2):207-222. doi: 10.2112/09-1190.1

Migrating birds may have avoided the worst of the Gulf oil spill, but assessment still to be done
April 20, 2011 By Fritz Faerber

After last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it was predicted that there would be mass bird die-offs and disrupted migrations. However, experts believe that many migrating birds may have missed the worst of the spill last year, although the still contaminated water could have an impact this year during the annual migration.

From the article:

In the short term, birds in Louisiana may still get oiled by tar balls that are still washing up on beaches and oozing in marsh grasses. Melanie Driscoll, Gulf Coast director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society, said she's "incredibly dismayed" that oil remains in areas where birds nest and feed in the ongoing breeding season. Birds can get oil on their feathers and transfer it to eggs or hatchlings, which are especially vulnerable to the oil's toxicity.

...Possibly the most worrying legacy of the spill is the acceleration of habitat loss, scientists say. For example, some Louisiana bays were hit with heavy oil last summer. The marsh grass that holds the marsh together is dying in many areas—which means that storms, waves, and ship wakes will simply wash away more of the wetlands. Wildlife & Fisheries' Carloss said it will be difficult to tease out how much habitat loss can be attributed to the spill or the long-standing yearly loss of wetlands from erosion and subsidence. But he says the combination of oiling and cleanup operations in critical marsh habitat clearly must have some effect.

Full article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/04/110420-gulf-oil-spill-birds-anniversary-migrations-animals-science-nation/

5-year status reviews of Oregon silverspot butterfly, northern spotted owl, and Maleur wire-lettuce
April 20, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 76
FWS-R1-ES-2011-N019; [10120-1113-0000-C4

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently initiated 5-year reviews of species in Washington, Oregon, and California for the Oregon silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta), northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), and Stephanomeria malheurensis (Malheur wire-lettuce) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The USFWS requests any new information on these species that may have a bearing on their classification as endangered or threatened. Based on the results of their 5-year reviews they will determine whether these species are properly classified under the Act.

Submit information by May 21, 2011 to: Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE. 98th Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266. Information can also be submitted by e-mail to: fw1or5yearreview@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Dillon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 503-231-6179.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-20/pdf/2011-9542.pdf

Demand for gold pushing deforestation in Peruvian Amazon
April 20, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A new study published in PLoS ONE that uses satellite imagery from NASA shows that deforestation is on the rise in Peru's Madre de Dios region from "illegal, small-scale, and dangerous gold mining."

From the article:

According the study...two large mining sites saw the loss of 7,000 hectares of forest (15,200 acres)—an area larger than Bermuda—between 2003 and 2009. "We present recent evidence of the global demand for a single commodity and the ecosystem destruction resulting from commodity extraction, recorded by satellites for one of the most biodiverse areas of the world," the researchers write.

... Beyond forest loss, the mining also impacts wildlife and people in the region due to mercury pollution. Miners use mercury to amalgamate with the metal, but unregulated the dangerous toxin also poison the ecosystem. According to Peru's Environment Minister fish in the area have mercury levels that are three times higher than the amount approved by the World Health Organization. These toxins make their way up the food chain. People dependent on fish, game animals, and river water in the region are likely to be impacted as well. The miners, who are often poor, uneducated, and marginalized, are most at risk given their direct handling of mercury. After fossil fuel burning, small-scale gold mining is the world's second largest source of mercury pollution contributing around 1/3 of the world's mercury pollution.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0419-hance_peru_mining.html

CITATION: Swenson JJ, Carter CE, Dome J-C, Delgado CI. 2011. Gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon: global prices, deforestation, and mercury imports. PLoS ONE 6(4):e18875. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018875

San Diego River Days and RiverFest at Qualcomm Stadium
April 20, 2011

From the post:

San Diego River Days, taking place from May 7th – 15th, 2011 this year, features a variety of activities, including hikes in the mountains, bike rides along the river, tours of the first mission in California and cleanups. San Diego River Days is followed by RiverFest on Sunday, May 15th, 2011, an incredible free community festival with lots of activities including live music, education stage, art, kids zone and more.

RiverFest will feature a local, live music stage, more than 50 booths with information about local parks, trails and volunteer opportunities, an awesome climbing wall, local art, Wyland Mobile Learning Center, an awesome plant sale, kid activities and much more!

RiverFest will take place at the Qualcomm Stadium Practice Field, on the southwest corner of the parking lot. For more information, visit: www.sandiegoriver.org

Full post: http://dguides.com/sandiego/blog/upcoming-events/san-diego-river-days-riverfest-at-qualcomm-stadium-may-7-15-2011/

'Degradable' polyethylenes may not be better for the enviroment than traditional plastics
April 21, 2011

A new review published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology concludes that polyethylene, the material used in 'biodegradable' plastic bags and food packaging, may not be as environmentally friendly as once thought.

From the article:

Although it is clear that 'degradable' plastic bags, for example, will fall apart in the environment, the resulting fragments can persist for a long time, and there are no long-term studies on these pieces. A key issue is that products can be described as biodegradable without reference to the timescale it takes them to fully biodegrade.

"There are a tremendous number of papers about degradable polyethylene but no one has really shown a high degradation," says Ann-Christine Albertsson, a polymer researcher at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm and lead author on the critical review. "Of course they degrade in one way – they are losing part of their properties. But if you mean it as a positive for nature, that has not been proved."

....These plastics should not be composted, as their breakdown fragments will ruin the resulting compost. But neither can such materials be incorporated into traditional plastics recycling as the same additives that encourage the break-up of the original material will degrade the recycled material produced. The report recommended that these plastics should be kept out of conventional plastics recycling in favour of incineration or landfill.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110421/full/news.2011.255.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110426

CITATIONS:

Roy PK, Hakkarainen M, Varma IK, Albertsson A-C. 2011. Degradable polyethylene: fantasy or reality. Environmental Science & Technology [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1021/es104042f.

Thomas N, Clarke J, McLauchlin A, Patrick S. 2010. Assessing the environmental impacts of oxo-degradable plastics across their life cycle. DEFRA. Available online at: http://go.nature.com/gvHdYO

Audubon Zoo opens new splash park
April 21, 2011

After being in development for the last two years, the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans has just opened up a new zoo-themed water area that will remain open each spring until Labor Day.

From the article:

[Steve] Dorand [the vice president of design and exhibits], and Larry Rivarde, the Audubon Zoo's managing director, said the idea to create such a place within the zoo started more than seven years ago. Summer attendance never has been high at the zoo, primarily because of the heat. If there were a place for patrons to cool off and continue to use the facilities, the pair said they knew they would have a win-win situation for everyone. The closest water parks, Dorand said, are in Baton Rouge and Biloxi, Miss.

"Why should someone have to leave the city to cool off?" Dorand asked. "I remember driving to Houston as a kid with my parents to go to a water park. I am so excited that my children, their friends and the entire community will have another option now."

Quick facts on the new "Cool Zoo":

What: Cool Zoo is a new splash park at the Audubon Zoo, featuring a huge alligator water slide, spider monkey soaker, water-spitting snakes and a new concession area specifically for summertime eats.

When: The park will be open through Labor Day. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From Memorial Day through Labor Day Cool Zoo, the Carousel, Swamp Train and Dinosaur Adventure will be open until 7 p.m. All Audubon Nature Institute attractions will be open on Sunday and Monday, for the Easter holiday weekend.

Where: Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St.

Admission: Cool Zoo is $5 ($4 for members), plus zoo admission. Children younger than 1 are free. For $10 ($8 members), visitors can purchase a one-day attractions pass for access to Cool Zoo, the Endangered Species Carousel, Dinosaur Adventure and Swamp Train.

Full story: http://www.nola.com/family/index.ssf/2011/04/audubon_zoos_new_splash_park_o.html

Creators of popular "Angry Birds" app team up with BirdLife International
April 21, 2011

Rovio, the company that has created the popular iPhone and Android app "Angry Birds", has teamed up with BirdLife International to save endangered birds threatened by invasive animal species, such as feral pigs and escaped marmosets.

From the press release:

Angry Birds will be promoting and supporting BirdLife’s Preventing Extinction Programme in various ways. Their first collaboration with BirdLife is through the new Easter release of Angry Birds Seasons, which has just been launched as a download available online and in appstores for most major mobile gaming platforms.

“Angry Birds is an extraordinary phenomenon that is reaching out and entertaining a massive audience of all ages and from every corner of the world,” said Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka whose job title is ‘Mighty Eagle’.  “By downloading the Angry Birds Seasons Easter update and participating in The Hunt for Golden Eggs, people playing the world’s most popular game will become aware of the need to conserve some of the most endangered species on our planet.”

Full post: http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/04/help-for-the-world%E2%80%99s-angriest-birds/

EPA marks Earth Day with events across the country
April 21, 2011

Over the last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been holding events around the country to gear up for Earth Day. Events include (from the press release):

· April 18: Administrator Jackson announced the formation of EPA’s Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative. Strong relationships with faith and neighborhood organizations will help promote environmental stewardship that will lead to cleaner communities, encourage healthier families and build a stronger America.
· April 19: Administrator Jackson and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with farmers and ranchers in Iowa to discuss EPA and USDA’s joint efforts to ensure that American agriculture continues to be productive.
· April 20: Administrator Jackson traveled to New Orleans to tour a wetlands restoration project on the Mississippi/Louisiana shore line on the one year anniversary of the BP oil spill. She later joined a group of community members for a tour of a successful marsh restoration project at Bayou Dupont. Also, EPA awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to gulf region organizations that are helping educate residents about health and environmental concerns following the spill.
· April 21: Administrator Jackson is joining Philadelphia Mayor Nutter to highlight green infrastructure by focusing on the Big Green Block initiative, a collaborative sustainability project at and around Shissler Recreation Center. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution by capturing and filtering rain runoff using green roofs, permeable materials, alternative street and building design, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.
· April 22: Administrator Jackson will visit the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. to learn about the zoo’s innovative sustainability efforts.

More information on EPA Earth Day events: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/index.html

Full story: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/65dc475950a2773585257879006744c3?OpenDocument

California Native Plants Week
April 21, 2011

Last October, the California State Assembly and Senate approved Resolution ACR 173, which established California Native Plant Week. Every year, during the third week of April, "community groups, schools, and citizens [will be encouraged] to undertake appropriate activities to promote the conservation, restoration, and appreciation of California's native plants.

Find activities in your area and for the full post: http://www.cnps.org/cnps/conservation/nativeplantweek/

Disney hosts Earth Day activities
April 22, 2011 by Kristin Ford

In conjunction with the release of their new movie, African Cats, "which tells the real-life saga of a cheetah and lion family living on the African savanna," Disney is hosting various activities in conjunction with Earth Day.

Full blog post: http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/disney-a-mom-and-the-mouse/2011/04/disney-hosts-earth-day-activities-at-animal-kingdom-theaters-stores/

Earth Day 2011: A Billion Acts of Green
April 22, 2011 By Michael Bushman

The Earth Day Network, which runs Earthday.org, is promoting its theme of "A Billion Acts of Green", with the goal to "utilize its global network to inspire people, groups, corporations, towns, states, countries… to collectively generate a billion acts of environmental advocacy and service before the Rio +20 Earth Summit 2012, which takes place from July 4th – 6th in Rio de Janeiro."

Example projects include:

The Canopy Project: Helps to fight deforestation.

Green Schools: Has set a goal to green all schools within a generation.

Athletes for the Earth: Olympic and professional athletes bring their voices and visibility to the movement.

Creating Climate Wealth: A gathering of 200 entrepreneurs to help solve climate change and create a green economy.

Arts for the Earth: Celebrating the work of environmental artists.

For more information on "A Billion Acts of Green", and to find local events in your area, visit: http://act.earthday.org/

Full article: http://www.sandiego.com/news/earth-day-2011-a-billion-acts-of-green

London 2012 Olympics team publishes first green report
April 22, 2011 By Mark Kinver

The London 2012 Olympic organizers have published their first environmental report, which says "it is on target to cut the carbon footprint by 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in the procurement of materials and venue construction," and that they are "...on track to deliver the world's first 'truly sustainable' Olympic Games". They expect to publish two additional reports before the end of 2013.

From the article:

The report focused on the five main themes of the 2012 Games' environmental strategy: climate change; biodiversity; waste; inclusion and healthy living.

"What we wanted to do was to really understand those impacts and then direct our efforts to minimise them," [David Stubbs, the committee's head of sustainability] said. "For example, nobody had looked at all the embodied emissions of building temporary infrastructure that would only be used during the Games and Paralympics....By building venues that are more akin to what is on the hire market, then it is possible to choose material that exists already." As a result, he said, it was possible to cut carbon emissions by about 100,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking 65,000 cars off the road for 12 months.

As well as carbon emissions, Mr. Stubbs said the development of the 250-hectare main site included the goal of developing the largest urban parkland in Europe for more than 150 years. He said that 45 hectares would be "ecologically managed" in order to ensure there was space to encourage and support biodiversity. "This includes wetlands and river habitats that have been restored from what was, previously, very polluted land," he explained.

The next report is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2012.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13160540

Draft revised recovery plan for Northern spotted owl
April 22, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 78
FWS-R1-ES-2011-N073;10120-1113-0000-C2

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are reopening the comment period on an updated version of Appendix C of the Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), which was originally drafted on September 15, 2010. The updated appendix describes the development of a spotted owl habitat modeling tool.

Electronic copies of the draft revised recovery plan and the updated version of Appendix C are available online at: http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/Species/Data/NorthernSpottedOwl/Recovery/. Printed loose-leaf copies of the updated
version of Appendix C are available by request from Diana Acosta, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Avenue, Ste. 100, Portland, OR 97266 (phone: 503-231-6179).

Submit written comments by May 23, 2011, addressed to the above Portland address or sent by e-mail to: NSORPComments@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brendan White at the above address and phone number.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-22/pdf/2011-9864.pdf

SeaWorld to eliminate plastic bags at gift shops
April 22, 2011

From the press release:

SeaWorld San Diego plans to eliminate plastic bags at its gift shops this summer in a move to help the environment, park officials announced today. Beginning June 18, guests will be asked to choose between a paper bag or purchasing a reusable one. Park officials said they go through about one million bags annually.

Full post: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/apr/22/seaworld-eliminate-plastic-bags-gift-shops/

Texas wildfires devastating to wildlife
April 23, 2011 By Bob Hood

This year, the U.S. Forest Service has reported 8,000 fires in Texas, "involving all but two of the state's 254 counties. At least 20 fires remained active last week. The wildfires around Possum Kingdom Lake reportedly have burned more than 150,000 acres and remain uncontained. Livestock as well as wildlife have been killed or displaced." Wildfires destroy food sources and create over-competition for the surviving wildlife, cause water shortages, prevent plants from regenerating, destroy the eggs and young of many nesting bird species, and destroys shelters for wildlife. Wildlife experts expect that it will take many months to years "for many burned-out areas to recover adequately to support wildlife."

Full article: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/04/23/3022077/texas-wildfires-devastating-to.html

New technique offers detailed view of how RNA levels change
April 24, 2011

From the article:

RNA plays a critical role in directing the creation of proteins, but there is more to the life of an RNA molecule than simply carrying DNA's message. One can imagine that an RNA molecule is born, matures, and eventually, meets its demise. Researchers at the Broad have developed an approach that offers many windows into the lifecycle of these essential molecules and will enable other scientists to investigate what happens when something in a cell goes wrong. They describe their approach, which offers high resolution and a comprehensive scope, in a Nature Biotechnology article published online on April 24.

"People are discovering more and more how the RNA lifecycle is at the heart of problems we see in disease, but we actually understand a lot less about it than we understand about many other cellular processes," said Aviv Regev, a core faculty member of the Broad Institute and a co-senior author on the paper.

Regev and her colleagues have developed a method that allows them to tease apart the different stages of this lifecycle by measuring how much messenger RNA is produced and how much is degraded. The balance of these two processes contributes to the changes seen in RNA levels in a cell over time, much the way that birth and death rates contribute to a country's total population.

...The researchers' approach allows them to look at a specific cell type and see changes in the expression of all genes. This combination of breadth and specificity offers a systematic view of how RNA changes over time. "If we want to look at specific neurons in the brain or a specific cell that's lying between other kinds of cells in the lung, this technique allows us to zoom in on one process in one cell among a billion other cells. This is the case in many diseases, a short circuit in one specific cell type, and now we have a great tool to find it," said Ido Amit, a co-senior author of the paper and a scientist at the Broad.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-rna-dynamics-deconstructed-technique-view.html

CITATION: Rabani M, et al. 2011. Metabolic labeling of RNA uncovers principles of RNA production and degradation dynamics in mammalian cells. Nature Biotechnology [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1861

Buddy’s Pizza delivers "enrichment pizzas" for Detroit Zoo animals
April 25, 2011 By Gina Brintley

Excerpt from the press release:

Detroit Zoo animals will receive an extraordinary treat...when Buddy’s Pizza delivers specially created “enrichment pizzas”. Prepared in collaboration with the Zoo’s animal welfare staff, the pies will be topped with such culinary delights as fish, peanut butter, bones, bugs and worms.

Detroit Zoo visitors are invited to watch the animals devour their pizzas at the following times:

9:30 a.m. – polar bears (tundra) – giant pizza with fish and peanut butter.
10 a.m. – snow monkeys – personal pan pizzas with cereal, honey, raisins and crackers.
10:30 a.m. – wolverines – pizza with bones, meat and scents.
11 a.m. – tigers – meat lover’s pizza.
11:30 a.m. – reptiles – vegetarian pizza with bugs, worms and veggies.
1 p.m. – penguins – frozen pizza with fish and krill.
1:30 p.m. – meerkats – pizza with baby food and meal worms.
2 p.m. – coatis – pizza with honey and crickets.
2:30 p.m. – anteaters – pizza with avocados, oranges and bananas.

As the Detroit Zoo’s pizza partner, Buddy’s Pizza will provide discount coupons to Zoo guests who purchase tickets to rides and attractions such as the Tauber Family Railroad, Wild Adventure Ride and Wild Adventure 3-D/4-D Theater. Buddy’s will also subsidize field trips to the Zoo for underserved elementary students throughout Metro Detroit.

Full blog post: http://www.freep.com/article/20110425/BLOG41/110425053/Buddy-s-Pizza-delivers-Detroit-Zoo-animals

Census shows increasing numbers of greater one-horned rhinoceros in Nepal
April 25, 2011

The results of the National Rhino Census in Nepal were released this week indicate an increase in the population of greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Nepal.

From the article:

According to the census, there are 534 rhinos in Nepal, marking an increase of 99 rhinos from the 435 recorded in the last census in 2008; 503 were recorded in Chitwan National Park (an increase of 95 from 2008 data), 24 in Bardia National Park (an increase of 2 from 2008 data) and 7 in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (an increase of 2 from 2008 data). These numbers reflect the success of conservation efforts for this species and are a result of improved rhino protection measures and management of habitat.

The rhino counting was conducted simultaneously in Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve of Nepal's Terai Arc Landscape, and was a combined effort of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation of the Government of Nepal, WWF Nepal and the National Trust for Nature Conservation. WWF provided technical as well as financial support for the National Rhino Census.

"This is a fine example of working together where all conservation partners and local communities are contributing to the conservation efforts of the Government of Nepal," said Krishna Prasad Acharya, Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. "Support received from WWF Nepal is appreciable and we are hopeful that this support will continue in the coming years with more vigor."

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-efforts-boosted-rhino-population-nepal.html

High resolution map reveals size of U.S. forests
April 25, 2011

A new map created by Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) released this week provides " the most precise representation yet of the height and coverage of U.S. forests and woodlands." Using 2000-2001 data from NASA satellites and ground-based forest surveys, study leader Josef Kellndorfer and colleagues were able to piece together a high-resolution map that will serve as a baseline to help "researchers monitor changes in forest cover over time."

The full data set is available through WHRC: http://whrc.org/nbcd

Full article: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/new-map-reveals-size-of-us-forests

Remy the orangutan finds a surrogate mother at Zoo Atlanta
April 25, 2011

Remy, a Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) who was born at the Fort Worth Zoo in November, has recently moved to Zoo Atlanta to be raised by a surrogate mother. Shortly after giving birth, Remy's mother became very ill and was unable to care for him (although she has since improved). So, in accordance with the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), Remy was placed with Madu, a 28-year-old orangutan who had previous fostered two other infant orangutans. Because of her success, Madu has become a "top candidate for surrogacy", and even assists keepers by "bringing [Remy] forward on request for regular bottle feedings and medications."

Photos and full blog post: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/04/remy-the-orangutan-finds-a-surrogate-mother.html#more

Proposed revision of List of Migratory Birds
April 26, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 80
Docket No. FWS-R9-MB-2010-0088; 91200-1231-9BPP

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service propose to revise the List of Migratory Birds by both adding and removing species. Reasons
for the changes to the list include adding species based on new taxonomy and new evidence of occurrence in the United States or U.S. territories, removing species no longer known to occur within the United States, and changing names to conform to accepted use. The net increase of 19 species (23 added and 4 removed) brings the total number of species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to 1,026. The USFWS regulates most aspects of the taking, possession, transportation, sale, purchase, barter, exportation, and importation of migratory birds. An accurate and up-to-date list of species protected by the MBTA is essential for public notification and regulatory purposes.

Submit comments by July 25, 2011 through the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R9-MB-2010-0088;

U.S. Mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-MB-2010-0088; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203-1610.

For further information contact: Terry Doyle, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Migratory Bird Management, 703-358-1799.

For the list of changes and full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-26/pdf/2011-9448.pdf

California condor population expected to reach 400 this spring
April 26, 2011 By Michael Martinez

Excerpt from the article:

Almost 25 years after the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) went extinct in the wild and dwindled to just 27 birds in captivity, North America's largest flying bird is on the verge of a watershed moment: Its total population is projected to hit 400 this spring, including 200 birds thriving in the wild later this year.

The projections come as curators are reporting a successful hatching season unfolding at breeding centers in California and elsewhere.

"At the end of the breeding season, we should be at 400 if all goes to projection," said Michael Mace, curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "At the end of this year, we could have 200 birds in the wild. Both would be significant milestones."

The 400 mark hasn't been seen since the 1920s or 1930s, Mace said. Right now, the condor population is 394, including 181 in the wild -- a marked improvement since 1987 when the condor was wiped out in the wild and only 27 lived at the San Diego Zoo, he said.

However, even with the success of the condor breeding program, conservationists are still facing new challenges. Recently, it has been discovered that the birds are ingesting the chemical DDE when feeding on marine mammals, which leads to a thinning of condor eggs. So, conservationists have been switching out the thin-shelled eggs with thicker eggs from breeding centers, and hatching the thin-shelled eggs in incubators.

Full article: http://www.enn.com/energy/article/42627

Chernobyl's radioactivity reduced the populations of birds of orange plumage
April 26, 2011

A new study published in the journal Oecologia shows that the color of birds' plumage may make them more vulnerable to radioactivity. By analyzing the "abundance of 97 bird species exposed to different levels of radiation during four years" after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, they discovered the following:

In the majority of the birds (64 species), the populations diminished with the level or radioactivity. "Nevertheless, the populations of a few species (the 33 remaining species) experienced positive effects from the radiation (though the magnitude of these effects was very low in some cases), perhaps due to the reduction in competition with other species", explains [Ismael] Galván.

The scientists concentrated on the colouring generated by melanins – pigments which protect from ultraviolet radiation and generate camouflage patterns – of the nearly one hundred species of bird studied. The reason: the type of pigmentation may interfere with the ability to resist radioactivity's negative effects.

"The impact on the populations depends, at least in part, on the amount of plumage whose colouring is generated by pheomelanin, one of the two main types of melanins, which produces orangish and brownish colours", the Spanish expert adds.

The birds of Chernobyl with the most pheomelanism (with the most plumage coloured by pheomelanin) were judged to be the "most negatively" affected by the radioactivity. As the pigment consumes glutathione (one of the antioxidants most susceptible to radiation and whose level tends to be diminished by its effects), in these birds, the capacity to combat the oxidative stress generated by radiation "probably" diminishes.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-chernobyl-radioactivity-populations-birds-orange.html

CITATION: Galván I, Mousseau TA, Moller AP. 2011. Bird population declines due to radiation exposure at Chernobyl are stronger in species with pheomelanin-based coloration. Oecologia 165(4):827-235.

Save the Frogs Day focuses on banning Atrazine in US
April 26, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Excerpt from the article:

This year's Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th) is focusing on a campaign to ban the herbicide Atrazine in the US with a rally at the steps of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kerry Kriger, executive director of frog-focused NGO Save the Frogs! and creator of Save the Frogs Day, says that Atrazine is an important target in the attempt to save amphibians worldwide, which are currently facing extinction rates that are estimated at 200 times the average.

"Atrazine weakens amphibians' immune systems, and can cause hermaphroditism and complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in American groundwater and half a million pounds of Atrazine returns to the Earth in rain and snow each year," Kriger told mongabay.com, adding that, " Eighty million pounds were used in America last year, primarily on corn, but also on sugarcane, sorghum and rice."

... The herbicide, although one of the most heavily used in the US, has been banned in the EU since 2004 due to health and environmental concerns. Even with the ban, it will take a long time for the EU to be rid of the chemical.

While the rally at the EPA is the focal point of this year's Save the Frogs Day, over 100 other events are planned in 19 nations in six continents, such as the Toronto 2nd Annaul Frog Leap-aThon, a 2km Frog Run in Bangladesh, and a rally at San Francisco's City Hall to call on the city to save the Sharp Park Wetlands.

For more on Save the Frogs day, visit their website at: http://www.savethefrogs.com/day/index.html

Full story: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0426-hance_savethefrogs2011.html

Climate change to cause decrease in American West water supply
April 26, 2011 By Deborah Zabarenko

A new U.S. Interior Department report projects a steep drop in stream flow in "some of the American West's biggest river basins -- including the Rio Grande and the Colorado," largely due to increased drought conditions brought on by climate change.

The increased risks to water resources in the U.S. West include (from the article):

The full report and other related documents are available online at www.usbr.gov/climate/ .

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/25/us-climate-usa-water-idUSTRE73O5IK20110425

Armadillos can pass leprosy to humans
April 27, 2011 By Jennifer Couzin-Frankel

A new genetic study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that "U.S. armadillos and human patients share what seems to be a unique strain of the bacterium that causes leprosy."

From the article:

...Whether armadillos are linked to human infections in the United States has been "very difficult to address," Richard Truman [a microbiologist at the National Hansen's Disease Program] says. The number of U.S. cases is minuscule—just 150 people are diagnosed with leprosy each year, and only 30 to 50 of those are thought to have contracted the disease locally. There have been several reports of leprosy patients who came into contact with armadillos.

...To learn more about the home-grown U.S. cases, Truman collaborated with Stewart Cole at the Global Health Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and other scientists. They captured wild armadillos in five southern states, performed whole-genome sequencing of M. leprae found in one of them, and compared it to the whole genome of bacteria isolated from the skin of three patients. All four strains were essentially the same, and, interestingly, did not match leprosy strains reported in other parts of the world, suggesting this one was unique to the United States.

Then they tested the DNA of M. leprae from 33 wild armadillos and 39 U.S. patients. Twenty-eight of the animals and 25 of the patients had the new strain. The others harbored previously reported strains that the researchers speculate may circulate at a low level in the United States. But the new strain, which they dubbed 3I-2-v1, was the only one found in more than one person.

Doctors advise avoiding contact with armadillos and areas where armadillos have been.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/04/armadillos-spread-leprosy.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Truman RW. 2011. Probable zoonotic leprosy in the Southern United States. NEJM 364:1626-1633. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1010536

Two studies map pollutant threats to turtles
April 27, 2011 By Michael E. Newman

Two new studies performed by researchers at the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) report "that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are consistently showing up in the blood and eggs of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), that the turtles accumulate more of the contaminant chemicals the farther they travel up the Atlantic coast, and that the pollutants may pose a threat to the survival of this endangered species." POPs are a group of man-made chemicals that "persist in the environment" and spread great distances through the air and water.

From the article:

In the first study, HML researchers from NIST and the College of Charleston (C of C), working with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), used satellites to track 19 adult male loggerheads that had been captured in 2006 and 2007 by the SCDNR near Port Canaveral, Fla., fitted with transmitters on their backs and then released back into the wild. The animals, whose blood had been drawn at the time of capture and analyzed for POP concentrations, were followed for at least 60 days to learn their travel patterns. Ten turtles travelled north along the Atlantic coast, eventually migrating to ocean shelf waters between South Carolina and New Jersey. The other nine remained residents in Florida.

Blood plasma concentrations for all of the POPs examined were higher in the transient loggerheads, suggesting that they had eaten prey that were contaminated, such as crabs, in the northern latitudes during previous migrations. Additionally, the loggerheads that travelled farthest north had the highest POP concentrations in their systems. "This may be because the turtles' northern feeding grounds are subjected to higher levels of POPs from areas more populated and more industrialized than those in Florida," says C of C researcher Jared Ragland.

In the other HML turtle study, Keller and researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida Atlantic University and Duke University measured a large suite of POPs in loggerhead egg yolk samples collected from 44 nests in western Florida, eastern Florida and North Carolina. The team found that POP concentrations were lowest in western Florida, at intermediate levels in eastern Florida and highest in North Carolina.

"This, we believe, can be partly explained by the foraging site selections of nesting females," Keller says. "Turtles that nest in western Florida forage in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea where POP contamination is apparently lower than along the Atlantic coast of the United States where the North Carolina nesters forage, whereas the eastern Florida nesting females forage in areas that overlap the two in terms of geography and POP levels."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-pollutant-threats-turtles.html

CITATIONS:

Ragland JM, et al. 2011. Persistent organic pollutants in blood plasma of satellite-tracked adult male loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30(5). doi: 10.1002/etc.540

Alava JJ, et al. 2011. Geographical variation of persistent organic pollutants in eggs of threatened loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from southeastern USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/etc.553

Editorial: "Plans to conserve the world's tropical forests must respect the rights of indigenous peoples"
April 27, 2011

Excerpt from an editorial in Nature:

As 'REDD' projects to protect forests in developing countries gain pace, campaigners and other groups representing indigenous peoples have warned that the plans could offer little benefit to local communities that depend on the forests for their livelihoods.

REDD — reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation — is touted by proponents as win–win for both conservation and poverty reduction. It is based on taking money from polluters in the developed world and channelling it to tropical nations for use in protection of carbon stocks. The agreement that covers such projects, signed at the United Nations climate meeting in Cancún, Mexico, last year, includes environmental and social safeguards that call for respect for the rights of local and indigenous peoples. But forest-dependent communities and human-rights organizations fear that these provisions offer weak and ineffective protection.

These concerns are starting to play out on the ground. A study by UK-based human-rights group the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), which looked at nine REDD pilot projects in Cameroon, warns that forest communities there have not been adequately consulted on efforts to move on from the pilot schemes to develop national REDD plans. In addition, the national plans include no measures to protect the rights of these people — such as seeking their free, prior and informed consent to projects that may affect them — nor to ensure that they benefit.

Continue reading: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v472/n7344/full/472390a.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20110428

National Public Gardens Day photo contest
April 27, 2011

Excerpt from the press releaes:

In support of National Public Gardens Day (NPGD), May 6th, 2011, Rain Bird and the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) are teaming up with Better Homes and Gardens Magazine to encourage garden visitors to showcase the beauty of America’s 500+ public gardens through the 2011 National Public Gardens Day Photo Contest.

Beginning May 1 and continuing through May 11, 2011, garden visitors across the nation are invited to shoot and submit photos capturing the beauty and experience of visiting one of America’s public gardens for a chance to win a grand prize package of $500, a year-long subscription to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and a one-year membership to any of the over 500 APGA-member gardens nationwide. In addition to opportunities to win NPGD prize packages, the first 50 entries will be eligible to receive a full year of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for just $5.99.

Photographs taken at a public garden during the entry period via the contest webpage at www.NationalPublicGardensDay.org/photo-contest will have their photo reviewed by a competition judging panel that includes National Public Gardens Day spokesperson and master gardener, Paul James, as well as representatives from Rain Bird, the American Public Gardens Association and Better Homes and Garden Magazine’s editorial staff.

Full press release: http://nationalpublicgardensday.org/national-public-gardens-day-photo-contest-invites-public-to-submit-their-best-public-garden-photos-for-a-chance-to-win-cash-and-prizes/

Designation of critical habitat for Buena Vista Lake shrew
April 28, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 82
Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2009-0062; 92210-1117-0000-B4

The USFWS announces the reopening of the comment period on the October 21, 2009, proposed designation of revised critical habitat for the Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the availability of a draft economic analysis (DEA) of the proposed designation of revised critical habitat for the shrew and an amended required determinations section of the proposed rule. The USFWS is reopening the comment period for an additional 60 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed revised critical habitat
designation, the associated DEA, and the amended required determinations section.

You may submit written comments no later than June 8, 2011 through one of the following methods:

(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2009-0062
(2) By mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2009-0062; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
(3) Public Hearing: We will hold the public hearing at the Doubletree Hotel, 3100 Camino Del Rio Court, Bakersfield, California.

For further information, contact Susan Moore, Field Supervisor, or Karen Leyse, Listing Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; by telephone (916) 414-6600; or by facsimile (916) 414-6713.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-04-28/pdf/2011-10288.pdf

Warning signs of aquatic ecosystem collapse
April 28, 2011 By Richard Black

By introducing predatory fish to Peter Lake in Wisconsin, researchers changed the structure of the food web in the lake and were able to demonstrate experimentally that early warning signals can be used to predict aquatic ecosystem collapses. The researchers write in this week's Science that "[in] particular, rapid swings in the density of plants and fleas indicated the food web was unstable and about to change."

From the article:

The Peter Lake food web contained four key components. Insects such as fleas ate tiny water-borne plants, small fish such as golden shiners ate the fleas, and much bigger largemouth bass ate the little fish. Beginning in 2008, the researchers began to add more bass, and more than a thousand hatched the following year. Sensing the threat from these predators, the golden shiners began to spend more time in the shallows or sheltering under floating logs. Larger fleas moved in, eating the floating plants (phytoplankton).

But the changes were anything but smooth, with wildly varying numbers of fleas and phytoplankton seen at different times. Eventually, by late 2010, the ecosystem appeared to have finalised its transition from one stable state to another. This second state, dominated by fleas and largemouth bass, is similar to the situation that had existed for years in neighbouring Lake Paul. This lake showed no major changes during the three years, indicating that the changes seen in Peter really were caused by the addition of bass.

...The new research suggests it might be possible to detect signals of such a coming crash before it happened.

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13229211

CITATION: Carpenter SR, et al. 2011. Early warnings of regime shifts: a whole-ecosystem experiment. Science [published online ahead of print]: 1203672. doi: 10.1126/science.1203672

Bonobos 'chat' about food quality
April 28, 2011 By Ella Davies

New research describes communication between bonobos (Pan paniscus) where the apes "gave each other specific details about food quality."

From the article:

The combination of five distinct calls into sequences allowed others to concentrate their foraging around areas known to contain preferred kiwi fruits.

...Bonobos grunt when they encounter food, in a similar way to their close cousins chimpanzees, as a way of communicating their find to the group. In these situations however, bonobos are also known to give four more distinct calls.

...Researchers found that when the bonobos discovered their preferred food, kiwis, they emitted higher pitched long barks and short "peeps". When the bonobos found less-preferred apples they made lower pitch "peep-yelps" and yelps.

Full story, and to hear recordings of the "chatting": http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9469000/9469152.stm

CITATION: Clay Z, Zuberbühler K. 2011. Bonobos extract meaning from call sequences. PLoS ONE 6(4):e18786. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018786

Mojave Desert solar project halted to protect endangered desert tortoises
April 28, 2011 By Margot Roosevelt

Excerpt from the blog post:

The Obama administration has halted the building of two-thirds of a massive solar project in San Bernardino's Mojave Desert as a new federal assessment found that more than 600 endangered desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) would die as a result of construction.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management assessment this week disputed the estimate by BrightSource Energy, developer of the 392 MW solar thermal plant, that only 38 of the reptiles would be disturbed by construction at the 5.6-square mile Ivanpah Valley site near Primm, Nev.

Questions concerning the California tortoises highlight the friction between wilderness conservation and the quest for cleaner power. Many environmentalists contend it would be preferable to subsidize smaller solar arrays on commercial and residential rooftops, or on industrial acreage, than offer government loan guarantees to large complexes on wildlands that require transmission lines to transport the electricity to urban areas.

The federal order suspends construction activity on most of the Ivanpah project until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service redrafts a previous scientific opinion on the effect on the tortoise, which may come as soon as next month. The Oakland-based BrightSource recently received a $1.6-billion federal loan guarantee for the project and intends to raise $250 million more after taking the company public.

Continue reading: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/04/desert-tortoise-ivanpah-brightsource-solar-energy-san-bernardino.html

Sustainable Brands '11 Conference to take place in Monterey, CA
April 28, 2011

From the press release:

Sustainable Life Media today announced its full Sustainable Brands ‘11 conference schedule and unveiled confirmed speakers for each of the three main conference days.  Attendees will find themselves immersed in rich dialogue, set in motion by some of the world's leading thinkers and practitioners of environmental and social innovation – over 100 speakers in total. Plenary sessions launch each morning to inspire and provoke interactive conversations throughout the day. Facilitated break-out sessions, evening plenaries, Birds-of-a-Feather dinners and networking activities round out each day as executives look to understand the unfolding market drivers and leading-edge strategies for building business and brand value by innovating for sustainability.

The conference runs from Tuesday, June 7 through Friday, June 10 and will take place in Monterey, California. Visit their website for more information: http://www.sustainablelifemedia.com/events/sb11

Full press release: http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3711

Tropical peat forests in Southeast Asia could disappear by 2030
April 29, 2011 By Dave Mosher

A new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment shows that peat forests in Southeast Asia are in trouble. According to the researchers, "if people continue to chop, drain, and burn at current rates...by 2030 no native swamps will remain and billions of metric tons of carbon will be lofted into the atmosphere." By studying satellite images and incorporating "infrared images to gauge the effect of human-set fires in the region," lead author Jukka Miettinen and colleagues were able to show that "peatland forest dropped from 77% of original covereage to 36% between 1990 and 2010."

From the article:

Almost all peatland in Southeast Asia is found in peninsular Malaysia and an archipelago of islands that includes Borneo and Sumatra. Rain trickles down mountains and through forests there, ultimately ending up in low-laying lands that can't quickly drain. Plant matter can't fully decay and turns into a peaty, acidic stew, trapping carbon and forming a unique environment for wildlife. Although Southeast Asian swamps comprise between 6% and 7% of global peatland, they store roughly 64 billion metric tons of carbon—about nine times the global emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2006.

"Nearly all peatlands in Sumatra and Borneo are now sources of carbon emission," says hydrologist Aljosja Hooijer of the National University of Singapore.... Ecologist Sue Page of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom says that Southeast Asia emits as much as 363 million metric tons of carbon each year through peatland destruction. "That's the same amount of carbon stored in the entirety of England's peatland," Page said. "These new maps really show the extremely rapid rate of deforestation. We knew it was bad, but the scale of destruction here is shocking and frightening."

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/04/tropical-peat-forests-in-trouble.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Miettinen J, Shi C, Liew SC. 2011. Two decades of destruction in Southeast Asia's peat swamp forests. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment [published online ahead of print]. doi:10.1890/100236

Court allows US stem cell funding to continue
April 29, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

A US federal appeals court overturned a ruling Friday that put funding on hold for embryonic stem cell research last year, handing a major victory to President Barack Obama's administration.

Opponents of the research, which has attracted controversy because it involves cells that are derived from human embryos that must be destroyed in the process, were not likely to win their legal battle, said the 2-1 decision.

"We conclude the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail," read the decision by the US Court of Appeals in Washington, referring to a coalition of groups that challenged the legality of the research. "We therefore vacate the preliminary injunction."

...At issue in the latest court fight was a 1996 amendment to a US law, called the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which barred using taxpayer funds in research that destroys embryos. In August 2010, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth took seriously a court challenge brought by a coalition of groups that opposed the research and issued an order to ban federal money until the legal battle could be resolved. A series of court decisions followed that temporarily lifted his ban, but Friday's decision put an end to the matter by vacating it altogether.

"Because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded that, although Dickey-Wicker bars funding for the destructive act of deriving an ESC (embryonic stem cell) from an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project in which an ESC will be used," read the decision.

Full story: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-court-stem-cell-funding.html

Increase in American pika extinction rates due to climate change
April 29, 2011 By Alex Royan

A new study published in the journal Global Change Biology analyzed data on American pika "distribution over the last 110 years, as well as 62 years of data on regional climate," and concluded that the species' extinction rates have "increased nearly five-fold over the past ten years as a result of global climate change." This new research has implications for the pika's conservation status, as it was recently denied inclusion on the Endangered Species List by the U.S. government.

From the article:

The American pika (Ochotona princeps), a small, hamster-like animal of the rabbit family, commonly occurs on rocky slopes and lava flows throughout the western U.S. This endearing mammal is well-adapted to cold climates, with dense, silky fur. However, it is acutely sensitive to changes in the climate, and if pikas are unable to seek shelter, hot temperatures can lead to mortality. 

The researchers found that movement up to higher altitudes by pika populations had increased by 11-fold in the past decade, with their range having moved up an average of 145 metres... During the 20th Century the American pika’s range moved up about 13 metres per decade. 

Full article: http://blog.arkive.org/2011/04/american-pika-falling-victim-to-climate-change/

CITATION: Beever EA, Ray C, Wilkening JL, Brussard PF, Mote PW. 2011. Contemporary climate change alters the pace and drivers of extinction. Global Change Biology 17(6):2054-2070. doi: 10.111/j.1365-2486.2010.02389.x

San Diego Zoo relocates 36 desert tortoises to Mojave
April 29, 2011

From the press release:

Meandering slowly through the desert, 36 desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) with very special shells found a new home just south of Las Vegas on Wednesday. Each tortoise carries on its back a VHS radio transmitter the size of a small stack of quarters that will allow San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research scientists to gather data about desert tortoise movement and habitat choices.

Our mission is to aid in the recovery of the desert tortoise,” said Paula Kahn, Ph.D., San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research conservation program manager. “We are using science to refine translocation methods that we can use to ensure desert tortoises have the greatest chance for survival.”

In addition to radio telemetry, 24 of the 36 tortoises are also donning GPS units that will provide detailed data about the animals’ movements and their preferred environment. In conjunction with data collectors set up inside and outside of burrows that provide the temperature and humidity readings, the Zoo team will be able to determine the best conditions into which the tortoises should be released.

Full press release: http://imperialvalleynews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10202&Itemid=2

New Mexico State University launches Desert Blooms website
April 30, 2011 By Jane Moorman

New Mexico State University has recently launched a new website called Desert Blooms with topics ranging from "horticulture, agriculture and livestock, to cooking, nutrition and sewing." According to Jon Boren, director of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, the website is a "one-stop site for all of our horticulture-type publications that deal specifically with gardening and landscaping questions and issues." The website serves as a "reference library for gardening publications, a plant selector feature, [and] a library of how-to videos." Visitors will also find information on low-water-use plants and invasive weeds of the Southwest.

Visit the Desert Blooms website: http://desertblooms.nmsu.edu/

Full article: http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-sunlife/ci_17961034

List of "best" SoCal botanical gardens
May 1, 2011 By Pam Kragen

Pam Kragen from the North County Times has put together a guide on Southern California botanical gardens in honor of National Public Gardens Day (Friday, May 6). The list includes the locations and information of each garden, as well as any special events that will be taking place for National Public Gardents Day. (See the full story on the NC Times' website for more information on each of the gardens.)

Many of the gardens listed above will be free on Friday, but you must bring a coupon that you can download at Better Homes and Gardens' website at bhg.com.

Full guide: http://www.nctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_2929960e-bf8b-52ce-a206-aad861417398.html

World's oldest captive orangutan dies at age of 59
May 2, 2011

From the article:

Molly, the world's oldest captive orang-utan, died yesterday at the age of 59 at Tokyo's Tama Zoological Park. She arrived at Ueno Zoological Gardens, also in Japan's capital, from Indonesia in 1955 aged three. In the past decade, she had become well known in the country as an artist after developing a talent for drawing with crayons.

The zoo said that her condition had begun to deteriorate in March, though it was not clear whether Molly had been suffering from an illness or had simply died from old age. Following her death, Gypsy, another captive orang-utan at the zoo, becomes the world's oldest, with an estimated age of 57 years and four months.

Full story: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/tokyo-says-goodbye-to-molly-2277714.html

Annual notice of findings on resubmitted petitions for foreign species
May 2, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 85
FWS-R9-ES-2010-0053; MO 92210-0-0010 B6

The USFWS announces their annual petition findings for foreign species. Information contained in this notice describes the USFWS status review of 20 foreign taxa that were the subject of previous warranted-but-precluded findings, most recently summarized in the 2009 Notice of Review published on August 12, 2009 (74 FR 40540). Based on their current review, they find that 20 species continue to warrant listing, but their listing remains precluded by higher priority listing actions. The USFWS requests additional information for the 20 taxa whose listings that remain warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions. They will consider this information in preparing listing documents and future resubmitted petition findings for these 20 taxa. This information will also help FWS to monitor the status of the taxa and conserve them.

This notice is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov, and http://endangered.fws.gov/. At any time, please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this notice to Branch of Foreign Species, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, Virginia 22203. For further information, contact: Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, Virginia 22203; by telephone at 703-358-2171; or by facsimile at 703-358-1735.

For a list of the species under review, see the full announcement at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-03/pdf/2011-10286.pdf

Hubbs-SeaWorld wants to bring fishing hatchery to Pensacola
May 2, 2011 By Jamie Page

The San Diego-based Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is working with Pensacola, Florida to bring a fishing hatchery to the city within the next year. The Institute currently has two other such facilities in Southern California and one in Melbourne, Australia. By working in collaboration with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Hubbs Institute will be helping to replenish depleted fish populations in the area.

From the article:

"The idea of this replenishment program is to grow fish to a juvenile size to help restock the depleted populations off the coast," [Don] Kent [the president of Hubbs-SeaWorld] said. "We have been doing this at our California operation for about 20 years now."

...While the FWC's hatcheries program is focused on recreational fishing, the Hubbs-SeaWorld facility would be designed to be self-supporting by selling fish to commercial fish farmers. The Institute also is eligible to receive state and federal grant funding.

The facility could have the capacity to produce as many as 20 million fish a year, grown to be genetically indistinguishable from the most common breeds of wild fish in local waters, such as red snapper.

Full article: http://www.pnj.com/article/20110503/NEWS01/105030327/1006/news01/Hubbs-SeaWorld-wants-bring-fishing-hatchery-Pensacola

Belo Monte, controversial Brazilian dam, receives investment of $1.4 billion
May 2, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Belo Monte, a proposed dam on the Xingu River in Brazil, has recieved an influx of $1.4 billion from Vale, a Brazilian-run mining company. Brazil's president, Dilma Roussef, says that "...the dam must be built to meet the rising nation's power needs," and states that it would power 23 million homes. However, critics "say it will run on only 10-30% capacity due to low waters" for a quarter of the year. The construction of the dam will continue, although it is opposed by environmentalists and indigenous rights groups because it "would flood nearly 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) or rainforest," and approximately 50,000 indigenous people living around the Xingdu River would be impacted.

Full story: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0501-hance_belo_vale.html

Global Wildfire Awareness Week
May 2, 2011

A new website has been launched by the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) in conjunction with Global Wildfire Awareness Week, which runs from May 1-7, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere (in the Southern Hemisphere, it takes place in October). According to IAWF President Chuck Bushey, the site -- wildfireworld.org -- will "...link wildfire professionals [so they can] share information, research, and practical tools in the effort to reduce wildfire impacts." The theme of this year's awareness week is "Your Home...Your Responsibility".

For more information: http://www.iawfonline.org/

Full press release: http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3713

Energy Star 2011 National Building Competition -- "Battle of the Buildings"
May 2, 2011 By Andy Soos

Excerpt from the article:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program has launched the 2011 National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. Teams from 245 buildings around the country are going head-to-head to improve energy efficiency and determine who can reduce their energy use the most. Nearly five million commercial buildings in the United States are responsible for approximately 20 percent of both the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion annually. Through energy efficiency improvements, competitors are working to save energy, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and protect the health of Americans.

....Competitors will measure and track their building's monthly energy consumption using EPA's Energy Star online energy tracking tool, Portfolio Manager. Of the initial 245 competitors, a small group of buildings will be selected as finalists in July. The finalists will be required to submit Statements of Energy Performance (SEPs) on their utility data for the entire competition period, which must be signed and stamped by a professional engineer or licensed architect. Among the finalists, the building with the largest percentage reduction in energy use will be recognized as the winner in November.

For further information on the competition: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/78D6BB7F698FE7A18525788100782D1F

Full article: http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/42649

Overfishing greatly affects small-sized species
May 3, 2011 By Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that since the 1950s, "smaller species that are commercially fished have had up to twice as many stock collapses as fishes higher up the food chain." This was somewhat surprising to researchers, since on land, typically "...it is the large predators that...suffer the greatest decline and therefore are most in need of protection." However, much of the decline of large predators on land is due to loss of habitat space which is not really a problem in the ocean.

From the article:

"There's been a lot of attention on top [ocean] predators, with good reason, because a lot of them are in trouble," says Malin Pinsky, an ecology graduate student at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California, and co-author on the paper. "But it turns out that there actually have been a lot of collapses at the other end of the food chain as well. We weren't expecting to see that."

...Pinsky and his colleagues searched for evidence of stock collapses in a database tracking the abundance of commercially fished species in developed countries back to about 1950. They also included data on landings (numbers of fish brought back to port) from around the globe.

To their surprise, the researchers found that twice the percentage of small-sized fish stocks had collapsed compared with larger ones. Likewise, species low on the food chain had almost double the percentage of collapses compared with those at the top. The species that were fished the hardest were most prone to collapse. "It's really overfishing that predicts whether or not a population will collapse," says Pinsky.

These results will affect future fishing regulations, which in the past have focused on protecting the large fish species. Scientists also emphasize that in addition to overfishing, climate change also plays a large part in the fluctuating fish population.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110503/full/news.2011.262.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110503

CITATION: Pinsky ML, Jensen OP, Ricard D, Palumbi SR. Proc Natl Acad Sci [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015313108

Hummingbirds curl tongue to trap liquid
May 3, 2011 By Deobrah Braconnier

From the story:

Ornithologists first put forth the theory that hummingbirds took in nectar using capillary action (where liquid rises against gravity in a narrow tube) in 1833 and since then no one has questioned it. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, research has shown that it is not capillary action at all, but actually a curling of the tongue to trap liquid.

Associate professor of ecology Margaret A. Rubega and graduate student Alejandro Rico-Guevara from the University of Connecticut used a high-speed camera and see-through flowers they created to capture exactly what happens when hummingbirds drink nectar. They recorded 30 hummingbirds from 10 different species, as well as performed postmortem microscopic examinations of 20 other birds.

The hummingbird has a forked tongue which is lined with hair-like extensions called lamellae. When inside the flower, the tongue separates and the lamellae extend outward. As the bird pulls its tongue in, the tips come together and the lamellae roll inward. This action traps the nectar within the tongue.

Continue reading and see a video of hummingbird licking nectar: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-hummingbird-tongue-video.html

CITATION:Rico-Guevara A, Rubega MA. 2011. The hummingbird tongue is a fluid trap, not a capillary tube. PNAS [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016944108

Rotational grazing as a conservation tool
May 3, 2011

New research published in Tropical Conservation Science could assist conservationists hoping to work with ranchers in Brazil's Pantanal and Cerrado regions by promoting the use of rotational grazing of cattle.

From the article:

The technique, which has been adapted for a variety of livestock worldwide, calls for cattle to graze in small areas for shorter periods of time before moving onto other pastures. The result is a greater forage base that produces larger, more valuable cattle while reducing incentives for deforestation, uncontrolled burning, and replacement of native vegetation with exotic grasses.

...The study showed that the forage base of native grasses was greater in areas that were rotationally grazed and produced cattle that were 15 percent heavier with 22 percent higher pregnancy rates.

"The results of this study show a potential win-win situation for the Pantanal and Cerrado's ranches and wildlife," said the study's lead author, Donald Parsons Eaton of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Using rotational grazing techniques will produce healthier cattle for ranchers and help safeguard wildlife that call home to this incredibly biodiverse region."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-grazing-tool.html

CITATION: Eaton DP, et al. 2011. Rotational grazing of native pasturelands in the Pantanal: an effective conservation tool. Tropical Conservation Science 4(1):39-52. Available online: http://www.tropicalconservationscience.org/

BP fined $25 million over 2006 Alaska oil spill
May 3, 2011

Excerpt from the story:

BP has been fined $25 million and ordered to spend an estimated $60 million to improve pipeline safety in Alaska after a 2006 oil spill there, US authorities said Tuesday.

The penalties, including the largest ever per-barrel fine for a US oil spill, were slapped on BP Alaska in an agreement with the US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In March 2006, BP Alaska spilled over 5,000 barrels of crude oil on the North Slope in Alaska, in what investigators said was due to its failure to properly inspect and maintain the pipeline to prevent corrosion.

"This penalty should serve as a wake-up call to all pipeline operators that they will be held accountable for the safety of their operations," said Ignacia Moreno of the DoJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-bp-fined-million-alaska-oil.html

Southern corroboree frog eggs released into Australian mountains
May 3, 2011 By Nicky Phillips

Scientists from the Department of Environment and Heritage and the Taronga Zoo in Sydney have released 100 southern corroboree frog eggs (Psyeudophryne corroboree) into the Snowy Mountains. The critically endangered frog is being wiped out by the chytrid fungus, leaving fewer than 100 frogs in their natural habitat.

From the article:

Without the breeding program this tiny black-and-yellow striped frog would vanish in less than three years, [David] Hunter (a departmental threatened species officer) said. The aim is to keep a population of the frogs in the wild long enough for them to develop resistance to chytrid fungus. Before the fungus, a pathogen that lives off compounds in frog skin, was introduced in the 1980s, tens of thousands of southern corroboree frogs could have lived in the Snowy Mountains region.

The supervisor of the herpetofauna division at Taronga, Michael McFadden, said eggs had been collected in the wild and hatched at Taronga and Melbourne zoos. Of releases in the past four years, at least half of the eggs have reached adult stages. Whether they have survived after that is unknown.

It takes four to five years for southern corroboree frogs to reach sexual maturity, so the team will not be able to measure the success of their program until the first group of frogs return to their hatching area to breed. However, its members are sure that corroboree frogs will flourish again.

Full story: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/animals/eggs-head-for-the-hills-in-project-to-save-endangered-frog-species-20110502-1e57t.html

S.F. Zoo soon will get Martha the tiger
May 3, 2011 By Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross

The San Francisco Zoo is set to receive Martha, a 10-year-old Siberian tiger, from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. Martha will be the zoo's first tiger since last year, when their male Siberian tiger was euthanized at the age of 18 and since the 2007 tiger attack that left a teenager dead. Originally, zoo leadership had not had any plans to replace the tigers, but are adopting Martha from the Omaha zoo which is paring down its collections in response to the lagging economy. In preparation for receiving the new tiger, the exhibit wall has been raised to 22 feet to prevent another escape. Martha is expected to go on exhibit sometime in June.

Full article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/03/BA3O1JAU0B.DTL

EU and Indonesia sign deal on illegal timber
May 4, 2011 By Richard Black

Excerpt from the article:

Indonesia and the European Union have finalised an agreement aimed at ending the trade in illegally-sourced wood. The agreement will mean that EU companies will only be able to import timber that is certified as complying with Indonesian environmental laws. The East Asian nation possesses some of the world's most lavish forests, which in turn support spectacular wildlife. The EU has concluded similar deals with four African countries, and Liberia is expected to follow suit next week. The deal - signed in Jakarta - is known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

"Not only is Indonesia the first Asian country to conclude VPA negotiations with the EU, it is also by far the largest timber exporter to enter into such an agreement," said EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht. Currently, European countries import about $1.2bn (£720m) worth of timber and paper from Indonesia each year. This accounts for about one-sixth of the nation's exports.

Continue reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13272393

New York hawk 'Violet' won't have chicks
May 4, 2011

A pair of red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) called Violet and Bobby have been nesting "...on a ledge outside of the 12th floor office of the president of New York University." Many people have been watching the hawks "fussing over three eggs" online through a Hawk Cam which was set up by the New York Times. Unfortunately, though, experts say that the eggs will not produce any chicks since the 32-35 day hatching window has expired. John Blakeman, a veteran hawk breeder, thinks that Violet and Bobby were too inexperienced, saying, "The pair just may have been inept lovers."

Full story: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-celebrity-york-hawk-dashes-chick.html

Using treefrogs to explain Amazonian megadiversity
May 4, 2011

New research on the evolution and ecology of treefrogs published in Ecology Letters sheds new light on "why so many species live together in a small area in the tropics, especially at some sites in the rainforests of the Amazon Basin in South America." The researchers chose to focus on treefrogs, as they make up a high percentage of amphibian species in some rainforests and because they are an example of "high local-scale biodiversity in the Amazon."

From the article:

The researchers compiled data on the number of treefrog species at 123 sites around the world and analyzed the data with a new evolutionary tree (based on DNA sequence data) for 360 treefrog species. They discovered that the richness of treefrog species in the Amazon rainforest sites is not explained by wet, tropical climatic conditions alone.

...Instead, the researchers discovered that the high biodiversity of Amazonian sites is related to different groups of treefrogs occurring together in the Amazon Basin for more than 60 million years—since before most dinosaurs became extinct.  In contrast, those sites in tropical rainforests that have relatively few treefrog species are in areas that were colonized by treefrogs much more recently.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-species-amazon-rainforests.html

CITATION: Wiens JJ, Pyron RA, Moen DS. 2011. Phylogenetic origins of local-scale diversity patterns and the causes of Amazonian megadiversity. Ecology Letters [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01625.x

Toxic toll of rat poison on birds
May 4, 2011

A new study on the effect of rat poisons (second-generation anticoagulant redenticides, or SGARs) shows that much smaller doses of the poisons can be harmful to birds than previously thought, and that different birds vary in their susceptibility to the poison.

From the article:

To get a better idea of how toxic rat poisons are for different birds of prey, a team of scientists led by Philippe Thomas from Environment Canada decided to analyze published data on rat poisoning in birds. They also analyzed 196 livers from great horned owls and red-tailed hawks found dead throughout Canada. The researchers then built probability curves to figure out what percentage of the population of a given bird species might die. "This approach gives us for the first time the potential to estimate the likelihood of mortality for individual animals and their populations," says Shore.

Using their probability curves, the scientists found that at least 11 per cent of the sampled great horned owl population in Canada is at risk of being 'directly killed by second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs).'

They found more poison in great horned owls' livers than in red-tailed hawks' livers: almost all the owls they investigated had poisons like brodifacoum and bromadiolone in their livers, while around half the hawks' livers contained the same poisons. The difference between the two species may be down to the way the birds feed. Great horned owls get by on a much narrower diet than red-tailed hawks.

The new research can be used in the future to inform regulations that will reduce exposure to specific species of birds.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-toxic-toll-rat-poison-birds.html

CITATION: Thomas PJ, et al. 2011. Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides in predatory birds: probabilistic characterisation of toxic liver concentrations and implications for predatory bird populations in Canada. Environment International [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2011.03.010

Rock climbers negatively impact cliff-dwelling plants
May 4, 2011

Ecologists from the University of Regensburg in Germany have found that "[Rock] climbers are having a negative impact on rare cliff-dwelling plants," and call for conservation management plans that would protect specific cliffs. Authors Frank Vogler and Christoph Reisch compared the number and distribution of rare yellow whitlowgrass (Draba azoides) in heavily climbed areas over the last 50 years and with statistics gathered from pristine, unclimbed cliffs. Using this data, they were able to show that "...on climbed cliffs, the plants were smaller and fewer in number on cliff faces but more frequent on the scree -- the broken rock fragments at the base of cliffs."

From the article:

According to Dr Reisch: "Climbing adversely affects these plants in a direct way. Abrasion by climbing ropes and using cracks and ledges as hand and footholds obviously lead to a decline in the species' abundance."

Genetic fingerprinting showed that compared with climbed cliffs, there were greater genetic differences between plants living at different heights on the pristine cliffs, meaning that by displacing plants the climbers are also moving their genes down the cliff. These genetic changes could, in the long-term, affect the plants' fitness to survive in an environment it has spent thousands of years adapting to.

"Seed dispersal is presumably enhanced by rock climbers. But climbers also remove and drop individual plants from cliff faces, causing a downward shift in population structure. This shift reduces the genetic differences between the plant populations living at different heights on the cliff," says Dr Reisch.

The authors call for conservation management plans that would require that restrictions be placed on certain areas of cliffs to prevent people from climbing there.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-climbers-rare-genetic-variation.html

CITATION: Vogler F, Reisch C. 2011. Genetic variation on the rocks - the impact of climbing on the population ecology of a typical cliff plant. Journal of Applied Ecology [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.01992.x

African vulture coloring book available online
May 4, 2011

Excerpt from the press release:

Martha Mutiso recently completed a four month internship with the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, over which time she produced a children’s colouring book titled The Vultures of Africa – A Coloring Book. The book will be distributed to schools and conservation organisations throughout Africa to raise awareness of the plight of Africa’s vultures. All 11 of Africa’s vulture species are featured in the book, each with a line drawing that can be coloured in and a description of what the species looks like, where it lives, what it eats and its conservation status. It is hoped that the book will raise the profile of African vultures, a group of birds whose populations are in rapid decline due to loss of habitat, persecution and poisoning.

Martha’s colouring book, which has been published and is available online, was produced with the help of Dr. Keith Bildstein, BirdLife International and The Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund

The coloring book can be downloaded at Hawk Mountain's website.

Full post: http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/05/drawing-attention-to-the-conservation-of-african-vultures/

Cleveland zoo opens new elephant exhibit
May 4, 2011 By Bob Downing

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened their new $25 million African Elephant Crossing this week. The five-acre indoor-outdoor facility will house four female elepants (Moshi, Jo, Martika, and Shenga) and one bull elephant -- 13,300-pound Willy. Their return to the Zoo marks the end of a 27-month absence.

Features of the new exhibit:

For more information on the new exhibit and events surrounding the opening, visit http://www.africanelephantcrossing.com.

Full article: http://www.ohio.com/news/break_news/121291339.html

Remembering Gil Voss, former curator of Quail Botanical Gardens
May 4, 2011 By Caroline Dipping

Gil Voss, the former curator of Quail Botanical Gardens (now known as San Diego Botanic Garden) passed away on April 28 at his home in Eugene, Oregon due to complications of organ transplant therapies. He was 64.

From the memorial:

As curator of Quail Botanical Gardens from 1974 to 1990, he was instrumental in computerizing plant records, designing and installing landscape for the waterfall system, establishing a docent program, and arranging plant collections according to their geographic nativities. He also worked toward, and succeeded in getting, the gardens’ accreditation with the American Association of Museums.

At Quail, Mr. Voss established a bamboo quarantine and introduction facility with the American Bamboo Society. Since its inception in 1986, the facility has introduced more new bamboo species into the United States than any other agency or organization.

An author of numerous journal articles, Mr. Voss also shared his horticultural and botanical acumen with others, including Rancho Guajome Adobe, Balboa Park, Old Town State Historic Park, Niguel Botanical Preserve, and the Los Angeles County Arboretum. He was a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, a founding member of the American Bamboo Society, and past president of the Palomar Cactus and Succulent Society.

Continue reading: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/04/former-gardens-curator-knew-and-grew-exotic-plants/

SeaWorld partners with Helen Woodward Animal Center
May 4, 2011 By Lori Weisberg

Excerpt from the story:

SeaWorld San Diego has announced it is partnering with the Helen Woodward Animal Center to encourage adoptions of homeless dogs and cats. The new animal adoption program, "Happy Tails," will provide pet lovers two free single-day admissions to SeaWorld when they adopt a dog or cat from the Rancho Santa Fe-based animal center through Oct. 31.

The Helen Woodward center is known for its creation of the “Iams Home 4 the Holidays” pet adoption drive, linking families with more than 6 million orphaned pets since it began in 1999. “Part of the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s mission statement is ‘people helping animals and animals helping people,’” said the center’s president, Mike Arms. “Now we can add, ‘Animals helping animals.’ The animals at SeaWorld are helping to bring attention to orphaned pets.”

Continue reading: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/04/seaworld-offers-passes-encourage-animal-adoptions/

Southern California Lawn Mower Exchange program
May 4, 2011 By Susan Carpenter

A new program run by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD), which is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, is trying to combat emissions by running an exchange that allows "...Southern California residents to trade their gas mowers for electric ones at a price significantly lower than retail."

From the blog:

Now in its ninth year, the AQMD Lawn Mower Exchange will offer five different types of electric mowers priced from $100 to $230. In total, 6,600 electric mowers will be made available. Interested residents just need to make a reservation. 

The Lawn Mower Exchange kicks off Saturday in Palm Desert. Weekly events continue through July 23 with exchanges in Long Beach, Inglewood, Riverside, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Northridge and Anaheim.

Full post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/05/lawnmower-exchange.html

Final rule delists gray wolves in Rocky Mountains
May 5, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 87
FWS-R6-ES-2011-0032; 92220-1113-000

From the announcement:

On April 15, 2011, President Obama signed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Appropriations Act, 2011. A section of that Appropriations Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue within 60 days of enactment the final rule published on April 2, 2009, that identified the Northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolf (Canis lupus) as a distinct population segment (DPS) and to revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife by removing most of the gray wolves in the DPS. This rule complies with that directive.

DATES: This action is effective May 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, see http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/, or contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES) or telephone (406) 449-5225.

EFFECTS OF THE RULE: Gray wolves in Montana and Idaho, as well as portions of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and north-central Utah, are removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Gray wolves in Wyoming remain on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and continue to be subject to the provisions of our experimental population regulations codified at 50 CFR 17.84(i) and (n). Outside Wyoming, this rule will not affect the status of the gray wolf in the NRM under State laws or suspend any other legal protections provided by State law. This rule will not affect the gray wolf's Appendix II status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-05/pdf/2011-10860.pdf

Establishment of an experimental population of Sonoran Pronghorn
May 5, 2011 Federal Regsiter / Vol. 76, No. 87
FWS-R2-ES-2009-0077; 92220-1113-0000

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are reestablishing the Sonoran pronghorn, a federally listed endangered mammal, in its historical habitat in King Valley, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, in Yuma County, and the Barry M. Goldwater Range-- East, Maricopa County, in southwestern Arizona. We are reestablishing the Sonoran pronghorn under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and classify that reestablished population as a nonessential experimental population (NEP)....

This action is one of the recovery actions that the Service, Federal and State agencies, and other partners are conducting throughout the historical range of the species. This final rule establishes the NEP and provides for limited allowable legal taking of Sonoran pronghorn within the defined NEP area. An Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact have been prepared for this action.

DATES: The effective date of this rule is June 6, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule, along with the public comments, Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Office, 2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021 (telephone 602-242-0210, facsimile 602-242-2513).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-05/pdf/2011-10467.pdf

Proposed rule to revise conservation status for the Gray Wolf and initiation of status reviews for the Gray Wolf and for the Eastern Wolf
May 5, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 87
FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029; 92220-1113-000

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or USFWS) are re-evaluating the listing of the Minnesota population of gray wolves (Canis lupus) and propose to revise it to conform to current statutory and policy requirements. We propose to identify the Minnesota population as a Western Great Lakes (WGL) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the gray wolf and to remove this DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We propose these actions because the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the WGL DPS does not meet the definitions of threatened or endangered under the Act.

This proposed rule, if made final, would remove the currently designated critical habitat for the gray wolf in Minnesota and Michigan and the current special regulations for gray wolves in Minnesota. We also propose to revise the range of the gray wolf (the species C. lupus) by removing all or parts of 29 eastern states that we now recognize were not part of the historical range of the gray wolf. New information indicates that these areas should not have been included in the original listing of the gray wolf. In this proposed rule, we recognize recent taxonomic information indicating that the gray wolf subspecies Canis lupus lycaon should be elevated to the full species C. lycaon. Given that a complete status review of this newly recognized species has never been conducted, we are initiating a rangewide review of the conservation status of C. lycaon in the United States and Canada. This rule also constitutes the initiation of our five-year review of the status of gray wolves under section 4(c)(2) of the Act, as well as the initiation of status reviews specific to gray wolves in the Pacific Northwest and Mexican wolves in the Southwest United States and Mexico.

You may submit comments by July 5, 2011 by one of the following methods:
Electronically at http://www.regulations.gov or by U.S. mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Ragan, 612-713-5350. Direct all questions or requests for additional information to: GRAY WOLF QUESTIONS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Building, 1 Federal Drive, Ft. Snelling, Minnesota 55111-4056. Additional information is also available on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-05/pdf/2011-9557.pdf

Pink dolphin population recovering after 2010 drought
May 5, 2011 By James Painter

In 2010, a severe drought caused the level of the Samiria River (a tributary of the Amazon river) to drop drastically. In turn, this led to a dramatic decline in the number of pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) in the Peruvian Amazon, where the number of individuals dropped from 250 to 140. However, conservationists working in the area have found that the dolphins are quickly rebounding, with an increase in their population by nearly 10% compared to last year. The area is currently experiencing a record flood, causing local officials to declare a state of emergency. Researchers are hoping to study the effects of these highly fluctuating river levels on local wildlife.

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-13187308

Chinese primrose rediscovered
May 5, 2011

Two populations of a primrose that was thought to be extinct in the wild have been discovered in the Dabashan mountains in northern Chongqing, China. Dr. Wu Zhi-Hun from the Kunming Institute of Botany (a partner of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank) identified the plant as Primula mallophylla Balf. f.. The plant occurs only in the Dabashan mountains "where it grows in wet meadows and shaded, wet areas in forests above 2,100 m [about 6,890 ft] above sea level," and has not been seen since it was first described in 1916. Seeds from the endangered plant were collected and sent to the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species at the Kunming Institute of Botany for long-term conservation.

Full story: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-chinese-primrose-rediscovered.html

New mitochondrial control mechanism discovered
May 5, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Scientists have discovered a new component of mitochondria that plays a key part in their function. The discovery, which is presented in the journal Cell Metabolism, is of potential significance to our understanding of both inherited and age-related diseases.

Mitochondria are normally called the cell's power plants since they convert the energy in our food into a form that the body can use. To work properly, the mitochondria have to form new proteins, which they do in their ribosomes.

A group of researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Germany, has discovered that a protein called MTERF4 combines with another protein called NSUN4 to form a complex that controls the formation and function of the mitochondrial ribosomes. In mice lacking MTERF4 no functional ribosomes are formed, leading to a reduction in energy production.

Continue reading: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/05/05/new_mitochondrial_control_mechanism_discovered.html

CITATION: Camara Y, et al. 2011. MTERF4 regulates translation by targeting the methyltransferase NSUN4 to the mammalian mitochondrial ribosome. Cell Metabolism 15(5):527-539. doi: 1016/j.cmet.2011.04.002

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo debuts new iPhone app
May 4, 2011

In conjunction with the opening of their new African Elephant Crossing exhibit, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has debuted a new free iPhone app that provides "detailed GPS enabled maps....fun animal facts, points of interest, info about special events and the location of amenities such as restrooms, concession stands and gift stores." The Zoo hopes to add more features in the coming months, such as "customized tours, horticulture garden info, videos, Zoo history and more." They are currently developing a similar Android version that will be available by the end of the year.

Full press release: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=19120

UN predicts world population to pass 10.1 billion by century’s end
May 4, 2011

From the Yale blog post:

A new UN report predicts that the world’s population will surge past 10.1 billion by the end of the century, a forecast that would shatter earlier estimates that the number would stabilize at about 9 billion by mid-century. Much of the population growth will occur in so-called “high fertility” countries — where each woman is having, on average, more than 1.5 daughters — in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America, according to the report. While populations in low- and intermediate-fertility nations are expected to peak before the end of the century, the population in high-fertility nations will continue to increase. In Africa, where growth already threatens to overwhelm over-stretched food and water resources, the population could more than triple, from about 1 billion today to more than 3.6 billion. World population is expected to pass 7 billion later this year. The report, prepared by the UN’s Population Division, projects that there will be 9.3 billion people by mid-century, which is 156 million more than the group predicted in a 2008 report. Projections have increased because fertility has not declined as rapidly as expected in poorer countries and has increased slightly in wealthier nations.

Read the report here: http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/index.htm

Blog post: http://e360.yale.edu/digest/world_population_to_pass_101_billion_by_centurys_end_un_says/2928/

Pan-African parliametnary science forum launched
May 4, 2011

The African Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (AIPF-STI) was launched last week with the aim to give science, technology and innovation "a more central role in the policy-making process...."

From the article:

All national African parliaments, the Pan-African Parliament and all regional parliamentary assemblies will be members. Observer's status may be granted to the Network of African Science Academies, the media, representatives of science councils or universities and regional and international organisations such as the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Africa is the least advanced continent in ST&I and the move will boost its growth at national, regional and continental levels, said Aida Opoku-Mensah, director of the ICT and science & technology division at UNECA. "The move by parliamentarians to take interest in ST&I will help push its agenda within their governments so it gets due attention," she said at the launch.

Conversations between parliamentarians and scientists should, Opoku-Mensah said, lead to improved structures for research and development — essential if Africa is to meet the Millennium Development Goals and address other development challenges.

Continue reading: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/pan-african-parliamentary-science-forum-launched.html

For more on the Millennium Development Goals: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/mdgs/

Study finds sea-level rise likely on West Coast
May 5, 2011 By David A. Gabel

A new study conducted by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, shows that the West Coast is likely to experience accelerated sea-level rise over the next decade. Due to the dominance of cold surface waters along the coast, sea levels have remained fairly level over the last few decades, unlike in other parts of the world.

From the story:

Residents of the west coast have escaped that fate until now, according to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Their study shows a great shift coming in sea temperatures. "There are indications that this is what might be happening right now," said Peter Bromirski, lead author of a study now in press in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, published by the American Geophysical Union.

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is thought to have begun in the 1970s. The "warm" phase we are currently in is characterized by an upwelling of cold water toward the surface of the west coast. Despite aberrations caused by El Nino, the current trend has held steady.

Bromirski and his fellow colleagues believe the cycle is shifting to its opposite "cold" phase, characterized by a decrease in upwelling, causing surface waters to be warmer. Warmer surface water equates to a rise in sea levels. They look at changing wind patterns which suggest a shift in the PDO. In the 1970s just before the current phase begun, the wind stresses reached unprecedented levels. Now it is happening again.

Full story: http://www.enn.com/climate/article/42660

CITATION: Bromirski PD, Miller AJ, Flick RE, Auad G. 2011. Dynamical suppression of sea level rise along the Pacific Coast of North America: indications for imminent acceleration. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans [in press]. Retrieve pre-print at: http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~miller/papers/SL_trends.html

Brazil's forest code debate
May 5, 2011

A debate is occuring in Brazil over the forest code, which "presently requires landowners in the Amazon to keep 80 percent of their land forest (20-35% in the cerrado)." While the law is not strictly enforced, it is used by the government to "blacklist" municipalities until they are able to demonstrate that their "landowners are in compliance with environmental laws." However, landowners are pushing for new laws that would allow them to clear larger areas of forest, but would require for them to register their properties.

For the full article and an analysis of the forest code: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0505-nepstad_forest_code.html

National Research Council claims science is lacking in California Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May 5, 2011 By Robert F. Service

Excerpt from the article:

A draft plan to restore endangered habitat and fish species in the California Bay Delta east of San Francisco is incomplete and contains major scientific gaps, according to a new report out today from the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC). The plan was released last November, and the review was ordered by the secretaries for the U.S. departments of the Interior and Commerce.

The Delta is the hub of California's freshwater system, draining runoff from the northern Sierra through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers into an estuary and out through the San Francisco Bay. Water diverted by pumping stations at the southern end of the Delta provides drinking water to about 25 million people, as well as irrigation water to farmers in the Central Valley, one of the most productive set of agricultural lands in the world.

The plan aims to curb many problems that are sure to come up in the future, such as an increase in water demand, continued decline in fish populations, and the issue of a fault line that crosses that region that "could wipe out freshwater supplies to millions of people."

The author continues (emphasis added):

A centerpiece of the plan, to be implemented over 50 years, is a 65 km long tunnel designed to ferry water from the Sacramento River north of the delta around the estuary to farmers in the Central Valley and cities in southern California. Diverting the water before it entered the delta would end the practice of sucking massive volumes of water out from the southern delta, which often harms fish and distorts the region's ecosystem. The final BDCP is intended to provide the scientific underpinning needed to gain authorizations under federal and state endangered species laws to build the water diversion tunnel.

However, the NRC panel has found it lacking. "The BDCP is incomplete, and there are large gaps in the underlying science," says Henry Vaux Jr. an emeritus resource economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who chaired the NRC panel. Most notably, the plan lacks an "effects analysis," a systematic scientific look at how the tunnel and other provisions in the plan will affect fish and other species in the region.

Vaux also noted a few other problems that the NRC found, such as the lack of integration of science into the report, which he hopes will be solved by the plan's 2013 completion deadline.

NRC Report: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13148

Full post: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/05/science-is-lacking-in-california.html?ref=hp

Endangered species permit applications
May 6, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 88
FWS-R2-ES-2011-N072; 20124-1113-0000-F5

The following applicants have applied for scientific research permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under the
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Act requires that we invite public comment on these permit applications.

Written comments should be submitted by June 6, 2011 to the Chief, Endangered Species Division, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act.

For further information: Susan Jacobsen, Chief, Endangered Species Division, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103; (505) 248-6920.

Permit TE-37047A
Applicant: Sea World Parks and Entertainment, San Antonio, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for husbandry and holding of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys
imbricate), Kemps ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), and leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) at Sea World Park in San Antonio, Texas.

Permit TE-067869
Applicant: Rhea Environmental Consulting, Mancos, Colorado.
Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) within Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

Permit TE-150490
Applicant: John Maresh, Austin, Texas.
Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for golden-
cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) within Texas.

Permit TE-063395
Applicant: Oklahoma Aquarium, Jenks, Oklahoma.
Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for holding, husbandry, and educational display for two non-releasable green sea
turtles (Chelonia mydas) at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Permit TE-828640
Applicant: Harris Environmental Group, Tucson, Arizona.
Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for lesser long- nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae), northern aplomado falcon (Falco femeralis septentrionalis), and southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) within Arizona.

Permit TE-37484A
Applicant: Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Marble Falls, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for black-capped vireo (Vireo
atricapilla) and golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) within the refuge.

Permit TE-38725A
Applicant: Geo-Marine, Inc., Plano, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) and white bladderpod (Lesquerella pallida) within Texas.

Permit TE-38748A
Applicant: Carlotta Copper Company, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to collect seeds, propagate, and create receiving areas for transplants of Arizona hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus) within Arizona.

AZA CONNECT photo contest
May 2011

AZA is hosting a photo contest for staff or volunteers at an AZA-accredited institution. The winner of the contest will have his or her photo featured on the December 2011 cover and on the AZA website. Photos can include animals, people, and zoo or aquarium scenes, and must be submitted by September 15, 2011.

For more information: http://www.aza.org/photo-contest/

 

San Diego Zoo Global and partners hold first Asian Primate Conservation workshop
May 6, 2011

San Diego Zoo Global has teamed up with Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund to hold the first Asian Primate Conservation Workshop, with the goal of sharing "best practices in primate conservation." The workshop is being help at the Singapore Zoo from May 1-15 and will be "attended by 32 participatns from all over the region."

From the article:

Lectures will encompass broad overviews of primate taxonomy, behaviour and conservation, and these sessions will include discussions on the best sampling and recording methods, assessments of primate welfare and compilation of scientific data, reports and presentations. Participants will be asked to design behavioural monitoring projects and present their findings at the end of the workshop. Additionally, they will go on field trips to study local primates such as the banded leaf monkey and long-tailed macaques.

....Dr Chia Tan, scientist at San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research said, “Previous partnerships with WRS such as conservation and research projects on the highly endangered proboscis monkeys and Douc langurs, and the turtle conservation workshop have reaped great rewards. We hope this event will strengthen our partnership and make a positive contribution towards primate conservation, especially in this part of the world.”

Full blog post: http://wrscomsg.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/wildlife-reserves-singapore-wildlife-reserves-singapore-conservation-fund-and-san-diego-zoo-global-organise-first-asian-primate-conservation-workshop/

SeaWorld to release documentary through new film division
May 6, 2011 By Jason Garcia

From the article:

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced Friday that it will release a sea turtle documentary through a newly formed movie division. "Turtle: The Incredible Journey" follows the life and migration of a loggerhead sea turtle in Florida and will be jointly distributed by SeaWorld's newly formed SeaWorld Pictures division and Target Development Group's Hannover House. The film, which will be released in standard and 3D formats, has been directed by National Geographic Explorer's Nick Stringer and narrated by actress Miranda Richardson.

Source: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-05-06/business/os-seaworld-turtle-movie-20110506_1_sea-turtle-seaworld-parks-entertainment-new-film-division

Child attacked by leopard at Sedgwick County Zoo
May 6, 2011 By Antoinette Campbell

While visiting the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas on a school trip, a boy climbed over a railing and was attacked by an Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) through a mesh covering of the enclosure. The 7-year-old boy received injuries to his face and neck before bystanders were able to rush in and "beat the animal" away. The boy was expected to "be ok" and is in fair condition at a local hospital.

Full article: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-06/us/kansas.zoo.attack_1_wichita-schools-leopard-sedgwick-county-zoo?_s=PM:US

Two blind sea lions find home at S.F. Zoo
May 7, 2011 By Carolyn Jones

The San Francisco Zoo has a new exhibit featuring Silent Knight and Henry, two California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) rescued from California beaches. Last December, Silent Knight was found on a Sausalito Beach, "listless and emaciated," shot in his right eye, and with fragments of buckshot in his brain which caused him to go blind in both eyes. The Marine Mammal Center rescued him and performed emergency veterinary treatment, but did not have the space to house Silent Knight permanently, so the S.F. Zoo stepped so that he would not have to face euthanasia. Henry, a younger sea lion, was found blinded on a beach in Humbold County, and brought to the Marine Mammal Center where he shared an enclosure with Silent Knight. The two sea lions bonded and now continue to share their enclosure at the Zoo, "doing what sea lions do best: lounging on rocks, gulping herring and taking the occasional dip." Because they cannot catch fish on their own, keepers at the zoo hand-feed fish to the pair.

Full story: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/06/BA4M1JD2R2.DTL

Alabama Wildlife Center rescues birds after tornadoes
May 8, 2011 By Andrew Yeager

Last week's tornadoes blew over numerous trees, destroying the habitat of many birds in Alabama. Volunteers for the Alabama Wildlife Center have been working to save many of the birds affected by the tornadoes, who might otherwise be eaten by predators or starve from lack of nutrition.

From the article:

The Alabama Wildlife Center does this kind of work year-round, but Executive Director Beth Bloomfield says the number of birds received since the tornadoes is unlike any previous storm. They've been working from dawn to past dusk this last week to keep up. Fortunately, most of the birds are healthy — some feather damage, broken bones....They try to reunite healthy birds with their families. They've reunited four already. Otherwise, the birds start the road to recovery.

Injured birds may stay with the rescue organization anywhere from 5 weeks to 6 months, depending on the size of the bird and extent of the injuries.

Full article: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/08/136110445/wildlife-shelter-cradles-littlest-tornado-victims

Genome 10K Project
May 9, 2011 By Keith Darcé

The San Diego Zoo, in conjunction with partners from the National Cancer Institute, UC Santa Cruz, J. Craig Venter Institute, and others, are spearheading the Genome 10K Project, which is "an ambitious global effort to sequence the genes of 10,000 different kinds of vertebrae...by 2015." The data gained from the project, which will be made available online "so researchers, students and curious novices can tap into the vast pool of information," could greatly inform future reasearch on endangered species preservation, population management, disease research and drug discovery, and more. Dr. Oliver Ryder, a geneticist with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research stated that, "A genome biology will be a new tool for insight. We are going to see aspects of a species that can’t be seen in other ways.”

According to Stephen O'Brien of the National Cancer Institute, the cost is expected to be below $100 million to map all 10,000 animals, with funding "coming from the various centers that are generating the individual sequences." One of the larger difficulties will be coming up with a computing system that will be able to synthesize the massive amounts of data generated by the project.

Genome 10K animals with San Diego County ties (from the article):

African elephant
Swazi, the matriarch of the elephant herd at the zoo’s Safari Park, was chosen for the 10K Genome project partly because she was specially trained to offer her ear to trainers to give blood samples. She arrived at the park in 2003 from a national park in the southern Africa country of Swaziland.

Pygmy hippopotamus
San Diego-based Illumina, the leading maker of genetic sequencing devices, is part of a group that will sequence this endangered miniature version of its much larger and better known cousin. About 3,000 animals remain in the wild, mostly in the West Africa nation of Liberia, according to the World Conservation Union.

Echidna
Researchers in Beijing are mapping the DNA of this strange Australian creature with cells from an echidna that died at the San Diego Zoo in 1995. The marsupial’s tissue was preserved in a “frozen” zoo. Shown in the photo is Victor, a 57-year-old echidna that holds the distinction of being the oldest mammal at the zoo.

Tasmanian devil
Working separately last year, two teams involving researchers from Illumina and the J. Craig Venter Institute in Torrey Pines sequenced several Tasmanian devils as part of an effort to save the marsupials from a contagious cancer that has already wiped out three-quarters of the animal’s wild population.

Rhesus macaque
The Venter Institute is working on the sequence of these common Asian monkeys that have been used for decades in medical and biological testing.

For more information on Genome 10K, visit: http://genome10k.soe.ucsc.edu/

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/09/sd-zoo-leading-effort-map-genes-10000-animals/

Montana tribes ready for historic return of buffalo
May 8, 2011 By Laura Zuckerman

From the article:

For the first time in nearly 140 years, the Indian tribes of northeastern Montana are preparing for the return of wild buffalo that are descended from herds that once thundered across the vast American West. The Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in coming months will claim dozens of buffalo originating from Yellowstone National Park, home to the last free-roaming, purebred bands of buffalo, or bison, in the United States. On Monday, Montana wildlife officials plan to inspect 5,000 acres at Fort Peck that have been readied for the arrival of the native buffalo, which for centuries provided food, clothing and spiritual sustenance to American Indians. The inspection marks a milestone in a years-long plan by federal, state and tribal managers of Yellowstone bison to give Native Americans in Montana custody of an assortment of bulls, cows and calves to cultivate new herds on tribal lands. For American Indians, whose fortunes in the 19th century declined with eradication of the herds they depended on, the buffalo's return symbolizes fresh hope for an ancient culture.

Continue reading: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/08/us-buffalo-tribes-montana-idUSTRE7471YE20110508

Tips to improve your macro photos of plants and flowers
May 9, 2011 By Philip Smith

The following tips are excerpts from a Kew blog on how to take better macro photos of plants and flowers:

Attention to detail
When you are concentrating on a tiny part of a flower, small things that you don't normally notice can become very intrusive. So no wandering shadows, twigs, bits of dirt. Don’t expect the viewer of your photograph to do your editing for you!

Accurate focus is the key
Think about your focusing strategy....Most pros use manual focusing so make sure your eyes are in good shape! Focusing manually requires more concentration but it is more flexible and offers greater control- especially if the subject is not moving a lot.

Eliminate camera shake
Make sure you use a tripod and remote shutter release at all times. The tripod should be a good sturdy one, especially if you are using long - and heavy - lenses.

No really, eliminate camera shake
If your camera supports a 'mirror lockup' function – use this. In your DSLR or SLR light passes through the lens from the scene in front of you.  In the camera body you have a mirror that bounces that light up into the viewfinder - so you can see what the lens is seeing. When you press the shutter this mirror flips up out of the way so that light can now get through to the sensor or film....With mirror lockup, the mirror flips up a nanosecond (technical term) before the shutter is released, so the vibration has already taken place before the picture is taken. The result: no blur.

Shine a light 
We like to take pictures of stamens inside its enclosure of flower petals – a real ‘alien landscape’. This space can be surprisingly dark, and so you may well need to bounce light into this area. Flash is usually too harsh so use a reflector - a piece of bright white card will work - to do this. If it is really dark try a piece of silver foil.

Shine a brighter light
You can use flash to create highlights and to even out shadows. But even the most subtle flash ‘blips’ can be too harsh for flower subjects; or it can be so subtle it makes no difference!

Horses for courses
Work with the equipment you have, not against it. The importance of a solid tripod in macro photography cannot be overstated. A hand-held camera cannot be held steady enough, especially with a long macro lens. And monopods are not steady enough either.

Full blog post: http://www.kew.org/news/kew-blogs/macro-photography-tips.htm

Alaska Zoo rescues polar bear cub
May 9, 2011 By Jordan Schaul

From the article:

Just over a week ago a 17lb polar bear (Ursus maritimus) cub was rescued from Alaska’s North Slope with the help of ConocoPhillip’s Alpine oil field operators and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Alaskan zoological facilities were prepared to take in the cub and she was eventually placed at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. The zoo currently cares for two adult polar bears. The Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s Bear Taxon Advisory Group Chair, Dr. Randi Meyerson, indicated that the AZA Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) program members are working with the USFWS on placing the bear cub. Randi is also the SSP coordinator for polar bears and shared that institutions interested in taking the cub would need to be able to meet the physical and psychological needs of a polar bear. Candidate institutions will also include those with strong educational programs that convey polar conservation in the context of climate change and habitat degradation.

Continue reading: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/05/09/alaska-zoo-rescues-polar-bear-cub/

Solar panels installed at Cincinnati Zoo
May 9, 2011

The Cincinnati Zoo has recently installed 6,400 solar panels in one of its large parking lots. The panels "will produce about 20 percent of the zoo's energy," and on sunny days, will actually produce more than the zoo needs to power its facility. The project cost $12 million and was paid for by Melink (an Ohio-based solar energy company) and PNC Bank. The panels are expecte to "save the zoo $1.3 million in energy costs" over the life of the system.

Full article: http://www.local12.com/news/local/story/Solar-Panels-Installed-at-Cincinnati-Zoo/hppH8s1uA0KD22yhFGNsyQ.cspx

Camera traps capture tigers in Sumatra forest slated for logging
May 9, 2011

From the article:

Camera traps set in an area of forest slated for logging for paper production captured photos of a dozen critically endangered Sumatran (Panthera tigris sumatrae) tigers, reports the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

The images include a video of a mother playing with cubs and six individual tigers.

"Our team was thrilled to discover 47 tiger images in our camera traps, from which we identified six unique individuals," said Karmila Parakkasi, who leads WWF's tiger research team in Sumatra, in a statement. "That was the highest number of tigers and tiger images obtained in the first month of sampling we’ve ever experienced. And then the results from the second month were even more impressive—not just one tiger family but two, with another six tigers."

Photos, video, and full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0509-wwf_tigers_sumatra.html

Tanzania to mine in world’s most important flamingo breeding ground
May 9, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Tanzania has announced plans to mine for soda ash (aka sodium carbonate) in Lake Natron in the Great Rift Valley. Between 65-75% of the world's lesser flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) are born in Lake Natron, and conservationists are worried that the mining operations would "disrupt the sensitive birds' breeding grounds, threatening the species and putting a damper on East Africa's tourism industry." Although the birds number over 2 million individuals, they are prone to 'moderately rapid reductions' in their population due to their sensitive nature. Although the Environmental Impact Assessment is not yet complete, the Tanzanian government has indicated that they will proceed with the plans to mine close to the lake "no matter the study's findings."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0509-hance_flamingos.html

Key Largo Marine Mammal Conservancy to care for five stranded pilot whales
May 10, 2011

A group of about 20 pilot whales were stranded off of Cudjoe Key in Florida last week, and the surviving five whales will be cared for at Key Largo's Marine Mammal Conservancy (MMC) to undergo rehabilitation. According to the MMC, the goal is to rehabilitate the whales to the point where they can be reintroduced into the Atlantic. Although rescuers are trying to make the move from the beach as easy as possible on the animals, the success of the transport is not guaranteed. According to Doug Mader, a local veterinarian, the transport puts a lot of physiological stress on the whales. Mader explained, "We have to put them in a large truck. It's not going to be easy. They weigh 700 pounds; all of the weight is pressed down on their lungs and heart, and it makes it hard for them to breathe and pump blood." Many volunteers are helping with the effort, as well as multiple organizations and agencies ranging form the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, SeaWorld, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Navy.

Read more about the whales and the rescue effort:  http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/10/v-fullstory/2209780/five-stranded-pilot-whales-head.html

Deal aims to cut endangered species red tape
May 10, 2011 By Deborah Zabarenko

WildEarth Guardians recently sued the the government "for what it said as a failure to list species as endangered or threatened in a timely manner." The result was a settlement with the Interior Department that sets up a six-year schedule for looking at 251 animals that are classified as "warranted but precluded" from endangered species listing as UWFWS deals with higher priority matters. The settlement plan still needs to be approved by a Federal judge before it takes effect. The plan would also work on clearing the backlog of more than 600 petitions.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/10/us-endangered-species-idUSTRE74973J20110510

Save Our Heritage organization puts forth alternative plan for Balboa Park
May 10, 2011 By Roger Showley

The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) has put forth an alternative parking plan for Balboa Park. Irwin Jacobs' proposal for the Park includes building a "a 42-foot-wide bypass bridge from the Cabrillo Bridge south around the California Quadrangle -- the group of buildings occupied by the Museum of Man -- and on to the Alcazar Garden parking lot. Motorists could drop passengers there and handicap spaces and valet spaces would be provided, and then drivers could continue on past the organ pavilion to a 795-space parking garage south of the pavilion." This proposal would cost an estimated $40 million dollars and would clear cars from the Plaza de Panama, making it more pedestrian friendly. The alternative plan put forth by SOHO would only cost an estimated $1 million, but wouldn't clear the Plaza de Panama of cars. Instead, the plan includes an alternative route "across Cabrillo Bridge, around the edge of the Plaza de Panama outside the San Diego Museum of Art and southward toward the Spreckels Organ Pavilion."

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/10/balboa-park-traffic-spat-part-2/

Effect of "Fair Trade Certified" labels on sales
May 10, 2011 By Thomas Miner

From the article:

A new study reported by Fair Trade USA and conducted by researchers from MIT, Harvard and LSE shows that the prominent appearance of the "Fair Trade Certified" label on coffee packaging can potentially increase sales by up to 13%.

The researchers conducted a 6 month study in partnership with a large national retailer to examine the purchasing behavior of U.S. consumers in 26 different stores. A few key findings show that:
 
·The Fair Trade Certified label alone has a large positive impact on sales. 
·Sales of the two most popular bulk coffees sold in each of the 26 test stores increased by up to 13 percent when labeled as Fair Trade Certified. 
·The study also revealed that a substantial segment of consumers are willing to pay up to eight percent more for a product bearing the Fair Trade Certified label.

Continue reading the article: http://www.sustainablelifemedia.com/content/story/brands/research_shows_fair_trade_label_increases_sales

To read the report: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1801942

Bog turtles become more scarce
May 10, 2011 By John Delaney

Over the past few years, wildlife managers have reported higher than average mortality rates for bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) in the Northeast United States. So, veterinarians from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo, USFWS, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program have joined together to determine the cause in the increase in mortality.

From the article:

The bog turtle team is currently locating wild turtles for health assessments to determine these baseline conditions and possibly identify a common cause to explain recent turtle mortality. After conducting a physical exam of individual turtles, health experts will collect a number of samples—blood, feces, cloacal swabs, biopsies—for later analysis.

"We're conducting a broad screening in order to identify a cause or causes for the increase in bog turtle deaths," said Dr. Bonnie Raphael, WCS's Department Head for Wildlife Medicine. "This information will be used to help determine if these recent losses are attributable to infectious disease, environmental perturbations, or other factors."

Although there are no reliable range-wide population estimates for bog turtles, the species is currently protected on state, national, and international levels. The number of known habitats for the threatened northern population of the bog turtle—which has a patchy distribution stretching from Massachusetts to Maryland—is shrinking. The bog turtle is federally listed as "Threatened," and is "Endangered" in New York State and Massachusetts. All international trade in the species is prohibited through CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

Bog turtles are North America's smallest turtle, with adults reaching only 4.5 inches in length and weighing less than 5 ounces.

Full article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-05/wcs-sti051011.php

San Diego Zoo Safari Park wild cactus wrens studied by USGS
May 10, 2011 By Ken Bohn

From the article:

On the 900-acre Biodiversity Preserve at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, away from tourists, a U.S. Geological Survey biologist examines a wild cactus wren after banding the 8-inch-long songbird. The species is the focus of ongoing studies by USGS, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and Nature Reserve of Orange County scientists that focus on habitat restoration and understanding population dynamics of a species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and listed as a California Species of Special Concern.

In 2007, the Witch Creek wildfire that devastated San Diego County also wreaked havoc on the coastal cactus wren’s habitat. At the Safari Park alone, 600 acres burned, reducing the available cactus scrub, a rare habitat that this wren species relies on year round. In Southern California the cactus wren is declining and becoming isolated due to urbanization and habitat loss.

Full article: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5160-San_Diego_Zoo_Safari_Park_Wild_Cactus_Wrens_Studied_by_USGS

Animals tend to wander randomly in search of food
May 10, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of Leicester have discovered animals searching for food do not stick to a complicated pattern of movement as previously thought but tend to wander about randomly.

It was previously believed that when searching for food, animals move in very peculiar way called a Lévy flight where they move small distances most of the time, but occasionally move a very long distance.

This idea was based on studies in which many animals, like albatrosses or sharks, were tracked. However scientists have been analysing video records of aphids, small sap-sucking insects to find out how they move and have discovered that they wander about randomly, much like inanimate molecules move, and some tend to walk much more than others. The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Continue reading: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/05/10/variety_is_the_spice_of_life_for_animal_movement.html

CITATION: Petrovskii S, Mashanova A, Jansen VAA. 2011. Variation in individual walking behavior creates the impression of a Levy flight. PNAS [published online ahead of print]. doi:10.1073/pnas.1015208108

Withdrawal of proposed rule to list mountain plover as endangered
May 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 92
FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038; MO 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our decision to withdraw the proposed listing of the mountain plover (Charadrius montanus) as a threatened species under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After a thorough review of all available scientific and commercial information, we have determined that the species is not endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. We make this determination because threats to the species as identified in the proposed rule are not as significant as earlier believed and currently available data do not indicate that the threats to the species and its habitat, as analyzed under the five listing factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act, are likely to endanger the species in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

DATES: The December 5, 2002 (67 FR 72396), proposal to list the mountain plover as a threatened species is withdrawn as of May 12, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available for viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov (see Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2010-0038) and http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/birds/mountainplover. Please submit any new information, materials, comments or questions concerning this finding to the Colorado Ecological Services Field Office at P.O. Box 25486, DFC (MS 65412), Denver, Colorado 80225.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-12/pdf/2011-11056.pdf

Endangered species permit applications
May 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 92
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N095; 96300-1671-0000-P5

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities
with endangered species. Comments or requests for documents should be submitted on or before June 13, 2011 to Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov. For further information, contact Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

Applicant: San Diego Zoological Society, San Diego, CA; PRT-15744A
The applicant requests a permit to export one captive-born aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) to Ueno Zoological Gardens, Tokyo, Japan for the purpose of scientific research.

Applicant: Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY; PRT-41116A
The applicant requests a permit to import 2 captive bred female snow leopards (Uncia uncia) from the Granby Zoo, Granby, Quebec, Canada for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Scott Ackleson, Las Cruces, NM; PRT-38879A
The applicant requests a permit to import a sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-12/pdf/2011-11709.pdf

'1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days' campaign
May 12, 2011

Scientific American has started a campaign called "1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days" with the aim to "find 1,000 scientists to visit schools, help teachers and boost US education." Studies show that the U.S. ranks 27th of 29 wealthy countries "in the proportion of university students who graduate with degrees in science or engineering," and only "...40% of fifth- and 80% of eighth-grade students were taught maths and science by teachers with a degree or certificate in their teaching field."

From the editorial:

The initiative is part of the 'Change the Equation' programme, which was set up in part to realize President Barack Obama's campaign mission to boost private and philanthropic participation in STEM education. Think of it as a kind of science corps to support the growth of developing minds. A sign-up form can be found at http://www.scientificamerican.com under the education tab. Scientific American is a sister publication of Nature within the Nature Publishing Group. We at Nature are glad to promote this initiative.

What can scientist volunteers do? Perhaps they could spend an hour in a local classroom or school auditorium talking about a typical day in the lab — thereby helping to demystify the world of science for children. They could give a local school board advice about curricula or specific research areas. They might simply answer questions by e-mail, teleconference or Skype. How scientists participate, and how frequently, will be up to them. By the beginning of the new school year, around September, Scientific American will be able to connect educators with experts.

Full editorial: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v473/n7346/full/473123a.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20110512

CITATION: Those who can [editorial]. Nature 473 [published online ahead of print]. doi:10.1038/473123a

Progress in saving Indian vultures from effects of diclofenac
May 12, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

The ban on a veterinary drug which caused an unprecedented decline in Asian vulture populations has shown the first signs of progress, according to scientists. However, the recovery of the wild vulture populations requires efforts to see the drug completely removed from the birds' food supply. In a new study, published today (11 May 2011) in science journal, PLoS ONE, researchers report measurements of the prevalence and concentration of diclofenac in carcasses of domesticated cattle in India, made before and after the implementation of a ban on its veterinary use.

The governments of India, Nepal and Pakistan banned veterinary use of the painkiller, diclofenac, in 2006 because of its lethal effects on vultures that feed on the carcasses of cattle and buffaloes that had been treated with the drug shortly before they died. The study shows that the proportion of cattle carcasses in India contaminated with the drug declined by over 40% between 2006 and 2008. The concentration of the drug in contaminated animals also fell.

Combining the effects of these two changes, the expected rate of annual population decline of the vultures is expected to slow by approximately 60%. However, the resulting decline rate is still expected to be around 18% per year for the most susceptible species, the oriental white-backed vulture, down from about 40% per year before the ban, meaning that vultures will not recover unless efforts to eradicate the drug becomes still more successful.

However, still much needs to be done to completely outlaw the use of the drug in India, where some human formulations of the drug are being sold in large veterinary-sized bottles. Scientists state that the only way to better monitor the ban is to test the vultures' food sources directly.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/05/12/first_signs_of_progress_in_saving_indian_vultures_from_killer_drug.html

CITATION: Cuthbert R, et al. 2011. Effectiveness of action in India to reduce exposure of Gyps vultures to the toxic veterinary drug Diclofenac. PLoS ONE 6(5):e19069. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019069

NRC sums up America's climate choices
May 12, 2011 By Jeff Tollefson

The National Research Council has issued the final America's Climate Choices Report. In the summary of the 2-year project, the NRC "recommends an 'iterative risk management' approach that translates into doing what we can today to reduce emissions and prepare for a warming world while keeping an eye on the science and regularly assessing risks. The report also calls for more research into risk management itself as well as the communication of said risk to the general public." The report states that, "The risks of continuing 'business as usual' are greater than the risks associated with strong efforts to limit and adapt to climate change. Policy changes can potentially be reversed or scaled back if needed, whereas many adverse changes in the climate system would be difficult or impossible to 'undo.'"

To read the report: http://americasclimatechoices.org/

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/05/nrc_sums_up_americas_climate_c_1.html

Eucalyptus tree genome deciphered
May 12, 2011

Prof. Zander Myburg from the Department of Genetics and Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria and collaborators are "making available the complete genome sequence of the forest tree species, Eucalyptus grandis."

From the article:

It took the team, who had the support of a network of more than 130 Eucalyptus researchers from 18 countries, four years to complete the genome sequence and annotate more than 40,000 genes contained within it. According to Prof Myburg, these scientists, as well as countries with commercial eucalypt plantations will be the primary beneficiaries of the genome sequence now available on the internet (http://www.phytozome.net/eucalyptus.php). The Eucalyptus research community will continue to add value to the genome sequence in order to make it more accessible to the broader scientific community. Publication of the genome sequence in a scientific journal is expected to take place by early 2012.

The data obtained from the sequencing will be useful to South Africa's forestry industry, who will be able to grow higher quality trees in a limited amount of space. Additionally, it may reveal new possibilities in biofuel and biopolymer production.

Full article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-05/uop-etg051211.php

Binder Park Zoo wins $25,000 in Facebook Challenge
May 12, 2011

From the press release:

For the past few weeks Facebook users from all over the country logged on and voted for their favorite and most deserving charities. These organizations were part of the Chase Community Giving contest to be in the running for the Top 100 Charities in the country. All charities must meet specific criteria to be included in this program, and those finishing in the Top 100 received $25,000 each. Voting came to a close on Wednesday, May 4th. With overwhelming support from Binder Park Zoo’s members, employees, volunteers and loyal guests, Binder Park Zoo was able to place in the Top 100!

Binder Park is still in the running to win the $500,000 Grand Prize. For details, visit: www.facebook.com/binderparkzoo

Full press release: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=19204

Native Medicinal Plants Garden opens in New Jersey
May 13, 2011

Sustainable West Milford in New Jersey will be opening a Native Medicinal Plants Garden on May 15. Events at the opening include a party with food and drink, classes on the benefits of native plants, and an herbal education series. Author and herbalist Robine Rose Bennett with be there to teach about the "medicinal benefits of roses and other rose family plants." All of the classes are offered free of charge.

Full article: http://www.northjersey.com/community/events/121757238_Native_Medicinal_Plants_Garden_opening_on_May_15.html

Groups call on government to kill proposed dam project in Cleveland National Forest
May 12, 2011

From the article:

Conservation groups called on federal regulators Wednesday to finally stop a proposal to build a new hydroelectric dam in the Cleveland National Forest. In a letter sent late last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission referred to ongoing problems that raise doubts about the proposed Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (LEAPS) project. The letter was the most recent setback for the project, which has been roundly condemned by conservation groups and the local community for its wide-ranging impacts on wildlife, water quality, rural character and wildfire.

“The LEAPS dam would deliver far more harm than good, hurting wildlife, increasing wildfires and dirtying our waters,” said Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s time to pull the plug on this environmental disaster.”

The hydroelectric project calls for pumping water from Lake Elsinore to a new dam on the crest of the Cleveland National Forest at night, then releasing that water during the day to power turbines to generate electricity.

Continue reading the press release: http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3724

Baby cheetah among exotic San Diego Zoo animals visiting Las Vegas
May 12, 2011 By Kyle Hansen

The San Diego Zoo made a trip to Las Vegas recently to promote the newly renamed San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Along on the trip were Kiburi, the baby cheetah born on November 14 at the Safari Park, Kasten, a caracal, Bella, a serval, and Mango, a military macaw. It was Kiburi's first trip from the park since his birth. The ambassadors with their trainers made appearances on three local Las Vegas news channels as well as to a AAA office, where over two dozen people came out to view the animals up close.

Full article: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/may/12/baby-cheetah-among-exotic-san-diego-zoo-animals-vi/

Director of National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis to depart
May 12, 2011 By Erik Stokstad

From the article in Science:

The head of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) is leaving after 16 months on the job. Edward McCauley will return to the University of Calgary in Canada to be vice president for research in July. The development is not good news for NCEAS, which is also losing its core funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NCEAS was founded in 1996 as place for researchers to collaborate on the synthesis and analysis of existing data to answer key ecological questions (Science, 10 April 2009, p. 170). Working groups of ecologists propose projects, and those that are selected visit the facility, which is operated by the University of California, Santa Barbara, for several weeklong work sessions. They can also interact with a resident group of postdocs and scientists on sabbaticals, as well as experts in data mining.

About half of the NCEAS budget comes from the state of California and foundations. NSF has provided grants ($3.7 million in FY 2010) that make up the rest. In 2009, NSF decided to open a competition for a new center that would focus on environmental problems and have a greater emphasis on integrating social science. NCEAS applied but learned last September that it had not been selected. The remaining funds can be stretched out until July 2012 to complete existing projects and support postdocs.

McCauley says that NCEAS has drafted a strategic plan, which is being evaluated by university officials. Santa Barbara “is committed to supporting NCEAS," he says, adding that his decision to leave is for personal reasons unrelated to NCEAS. A new director will be able to implement the plan, he says, given the widespread support of the organization from ecologists. "NCEAS is far bigger than the director. NCEAS is really part of the fabric of the community."

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/05/director-of-ecological-think-tan-1.html?ref=hp

OECD report outlines research collaboration best practices
May 13, 2011 By David Dickson

A new report from the Global Science Forum of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) outlines "good practice for effective international research collaboration." Recent years have shown a promising increase in the number of cross-border collaborations; however, often "misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, mismatched capabilities and excessive bureaucracy undermine steps to create effective partnerships," which can " lead to frustration, wasted resources and missed opportunities." The OECD report hopes to "increase the prospects for successful scientific collaboration" between developed and developing countries. Topics covered in the report include criteria for selecting potential partners, how to build up research capacity through collaborations, how to communicate results to policymakers and the general public, the dangers of relying on political backing, and more.

OECD report available online: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/40/16/47737209.pdf

Full editorial: http://www.scidev.net/en/editorials/how-to-get-the-best-out-of-research-collaboration.html

California proposes to close 70 state parks
May 13, 2011 By Ed Joyce

From the article:

California Governor Jerry Brown's administration is proposing to close a quarter of all state parks because of budget cuts approved by the state Legislature. California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman released the list of parks Friday. She says California can no longer afford to operate 278 state parks. Of those, 70 will close under her plan. "We regret closing any park," said Coleman. "But with the proposed budget reductions over the next two years, we can no longer afford to operate all parks within the system."

The cuts are a result of a bill Gov. Brown signed into law last month trimming $11 million from the parks budget in the fiscal year that begins July 1, and $22 million the next fiscal year. Among those scheduled to close are the he Salton Sea State Recreation Area, Governor's and Leland Stanford mansions in Sacramento, the Antelope Valley Indian Museum, and the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. Two state parks in North San Diego County were included today on a list of 70 locations around California slated for closure because of budget cuts. Palomar Mountain State Park and San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park could be shut down in July 2012, according to state parks officials.

Continue reading: http://kpbs.org/news/2011/may/13/calif-proposes-close-70-state-parks-2/

List of proposed closures: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/712/files/2011ParkClosures_attachments20110513.pdf

Google Earth animation reveals Indonesian forest targeted for destruction by pulp and paper companies
May 14, 2011 By Rhett A. Butler

Excerpt from the article:

A new animation created using Google Earth offers a tour of an area of forest slated for destruction by logging companies. The animation, created by WWF-Indonesia and David Tryse, with technical assistance from Google Earth Outreach, highlights the rainforest of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape in Sumatra, the only island in the world that is home to Sumatran tigers, elephants, rhinos, and orangutans. All of these species are considered endangered or critically endangered due to habitat destruction or poaching.

Bukit Tigapuluh's forests are among the most biodiverse in Sumatra and scientists consider them a top priority for conservation due to the large-scale destruction of the majority of the island's lowland rainforests. A section of the landscape is protected in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, but most of this consists of upland forest, which while threatened, is less endangered than lowland forest. Most of the lowland forest lies outside protected areas and is already concessioned for logging by companies that are owned by, or supply, three major forestry conglomerates: Barito Pacific Group, Asia Paper Resources International Limited (APRIL), and Sinar Mas Group, which controls Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

... The new animation shows areas of forest in the Bukit Tigapuluh that are currently zoned for conversion, overlaid with maps of wildlife habitat. It includes pictures of tigers recently caught on film by camera traps in one of the areas to be cleared by Barito Pacific.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0514-google_earth_sumatra.html

UCSD professor offers roadmap for coping with climate change
May 15, 2011 By Gary Robbins

A new book by David Victor, professor of political science at UC San Diego, covers international policy-making in regards to climate change. Here are six points from his book "Global warming gridlock: creating more effective strategies for protecting the planet" (excerpted from Union Tribune article):

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/15/ucsd-offers-roadmap-coping-climate-change/?sciquest

CITATION: Victor DG. 2011. Global warming gridlock: creating more effective strategies for protecting the planet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 392 p.

New study disputes use of minimum viable population numbers in endangered species work
May 16, 2011

A new study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution disputes the use of universal minimum viable population (MVP) numbers when working to save endangered species. The research "offers hope for species...that might be considered 'too rare to save', so long as conservation efforts can target key threats."

From the article:

According to the researchers there is no single population size that can be used as a catch-all guideline to save endangered species. Co-author of the report, Dr. Philip Stephens, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, said: "Populations usually show rapid declines as a result of human activities such as hunting and habitat conversion. The results of the study are encouraging and show that if we can remove the negative effects of human activities, even relatively small populations could be viable in the long term."

Dr. Greg Hayward, the U.S. Forest Service's (USFS) regional ecologist for Alaska said: "This is good news for biologists working to save species like the tiger. There's a lot of work to do to arrest the effects of poaching, prey loss and habitat destruction. However, if that work is successful, the tiger might yet be able to recover, despite the relatively small size of most tiger populations."

The study...shows that population sizes required for long-term viability vary, both within and among species, and depend on the specific circumstances in which the population is found. Estimates of viable population sizes were typically reduced to hundreds rather than thousands of individuals for populations that were relatively stable.

Previous studies have suggested that the allocation of conservation effort should be related to the number of individuals in threatened populations. For species which would require intense effort to raise numbers to 5,000 individuals, it might be too late to act and better to concentrate limited conservation resources elsewhere, the previous studies have suggested.

Continue reading: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/05/16/theres_no_magic_number_for_saving_endangered_species.html

CITATION: Flather CH, Hayward GD, Beissinger SR, Stephens PA. 2011. Minimum viable populations: is there a 'magic number' for conservation practitioners? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26(6):307-316. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2011.03.001

Zebrafish regrow fins using multiple cell types, not identical stem cells
May 16, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

What does it take to regenerate a limb? Biologists have long thought that organ regeneration in animals like zebrafish and salamanders involved stem cells that can generate any tissue in the body. But new research suggests that multiple cell types are needed to regrow the complete organ, at least in zebrafish.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that cells capable of regenerating a zebrafish fin do not revert to stem cells that can form any tissue. Instead, the individual cells retain their original identities and only give rise to more of their own kind.

The findings support a recent shift in how biologists understand organ regeneration in organisms such as salamanders and zebrafish. Understanding regeneration in model organisms gives hope that it may one day be possible for amputees to regrow limbs or for heart attack patients to regrow healthy heart muscle.

"Limb regeneration has long captured people's imaginations," says Stephen L. Johnson, PhD, associate professor of genetics at the School of Medicine. "Traditionally, when people have looked at how a limb regenerates, they see a group of cells forming at the amputation site and the cells all look the same. So they've imagined that these cells have lost their identities and can become anything else. Our results show that this is not the case in the zebrafish fin. And there is mounting evidence that this is not the case in the salamander limb."

The study appears online May 16 in Developmental Cell.

When a zebrafish loses its fin, a special group of cells forms on the remaining stump. These cells, which appear identical to one another, regrow the entire limb, complete with all cell types required for a complex organ. This has suggested that these cells may be "pluripotent" stem cells, capable of forming almost every tissue in the body.

Continue reading: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/05/16/zebrafish_regrow_fins_using_multiple_cell_types_not_identical_stem_cells.html

CITATION: Tu S, Johnson SL. 2011. Fate restriction in the growing and regenerating zebrafish fin. Developmental Cell 20(5):725-732. doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2011.04.013

Edinburgh Zoo's chairman resigns
May 16, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

The chairman of Edinburgh Zoo has resigned after members passed a vote of no confidence in him. Donald Emslie was urged to quit after Royal Zoological Society of Scotland members held an extraordinary general meeting and took the vote on Thursday. Mr Emslie's decision comes after months of turmoil at the zoo. Iain Valentine, Edinburgh Zoo's director of animals, conservation and education, is currently suspended and a probe into his case continues. Gary Wilson, the zoo's chief operating officer, was also suspended but is to return to work as director of business operations after an investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which runs the zoo, said Mr Wilson had been the victim of a "malicious smear campaign". The zoo is also being investigated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) following the suspensions. More than 400 RZSS members attended the special meeting.

Continue reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-13410594

500 attended Huntington's annual flower and plant sale
May 16, 2011 By Giuseppe Mastrobuono

Last weekend, the Huntington Botanical Gardens hosted over 500 people at its annual flower and plant sale.

From the article:

Besides offering various blueberry bushes, cacti, succulents and flowers, the annual sale featured a host of heirloom tomatoes with including Black Krim, Purple Cherokee, Green Zebra. Most of the ornamental flowers, which comprised approximately two thirds of the plants on display , were grown in-house at the Huntington Botanical Gardens nursery, and were not supplied by outside vendors, library officials said. Shirley Kerins, manager of plant production and sales at the Huntington Botanical Gardens Nursery said this year's plant sale was different from previous years in that it was expanded to include a wider variety of vegetables.

The plant sale is also unique because many of the plants for sale cannot be purchased anywhere else. The cost of plants ranged from $2 to $50.

Full article: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_18075068

Honolulu Zoo's white rhinoceros Kruger dies
May 16, 2011 By James Gonser

From the article:

The Honolulu Zoo Monday put down Kruger, the 25-year-old white male rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) who has been seriously ill with kidney disease since December, 2010. Kruger came to the Honolulu Zoo in 1986 from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, when he was still a calf. In the wild, adult white rhinos tend to be solitary, except for an adult mother with her most recent offspring. Throughout his lifetime Kruger had endeared himself to the zoo staff and the community. During the past five months he has received comfort and care from specialists nationwide as well as the zoo's veterinary and animal keeper staff.

Full article: http://waikiki.hawaiinewsnow.com/news/news/honolulu-zoos-white-rhinoceros-kruger-dies/56321

San Diego offers free gardening classes to produce healthy lifestyles
May 17, 2011 By Susan Murphy

Excerpt from the article:

San Diego County will offer free gardening classes as part of an initiative to improve health and combat obesity. The hope is for people to eat healthier by learning to grow their own fruits and vegetables and incorporate them into healthy meals. San Diego County officials and community leaders announced the initiative at the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City -- one of the five sites chosen to offer classes starting in June. Director Amy Constensen said the center has only been open for a year, but already it's thriving. “In our first year we had more than 2,400 student visits, primarily from 4th, 5th and 6th graders in the National City School District. And what’s surprising is we had 2,200 adult visits as well," said Constensen. "So this is an issue that really is exciting people; and they’re curious. They want to learn more, and the kids keep coming back."

Continue reading: http://kpbs.org/news/2011/may/17/san-diego-county-offers-free-gardening-classes/

Judge puts endangered species agreement on hold
May 17, 2011 By Julie Cart

Excerpt from the post:

A federal judge on Tuesday put a hold on an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an environmental group that would have removed the perpetual log jam that hinders protection for threatened and endangered species. U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan stayed the agreement made last week between WildEarth Guardians and the Wildlife Service until June 20 and ordered the parties to hash out a new agreement, this time to include another environmental organization -- the Center For Biological Diversity. The agreement was hailed as a landmark of cooperation that would have moved 839 candidate species toward federal protection. That petition process can take decades, slowed both by the federal agency's admitted lack of staff and money to process applications and by the enormous backlog of lawsuits that accompany the applications. The Center for Biological Diversity -- which is usually at the forefront of taking the government to court for failing to protect species -- opposed the agreement and claimed it was "too weak, too vague" and was ultimately not enforceable.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/05/endangered-species-agreement-on-hold.html

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unveils plan to fight white-nose syndrome in bats
May 17, 2011 By Louis Sahagun

From the blog post:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a national plan to enhance collaboration among the states, federal agencies and tribes trying to manage a rapidly spreading disease that has killed more than 1 million hibernating bats since it was discovered in New York in 2007. Over the last five years, white-nose syndrome, which was named for the presence of a white fungus around the muzzles, ears and wings of affected bats, has spread to 18 states and four Canadian provinces. Bat colony losses at the most closely monitored sites have reached 95% within three years of initial detection. A recent study published in Science magazine showed that pest-control services provided by bats save the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3.7 billion a year. The service considered about 17,000 comments received on the draft plan made available to the public in October. The 17-page plan recommends decontamination protocols to reduce transmission of the fungus by humans, surveillance strategies and diagnostic procedures designed to ensure that white-nose syndrome testing results are accurate and comparable between laboratories. “We’ve learned a lot in the past few years about the disease, but there is much more work to be done to contain it,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a prepared statement. “This national plan provides a road map for federal, state and tribal agencies and scientific researchers to follow and will facilitate sharing of resources and information to more efficiently address the threat.”

Plan: http://www.fws.gov/WhiteNoseSyndrome/

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/05/us-fish-and-wildlife-service-unveils-plan-to-fight-white-nose-syndrome-in-bats-.html

Ming Ming, world's oldest giant panda, dies in Chinese zoo at age of 34
May 17, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Chinese state media say the world’s oldest panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) has died at the age of 34. The Global Times reported that Ming Ming had kidney failure. She had been living at a zoo or preserve in Guangdong province. The China Panda Protection Center in Sichuan province said in a statement she died May 7, but it was reported only Tuesday in local media. More details about her were not available. The newspaper said wild pandas live 15 years on average and captive ones 22 years. Giant pandas are among the world’s most endangered species, with about 1,600 in the wild. More than 300 are in captivity in China, most in a breeding program aimed at boosting the population. The country also loans pandas to zoos worldwide.

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ming-ming-worlds-oldest-giant-panda-dies-in-chinese-zoo-at-age-of-34/2011/05/17/AFLGcm5G_story.html

Rare black lion tamarin born at Durrell
May 17, 2011

A male black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) was born this week at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The tamarin, named Francisco after the head of Durrell's veterinary department who delivered him, is the first of his species to be born in captivity outside of Brazil in the last eight years. His mother, Roxanne, had been pregnant numerous times before but had lost two babies and suffered several miscarriages, so the decision was made to deliver Francisco via C-section. The newborn is currently being hand-reared and will return to his family once he learns to lap milk from a dish.

Photos, video, and full article: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/05/tiny-black-lion-tamarin-born-at-durrell.html

Restoring the world's forests while feeding the poor
May 18, 2011 By Nigel Sizer and Lars Laestadius

A new analysis carried out by the World Resources Institute, South Dakota State University, IUCN, and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, "found that more than 1 billion hectares of land where forest once stood is now degraded and could be put to more productive uses."

From the article:

Some of this degraded and underused land could be used for food and tree crop production without cutting down another square inch of standing forest. In order to make this possible, governments and development agencies need to invest in more careful planning, incentives, investment and controls. Special care is needed to ensure that local communities that may be using parts of the land are respected and fully involved in decisions to intensify use or to restore forest. The remainder of the 1bn hectares could be restored to forest and woodland. Once restored, it will also play a greater role in supporting nutrient cycling, reducing erosion, sequestering carbon,managing water and further supporting food production across the wider landscape downstream.

The World Resources Institute is currently working with a local partner in Indonesia to "shift new oil palm estates on to already cleared and burnt land instead of cutting species-rich rainforest," with Brazilian groups looking to the Indonesian experience as they try to make decisions about how to best prevent further deforestation of the Amazon.

View a map of reforestation opportunities: http://www.wri.org/map/global-map-forest-landscape-restoration-opportunities

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/18/forests-farming-food-land

Cell phones may be contributing to the honeybee population decline
May 18, 2011 By Deborah Braconnier

A new study describes the effects on honeybees of electromagnetic fields from cell phones. Daniel Favre conducted an experiment that shows that "phones in a close proximity to beehives can discrupt the normal bee behavior," and determined that cell phones may be contributing to the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

From the article:

In his experiment, Favre placed two cell phones inside a bee hive and set up equipment to record the sounds of the bees when the phones were off, in stand-by mode, and active in a phone call. After the phones had been on for about 20 - 40 minutes, the bees began to make a high pitched squeaking sound known as “piping.” This sound is usually a single made by the bees to announce swarming or that the hive is in danger. However, even after the phone signals running for 20 hours and the “piping” sound continuing, the bees did not swarm. Within only two minutes of the cell phones being turned off, the bees calmed down to their original state.

Other scientists question the study, noting that cell phones are "not normally found in behives" and instead believe that other causes such as climate change, the presence of pesticides, mites, and viruses are more likely explanations. Also, there have been documented instances of CCD in the United States where there are not high concentrations of cell phone use.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-cell-contributing-honeybee-population-decline.html

CITATION: Favre D. 2011. Mobile phone-induced honeybee worker piping. Apidologie. doi: 10.1007/s13592-011-0016-x

Brazil confirms big jump in Amazon deforestation
May 18, 2011 By Rhett A. Butler

Last week, the Brazilian National Space Research Agency (INPE) announced a 473 percent increase in deforestation during March and April over the same period last year, with "81% of the recent clearing [occurring] in Mato Grosso."

From the article:

The increase in deforestation in April is thought to be linked to the current debate over Brazil's forest code, which requires land owners to maintain 80 percent of their holdings as forest in the Amazon region. Anticipating a weakening in the code that would grant amnesty for deforestation, farmers and ranchers have been clearing swathes of forest. Dry conditions, lingering from last year's worst-ever drought, have exacerbated the situation. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is typically driven by industrial agriculture and land speculation. More than 70 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture. High commodity prices typically create incentives for deforestation.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0518-inpe_amazon.html

Endangered Species Day events in San Diego County
May 18, 2011 By Mike Lee

This Friday marks the 6th Endangered Species Day, a day that is "celebrated by conservationists, environmental agencies and others trying to draw attention to the plight of imperiled plants and animals as well as successes helping them to recover." The USFWS will be presenting three Endangered Species Recovery Champion awards for the Southwest region, one of which will be awarded to Michael Mace, curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, for his work with the California condor and light-footed clapper rail. Sandy Vissman from the USFWS in Carlsbad will also receive a recovery champion award for her work with the San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike.

Additionally, the San Diego Zoo and the Endangered Species Coalition will be honoring the winners of the nationwide 2011 Endangered Species Day Youth Art Contest. The winner of this year's contest is a local student from Mr. Carmel High School.

Some local events in San Diego [taken from the article]:

May 20, 3-5 p.m.: Walk/Talk & Art, hosted by Preserve Calavera (Oceanside) at the Marron Adobe and adjacent Buena Vista Creek Ecological Reserve. It will include a talk about the least Bell's vireo by biologist Markus Spiegelberg, followed by a short walk into the reserve to look for the illusive gray songbirds.

May 21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Chula Vista Nature Center. Visitors can view the endangered green sea turtle and light-footed clapper rail. There will be free endangered species craft projects for the general public as well as a Nature Art Workshop.

May 22, 9 a.m-4 p.m. at San Diego Audubon’s Silverwood Sanctuary in Lakeside. Visitors will can get a close-up look at the habitat where roughly 30 species of mammals, 25 reptiles, and 160 bird species have been recorded.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/18/endangered-species-feted-county/

National Zoo says tests show that its giant panda might be pregnant
May 18, 2011

Veterinarians at the National Zoo say that tests indicate the zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang, may be pregnant. While it is difficult to determine whether or not a panda is pregnant, veterinarians at the zoo think that Mei Xiang may give birth within the next 40 to 50 days. Me Xiang and the zoo's male panda, Tian Tian, have successfully mated previously once before, with Mei Xiang giving birth to Tai Shan in 2005.

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/national-zoo-says-tests-show-that-its-giant-panda-may-be-pregnant/2011/05/18/AFeTDj6G_story.html

Zoos nationwide suffering from budget cuts
May 19, 2011 By Tami Luhby

The 2012 citywide budget for New York City proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg cuts $4.7 million from the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium budgets. A cut of this size would reduce the city's funding of the zoo by more than half. Zoo officials are afraid that the proposed cuts would force layoffs and program cuts. In 2009, the zoo's budget was cut by a half-million dollars, leading to the closure of three exhibits and a 15% reduction in staff. Other zoos around the country are also dealing with budget reductions, with the National Zoo expecting a half-million dollar cut from the federal government, and a proposed $1 million cut from the Minnesota Zoo's budget.

Full article: http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/19/news/economy/bronx_zoo_budget_cuts/index.htm?source=cnn_bin&hpt=Sbin

Latin America's research small but growing, survey finds
May 19, 2011 By Maria Elena Hurtado

A survey conducted by the Spanish Scimago Institutions Rankings (SIR) project weighed "the scientific output, collaboration rate, impact and ratio of documents published in prestigious journals of all [higher education institutions, or HEIs] in Latin American and the Carribbean, Portugal and Spain." The SIR reports that research output in "Latin America and the Caribbean is rising but still lags behind the global average." Brazil was the country with the highest amount of publications (163,000) with 92% coming from HEIs.

Some other findings are that the majority of the research is coming from a few top universities, the research from this portion of the world only makes up for 4% of the world's total scientific output, and the research that does come from Latin America is often published in lower-impact journals. Researchers point to the small internationally active research community and the "small percentage of GDP devoted to research" as reasons why the region's scientific output is so small.

Report of Ibero-American Ranking SIR 2011: http://www.scimagoir.com/pdf/ranking_iberoamericano_2011_en.pdf

Full article: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/latin-america-s-research-small-but-growing-survey-finds.html

Scientists discover process to assemble chromosomes in test tubes
May 19, 2011

New research conducted by scientists at Penn State University will allow "scientists to experimentally probe the structure and function of chromosomes...[from] outside the protective confines of the cell."

Excerpt from the article:

Scientists at Penn State University have achieved a major milestone in the attempt to assemble, in a test tube, entire chromosomes from their component parts. The achievement reveals the process a cell uses to package the basic building blocks of an organism's entire genetic code -- its genome. The evidence provided by early research with the new procedure overturns three previous theories of the genome-packaging process and opens the door to a new era of genome-wide biochemistry research....

The research was accomplished with the help of a new laboratory procedure developed by the team of scientists led by B. Franklin Pugh, the Willaman Chair in Molecular Biology at Penn State. The procedure allows scientists, for the first time, to do highly controlled biochemical experiments with all the components of an organism's genome. The team's research is designed to reveal the construction process for the chromosome -- the super-compressed marvel of molecular packaging that contains all an organism's DNA and associated proteins. "Our procedure starts with an entire genome of DNA from yeast cells that we propagate through bacteria, then purify, "Pugh said. "Next, we add equal parts of pure histones, the protein building blocks of chromosomes. Then we allow the assembly process to begin."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-packaging-genes.html

CITATION: Zhang Z, et al. 2011. A packing mechanism for nucleosome organization reconstituted across a eukaryotic genome. Science 332(6032):977-980 doi:10.1126/science.1200508

Red-crested tree rat rediscovered after 113 years
May 19, 2011

The red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis) has been rediscovered in Colombia after not having been seen since 1989. It is the only species in the genus Santamartamys, "is 18 inches long from head to the tip of the tail and is distinguished by a mane-like band of reddish fur around its neck and a black and white tail."

From the article:

The charming nocturnal rodent made his re-debut to the world at 9:30PM on May 4, 2011 at the El Dorado Nature Reserve in the far north of the country. The Reserve was established in 2005 by Fundación ProAves — Colombia's foremost bird conservation organization — with support from American Bird Conservancy, World Land Trust-US, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Fundación Loro Parque and Conservation International.

The animal was rediscovered by Lizzie Noble and Simon McKeown — two volunteer researchers with ProAves monitoring endangered amphibians. It posed for photographs — including close-ups — before calmly proceeding back to the forest. "He just shuffled up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing. We are absolutely delighted to have rediscovered such a wonderful creature after just a month of volunteering with ProAves. Clearly the El Dorado Reserve has many more exciting discoveries waiting," said Lizzie Noble from Godalming, England.

It is likely that the red-crested tree rat will be designated as Critically Endangered by IUCN. Conservationists are concerned that the rodents may be preyed upon by feral cats in the area.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-spectacular-mammal-rediscovered-years-.html

Beartooth Nature Center director to take interim post at ZooMontana
May 19, 2011 By Chelsea Krotzer

Last Monday, the AZA revoked ZooMontana's accreditation because of concerns over the organization's financial stability. Jeff Ewelt, the director of the Beartooth Nature Center in Red Lodge, announced that he will be taking over as the zoo's interim director and will appeal the AZA's decision. Ewelt intends to come up with "a long-term funding plan, which...will focus on getting people out to ZooMontana." Ewelt will be replacing former director Jackie Worstell while on his 90-day probationary appointment.

Full article: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_b5d88be8-374e-5dfa-8c88-adb5aaac3fa4.html?oCampaign=hottopics

Final revised designation of critical habitat for Lane Mountain milk-vetch
May 19, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 97
FWS-R8-ES-2009-0078; MO 99210-0-0009

From the announcement:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are designating revised critical habitat for Astragalus jaegerianus (Lane Mountain milk-vetch) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, approximately 14,069 acres (ac) (5,693 hectares (ha)) of land in 2 units located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, fall within the boundaries of the revised critical habitat designation.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on June 20, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The final rule and the associated final economic analysis, and map of critical habitat are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2009-0078, and http://www.fws.gov/ventura/. Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this final rule, are available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and
Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 805-644-1766; facsimile 805-644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-19/pdf/2011-12330.pdf

LA Zoo successfully breeds endangered mountain yellow-legged frog
May 19, 2011 By Noaki Schwartz

From the article:

Los Angeles Zoo officials announced Thursday that they have successfully bred the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog in an effort to save the species. Captive frogs laid hundreds of eggs in March and more than 200 tadpoles hatched in April. The tadpoles will be released into the wild this summer in the San Jacinto Mountains and about three-quarters are expected to survive. There are only 200 frogs left in the range that stretches across the San Bernardino, San Gabriel and San Jacinto mountains of Southern California, said reptiles and amphibians curator Ian Recchio. The frogs, which are brown with touches of mustard yellow, have been bred in captivity only once in the past at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

The zoo received four males and six females last year from the San Diego Zoo "along with tips on breeding them."

Full article: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/05/19/3640004/la-zoo-successfully-breeds-endangered.html

US Botanic Garden in DC highlights rare and endangered plants for Endangered Species Day
May 19, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

The U.S. Botanic Garden on the National Mall is hosting a special open house for Endangered Species Day to highlight the many plants that are in danger of disappearing. The event Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is hosted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Endangered Species Coalition. It will include a look at rare and endangered plants, as well as a focus on disappearing wildlife. Researchers say in the United States alone, 792 plant species are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Continue reading: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/us-botanic-garden-in-dc-highlights-rare-endangered-plans-for-endangered-species-day/2011/05/20/AFFyhV7G_story.html

Endangered species permit applications
May 19, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 97
FWS-R1-ES-2011-N080; 10120-1113-0000-F5

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), invite the public to comment on applications for permits to conduct enhancement of survival activities with endangered species.

Comments must be received no later than June 20, 2011, and can be sent to the Endangered Species Program Manager, Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE., 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181. For further information, contact Linda Belluomini, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the above address or by telephone (503-231-6131) or fax (503-231-6243).

The following applicants have applied for recovery or interstate commerce permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We are soliciting review of and comments on these applications by local, State, and Federal agencies, and the public.

Permit No. TE-39185A
Applicant: Pei-Luen Lu, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The applicant requests a permit to remove and reduce to possession (collect plant parts) Pleomele hawaiiensis (halapepe) at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Island, Hawaii, in conjunction with genetic research for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-149068
Applicant: Eric VanderWerf, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The permittee requests a permit amendment to take (harass by survey using taped-playback; monitor nests) the Oahu elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis ibidis) on Oahu Island, Hawaii, in conjunction with life history studies for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-40123A
Applicant: Pohakuloa Training Area, U.S. Army, Hilo, Hawaii.
The permittee requests an amendment to remove and reduce to possession (collect plants and their parts) Asplenium peruviana var. insulare (fragile fern), Haplostachys haplostachya (honohono), Kadua coriacea (kioele), Isodendrion hosakae (aupaka), Melanthera venosa (spreading nehe), Neraudia ovata (maoloa), Portulaca sclerocarpa (poe), Silene lanceolata (lance-leaf catchfly), Solanum incompletum (popolo ku mai), Spermolepis hawaiiensis (Hawaiian parsley), Stenogyne angustifolia (creeping mint), Tetramolopium arenarium (Mauna Kea pamakani), Vigna o-wahuensis (Oahu cowpea), and Zanthoxylum hawaiiense (ae) at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii Island, Hawaii, in conjunction with ex situ genetic storage, controlled propagation, and outplanting for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-043628
Applicant: Institute for Applied Ecology, Corvallis, Oregon.
The permittee requests an amendment to remove and reduce to possession (collect plants and their parts) Lomatium cookii (Cook's lomatium) in Josephine County, Oregon, in conjunction with controlled propagation and outplanting for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-40138A
Applicant: Duckcrossing Game Farm, Isantic, Minnesota.
The applicant requests an interstate commerce permit to purchase nene geese (Branta sandvicensis) in conjunction with captive propagation in Isantic, Minnesota for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-42195A
Applicant: U.S. Navy.
The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey using taped-playback) the Mariana common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus guami) on Guam, in conjunction with life history studies for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-19/pdf/2011-12345.pdf

Woodland Park Zoo euthanizes Steller's sea eagle
May 19, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo says it was forced to euthanize a Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) over the weekend after re-injuring a fractured wing. The 14-year-old bird came to the zoo last December as part of a breeding pair on loan from San Diego Zoo. "She came to us with an existing wing injury sustained several years ago, and had been living quite successfully with her disability," explained Woodland Park Zoo Curator Dr. Jennifer Pramuk in a news release. "She usually navigated her enclosure with minimal difficulty, but it appears that she was injured after descending from a branch near their nest tree and landing abnormally." Zoo veterinarians tried to stabilize the bone in surgery, but later determined her mobility and quality of life were compromised because the healing process wasn't successful. The zoo says the death of this bird leaves only 16 remaining sea eagles in North American zoos. There is one Steller's sea eagle remaining at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Continue reading: http://mynorthwest.com/?nid=11&sid=484255


First analysis of invasive plant impacts worldwide
May 20, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

This week the scientific journal Ecology Letters has published a synthesis of the ecological impacts of invasive plants worldwide. This global analysis has been based on more than one thousand studies that in total describe the impacts of 135 invasive plant species. The lead author, Dr. Montserrat Vilà, a professor at the Spanish Higher Research Council (CSIC) adds: "This assessment would have been impossible to achieve ten years ago, because the evidence was anecdotal, it has only been in the last decade that well designed field studies have been conducted".

Twenty-four impact types have been considered. Alien plants can for example affect the activity of animal species feeding on them and even the microorganisms in the soil where they growth. The most extreme impacts affect the resident vegetation. In invaded sites, the abundance of native plants is reduced more than 40% and species diversity decrease more than 50%. These changes can have tremendous implications for the functioning of ecosystems such as alien nitrogen fixers doubling soil N pools. This study reveals that by the time changes in nutrient cycling are detected, major impacts on the performance of plant populations are likely to have already occurred.

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-analysis-invasive-impacts-worldwide.html

CITATION: Vila M, et al. 2011. Ecological impacts of invasive alien plants: a meta-analysis of their effects on species, communities and ecosystems. Ecology Letters [published online ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01628.x

Nonprofits OKd to run some state parks by Assembly
May 20, 2011 By Marisa Lagos

After California state parks officials announced the closure of 70 state parks last week in response to a $22 million budget cut, the California Assembly passed a bill that would allow local nonprofits to step in and operate the parks to prevent closures. The bill (AB42) "would require a nonprofit to submit a plan to the state before it could operate or care for a park" and would also require that the nonprofits submit annual reports to the state. The measure passed unanimously in the Assembly and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Full article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/19/BA1R1JIJ1L.DTL&feed=rss.bayarea

Mammals’ large brains evolved for smell
May 20, 2011 By Victoria Gill

A new study that appears in Science describes how a highly developed sense of smell was one of the first steps in the evolution of mammals' big brains. Mammals, and humans in particular, have one of the largest brains (in comparison to body size) of any type of animal, leaving researchers to wonder why and how this is the case. By creating 3D images using computed tomography (or "CT") scanning, scientists were able to compare the brain cases of "pre-mammals" and two of the earliest known mammal species – 190-million-year-old Morganucodon oehleri and Hadrocodium wui. These images "revealed that the first brain areas to over-develop were those associated with the sense of smell." Professor Timothy Rowe from the University of Texas at Austin, one of the scientists involved in the study, said that smell "drove most of the early expansion of the brain in these first 'proto-mammals' and in the last common ancestor of living mammal species". The researchers think that early mammals' strong sense of smell probably allowed them to hunt nocturnally, thereby reducing the amount of competition they had with dinosaurs.

Full article : http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13448202

CITATION: Rowe TB, Macrini TE, Luo Z-X. 2011. Fossil evidence on origin of the mammalian brain. Science 332(6032):955-957. doi:10.1126/science.1203117

Okavango wildlife threatened
May 20, 2011 By Don Pinnock

A new report commissioned by the Botswana department of wildlife and national parks, and undertaken by Michael Chase [the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Henderson Endowed Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellow] and Kelly Landen of Elephants Without Borders, shows that wildlife in the Okavango Delta in Botswana is on the decline. An aerial survey shows that 11 species in the delta are in decline. By "comparing surveys going back to 1993 wildebeest numbers are shown to have shrunk by 90%, giraffe by 65%, tsessebe by 83%, lechwe by 58% and zebra by 53%. Also down about 80% are warthog, kudu, roan and ostrich. From 1999 to the present -- a period of only 10 years -- the running average for total species decline is about 61%." Some of the factors that are causing this species decline are "human encroachment, game fences and poaching," fire, and heavy drought. The current dry cycle which started in 1980 is the worst drought ever recorded in the area.

However, even though there are many animals in decline, elephants and hippos have been increasing their population numbers, with hippos increasing at about 6% a year and elephants "holding steady." According to Chase, the number of elephants in Botswana has stabalized at about 130,000 individuals, because many are returning to Angola. In order to find food and water in areas that are safe from poachers, bull elephants act as scouts, often ending up in Angola. They then return and retrieve the rest of the herd, somehow avoiding all of the landmines left behind by Angola's civil war.

The report concludes by stating that "many of the threats to animals come from hunting, fence-related deaths, habitat fragmentation and poaching outside the reserves," and that wildlife populations will continue to be low, with the possibility that wildebeest and tsessebe could disappear from Botswana all together. The researchers call for regular aerial surveys to continue to monitor and assess the situation.

Full article: http://mg.co.za/article/2011-05-20-okavango-wildlife-threatened/

Indonesia's moratorium disappoints environmentalists
May 20, 2011 By Rhett A. Butler

A new moratorium which took effect on January 1, 2011, has just been defined by a presidential decree last week in Indonesia. Aimed at curbing the deforestation rate in Indonesian forests and peatlands (which is the highest in the world), and to meet its REDD commitment of reducing "carbon dioxide emissions 26-41 percent from a projected 2020 baseline." The moratorium will place a two-year restriction on logging in peatlands and virgin forests — approximately 64 million hectares (35 million of which are already protected). Environmentalists are disappointed in the wording of the presidential instruction since it still leaves 40 million hectares open to concessions and "grants exemptions for rice, sugar, geothermal, and oil and gas projects."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0520-indonesia_moratorium_defined.html

Spiders suffer from human impact
May 20, 2011

A new study that appears in the journal Biological Conservation looks at "whether spiders are more tolerant of human impact than other animals." By conducting a meta-analysis of 173 scientific papers published since 1980, researchers from the King Juan Carlos University in Spain wanted to uncover the human impact on spiders in farmland, pasture and woodland. The researchers conclude that in farmland and pasture, grazing and conventional crops negatively affect spiders because "they cause extreme changes to the vegetation structure" and tend to employ the use of insecticides. The data was not as clear in regards to how humans effect spiders in woodland ecosystems. The proposed solutions for spider conservation is to reduce the amount of "mechanical alterations to the land, such as harvesting, ploughing and grazing," to control the use of insecticides, and to avoid habitat fragmentation.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-spiders-human-impact.html

CITATION: Prieto-Benitez S, Mendez M. 2011. Effects of land management on the abundance and richness of spiders (Araneae): a meta-analysis. Biological Conservation 144(2):683-691. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.11.024

USFWS considers use of rodenticide on Farallon Islands to save Ashy Storm-petrel
May 21, 2011 By Jason Dearen

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "is studying a plan to kill off non-native house mice with poison on the Farallon Islands, a marine sanctuary off the coast of Northern California," in order to save a population of Ashy Storm-petrels (Oceanodroma homochroa). The Storm-petrels have a "global population estimated at no more than 10,000," with approximately half of this population using the Farallon Islands as a breeding grounds. The Farallon Islands are home to "a menagerie of whales, great white sharks, seals and sea lions," in addition to thousands of mice. While the mice themselves do not directly affect the Storm-petrels, they attract the attention of migratory burrowing owls, which prey first upon the mice and then upon the Storm-petrels.

The idea of using pesticide on the islands has drawn criticism from some conservation groups, which argue that "the aerial drop of thousands of rodenticide pellets would instead harm many creatures throughout the food chain." The use of pesticides to protect birds on islands from rodents has been used before, but with mixed results. In 2002, the National Parks Service used brodifacoum to successfully protect Xantus's murrelets (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) from non-native black rats. However, in 2008, the use of rodenticide was thought to be "the cause of death of 46 bald eagles and hundreds of gulls" in the Aleutians.

Full article: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=13651445

Elephant beetle newest addition to San Antonio Zoo
May 21, 2011 By Vincent T. Davis

The San Antonio Zoo has recently added an elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas) to its Wild Wonders exhibit, making it one of two at American zoos.

From the article:

Horticulture curator Martin Feather caught the recent addition...three weeks ago at night with mercury vapor lights that attract insects. Feather and a colleague from a Missouri zoo caught two male beetles as part of an ongoing research project between the zoos, the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly Conservancy and El Bosque Nuevo butterfly farm in Costa Rica. Feather and his research partner submitted a proposal that was approved by the ministry of agriculture in the Costa Rican government. “There's a demand from insect zoos in the United States for animals like this,” Feather said recently.

The beetle "weighs several ounces, can fly, and is black, but microscopic hairs give its hard shell a yellow tint." Male beetles have long horns sticking from its prothorax (the segment closest to the head). According to Feather, the Zoo's goal is to collect males and females for breeding at the San Antonio and Missouri zoos and in Costa Rica.

Full article: http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/Elephant-beetle-newest-addition-to-San-Antonio-Zoo-1390271.php

USFWS changes in raptor propagation regulations
May 23, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 99
Docket No. FWS-R9-MB-2009-0018

Excerpts from the announcement:

We amend the regulations governing captive propagation of raptors in the United States. We reorganize the current regulations, and add or change some provisions therein. The changes make it easier to understand the requirements for raptor propagation, make it simpler to conduct raptor propagation, and clarify the procedures for obtaining a propagation permit. These regulations continue to prohibit propagation of golden eagles, though we may consider allowing it in the future.

Changes in the Regulations Governing Raptor Propagation

We have rewritten the regulations...on the propagation of captive raptors in plain language and have changed or added some provisions. The following are substantive changes to the regulations:
1. The permit period is changed from 3 to 5 years.
2. Until they are 1 year old, captive-bred offspring may be used in actual hunting as a means of training them.
3. We eliminate the requirement for reporting within 5 days on eggs laid by raptors in propagation. An annual report on propagation efforts will be required from permittees.
4. A permittee will not have to submit or have a copy of a FWS Form 3-186A for raptors produced by captive propagation if the raptors are kept in the permittee's possession under his or her propagation permit.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

We made many wording and organizational changes from the proposed rule of October 14, 2005 (70 FR 60052). Major changes from the proposed rule are limited.
1. We deleted the provision requiring proof of successful propagation in order to renew a raptor propagation permit.
2. We simplified the facilities requirements now found in paragraph (c).
3. We will allow the use of propagation raptors in education programs per paragraph (n).
4. We will allow hacking of raptors produced by captive propagation per paragraph (q).
5. We will allow ISO-compliant microchips in addition to banding per paragraphs (e)(1)(ii) and (e)(3).

DATES: This rule is effective on June 22, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. George T. Allen, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 703-358-1825.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-23/pdf/2011-12519.pdf

USFWS announces final comprehensive conservation plan and finding of no significant impact for environmental assessment for Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, HI
May 23, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 99
FWS-R1-R-2010-N273

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of our final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). In this final CCP, we describe how we will manage this refuge for the next 15 years.

ADDRESSES: You may view or obtain copies of the final CCP and FONSI by any of the following methods. You may request a hard copy or CD-ROM. Agency Web site: Download the CCP/FONSI at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/planning. E-mail: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include "Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Final CCP'' in the subject line of the
message. Mail: Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, 60 Nowelo Street, Suite 100, Hilo, HI 96720. In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, 60 Nowelo Street, Suite 100, Hilo, HI 96720.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Kraus, Refuge Manager, (808) 443-2300.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-23/pdf/2011-12564.pdf

Seagrasses face extinction threat
May 23, 2011 By Matt Walker

A new study published in the journal Biological Conservation shows that 14% of seagrass species are at risk of going extinct. In addition, common species of seagrass are on the decline, "meaning both seagrass habitat and diversity is being lost." The reasons for the decline include pollution along developed coastlines, sedimentation "...caused by runoff from impacted watersheds and deforestation, and being overloaded with nutrients flowing into the sea from sewage and agricultural runoff." Additionally, seagrass habitat is being lost from the dredging of seafloors. According to seagrass expert Frederick Short, "Seagrasses are both direct food for important species and as they break down within the coastal ecosystem, they are part of a vast food web that provides food to many organisms within the coastal ocean, including many commercially and recreationally important species." His team's research indicates that of 72 species studied, 15 seagrasses "should be considered Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened, under criteria laid down by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13441738

CITATION: Short FT, et al. 2011. Extinction risk assessment of the world's seagrass species. Biological Conservation [published online ahead of print]. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.04.010 

Richard Branson's modified plan to introduce lemurs to BVI
May 23, 2011 By Richard Black

The plans to bring endangered lemurs to Caribben islands by Sir Richard Branson have been modified after the fallout over the original announcement. In April, Branson (the head of the Virgin business empire) announced that he wanted to introduce lemur species from zoos to Moskito Island (one of the islands he owns in the British Virgin Islands). However, conservation experts "raised concerns over the impact on native species, notably the dwarf gecko - and those concerns were echoed by world authorities on lemurs." In an email, Branson stated, "The debate about the plight of the lemurs and what should be done about them, and whether or not my idea was a good idea or bad idea was certainly an eye-opener to me and I suspect to all of us." After consulting with lemur experts, Branson modified his plan to "select a handful of endangered and critically endangered species for ex-situ (captive) breeding - to provide assurance colonies should they disappear or become severely depleted in the wild."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13502222

Study reports 2010/2011 winter honey bee losses
May 23, 2011

The USDA and Apiary Inspectors of America have conducted their annual survey of managed honey bee colonies, and report that the total losses from all causes for the 2010/2011 winter are 30 percent (losses for: 2009/2010 -- 34%; 2008/2009 -- 29%; 2007/2008 -- 36%; 2006/2007 -- 32%).

From the article:

"The lack of increase in losses is marginally encouraging in the sense that the problem does not appear to be getting worse for honey bees and beekeepers," said Jeff Pettis, an entomologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) who helped conduct the study. "But continued losses of this size put tremendous pressure on the economic sustainability of commercial beekeeping." Pettis is the leader of the Bee Research Laboratory operated in Beltsville, Md., by ARS, the chief scientific research agency of USDA.

Higher percentage of loss was reported by beekeepers who reported lost colonies without finding the presence of dead bees (a potential sign of Colony Collapse Disorder) than by those who reported lost colonies and the presence of dead bees.

An abstract of the survey results can be found at: http://www.extension.org/pages/58013/honey-bee-winter-loss-survey

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-survey-winter-honey-bee-losses.html

Military families receive free admission to San Diego museums
May 23, 2011 By Angela Carone

Seventeen San Diego County museums are participating in the NEA's Blue Star Museums campaign for a second year, offering "free admission to museums for families of active-duty military." This year, 1,350 museums nationwide are participating in the program, more than doubling the amount of participants last year. The program runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The San Diego participants are:

Visions Art Museum: Contemporary Quilts + Textiles
Veteran's Museum and Memorial Center
Timken Museum of Art
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
San Diego Hall of Champions
San Diego History Center
The San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Man
San Diego Archaeological Center
San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego Children's Discovery Museum
Museum of Photographic Arts
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (Downtown)
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (La Jolla)
Mingei International Museum
Mingei International Museum
Japanese Friendship Garden
Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
Barona Cultural Center & Museum

For more information on the program, visit the NEA's website.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/may/23/another-year-free-museums-military-families/

Philippine eagles face continued illegal trapping
May 23, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is one of the largest raptors in the world “with a two meter long (6.5 foot) wingspan.” It is currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

From the article:

…[T]he Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) has recently announced that people continue to illegally trap and keep eagles captive. Since December the organization has taken-in four confiscated Philippine eagles (Pithecophaga jefferyi), according to The Philippine Star. One died of a fungal infection after confiscation, while two others has [sic] suffered serious injuries.

"The abuse and harm caused on Philippine eagles illustrate our reckless management of our natural resources," Dennis Salvador, director of PEF, told The Philippine Star. "If the Philippine eagle, which is already perhaps the most prominent and recognizable of Philippine wildlife species, suffers a fate as grim as the above four eagles have experienced, how much more other species? What bigger injustices could possibly be happening to the rest of the Philippine environment?"

So far, the PEF’s attempts at reintroduction have not been successful, but the organization wants to continue the efforts.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0523-hance_philippine_eagle.html

California Assembly approves bill to ban shark fin trade
May 23, 2011

The California Assembly approved AB376 last week, which “bans the sale, trade or possession of shark fins, a delicacy that costs hundreds of dollars a pound” and is used in some Asian cuisine. One of the authors of the bill, Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, says “…the sharks are mutilated and the practice puts them at risk of extinction.” Supporters say that 73 million sharks a year are killed for their fins. Opponents of the bill say that it would hurt small businesses and think that it goes too far in dictating what Californians can eat. The bill now has to go through the Senate for approval before taking effect in 2013.

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/calif-lawmakers-approve-ban-on-sale-possession-of-shark-fins-to-protect-endangered-species/2011/05/23/AFnlB39G_story.html?wprss=rss_national

Stockholm Memorandum calls for action to combat human impact on environment
May 23, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Last week, participants in the 3rd Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability wrote and signed the Stockholm Memorandum.

From the article:

The document calls for emergency actions to tackle human pressures on the Earth's environment while ensuring a more equitable and just world.

"Science makes clear that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. Evidence is growing that human pressures are starting to overwhelm the Earth’s buffering capacity," the memorandum reads. "Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene."

A sense of urgency is apparent through the entire document, which states bluntly, "we cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial."

The issues that the memo addresses are “…reducing poverty, reaching a strong climate agreement, decoupling economic growth from resource and energy consumption, ensuring food for all, remaking the global economy to recognize ecosystem services, increasing awareness about overconsumption and population growth, strengthening global governance, and creating a research center devoted to studying global sustainability issues.”

Read the full Memorandum at the Global Symposium website: http://globalsymposium2011.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/The-Stockholm-Memorandum.pdf

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0522-hance_nobel_laureates.html

Scientists list top 10 new species
May 23, 2011

In an annual celebration of the anniversary of Carolus Linnaeus’ birth on May 23, the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University and an international group of taxonomists came together to select the “top 10” new species discovered in 2010. Taxonomists hope to draw attention to “biodiversity, the field of taxonomy, and the importance of natural history museums and botanical gardens” with the list.

This year’s top 10 new species include:

To see photos and to learn more about the 2011 Top 10 New Species, visit the IISE website: http://species.asu.edu/Top10

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-scientists-species.html

90-day finding on petition to list spot-tailed earless lizard as endangered or threatened
May 24, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 100
Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2011-0017

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate critical habitat. Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing the spot-tailed earless lizard is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the spot-tailed earless lizard, including its two subspecies (Holbrookia lacerata lacerata and Holbrookia lacerata subcaudalis). Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by July 25, 2011 by one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the box that reads "Enter Keyword or ID,'' enter the Docket number for this finding, which is [Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2011-0017]. Check the box that reads "Open for Comment/Submission,'' and then click the Search button. You should then see an icon that reads "Submit a Comment.''
Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2011-0017]; Division of Policy and
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, Austin Ecological Services Field Office; by U.S. mail at 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; by telephone (512-490-0057); or by facsimile (512-490-0974).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-24/pdf/2011-12752.pdf

Application for approval to conduct activities with birds
May 24, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 100
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N105

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: The public is invited to comment on the following application for approval to conduct certain activities with birds that are protected in accordance with the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992.

DATES: Written data, comments, or requests for a copy of this application must be received by June 23, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Documents and other information submitted with this application are available for review, subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act, by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to: Chief, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax 703/358-2298.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Hoover, Chief, Branch of Operations, Division of Management Authority, at 703-358-2095.

Applicant: Ms. Heather E. Bright, Parker, Colorado.
The applicant wishes to establish a cooperative breeding program for the Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor). The approval would be for the cooperative breeding program and all its members, including the applicant. If approved, the program will be overseen by the Rocky Mountain Society of Aviculture.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-24/pdf/2011-12756.pdf

National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy
May 24, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 100
FWS-R9-SATD-2011-N079

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, Department of Commerce) and other Federal, State, and tribal partners, announce that we are seeking public comments and information necessary to prepare a draft National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation
Strategy (Strategy). The Strategy will provide a unified approach--reflecting shared principles and science-based practices--for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants, habitats, and our natural resource heritage. It will serve as a valuable tool for Federal and State agencies, wildlife managers, tribes, and private landowners as they continue to manage their lands and natural resources in a changing environment.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments on or before July 1, 2011 electronically through our website at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/contact-us.php. Alternatively, you may send comments by U.S. mail to the Office of the Science Advisor, Attn: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Shaffer, Office of the Science Advisor, at (703) 358-2603 (telephone), wildlifeadaptationstrategy@fws.gov (e-mail), or via the Strategy Web site at http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-24/pdf/2011-12710.pdf

Guided full-moon walk on Scripps Pier
May 24, 2011

Aquarium naturalists will “teach participants about the [pier’s] history, and guide them as they dissect a squid, make marine organisms glow in the dark, collect plankton, observe ocean conditions and study the nocturnal habits of marine life,” during a guided full-moon walk at the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier. The Pier is typically closed to the public and is only used for research projects.

Dates: June 16, July 14 & 15, Aug. 12 & 13
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.
Dates: Sept. 11 & 12, Oct. 10 & 11
Time: 6-8:30 p.m.

Cost: $25 per person
Ages: 9+ (minors must be accompanied by a paid adult)
RSVP Required: 858-534-7336 or online at the Birch Aquarium website: https://www.birchaquariumprograms.com/mainstore.asp?vid=0

Full press release: http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=1164

Rethinking extinction risk for plants
May 24, 2011

According to the IUCN Red List, “around 20 percent of flowering plants are currently at risk of extinction – though the exact number is unknown since such a small proportion of plant species has even been measured.” New research conducted in South Africa and the U.K. led by British scientists “suggests that the criteria for assessing risk of extinction in plants should be reconsidered.”

Excerpt from the article:

By some criteria, a species is considered at risk if it is to be found only in a limited geographical range and if it has a small population size. But through molecular analysis of DNA sequences from plant specimens in the Cape region in South Africa, an area known for its spectacular plant diversity, the researchers have been able to show that these criteria also describe species that are relatively new arrivals. "In plants, from this area, we show that the processes of extinction and speciation [the evolutionary process by which new species arise] are linked – seemingly the most vulnerable species are often the youngest. Young species may appear at high risk of extinction simply because their populations have not yet had time to grow and spread. However, it is also possible that some plant species might be doomed to extinction from their very inception," Davies said.

The research appears in the May 24th online issue of PLoS Biology.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-rethinking-extinction.html

CITATION: Davies TJ, Smith GF, Bellstedt DU, Boatwright JS, Bytebier B, et al. 2011. Extinction risk and diversification are linked in a plant biodiversity hotspot. PLoS Biol 9(5):e100062. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000620

Thursday Family Fun Nights at the San Diego Botanic Garden
May 24, 2011

From June 2 through September 1, the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly Quail Botanical Gardens) will stay open until 8 pm on Thursday nights. The garden will have planned activities for children and music on the Lawn Garden on selected nights. The cost is free with admission or membership.

For a list of scheduled events, visit the SD Botanic Garden website: http://www.sdbgarden.org/thursnights.htm

Full article: http://my.nctimes.com/post/Businesses/San_Diego_Botanic_Garden/blog/san_diego_botanic_gardenbigining_june_2nd_sept_1st_2011_thu.html

Flowering plant found at record altitude in Swiss alps
May 24, 2011

The purple mountain saxifrage, which is common in mountainous areas, has been found at a record altitude in the Swiss alps.

Excerpt from the article:

A flowering plant has been found at an altitude of above 4,505 metres (14,780 feet) on the central Swiss alps -- a European record, Basel University said Tuesday.

"It is almost a miracle, but at 4,505 metres, at 40 metres below the Dom peak in the canton of Valais, the ... Saxifraga oppositifolia has been recently discovered," said the university in a statement. "It is the highest elevation flowering plant that has ever been documented in Europe, and the location is probably the coldest point in the world where a flowering plant has been found," it added.

…Scientists said that at such an altitude, the plant regularly has to endure night-time temperatures of below zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and winter temperatures that plunge as low as -20.9 degrees Celsius.

Full article:  http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-4505m-swiss-alps.html

Closely related bird species react to noise pollution differently
May 24, 2011 By Sara Reardon

Human-generated noise “threatens to interfere” with bird calls and songs, but as there are “more than 10,000 known bird species, [it is] impossible for scientists to test how each will respond to having humans as noisy neighbors.” Therefore, they “try to predict a bird’s response based on how a closely related species reacts.”

However, closely related species do not always react in the same way. In a study of two vireo species in New Mexico, researchers found that the birds responded to the sound of gas compressors in two very different ways. The plumbeous vireo (Vireo plumbeus) reduced the range of frequencies used, while the gray vireo (Vireo vicinior) did the opposite.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/05/cmon-feel-the-noise.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Francis CD, Ortega CP, Cruz A. 2011. Different behavioural responses to anthropogenic noise by two closely related passerine birds. Biology Letters [printed online ahead of print]. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0359

Spiders protect webs with decorations
May 25, 2011 By Victoria Gill

Australian researchers have conducted a study that finds spiders may “decorate” their webs to protect them from damage by other animals.

Excerpt from the article:

Previous research has shown that decorated webs tend to last longer than undecorated ones. But Dr. Walter wanted to find out if this protective function was what motivated the spiders to spin their decorations.

He set up plastic frames in his lab, and left a group of orb-weaving Argiope keyserlingi spiders to build their webs in the frames. Once they were finished, the team carried out some controlled damage.

Dr. Walter divided the spiders into three groups, left one group's webs alone, "lightly damaged" another group's and carried out heavy damage on another.

When they repaired or rebuilt their webs, the spiders increased their decorating activity following heavy damage but not mild damage, he reported.

The results are published in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13521021

CITATION: Walter A, Elgar MA. 2011. Signals for damage control: web decorations in Agriope keyserlingi (Araneae: Araneidae). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology [published online ahead of print]. doi:10.1007/s00265-011-1200-8

5-year reviews of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants in CA, NV, and OR
May 26, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 101
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N076

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are initiating 5-year reviews for 53 species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We conduct these reviews to ensure that our classification of each species on the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants as threatened or endangered is accurate. A 5-year review assesses the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. We are requesting any information that has become available since our original listing of each of these species. Based on review results, we will determine whether we should change the listing status of any of these species. In this notice, we also announce 5-year reviews that were completed for 32 species in California and Nevada between April 1, 2010, and March 16, 2011.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written information by July 25, 2011.

ADDRESSES: For how and where to send comments or information, see in the full announcement: "VIII., Contacts.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For species-specific information, contact the appropriate person listed under VIII., Contacts.'' For contact information about completed 5-year reviews, see '' IX., Completed 5-Year Reviews.''

Species under review:

Table 1--Summary of Listing Information, 22 Animal Species and 31 Plant Species in California and Nevada
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Common name Scientific name Status Where listed Final listing rule
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ANIMALS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Behren's silverspot butterfly... Speyeria zerene Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 64306; 12/05/
behrensii. 1997
California freshwater shrimp.... Syncaris pacifica. Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 53 FR 43884; 10/31/
1988
California red-legged frog...... Rana draytonii.... Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 61 FR 25813; 05/23/
1996
California tiger salamander Ambystoma Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 69 FR 47212; 08/04/
(Central). californiense. 2004
Conservancy fairy shrimp........ Branchinecta Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 59 FR 48136; 09/19/
conservatio. 1994
Delhi sands flower-loving fly... Rhaphiomidas Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 58 FR 49887; 09/23/
terminatus 1993
abdominalis.
El Segundo blue butterfly....... Euphilotes Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 41 FR 22041; 06/01/
battoides allyni. 1976
Giant garter snake.............. Thamnophis gigas.. Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 58 FR 54053; 10/20/
1993
Kern primrose sphinx moth....... Euproserpinus Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 45 FR 24088; 04/08/
euterpe. 1980
Laguna Mountains skipper........ Pyrgus ruralis Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 2313; 01/16/
lagunae. 1997
Lange's metalmark butterfly..... Apodemia mormo Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 41 FR 22041; 06/01/
langei. 1976
Longhorn fairy shrimp........... Branchinecta Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 59 FR 48136; 09/19/
longiantenna. 1994
Lost River sucker............... Deltistes luxatus. Endangered........ U.S.A. (OR, CA)... 53 FR 27130; 07/18/
1988
Lotis blue butterfly............ Lycaeides Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 41 FR 22041; 06/01/
argyrognomon 1976
lotis.
Morro shoulderband snail........ Helminthoglypta Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 59 FR 64613; 12/15/
walkeriana. 1994
Palos Verdes blue butterfly..... Glaucopsyche Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 45 FR 44939; 07/02/
lygdamus 1980
palosverdesensis.
San Francisco garter snake...... Thamnophis Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 32 FR 4001; 03/11/
sirtalis 1967
tetrataenia.
Shortnose sucker................ Chasmistes Endangered........ U.S.A. (OR, CA)... 53 FR 27130; 07/18/
brevirostris. 1988
Smith's blue butterfly.......... Euphilotes enoptes Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 41 FR 22041; 06/01/
smithi. 1976
Vernal pool fairy shrimp........ Branchinecta Threatened........ U.S.A (CA, OR).... 59 FR 48136; 09/19/
lynchi. 1994
Vernal pool tadpole shrimp...... Lepidurus packardi Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 59 FR 48136; 09/19/
1994
Western snowy plover............ Charadrius Threatened........ U.S.A. (CA, OR, 58 FR 12864; 03/05/
alexandrines WA); Mexico 1993
nivosus. (Baja).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PLANTS
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amargosa niterwort.............. Nitrophila Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA, NV)... 50 FR 20777; 05/20/
mohavensis. 1985
Ash-grey paintbrush............. Castilleja cinerea Threatened........ U.S.A............. 63 FR 49006; 09/14/
1998
Ash Meadows gumplant............ Grindelia fraxino- Threatened........ U.S.A. (CA, NV)... 50 FR 20777; 05/20/
pratensis. 1985
Antioch Dunes evening primrose.. Oenothera Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 43 FR 17910; 04/26/
deltoides 1978
howellii.
Bear Valley sandwort............ Arenaria ursina... Threatened........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 63 FR 49006; 09/14/
1998
Ben Lomond spineflower.......... Chorizanthe Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 59 FR 5499; 02/04/
pungens var. 1994
hartwegiana.
California taraxacum............ Taraxacum Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 63 FR 49006; 09/14/
californicum. 1998
Catalina Island mountain Cercocarpus Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 42692; 08/08/
mahogany. traskiae. 1997
Chinese Camp brodiaea........... Brodiaea pallida.. Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 63 FR 49022; 09/14/
1998
Chorro Creek bog thistle........ Cirsium fontinale Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 59 FR 64613; 12/15/
var. obispoense. 1994
Contra Costa wallflower......... Erysimum capitatum Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 43 FR 17910; 04/26/
angustatum. 1978
Gowen cypress................... Cupressus Threatened........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 63 FR 43100; 08/12/
goveniana ssp. 1998
goveniana.
Hartweg's golden sunburst....... Pseudobahia Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 62 FR 5542; 02/06/
bahiifolia. 1997
Hoffmann's rock-cress........... Arabis hoffmannii. Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 40954; 01/31/
1997
Howell's spineflower............ Chorizanthe Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 57 FR 27848; 06/22/
howellii. 1992
Keck's checkermallow............ Sidalcea keckii... Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 65 FR 7757; 02/16/
2000
Kneeland prairie pennycress..... Thlaspi Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 65 FR 6332; 02/09/
californicum 2000
(Noccaea
fendleri).
Mariposa pussypaws.............. Calyptridium Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 63 FR 49022; 09/14/
pulchellum. 1998
Monterey gilia.................. Gilia tenuiflora Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 57 FR 27848; 06/22/
ssp. arenaria. 1992
Morro manzanita................. Arctostaphylos Threatened........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 59 FR 64613; 12/15/
morroensis. 1994
Orcutt's spineflower............ Chorizanthe Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 61 FR 52370; 10/07/
orcuttiana. 1996
Red Hills vervain............... Verbena Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 63 FR 49006; 09/14/
californica. 1998
San Jacinto Valley crownscale... Atriplex coronata Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 63 FR 54975; 10/13/
var. notatior. 1998
San Joaquin adobe sunburst...... Pseudobahia Threatened........ U.S.A (CA)........ 62 FR 5542; 02/06/
peirsonii. 1997
Santa Barbara Island liveforever Dudleya traskiae.. Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 43 FR 17916; 04/26/
1978
Santa Cruz Island bush-mallow... Malacothamnus Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 40954; 07/31/
fasciculatus var. 1997
nesioticus.
Santa Rosa Island manzanita..... Arctostaphylos Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 40957; 07/31/
confertiflora. 1997
Showy indian clover............. Trifolium amoenum. Endangered........ U.S.A (CA)........ 62 FR 54791; 10/22/
1997
Soft-leaved paintbrush.......... Castilleja mollis. Endangered........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 62 FR 40957; 07/31/
1997
Southern Mountain wild buckwheat Eriogonum kennedyi Threatened........ U.S.A. (CA)....... 63 FR 49006; 09/14/
var. 1998
austromontanum.
Yreka phlox..................... Phlox hirsuta..... Endangered........ U.S.A.(CA)........ 65 FR 5268; 02/03/
2000

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-25/pdf/2011-12861.pdf

Endangered marine mammals permit applications
May 25, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 101
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N110

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species, marine mammals, or both. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits activities with listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that allows such activities. Both laws require that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before June 24, 2011. We must receive requests for marine mammal permit public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section by June 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey--Sirenia Project, Gainesville, FL;
PRT-791721
The applicant requests renewal of the permit to take and import West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) and other Sirenian species for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period. Concurrent with publishing this notice in the Federal Register, we are forwarding copies of the above applications to the Marine Mammal Commission and the Committee of Scientific Advisors for their review.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-25/pdf/2011-13002.pdf

Researchers petition to list koalas as endangered
May 25, 2011 By Kathy Marks

Scientists are calling to list the koala as an endangered species. Although koalas have often thought to be very numerous due to their large range in Eastern Australia, habitat loss, disease, and now climate change are causing the population to decline.

Excerpt from the article:

The decision on whether to list the species as endangered lies with the federal Sustainability Minister, Tony Burke, who is waiting for a report from the parliamentary committee. However, an expert panel has already recommended against the move – the second time it has rejected the call from scientists. At present, the koala is not even classed as vulnerable.

An endangered listing would facilitate conservation work, making it easier to protect remaining habitat and to find funding for research into a chlamydia vaccine. Without better protection, koala experts fear for the species. "They'll just become more and more rare in the wild, found at increasingly low densities, and populations will become unviable," said Dr. McAlpine. "That's what we are concerned about."

One problem faced by scientists is that koalas are still quite numerous in certain areas, which makes it difficult to inject a sense of urgency into the debate. In many of those areas, though, they say, populations are genetically limited and riddled with disease.

Continue reading: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/up-a-gum-tree-are-koalas-slipping-to-extinction-2288575.html

Dakota Zoo prepares for Missouri River flooding
May 26, 2011 By Jenny Michael

The Dakota Zoo in Bismark, ND, has decided to evacuate many of the animals out of the facility and to sandbag as many buildings as possible in order to prepare for the rising floodwaters of the Missouri River. Staff from zoos across North Dakota and South Dakota have been helping to haul away animals to other facilities before the waters rise even more and make driving around the zoo impossible. Big cats were sedated and put in creates to be taken to other zoos. Volunteers are helping to place more than 30,000 sandbags around the zoo’s administration building and the two houses at the zoo.

Full article: http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/local/article_01acbbbc-87c5-11e0-8157-001cc4c03286.html

Draft recovery plan for Mount Graham red squirrel
May 27, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 103
FWS-R2-ES-2011-XXXX

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of our draft recovery plan, first revision, for the Mount Graham Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This species is endemic to upper-elevation forests in the Pinale[ntilde]o Mountains in southeastern Arizona. We request review and comment on our plan from local, State, and Federal agencies, Tribes, and the public. We will also accept any new information on the species' status throughout its range.

DATES: We must receive written comments on or before July 26, 2011. However, we will accept information about any species at any time.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review the draft recovery plan, you may obtain a copy by visiting our Web site at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans. Alternatively, you may contact the Arizona Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021-4951 (602-242-0210, phone). If you wish to comment on the plan, you may submit your comments in writing by any one of the following methods:
U.S. mail: Field Supervisor, at the above address; Hand-delivery: Arizona Ecological Services Office at the above address; Fax: (602) 242-2513; or E-mail: MGRSrecovery@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marit Alanen, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the above address, phone number, or e-mail.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-27/pdf/2011-13044.pdf

Endangered species permit applications
May 27, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 103
FWS-R3-ES-2011-N111

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (Act) prohibits activities with endangered and threatened species unless a Federal permit allows such activity. The Act requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments on or before June 27, 2011 by U.S. mail to the Regional Director, Attn: Lisa Mandell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458; or by electronic mail to permitsR3ES@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Mandell, (612) 713-5343.

Permit Application Number: TE42196A
Applicant: Illinois River Biological Station, Illinois Natural History Survey, Havana, IL.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) pallid sturgeon (Scaphyrinchus albus) throughout Illinois. Activities are proposed for long-term monitoring of fish communities in the large rivers of Illinois and are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE43541A
Applicant: Francesca J. Cuthbert, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release; capture and rear) piping plover (Charadrius melodus) in
Michigan and Wisconsin. The research entails capture and marking of piping plovers, erecting nesting exclosures to improve nesting success, and salvaging orphaned eggs and nestlings to enhance the survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE43545A
Applicant: Shawna R. Kriegshauser, Lewistown, MO.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) within Deer Ridge Conservation Area, Lewis County, Missouri. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE43555A
Applicant: Maria Gabriella Bidart-Bouzat, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (temporarily hold) Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) adults, eggs and larvae to test interactions with wild lupine of varying origins. Specimens will be received in conjunction with permitted reintroduction programs, and all larval specimens surviving to adults will be released to the wild following authorized activities. Research is proposed for the recovery and enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE43605A
Applicant: Daniel R. Cox, Streator, IL.
The applicant requests a permit renewal to take (capture and release) Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) throughout the range of the species. Proposed activities are for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE02365A
Applicant: Lynn W. Robbins, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO.
The applicant requests an amendment to permit number TE02365A to add the Ozark big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens) to the list of species covered and to add the State of Arkansas to the geographic scope of the permit. Proposed activities are for the survival and enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE130900
Applicant: EnviroScience, Inc., Stow, OH.
The applicant requests an amendment to permit number TE130900 to add the states of Arkansas and Tennessee to the geographic scope of the permit and to add the following mussel species to the permit: Arkansia wheeleri, Epioblasma florentina curtisii, Lampsilis powelli, Lampsilis streckeri, Alasmidonta atropupurea, Alasmidonta raveneliana, Dromus dromas, Epioblasma brevidens, Epioblasma capsaeformis, Epioblasma florentina walkeri, Epioblasma othcaloogensis, Epioblasma triquetra, Fusconaia cor, Fusconaia cuneolus, Hamiota altilis, Hemistena lata, Lampsilis virescens, Lemiox rimosus, Lexingtonia dolabelloides, Medionidus acutissimus, Obovaria retusa, Pegias fabula, Pleurobema gibberum, Pleurobema hanleyianum, Pleurobema perovatum, Ptychobrachus greenii, Ptychobrachus subtentum, Quadrula cylindrica strigillata, Quadrula fragosa, Quadrula intermedia, Quadrula sparsa, Toxolasma cylindrellus, Villosa purpurea, and Villosa trabilis. Proposed activities include surveys to document presence or absence of the species for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-27/pdf/2011-13222.pdf

Wildlife threatened by Fukushima radiation
May 27, 2011 By Quirin Schiermeier

Results published in Environmental Science & Technology show that “radiation released by the tsunami-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could have long-lasting consequences for the natural environment in the vicinity of the damaged plant.”

Excerpt from the article:

Scientists estimate that in the first 30 days after the accident on 11 March, trees, birds and forest-dwelling mammals were exposed to daily doses up to 100 times greater – and fish and marine algae to doses several thousand times greater - than are generally considered safe.

Radioecologists with the French Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (ISRN) in Cadarache converted concentrations of radioisotopes measured in the soil and seawater into the actual doses that various groups of wildlife were likely to have received.

Marine organisms were found to have received doses of radiation that “are likely to markedly increase mortality,” while terrestrial organisms are “somewhat better off” but will still have reduced reproductive success. The scientists point out that had the disaster happened in mid-spring, the resulting harm to land species would have been much worse because the plants would have been in the midst of flowering season. More research still needs to be done on the radiation effects on egg hatching and newborn mammals.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110527/full/news.2011.326.html

CITATIONS:

Research shows a visit to a zoo boosts science and environment knowledge
May 27, 2011

Research conducted by the University of Warwick at ZSL London Zoo shows that “a trip to the zoo can boost your child’s science and conservation education more than books or classroom teaching alone.”

From the article (emphasis added):

[M]ore than 3,000 school children aged between seven and 14 were asked about their knowledge of animals, habitat and conservation and then tested again after their trip. The results show that 53% had a positive change in educational or conservation-related knowledge areas, personal concern for endangered species or new empowerment to participate in conservation efforts. The study proves that their trip around the zoo provided a statistically significant increase in scientific learning about animals and habitats. When zoo visits were supplemented by an educational presentation by zoo staff this increase in learning almost doubled against self-guided visits.

The research showed that “children came away with a greater understanding of ideas such as conservation, habitat and extinction,” and they were more likely to use correct scientific terms and place animals in the correct habitat after visiting a zoo.

Full article: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/05/27/research.shows.a.visit.a.zoo.boosts.science.and.environment.knowledge

Potting with peat-free mixes in the Kew Tropical Nursery
May 27, 2011 By Nick Johnson

Kew Gardens in the UK has been “committed to finding alternatives to growing plants in peat based composts” since 1997 to prevent the further destruction of peat bogs. One alternative for large scale horticulture is coir, which is made from shredded coconut fiber and comes from a sustainable source. The Kew Tropical Nursery uses a potting mix called ‘Kew Mix 3,’ which “consists of coir (45%), …well rotted leaf-mould (45%), loam (equal parts sand, silt and clay) (10%), Kieserite (Trace) and a slow release fertiliser.”

To use the coir successfully, Kew uses the “soft-potting method [so that] the coir doesn’t hold too much water and not enough air.” Also, when watering, Kew horticulturalists caution that even if the coir looks dry on top, it could be very moist towards the bottom. To avoid overwatering, “pick up the pots and feel the weight of the compost” to figure out how much moisture is in the coir.

Full blog post: http://www.kew.org/news/kew-blogs/potting-with-coir.htm

World’s ‘most social’ lizard builds multigenerational homes
May 31, 2011 By Karimeh Moukaddem

Researchers have discovered that endangered great desert skinks (Liopholis kintorei) “live together in immediate and social families that invest in the construction of long-lasting homes.” It is the “first lizard in the world known to practice such familial behavior. Multiple generations of skinks live in the burrows, with family members contributing to the building and maintenance of the home. “The burrows are up to thirteen meters in length, have twenty entrances, and contain designated latrines.” DNA results confirm that most of the young lizards living in the same burrows are full siblings.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0531-moukaddem_desert_skink.html

Video of boy racing sea otter at San Diego Zoo goes viral
May 29, 2011 By Jennifer Madison

A video of a toddler racing a spot-necked sea otter at the San Diego Zoo has received over 1 million hits since it went online last week. The 50-second video shows a little boy “running back and forth along the…sea otter tank, side-by-side with his new pal.”

Watch the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9APqLA2YKs&feature=related

DiscoveryNews interviewed Matt Akell, Animal Care Supervisor at the San Diego Zoo, for an explanation of the behavior. That video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-wL7ifs9X8&feature=watch_response

Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1391908/Otter-ly-adorable-Boy-racing-sea-otter-San-Diego-Zoo-internet-sensation.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Rare white kiwi chick born in New Zealand
May 30, 2011

From the Zooborns website:

Earlier this month, the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center in New Zealand welcomed a rare white Kiwi chick. Named Manukura, the 8 ounce chick exhibits a recessive gene, which makes its hair-like feathers appear white instead of the typical brown color. White Kiwis are rare in the wild. Pukaha Center officials think this may be the first white Kiwi ever born in captivity.

Photos and a video of the chick: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/05/rare-white-kiwi-chick-born-in-new-zealand.html

Puerto Rican Harlequin Butterfly precluded from endangered species listing
May 31, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 104
FWS-R4-ES-2010-0026

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly (Atlantea tulita) as endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After reviewing all available scientific and commercial information, we find that the listing of the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly is warranted. Currently, however, listing the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly to our candidate species list. If an emergency situation develops with this species that warrants an emergency listing, we will act immediately to provide additional protection. We will develop a proposed rule to list the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly as our priorities allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. During any interim period, we will address the status of the candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR).

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on May 31, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2010-0026. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, Road 301, Km. 5.1, Boquer[oacute]n, PR 00622. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the above street address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Marelisa Rivera, Assistant Field Supervisor, Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, P.O. Box 491, Boquer[oacute]n, PR 00622; by telephone at (787) 851-7297; or by facsimile at (787) 851-7440.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-31/pdf/2011-13224.pdf

More incidence of chytrid fungus in pristine habitats
May 31, 2011 By Virginia Gewin

Excerpt from the report:

Amphibian populations around the world are facing twin threats: habitat loss and the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. Unfortunately, solving one problem may exacerbate the other — it seems pristine habitats hold the greatest risk of the disease, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that disturbed habitats, such as deforested lowlands, may provide some shelter from chytridiomycosis — but only for those few species that can tolerate habitat loss.

"This is a double threat; most tropical amphibians are specialists that can't tolerate habitat loss, so it's unlikely that they would find refuge in deforested areas," says lead author Guilherme Becker, a PhD student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "It seems that amphibians can't win for losing."

Analysing the distribution of the pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), Becker and his supervisor, ecologist Kelly Zamudio, noticed that the disease appeared to be commonest in pristine forests. Data sets from Costa Rica and Australia confirmed that, when the effects of latitude, elevation, climate and species richness are controlled for, places where habitat has been lost show lower disease occurrence.

Becker and Zamudio suggest that the disease might struggle in disturbed habitats because such places contain fewer host species or a less favourable climate.

Continue reading: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110531/full/news.2011.336.html

CITATIONS:

Revised critical habitat for Riverside fairy shrimp
June 1, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 105
FWS-R8-ES-2011-0013

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise the currently designated critical habitat for the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The current critical habitat consists of 306 acres (124 hectares) of land in four units in Ventura, Orange, and San Diego Counties, California. We now propose to designate approximately 2,984 acres (1,208 hectares) of land in five units in Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, California, which, if finalized as proposed, would result in an increase of approximately 2,678 acres (1,084 hectares) of critical habitat for this species.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on or before August 1, 2011 by one of the following methods: (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2011-0013. (2) U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0013; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS2042; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431-9440; facsimile 760-431-5901.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-01/pdf/2011-12947.pdf

American zoos and aquariums contribute $16.0 billion to economy
June 1, 2011

A study commissioned by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has found that “zoos and aquariums around the country generate significant economic benefits locally, regionally, and nationally.”

Excerpts from the report:

“Annual spending by zoos and aquariums for operations and capital projects generate significant economic benefits for their host jurisdictions. These benefits build from the initial outlays, as they are re-spent across the breadth of the economy.  These benefits accumulate and expand the economy’s total output as measured by their contributions to Gross Domestic Product and respective Gross State Products.  These benefits also generate new personal earnings to the benefit of workers residing in the host jurisdictions and support job growth locally, regionally and nationally.”

The cumulative economic impact of the 212 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in the U.S. as they serve more than 179 million annual visitors is as follows:

See the full report at: http://www.aza.org/uploadedFiles/Press_Room/News_Releases/AZA%20Impacts%202011.pdf

Full press release: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=19490

Discovery of ‘devil-worm,’ deepest-living animal ever found
June 1, 2011 By Dave Mosher

A new nematode species (Halicephalobus mephisto) has been discovered at a depth of 2.2 miles. Previously, nematodes had only been found dozens of feet deep and only microbes were thought to exist so far down. The newly discovered worm is 0.5 millimeters long. According to co-author Tullis Onstott from Princeton University, “That sounds small, but to me it’s like finding a whale in Lake Ontario. These creatures are millions of times bigger than the bacteria they feed on.” The research team found evidence of H. mephisto existing in a South African gold mine for thousands of years. The research team hopes that the new worm “will inspire others to search for complex life in the most extreme places—both on Earth and elsewhere.”

Full post: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/06/110601-deepest-worm-earth-devil-science-animals-life/

CITATION: Borgonie G, et al. 2011. Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa. Nature 474:79-82. doi:10.1038/nature09974

Airborne observatory will map and assess tropical ecosystems
June 1, 2011 By Jeff Tollefson

Excerpt from the article:

On 2 June, [Greg] Asner and his team will unveil the latest version of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), an aircraft that will combine a state-of-the-art optical sensor with a laser capable of mapping forests in unprecedented three-dimensional detail. The system will allow Asner to build on earlier work cataloguing forest carbon stocks in support of efforts to reduce deforestation…and will significantly advance the team's biodiversity research. With the digital catalogue as a reference, Asner hopes that the observatory will be able to perceive the species of many individual trees by their optical properties, while offering insights into forest health and diversity.

…The heart of the CAO's US$8.3-million sensing system — dubbed the Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System (AToMS) — is a spectroscopic imager designed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Capable of registering more than 400 frequencies of light, from ultraviolet to infrared, the instrument will take 60,000 measurements per second, with great accuracy. "This really has taken everything we have learned at NASA and brought it to bear in the most advanced airborne imaging spectrometer ever built," says Rob Green, lead engineer on the project at the JPL.

With data from a single flight that used an earlier version of the system, Asner and his colleagues identified more than 30 species. The latest technology, he says, will be three to six times more sensitive, and should enable the detection of many more plants.

Asner hopes to use the data to map out tropical diversity.

Continue reading: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110601/full/474013a.html

Draft recovery plan for Phyllostegia hispida on Molokai island
June 2, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 106
FWS-R1-ES-2011-N009

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of our draft recovery plan for Phyllostegia hispida under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This draft plan is an addendum to the recovery plan for the Molokai Plant Cluster published in September of 1996. This plant species is endemic to the island of Molokai, Hawaii. We request review and comment on our plan from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public. We will also accept any new information on the species' status throughout its range.

DATES: We must receive written comments on or before August 1, 2011. However, we will accept information about any species at any time.

ADDRESSES: An electronic copy of the draft recovery plan is available at our Web site at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans. Alternatively, copies of the recovery plan are available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850 (phone: 808-792-9400). If you wish to comment on the plan, you may submit your comments in writing by any one of the following methods: U.S. mail: Field Supervisor, at the above address; Hand-delivery: Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office at the above address; or Fax: (808)-792-9580

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Newman, Deputy Field Supervisor, at the above Honolulu address.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-02/pdf/2011-13637.pdf

Giant dam in Amazon approved
June 2, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Brazil has given the go ahead for the construction of the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.

The nation’s environment agency, Ibama, has issued the penultimate license that the Norte Energia consortium building the dam needs, BBC News reports. Building work on the dam can now begin. The project will cost around US$11 billion.

The move comes after three decades of planning and a protracted battle between the government and environmentalists. The government says the dam, capable of producing 11,200 megawatts of electricity, is important for meeting Brazil's growing energy needs. But opponents are concerned that it will damage the tropical rainforest and displace tens of thousands of people.

Continue reading: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/06/giant_dam_in_the_amazon_to_be.html

World Environment Day 2011 – Forests, Nature at Your Service
June 2, 2011 By Andy Soos

World Environment Day 2011 will be hosted by New Delhi, India. This year’s theme is “Forests–Nature at Your Service,” since forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass and play a key role in the world ecology. Up to “36 million acres of natural forest are lost each year.”

Some of the planned events in New Delhi include:
-Biodiversity film festival (for disadvantaged children)
-Reporting Green: UNEP Media Workshop on Journalism and the Environment
-Biodiversity film festival
-Public Dedication of Tree Plantation
-Dialogue with the Business Community on the Green Economy
-Organic and Forest Food Celebrity cook-out
-Green Walkathon

For more information: http://www.unep.org/wed/

Full story: http://www.enn.com/enn_original_news/article/42766

Northern white rhino dies in Czech zoo, seven left worldwide
June 2, 2011 By Raymond Johnston

Nesari, a 39-year-old female northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), died in the Dvůr Králové Zoo in Northern Bohemia. In 2009, the zoo had previously sent four other northern white rhinos to a reserve in Kenya “in the hope that they would breed better in a natural environment.” Nesari had not been sent along with the group because of her advanced age and illness. The zoo has one remaining northern white rhino, a female. The only other two northern white rhinos in the world are at the San Diego Zoo. They have only been bred in captivity successfully at the Czech zoo, with the last calf being born in 2000. The northern white rhinoceros is the world’s rarest large mammal.

Full article: http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/society/white-rhino-dies-czech-zoo-seven-left-worldwide

Missouri Botanical Garden to host Chinese Lantern Festival
June 2, 2011 By Kelsey Volkmann

Excerpt from the article:

The Missouri Botanical Garden announced Thursday that it will host an international exhibition of larger-than-life, Chinese lanterns next year and expects to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the summer-long display.

The exhibition is the first of its kind and size in the United States, offering visitors a unique opportunity to witness a spectacle rarely staged outside of Asia. The outdoor display will run from May 26 through Aug. 19, 2012.

…Starting in April 2012, a team of 35 to 40 artisans from Zigong in the western province of Sichuan, the center of the lantern-making industry in China, will spend two months in residence at the garden to build elaborate, multi-piece sets from silk and steel.

…Montreal hosted a similar exhibit last year, making this only the second time an event like this has been held in North America, [Kitty] Ratcliffe said.

Full article: http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2011/06/02/missouri-botanical-garden-to-host.html

Bison study to use sterilization to prevent spread of brucellosis
June 2, 2011

Over the past decade, around 4,000 bison (Bison bison) have been culled in order to stop the spread of brucellosis to cattle in Montana. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that causes animals to prematurely abort their young. A new government research proposal aims to temporarily sterilize up to 100 Yellowstone National Park bison using a chemical contraceptive called GonaCon, which has been used previously to control deer populations. The contraceptive would be injected into the bison and "...would be effective for one to three years." The researchers would then recapture the bison injected with the contraceptive and breed them to see if the offspring still were infected with brucellosis. The study will take seven years to complete. Bison advocates do not agree with the plan, saying that it would be harmful to the animals' future.

Full article: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_f993ee64-8d91-11e0-9fc1-001cc4c002e0.html

Invasive plants 'can help alleviate poverty'
June 2, 2011 By Barbara Axt

A meta-analysis published last month in Ecology Letters provided evidence that while invasive species "can significantly reduce biodiversity...they can also boost an ecosystem's biomass production" of the area into which they are introduced. Some researchers and policymakers think that this increased biomass may be more vital to the rural poor than preserving an area's biodiversity. According to Craig Leisher from the Nature Conservancy, "For the rural poor who depend on what nature provides, volume matters more than the variety....Increasing the volume of biomass nature produces is crucial for alleviating poverty." Montserrat Vilà, the study's lead author, raises concerns about introducing a new species just to increase biomass, as it will reduce diversity and most likely change the soil properties. She instead promotes "working with native species to improve biomass and biodiversity." "The complementarity between species means that you can increase production because the species are using resources more efficiently," she said.

Full article: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/alien-plants-can-help-alleviate-poverty-.html

CITATION: Vilà M, et al. 2011. Ecological impacts of invasive alien plants: a meta-analysis of their effects on species, communities and ecosystems. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01628.x

Australasia's first ever Galapagos tortoise hatchling
June 3, 2011

From the article:

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has achieved a national breeding success hatching Australasia’s first Galapagos Tortoise (Geochelene nigra) in March this year. The hatchling came out of the egg on March 19 and has been carefully looked after by keepers and veterinary staff.  It now weighs 94.8 grams and is only 8cm long but it’s doing very well. The hatchling is currently housed in a special area behind the scenes which is temperature controlled allowing keepers to ensure optimum conditions for this new arrival.

Photos and full article: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/06/australias-frst-ever-galapagos-turtle-hatchlings.html#more

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to artificially pollinate titan arum
June 3, 2011 By Richard Stone

A titan arum plant (Amorpholphalus titanum), also known as the "corpse flower" for the odor its flowers exude, will be involved in a rare artificial pollination. The pollen was collected from a "celebrity" plant at the Beijing Botanical Garden, which was 2.16 meters (approx. 7 feet) tall and was the first to bloom in China. Stephen Blackmore, Queen's Botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the UK says that titan arum "is one of the very few 'charismatic megaplants' that can rival the charismatic megafauna that command so much attention in relation to conservation and public awareness.... For me, it is the botanic garden equivalent of the giant panda." Titan arum are notoriously difficult to cultivate, so if the garden in Edinburgh is successful, it will join a short list of other successful pollinators.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/chinese-corpse-flower-finds-a-ma.html?ref=hp

Issuance of endangered marine mammals permits
June 3, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 107
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N117

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have issued the following permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species, marine mammals, or both. We issue these permits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

ADDRESSES: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

PERMITS ISSUED:

Permit number / Applicant / Receipt of application Federal Register notice /Permit issuance date
37678A ........................ David Phillips ................................................... 76 FR 20705; April 13, 2011 ........................... May 19, 2011.
37443A. ....................... Metro Richmond Zoo ....................................... 76 FR 18239; April 1, 2011 ............................. May 23, 2011.
31183A ........................ Zoological Society of San Diego ..................... 76 FR 2408; January 13, 2011 ....................... March 10, 2011.
27787A ........................ Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center .. 76 FR 2408; January 13, 2011 ....................... February 15, 2011.
26030A ........................ Drexel University, Dept. of Biology ................. 75 FR 69701; November 15, 2010 ................. February 25, 2011.
22077A ........................ Texas A&M University, Schubot Exotic Bird
Health Center.
75 FR 69701; November 15, 2010 ................. March 29, 2011.
008519 ......................... Zoo Atlanta ...................................................... 75 FR 82409; December 30, 2010 ................. March 11, 2011.
37370A ........................ Samuel Monarch ............................................. 76 FR 18239, April 1, 2011 ............................. May 24, 2011.
36490A ........................ Roger Jones .................................................... 76 FR 18239, April 1, 2011 ............................. May 24, 2011
078744 ......................... Texas A&M University, Dr. Randall Davis ...... 76 FR 2408; January 13, 2011 ....................... May 19, 2011.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-03/pdf/2011-13805.pdf

Endangered species permit applications
June 3, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 107
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N118

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibit activities with listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that allows such activities. The ESA law requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before July 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

Multiple Applicants
The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.
Applicant: James Bibler, Russellville, AR; PRT-43716A.
Applicant: Keith Jefferson, Riverview, FL; PRT-43070A.
Applicant: Larry Hildreth, Tyler, TX; PRT-44242A.
Applicant: Scott McConnell, Poynette, WI; PRT-44162A.
Applicant: Lee Moore, Baker, MT; PRT-43956A.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-03/pdf/2011-13804.pdf

Gardening for the senses
June 4, 2011 By Ellen Zagory

The San Jose Mercury News provides tips on how to create a California-friendly "sustainable garden that entices visitors to use all five senses by choosing appropriate plants for their garden conditions."

Some excerpts from the article:

Touch
·  Use plants with varied forms and textures that invite visitors to reach out and touch.
·  Grow plants that spill onto a pathway so that visitors brush against them as they walk by or easily can reach out to let a silky flower and foliage slide through their fingers.
·  Use plants as walkable ground covers -- not just standard lawn grass, but tough, low-growing plants that can tolerate being walked on.
·  Add plants that produce interesting seed pods or berries, or dramatic textured bark, to invite touching in all seasons.

Taste
·  Plant culinary herbs throughout the garden to encourage your visitors to taste a variety of delicious flavors as they walk by.
·  Add edible plants to the ornamental garden.
·  Many flowers, including those of culinary herbs of mint and sage, are edible and can be sampled in the garden, added to salads, or used to garnish any dish.

Sound
·  Add the sound of trickling water with a fountain or watercourse to create a relaxing ambience.
·  Grow tall clumping grasses and other flexible plants that produce a soothing rustle in the breeze.
·  Add plants that produce interesting seed pods or berries to invite birds to join the feast in your garden.
·  Plant nectar-producing trees and shrubs to attract birds and insects to your garden, then enjoy their songs and humming wings.

Sight
·  Create visual interest by grouping plants with varied form, height, color and texture.
·  Plant tall grasses that will sway gracefully in the breeze.
·  Create a sense of mystery by planning paths that disappear behind tall plantings, to draw visitors farther into the garden.
·  Take advantage of a "borrowed landscape." Plan your plantings to frame and highlight a view or a beautiful tree in your neighbor's yard.
·  Add some outdoor lighting to illuminate your garden at night.
·  Choose plants that attract insects to create a sense of movement in the garden.

Smell
·  Seek out plants not only for the fragrance of their flowers but also for their scented foliage.
·  Plant herbs and other fragrant plants between steppingstones so that visitors brush them and release their fragrance as they pass.
·  Grow perfumed vines and shrubs, and allow airflow to carry the fragrance.
·  Plant roses throughout your garden rather than grouping them together in one location so that their lovely scents surprise visitors repeatedly.
·  Other shrubs add dependable and fabulous fragrances drifting across the ocean of color and form of the garden.

Full article, with advice on which species will work best: http://www.mercurynews.com/home-garden/ci_18176774?nclick_check=1

Turtle Conservancy to breed Ploughshare tortoise
June 5, 2011 By Louis Sahagun

The Turtle Conservancy's Behler Chelonian Center in Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County, Calif. has just received "eight ploughshare tortoises flown in from Hong Kong." The ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) is the rarest tortoise in the world, with fewer than 300 left in their native Madagascar. According to conservationists, "they are heavily targeted by global animal traffickers, and the high-domed creatures fetch tens of thousands of dollars on the Asian black market..." The Turtle Conservancy hopes to breed the females with the only breeding-age male ploughshare tortoise, which will be arriving at the Center from a zoo in Texas.

The Behler Chelonian Center houses more than 250 turtles and tortoises that were originally from a Bronx Zoo collection. They mainly work with animals that have been seized in illegal trafficking or have been bred on-site. The Center is not open to the public, although it is accreditted by the AZA.

Full article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tortoise-20110605,0,7251385.story

World Science Festival events provide hands-on experiences for kids
June 5, 2011 By Thomas Lin

At the World Science Festival held on Governors Island in New York, students got the chance to take part in field experiments to learn about the world around them. At the "Science on Site" event, kids explored a field along with Robert Nazi, a plant systematist with the New York Botanical Garden, to try to identify local plant species. Other activities included the "Delicate Art of Sun Gazing" with Dean Pesnell, a scientist with NASA. Dr. Pesnell said, "We really want the children to see that doing science is fun....We're trying to teach them to be curious about the world around them." The participants also got the chance to participate in the "Great Bug Hunt" with Jay Holmes from the American Museum of Natural History.

The World Science Festival was founded by Brian Greene, a physicist at Columbia, and his wife, Tracy Day. Dr. Greene said he hoped the festival would "spark a passion for science by experiencing it in a completely different way. Not as an act of memorization, not as an act of taking exams, but as a narrative, a story, an adventure, a dramatic attempt to understand ourselves and the world.”

For more on the World Science Festival, go to their website: http://worldsciencefestival.com/

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/science/05wsfkids.html

U.S. federal court to decide if wild horses are native to the U.S.
June 5, 2011 By Scott Sonner

Wild horses used to roam the western United States "about 1.5 million years ago and didn't disappear until as recently at 7,600 years ago." Animal rights groups are using DNA evidence that "shows conclusively that today's horses are genetically linked to those ancient ancestors" to push forward a case in federal court. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management currently "divides livestock grazing allotments based partly on the belief that the horses are no more native to those lands than are the cattle brought to North America centuries ago," and this ruling could affect how they are able to divy up the land. Many ranchers believe that the lawsuite is "part of a ploy to push livestock off public lands," but wild horse advocates maintain that the horses are "an integral part of the environment" and the 33,000 horses that roam BLM land should be allowed to stay there. In the last year, the BLM has removed "9,715 horses and 540 burros from the range" and also houses 41,700 wild horses and burros in short-term corrals and pastures.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/wild-horses-nevada-blm-native-species.html

Madagascar's record of biodiversity: 600 species discovered in a decade
June 6, 2011 By Alok Jha

WWF has published a report that highlights a record 600 species discovered in Madagascar in the last ten years, including "385 plants, 42 invertebrates, 17 fish, 69 amphibians, 61 reptiles and 41 mammals."

From the article:

Eyecatching new species include Berthe's mouse lemur, bottom right above, which is 10cm long and weighs only 30g, making it the smallest known primate. There's also a 4cm-long Komac's golden orb spider that spins webs up to a metre in diameter and the cork bark leaf-tailed gecko, which looks just like the bark of a tree, allowing it to hide effortlessly from predators.

However, WWF also discusses in the report that "such remarkable diversity on Madagascar is fragile, as the country reels from political and economic turmoil in recent years." Mark Wright, an adviser at WWF-UK, says, "[T]he fact that we can go out to these places and find, on a regular basis, new species suggests that we don't know the world half as well as we think. That reinforces our desire to protect it because what we don't want to do is destroy these places before we even recognise it existed there." Conservationists will have to work closely with local governments to find sustainable economic crops, as the expanding human population has put great stress on the rainforests. Among some of the potential economic crops are six new species of coffee.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/06/madagascar-biodiversity-600-species-discovered

CITATION: Thompson C, et al. 2011. Treasure Island: New biodiversity on Madagascar (1999-2010) [Report]. WWF Madagascar and West Indian Ocean Programme Office. 32 p. Available online from http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/wherewework/madagascar/WWFBinaryitem21486.pdf

Congo rainforest summit stops short of commitments
June 6, 2011 By Anjali Nayar

From the article:

Rainforest nations failed to agree on formal commitments last week during the United Nations-backed Summit of the Three Rainforest Basins in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Among the shelved proposals was the creation of a permanent body to coordinate efforts between rainforest regions.

The parties settled for a declaration of goodwill about the biodiversity, climate, economic and social importance of their regions. Observers at the meeting expressed hopes that the joint statement, despite its lack of tangible goals, would help with cooperation between the rainforest nations during the next round of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa later this year. Many also see it as a potential lead-in to a formal agreement between rainforest nations before the 'Rio+20' talks — the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — in 2012.

"Having all these countries on the same page will avoid time wasted arguing with one another during negotiations — especially when it comes to climate negotiations," says Paul Telfer, head of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Congo programme in Brazzaville.

The Amazon Basin in South America, the Congo Basin in central Africa and the Borneo–Mekong Basin in southeast Asia are home to about 80% of the world's rainforests and two-thirds of global terrestrial biodiversity. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, a summit partner, estimates that more than a billion people make their living from the three regions. Deforestation in the three regions has decreased by about a quarter in the last decade, but some 5.4 million hectares — more than twice the area of Massachusetts — are still lost each year, according to a report prepared for the summit by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Continue reading: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110606/full/news.2011.306.html

For more on the Summit of the Three Rainforst Basins: http://www.3bassinsforestiers.org/en/

How do we save the Sumatran rhino?
June 6, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A new paper published in Oryx analyzes the conservation challenge of saving the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) from extinction. Threats to the Sumatran rhinos include poaching, habitat loss, and very low and scattered populations. According to co-author Junaidi Payne of the WWF, "As numbers of individuals of a species decline to a low very level, the various factors associated with very low numbers (e.g. narrow genetic base, locally skewed sex ratio, difficulty in finding a fertile mate, reproductive pathology associated with long non-reproductive periods) conspire to drive numbers even lower, to the extent that death rate eventually exceeds birth rate, even with adequate habitat and zero poaching. Poaching will hasten the extinction of the Sumatran rhino, but is no longer the main driver of its extinction."

Past captive breeding attempts have been unsuccessful, with only one successful breeding in 30 years. The new plan is to bring "fertile males and females into a semi-wild captive facility [which] would increase the likelihood of them mating" and also lessen the poaching risk. There is currently one semi-wild enclosure that is home to five rhinos in Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, and another is being planned in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0606-hance_sumatran_rhino.html

CITATION: Zafir AWA, et al. 2011. Now or never: what will it take to save the Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis from exctinction? Oryx 45:225-233. doi:10.1017/S0030605310000864

Scientists urge Indonesia to stop road construction in Kerinci Seblat National Park
June 6, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Kerinci Seblat National Park in Indonesia is home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and other endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Malayan tapirs (Tapirus indicus) and others. The Indonesian government is currently planning to build four 40-foot wide roads (three 'disaster-evacuation roads' and one economic road) through the national park. The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) is calling for Indonesia to "immediately reject the proposed road network..." and says that "the government should work with local and international scientists 'to identify environmentally sound alternatives for road infrastructure that meet local development aspirations without irreparably damaging the integrity of Kerinci Seblat National Park.'" The park is recognizes as an Important Bird Area, an ASEAN Heritage Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to "over 85 mammals and 370 birds species." The ATBC warns that the planned roads would "have negative impacts on tiger conservation" in the park, one of the few locations in the world where the animals' population is actually on the rise.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0605-hance_kerinci_atbc.html

Fastest nonstop annual migration recorded in great snipes
June 6, 2011 By Ker Than

Scientists have recorded the fastest and longest nonstop flight for a bird. Great snipes (Gallinago media) "...can complete a transcontinental flight across Europe, from Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa, in only two days without resting. The birds traveled roughly 4,200 miles...at an average speed of 60 miles...an hour." In the paper published in Biology Letters, the authors describe the great snipe as a bird that doesn't look like it would be speedy or able to withstand such a long journey. The birds are described as "small and chubby, not aerodynamic", although it is this "ample fat reserves that allow the birds to fly such long distances without stopping. Raymond Klaassen, the study's first author, says, "They almost double their body weight before the flight...[a]nd all this fat will be burned during the flight and they will arrive lean and exhausted in Africa." For comparison, an Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) travels 50,000 miles during its annual migration, but makes many stops along the way, and peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) "can reach speeds of up to 200 miles...an hour but only in short bursts to catch prey."

Full article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/06/110606-fastest-birds-flight-animals-migration-science/

CITATION: Klaassen RHG, Alerstam T, Carlsson P, Fox JW, Lindstrom A. 2011. Great flights by great snipes: long and fast non-stop migration over benign habitats. Biology Letters [published online ahead of print]. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0343

June 6 is National Gardening Exercise Day
June 6, 2011

Garden clubs around the country encouraged people to "substitute the phrase 'yard work' with 'yard exercise'" on June 6, which is National Gardening Exercise Day.

From the article:

The theory is, with a little mindfulness, tending the lawn or garden will no longer be a "chore" but a great way to stay physically fit.

...Jeffrey Restuccio, an author and speaker on the subject of gardening and exercise, offers these pointers to get the most physical benefit out of gardening and to reduce the back strain and muscle soreness:

1) Warm up your muscles before you garden for five to ten minutes.
2) Stretch for five to ten minutes. Stretching will help relieve back strain and muscle soreness and avoid injury.
3) Plan  your gardening exercise session to include a variety of movements such as raking, mowing, weeding, pruning and digging and alternate between them often, perhaps every fifteen minutes. Don't bend from the back as you rake or hoe. If you make just one change, this should be it. Bend from the knees and use your legs, shoulders and arms in a rocking motion. Also alternate your stance between right-handed and left-handed. Alternating stance balances the muscles used.
4) Ideally, you should stretch again after you have thoroughly warmed up your muscles with 15 to 20 minutes of steady raking, hoeing, weeding, planting or mowing.
5) Cool down after your gardening exercise session by walking, picking flowers or vegetables or just enjoying the fruits of your "exercise."

Full blog post: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/features/gardening/2011/06/today_is_national_garden_exerc.html

Polluted S.D. site gets federal funds for cleanup
June 6, 2011 By Mike Lee

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation has received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. EPA to help renovate "a site polluted by pesticides and lead."

From the article:

The grant is part of a $76 million national initiative to clean up the nation's 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites, called brownfields. The program targets under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods where the EPA says environmental restoration and new jobs are most needed.

The Jacobs Center is part of a family foundation dedicated to improving an area of about 90,000 residents in Southeast San Diego referred to as the Diamond Neighborhoods, including Chollas View and Webster. Its project involves removing 12,000 cubic yards of tainted soil from a former industrial site. It's not clear when the project will start because the group still needs to raise about a third of the $25 million overall project cost.

The renovation will also inlcude building green, affordable rental homes for the neighborhood.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jun/06/polluted-site-gets-federal-funds-cleanup/

Study finds new bee viruses, offers baseline to study colony collapse
June 7, 2011

A study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, aimed to discover "what viruses and bacteria exist in a normal colony throughout the year." The study "followed 20 colonies in a commercial beekeeping operation of more than 70,000 hives as they were transported across the country pollinating crops" and took 10 months to conduct. The results found four new viruses that infect bees and revealed that "viruses or bacteria previously linked to colony collapse is present in healthy hives as well." The purpose of the study was to come up with a baseline of healthy bee colonies against which to compare colonies affected by CCD. According to researcher Michelle Flenniken, because the colonies studied "remained healthy despite these pathogens, the research supports the theory that colony collapse may be caused by factors working alone or in combination."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-bee-viruses-baseline-colony-collapse.html

CITATION: Runckel C, Flenniken ML, Engel JC, Ruby JG, Ganem D, et al. 2011. Temporal analysis of the honey bee microbiome reveals four novel viruses and seasonal prevalence of known viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia. PLoS ONE 6(6):e20656. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020656

Livestock grazing not to blame for Yosemite toad decline
June 7, 2011

A new report conducted by researchers at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and the US Forest Service has shown that "livestock grazing is...not the culprit of the steep decline of Yosemite toads (Bufo canorus) and their habitat." Starting in 2001, grazing allotments had been restricted by the USFS since it had been assumed that grazing was contributing to the once abundant toads' decline.

From the article (emphasis added):

The researchers had hypothesized that a reduction in grazing intensity would stop or even reverse the decline of the Yosemite toad but, in fact, they found no evidence to support that premise. “Results strongly indicate that toad presence is driven by meadow wetness rather than cattle utilization,” said Roche, who is completing her doctoral dissertation on this project.

...The Yosemite toad was once one of the most prevalent amphibians in the high Sierra including Yosemite National Park, where it was first discovered and after which it is named. But its population and habitat has declined sharply since the early 1980s, disappearing from much of its historic range — meadows at elevations between 6,500 and 11,500 feet from Alpine to Fresno counties.

The full report can be found at: http://rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu/main/yoto.html

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-livestock-grazing-blame-yosemite-toad.html

Newhall Ranch developers must not harm California condors, feds say
June 7, 2011

The planned development of Newhall Ranch, located just west of Santa Clarita, California, is set to receive a permit "to use 20 million cubic yards of excavated soil to fill in wetlands in areas to be developed over the next 20 or 30 years on the 12,000-acre ranch" from the Army Corps or Engineers. However, this week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an opinion that said "it would not tolerate the harm or killing of an endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) during construction" of the ranch, although it would allow "the developer to capture and relocate done condor over the next 25 years, if necessary."

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/california-condors-newhall-ranch.html

Sequoia Park Zoo receives $2.3 million grant for new exhibit
June 8, 2011 By Thadeus Greenson

From the article:

The Sequoia Park Zoo just got one big step closer to the building of an interactive “Watershed Heroes” exhibit designed to showcase river otters, salmon and bald eagles. The Eureka City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a $2.3 million state grant made possible through 2006's Proposition 84, a $5.4 billion safe drinking water bond act that also set funds aside for nature associated education and research. One of only three Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facilities to be awarded funds, the Sequoia Park Zoo plans on using the grant to build three new exhibits and a classroom. No local matching funds are required for the grant, but the new exhibits will come with an estimated $8,000 annual operational cost, said Public Works Director Bruce Young. ”It is our belief that the additional costs will be offset by additional admissions revenues,” Young told the council.

Continue reading: http://www.times-standard.com/news/ci_18229190

Competition between females leads to infanticide in some primates
June 8, 2011

An unusual behavior has been documented for the first time in the moustached tamarin (Saguinus mystax). While infanticide is sometimes committed in extreme cases in primate communities, it is usually carried out by the males "to eliminate competitors and make females become sexually receptive more quickly." However, in the moustached tamarin, "mothers, which cannot raise their infants without help from male group members, commit infanticide in order to prevent the subsequent death of their offspring if they are stressed and in competition with other females."

The study, which "observed three different groups of moustached tamarins in the Peruvian forest from 1999 to 2008," showed that "75% of infants survive when at least three males are helping, but only 41.7% survive if the group has one or two male helpers." Additionally, "[w]ith regard to competition with other females, 80% of infants die at less than three months of age if there are two gestating females in the group. This figure falls to 20% if there is only one reproductive female." Researchers believe that this unusual behavior might be explained by the unique "cooperative baby care system" displayed by the tamarins, which is very labor and resource intensive for the group.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-competition-females-infanticide-primates.html

CITATION: Culot L, et al. 2011. Reproductive failure, possible maternal infanticide, and cannibalism in wild moustached tamarins, Saguinus mystax. Primates 52(2):179-186.

Endangered species application for enhancement of survival permit
June 8, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 110
FWS-R1-ES-2011-N106

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: In accordance with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), invite the public to comment on applications for permits to conduct enhancement of survival activities with endangered species.

ADDRESSES: Comments can be sent by July 8, 2011 to the Endangered Species Program Manager, Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Grant Canterbury, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the above address or by telephone (503-231-6131) or fax (503-231-6243).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The following applicant has applied for a recovery permit to conduct certain activities with endangered species under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We are soliciting review of and comments on the application by local, State, and Federal agencies, and the public.

Permit No. TE-043638
Applicant: Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The permittee requests a permit amendment to take (collect for captive propagation, collect genetic samples, and reintroduce or
translocate) Oahu tree snails (Achatinella spp.) on Oahu Island, Hawaii, in conjunction with life-history studies for the purpose of enhancing their survival. This permit currently covers more limited take (capture, mark, release, and salvage) of the Oahu tree snails, as well as take of the Hawaiian picture-wing flies (Drosophila aglaia, D. hemipeza, D. montgomeryi, D. obatai, D. substenoptera, and D. tarphytrichia) and Oahu elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis ibidis), and removal and reduction to possession of Chamaescyce herbstii (akoko), Hesperomannia arbuscula (no common name), Hedyotis coriacea (kio'ele), Phyllostegia kaalaensis (no common name), and Schiedea kaalae (no common name), for which notices were originally published in the Federal Register on July 20, 2005 (70 FR 41786), August 6, 2006 (71 FR 47242), November 16, 2007 (72 FR 64665), and June 17, 2008 (73 FR 34312).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-08/pdf/2011-14206.pdf

Endangered species recovery permit applications
June 8, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 110
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N120

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (Act) prohibits activities with endangered and threatened species unless a Federal permit allows such activity. The Act also requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

ADDRESSES: Written data or comments should be submitted by July 8, 2011 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916- 414-6464; fax: 916-414-6486). Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist; see ADDRESSES (telephone: 760-431-9440; fax: 760-431-9624).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The following applicants have applied for scientific research permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We seek review and comment from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public on the following permit requests.

Permit No. TE-38521A
Applicant: Phillip A Poirier, Stockton, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, release, and kill) the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of the species in Sacramento County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-38480A
Applicant: Valentine A. Hemingway, Santa Cruz, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-221411
Applicant: Center for Natural Lands Management, Fallbrook, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the Stephens' kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) in
conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-39142A
Applicant: Stanford University, Stanford, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) and tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) in conjunction with survey activities in San Mateo, Sonoma, Del Norte, and Humboldt Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-39183A
Applicant: Allegra L. Simmons, San Diego, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-39184A
Applicant: Tara M. Cornelisse, Felton, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, handle, collect, transport, hold in captivity, and take biological samples) the Ohlone tiger beetle (Cicindela ohlone) in conjunction with surveys and genetic analysis in Santa Cruz County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-39186A
Applicant: Carlos Alvarado, Sacramento, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-036090
Applicant: Virginia S. Moran, Grass Valley, California.
The applicant requests a permit to remove/reduce to possession the Galium californicum sierra (El Dorado bedstraw), Cordylanthus mollis mollis (soft bird's-beak), Cordylanthus palmatus (Palmate-bracted bird's-beak), Eriogonum apricum var. apricum (lone buckwheat), Limnanthes floccosa californica (Shippee meadowfoam), Oenothera deltoids howellii (Antioch Dunes evening primrose), Pseudobahia bahiifolia (Hartweg's golden sunburst), Orcutttia pilosa (hairy Orcutt grass), Orcuttia viscida (Sacramento Orcutt grass), Tuctoria greenei (Green's awnless Orcutt grass), Tuctoria mucronata (Mucronata Orcutt grass), and Sidalcea keckii (Keck's checker-mallow) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities on Federal lands throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-037806
Applicant: U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) and Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, and Kern Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-39795A
Applicant: Eric L. Scott, Ojai, California.The applicant requests a permit to take (trap, mark, recapture, handle, provide basic medical care, draw blood, and recover carcasses) the Santa Cruz Island fox (Urocyon littoralis santacruzae), Santa Rosa Island fox (Urocyon littoralis santarosae), San Miguel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis), and Santa Catalina Island fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities on Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island, and Santa Catalina Island in Ventura and San Diego Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-082237
Applicant: California Department of Parks and Recreation, San Simeon, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey, capture, measure, relocate, and release) the Morro shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta walkeriana) and take (capture, handle, and release) the Morro Bay kangaroo rat (Dipodomys heermanni morroensis) in conjunction with surveys, habitat enhancement and population monitoring activities in San Luis Obispo County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-132855
Applicant: Carly M. Spahr, Ventura, California.
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (locate and monitor nests) the California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni) in conjunction with population monitoring activities in Santa Barbara County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-068743
Applicant: University of California, Berkley, California.
The applicant requests a permit to remove/reduce to possession from Federal lands the following species: Lasthenia conjugens (Contra Costa goldfields), Arabis mcdonaldiana (McDonald's rock-cress), Calystegia stebbinsii (Stebbins' morning glory), Caulanthus californicus (California jewelflower), Ceanothus roderickii (Pine Hill cenothus), Eremalche kernensis (Kern Mallow), Eriogonum apricum var. apricum (lone buckwheat), Erysimum menziesii ssp. eurekense (Humboldt Bay wallflower), Fremontodendron decumbens (Pine Hill flannelbush), Fritillaria gentneri (Gentner's fritillara), Galium californicum ssp. sierra (El Dorado bedstraw), Gillia tenuiflora ssp. arenaria (sand gilia), Lasthenia conjugens (Contra Costa Goldfields), Layia carnosa (beach layia), Monolopia congdonii (San Joaquin woolly threads), Piperia yadonii (Yadon's rein orchid), and Sidalcea keckii (Kecck's checkerbloom) in conjunction with seed bank collection activities throughout the range of each species in California, except for San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono Counties, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-42950A
Applicant: California Department of Water Resources, Fresno, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with presence/absence surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-012137
Applicant: Department of Army, Fort Hunter Liggett, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey, capture, handle, measure, collect biological samples, and release) the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus) in conjunction with surveys, population monitoring, and disease testing activities along the San Antonio River on Fort Hunter Liggett, Monterey County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-42833A
Applicant: Ian Maunsell, San Diego, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) light-footed clapper rail (Rallus longirostris levipes) and Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-43597A
Applicant: Dana H. McLaughlin, Chula Vista, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey, capture, handle, and release) the Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-43610A
Applicant: Jessica A. Easley, Sacramento, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with presence/absence surveys and population monitoring throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-08/pdf/2011-14219.pdf

Endangered species permits
June 8, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 110
FWS-R6-ES-2011-N112

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We announce our receipt of applications to conduct certain activities pertaining to enhancement of survival of endangered species. The Endangered Species Act requires that we invite public comment on these permit applications.

ADDRESSES: Submit written data or comments by July 8, 2011 to the Assistant Regional Director-Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0486; facsimile 303-236-0027.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact Kris Olsen, by mail (see ADDRESSES) or by telephone at 303-236-4256.

The following applicants have requested issuance of enhancement of survival permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Applicant: Leigh Espy, Bureau of Land Management, Lakewood, Colorado, TE-43044A.
The applicant requests a permit to remove and reduce to possession Penstemon penlandii (Penland beardtongue), Astragalus osterhoutii (Osterhout milk-vetch), Phacelia formosula (North Park phacelia), and Eriogonum pelinophilum (Clay-loving wild-buckwheat) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' ranges for the purpose of enhancing their survival and recovery.

Applicant: Kirk Mammoliti, Roeland Park, Kansas, TE-43046A.
The applicant requests a permit to take Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-08/pdf/2011-14221.pdf

Professor develops mobile app to identify plant species
June 8, 2011 By Beth Kwon

Professor Peter Belhumeur, Director of Columbia's Laboratory for the Study of Visual Appearance, has developed an iPhone app after his son "suggested that his father make an app that identifies plants using visual recognition technology." The resulting app, called LeafSnap, uses much of the same technology that goes into facial recognition software. Initially taking photos from the Smithsonian's library of leaves, Belhumeur and his team "soon realized a viable application would have to be able to recognize leaves in the wild, not just museum speciments." The students assisting the project therefore went into New York's Central Park and photographed samples from each of the park's 145 tree species.

From the article:

A leaf’s shape is its least variable feature and easiest to capture in a photo, so the team focused on characteristics like smooth versus jagged, many-lobed or single-lobed. They then programmed the computer to perform a sort of process of elimination. “The computer basically ranks images by most similar to least similar,” says Neeraj Kumar, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science who manages LeafSnap’s software coding and is in charge of the volunteer leaf identifying team.

LeafSnap also includes 160 tree species in Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park, thereby including most of the native species in the northeast. By using crowd-sourcing, Belhumeur hopes to eventually include species from all over the United States in the app. The app is currently available for iPhone and iPad and will be available for Android devices later on in the year.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-professor-mobile-app-species.html

Scientists explain how diving-bell spider survives under water
June 9, 2011 by Wendy Zukerman

The diving-bell spider (Argyronet aquatica), which "can live underwater with only occasional visits to the surface," was first described over 250 years ago but scientists have only now discovered how it is able to live a mostly underwater life. Roger Seymour from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and colleagues explain that the spider "traps air within a bell-shaped silken web that it constructs underwater and carries around like an aqualung." Seymour says, "The spider's web acts like a gill," and during the study, calculated that "70% of the spider's oxygen supply comes from diffusion through the web." The authors believe that the spider can survive underwater for more than 24 hours.

Full article: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20557-scuba-spider-uses-web-as-gill-to-breathe-underwater.html

CITATION: Seymour RS, Hetz SK. 2011. The diving bell and the spider: the physical gill of Argyroneta aquatic. The Journal of Experimental Biology. doi:10.1242/jeb.056093

Russia and Norway carve up wildlife-rich Arctic sea for fossil fuels
June 9, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The BBC reports that Russia and Norway "have esentially agreed to split the Arctic's Barents Sea in half...for industrial exploitation." One of the most biodiverse regions in the Arctic, the Barents Sea used to be inaccessible but is now easier to access because of melting sea ice.

From the article:

A unique ecological and geographical position has created a haven for wildlife. Barents Sea's "shallow structure, inflow of warm Atlantic water, and nutrient-rich upwelling support enormous concentrations of plankton, rich benthic communities, huge concentrations of migratory seabirds, some of the world’s largest fish stocks as well as a diverse community of sea mammals," reads the WWF report.

The region is home to over 2,500 known deep sea invertebrates and 150 fish species; 40 seabird species breed in the region, while 12 species of whales are found at different times in the area. Seven species of seals, sea lions, and walrus; 5 dolphins species; and polar bears also inhabit the sea north of Norway and Russia.

Conservationists warn that further development and oil exploration in the area will only exacerbate the problems caused by climate change.

To read the BBC article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13686049

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0609-hance_barentssea.html

BBC wildlife survey asks commuters to record sightings
June 9, 2011 By Mark Kinver

From June 6 through June 10, BBC Wildlife Magazine is asking workers "to make a note of the wildlife they encounter during their daily commutes" or on "any other daily journey." In what the magazine describes as "the first nationwide survey of its kind," the magazine hopes to compile data on details of birds and animals people see and also to receive photos from participating citizen scientists. James Fair, the magazine's environment editor, said that people don't have to be wildlife experts to participate.

From the article:

"If someone knows that the bird they have seen is a juvenile, male great spotted woodpecker, then that's great as well," he [James Fair] told BBC News. "But if someone else just sees a woodpecker in a tree next to the pub, that is great too. What we really want is to encourage people who do not usually record or talk about their wildlife sightings."

The magazine is hoping to receive responses from urban and suburban commuters as well, to help shed light on the diversity of wildlife that surrounds people in city areas. BBC Wildlife Magazine hopes to publish the results later on this year.

For more on the Wildlife to Work program, visit their website: http://www.discoverwildlife.com/wildlife-to-work

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13698296

New genetic technique converts skin cells into brain cells
June 9, 2011

A new technique published in PNAS this week describes how skin cells can be reprogrammed into dopamine brain cells. The "unexpectely simple technique" activates genes in the skin cells without passing through the stem cell stage.

From the article:

By reprogramming connective tissue cells, called fibroblasts, directly into nerve cells, a new field has been opened up with the potential to take research on cell transplants to the next level. The discovery represents a fundamental change in the view of the function and capacity of mature cells. By taking mature cells as their starting point instead of stem cells, the Lund researchers also avoid the ethical issues linked to research on embryonic stem cells.

Head of the research group Malin Parmar was surprised at how receptive the fibroblasts were to new instructions. "We didn't really believe this would work, to begin with it was mostly just an interesting experiment to try. However, we soon saw that the cells were surprisingly receptive to instructions."

...Unlike older reprogramming methods, where skin cells are turned into pluripotent stem cells, known as IPS cells, direct reprogramming means that the skin cells do not pass through the stem cell stage when they are converted into nerve cells. Skipping the stem cell stage probably eliminates the risk of tumours forming when the cells are transplanted. Stem cell research has long been hampered by the propensity of certain stem cells to continue to divide and form tumours after being transplanted.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-genetic-technique-skin-cells-brain.html

CITATION: Pfisterer U, et al. 2011. Direct conversion of human fibroblasts to dopaminergic neurons. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1105135108

Biologists use Web 2.0 to save amphibians
June 9, 2011 By Dave Good

Biologists are using the website Global Amphibian Blitz to crowdsource amphibian data-gathering efforts to amphibian enthusiasts around the world. Jeff Lemm, a research coordinator at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, says, "Amphibian decline is a massive problem that people don’t know about. It’s been compared to the dinosaur extinction. It’s that bad in terms of loss of habitat, introduced predators and disease such as chytrid fungus." Lemm has previously worked on a project called the North American Field Herping Association, which also calls on citizen scientists to contribute field information about wild animals. He also points to how important field data is in reptile and amphibian conservation, noting that data showing that Mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) needed to hibernate in order to reproduce was directly responsible for the success of this year's reintroduction of tadpoles back into California streams.

Full article: http://www.sandiego.com/news/biologists-use-the-web-to-save-amphibians

Balboa Park groups regrouping on plaza issue
June 9, 2011 By Roger Showley

Last week, Irwin Jacobs unexpectedly announced "that he was suspending work on his $40 million" remodel of Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama and related improvements.

From the article:

Jacobs, who had committed to raise most of the cost privately, acted after the City Council's rules committee failed to support his plan in concept at its Wednesday's meeting but rather sent it along to the full council without a recommendation. Mayor Jerry Sanders' spokeswoman, Rachel Laing, said the project is in "analysis mode for possible alternatives."

The city plans to keep Jacobs "in the loop" and say that "it will not be easy to retool with a different plan...if Jacobs and his Plaza de Panama Committee do not continue their private financial and management support." Previous planning, drawings, and assessments had already been completed by the Committee and paid for completely by Jacobs himself. Park supporters still hope to have substantial work done on the Park before the centennial celebration in 2015, but admit that it will be harder now.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jun/09/balboa-park-groups-regrouping-plaza-issue/

Cleveland Botanical Garden exhibit features architect-designed birdhouses
June 9, 2011 By Roxanne Washington

A new exhibit called "For the Birds: Architect-Designed Birdhouses" at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens begins on Friday and runs through October 1. The exhibit is a collaboration between the garden and the American Institute of Architects Cleveland, and features about 20 birdhouses.

From the article:

Architect Steve Kordalski has created a house that he describes as "traditional in a contemporary fashion." The structure has a clear Polygal Plastic roof, and two of the four walls are of the same see-through material. The other two walls are cedar. Neatly arranged, decorative silver-colored bolts hold the unusual dwelling together. He calls it "Wren Zen" because it exudes a meditative feeling. The entrance to the house is a neat round hole, and if the occupants-to-be feel like hanging outside on a nice day, there's an exterior protruding branch for that.

Kordalski created his wren house following specifics he found online about how to create a suitable environment for the birds, including the size of the hole and the depth of the structure.

During September, the birdhouses will be auctioned off on eBay with proceeds going to the AIAC and the gardens.

To learn more about the Cleveland Botanical Garden: http://cbgarden.org/

Full article: http://www.cleveland.com/insideout/index.ssf/2011/06/post_56.html

San Diego SeaWorld opens Turtle Reef exhibit
June 9, 2011 By Charlotte Bray

SeaWorld San Diego is opening a new exhibit this summer called Turtle Reef. According to the park, "it will be the largest exhibit in the world dedicated to sea turtles."

From the article:

The goal is to educate guests on the lives of the endangered animals and interactive exhibits that show what happens when they mistake trash for food. Even though human beings do it all the time, the outcome is much worse for the turtles. Turtle Reef boasts a 300,000-gallon aquarium than houses more than 60 sea turtles, some more than 50 years old. In addition, there are thousands of tropical fish and a large underwater window through which to view them.

During SeaWorld's "Summer Nights", the park will be open from 9 am to 10 pm M-F and from 9 am to 11 pm on the weekends.

Full article: http://www.inlandsocal.com/iguide/family/content/news/stories/PE_News_Local_D_seaworld_0610.252b376.html

Friday night pop-up restaurant at Kew Gardens
June 9, 2011

Every Friday night from June to August, guests can experience food at Kew "in a completely new way." Food From Kew head chef Nigel Smith will be working with forager Miles Irving and chef Simon Duff to create a menu featuring ingredients foraged from the Gardens that same day. The dishes will use "the freshest hand-picked ingredients, ranging from wild herbs and edible flowers, to exotic vegetables and English heritage fruits."

Full blog post: http://www.kew.org/news/summer-supper-club-at-the-orangery.htm

Endangered species permits
June 10, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 112
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N122

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment by July 11, 2011 on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits activities with listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that allows such activities. The ESA requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov.

Applicant: Yale University, New Haven, CT; PRT-44690A
The applicant requests a permit to import brain specimens from lar gibbon (Hylobates lar), orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), from the Primate Brain Bank, the Netherlands, for the purpose of scientific research.

Applicant: Michelle Sauther, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; PRT-040035
The applicant requests a renewal of the permit to import biological samples from ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), collected in the wild in Madagascar, for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Duke Lemur Center, Duke University, Durham, NC; PRT-43685A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples from mouse lemur species (Microcebus spp.), collected in the wild in Madagascar, for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, DC; PRT-42315A
The applicant requests a permit to import 1.1, live, captive-born cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus), from South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Robert Janes, Jacksonville, FL; PRT-42758A
The applicant requests a permit to import a sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-10/pdf/2011-14421.pdf

New "Wizard's Garden" in Memphis demonstrates power of plants
June 10, 2011 By Christine Arpe Gang

The Memphic Botanic Garden has a new theme in its children's garden starting this summer. The new "Wizard's Garden" will be an area wher e"children are making potions, waving magic wands, [and] hiding in a willow." The garden features a "castle-like structure with three 'rooms' for hands-on activities where children learn as they play," an area for a daily "potions party, where they make frothy concoctions from all kinds of botanical ingredients," and about 60 different wands with various powers made from the "twigs of several tree species."

The curator of the children's garden, Chris Cosby, featured some of these plants in the new Wizard's Garden:

For more information on the gardens, visit their website at: memphisbotanicgarden.com.

Full article: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/jun/10/magical-plot/

Escaped Mexican gray wolf at Minnesota Zoo shot and killed
June 10, 2011 By Maricella Miranda

A male Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) was shot and killed last week at the Minnesota Zoo after escaping from a holding area. Officials at the zoo think that the wolf may have "slipped through a gap in the holding area's fence before jumping an 8-foot fence in a secondary enclosure" to pursue two new Mexican. The two new wolves were being housed temporarily at the Minnesota Zoo from the flooded Dakota Zoo. Since the wolf was on a public path, the zookeepers were not able to try to tranquilize it. The wolf's secondary enclosure had an 8-foot fence, but the zoo may add a "wire-mesh top" to prevent future escapes. The Mexican gray wolf is one of the most endangered gray wolves in North America, with only 50 in the wild and 300 in captivity.

Full article: http://www.twincities.com/ci_18243720?nclick_check=1

Seized arachnids given to the San Diego Zoo by USFWS
June 10, 2011 By Ken Bohn

Last November, smugglers attempted to illegally ship 79 spiders (mostly tarantulas) into the country. After being confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the spiders were given to the entomology department at the San Diego Zoo, which was able to "quickly provide appropriate housing, food and water" in an off-exhibit area during the smuggling investigation.

From the article:

With the prosecution complete, ownership of the spiders has been officially transferred to the Zoo and staff has begun gathering information on each specimen. This information will be used to provide a listing of any surplus spiders from the confiscation to other zoos and accredited facilities that use them for display and education. The assessment includes measuring the leg span in order to approximate the size of the spider, determining gender, and recording the overall health of the animal.

Continue reading: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5229-Seized_Arachnids_Given_to_the_San_Diego_Zoo_by_the_U.S._Fish_and_Wildlife_Service_%28USFWS%29

Grand opening of SeaWorld Orlando's "Grand Reef at Discovery Cove"
June 10, 2011

SeaWorld Orlando has opened a new attraction called the "Grand Reef at Discovery Cove." The coral reef (man-made) environment is filled with "nearly a million gallons of water with about 10,000 kinds of sea animals." While the tickets are not inexpensive (opening day tickets with additional "experiences" cost $289 a person), the tickets are all-inclusive and include food, alcohol, and admission to SeaWorld, Aquatic or Bush Gardens in Tampa. In the Grand Reef, visitors can snorkel alongside fish and rays.

Full story: http://www.wftv.com/news/28200014/detail.html

Greening graduation: recycled diplomas and plastic-bottle-based gowns
June 10, 2011 By Tiffany Hsu

Colleges and universities are going green this graduation season. In the article, Tiffany Hsu highlights some colleges that are printing programs and diplomas on recycled paper (Pace University and Unity College in Maine), and others that are serving local organic food at dinners (Unity) and decorating with local flowers (New School). Hsu also discusses new sustainable trends in graduation gowns, such as renting out caps and gowns to reduce waste and gowns "made from a fabric combining recycled polyester and plastic" or made from recycled plastic bottles.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/greening-graduation-recycled-diplomas-and-plastic-bottle-based-gowns.html

Clever tool use in parrots and crows
June 10, 2011

Two new studies examined the problem solving abilities and innovative capacities of two bird species – the kea (Nestor notabilis), a New Zealand parrot, and the New Caledonian crow (Corvus monduloides), a representative of the highly intelligent corvids (crows, magpies, jays and ravens). Both of these birds are known for their abilities to solve technical problems with innovative tool use. The first study, published in PLoS ONE, aimed "to compare the efficiency and the flexibility of the two species," and the follow-up study, published in Biology Letters, further investigated the tool-use of kea.

From the article:

[The researchers] confronted six kea and five New Caledonian crows with a Multi Access Box in a transparent plexiglas cube. Each side wall represented another possible solution to achieve the same food reward which was presented on a platform in the center of the box. Alice Auersperg, who is corresponding author to this publication and who conducted the study, explains: "The animals could choose between pulling a string which was tied around the reward, pulling a hook-shaped lever to open a window, inserting a marble (compact tool) into a curved ball-path leading towards the reward or inserting a rod-shaped stick-tool into an opening and maneuver it over a gap towards the food in order to push the reward off its platform."

Gyula Gajdon, who is a co-author from the Department of Cognitive Biology in Vienna, adds: "The animals could choose which solution they wanted to employ first. Once they had established a solution and had used it a certain number of times we blocked the entrance, forcing them to switch to another. This way we could observe not only the differences in the order of solutions that the animals established but also how quickly they were able to switch."

The scientists reported that only "one animal of each species accomplished all four solutions." They hope that these studies will not only help them discover which "problems an animal is capable of mastering," but also to understand the "mechanisms underlying these accomplishments."

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/06/10/clever_tool_use_in_parrots_and_crows.html

CITATIONS:
Auersperg A, et al. 2011. Flexibility in problem solving and tool use of kea and New Caledonian crows in a Multi Access Box paradigm. PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020231

Auersperg A, et al. 2011. Navigating a tool end in a specific direction: stick tool use in kea (Nestor notabilis). Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0388

Saint Louis Zoo celebrates National Pollinator Week June 20 - 26
June 10, 2011

The Saint Louis Zoo is hosting a number of activities during National Pollinator Week (June 20 through 26).

From the article:

During this week, the Monsanto Insectarium will host keeper chats, demonstrations on attracting bees to gardens, beekeeping and more. The Painted Giraffe restaurant will offer daily specials featuring food provided by pollinators.

The Zoois o ffering a special “Pollinator Dinner” on June 23 in The Living World. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with a honey tasting, informational booths and cash bar serving mead. The gourmet dinner buffet includes salads, sides, main courses and desserts prepared with ingredients provided by pollinators, such as almonds, strawberries, lemons, a variety of vegetables, honey, chocolate and more. After dinner, the Zoo’s curator of invertebrates, Ed Spevak, will speak about the past and future of conserving native pollinators.

The Zoo is a participant in bumblebee and pollinator population surveys. They are also developing teacher training programs and workshops on pollinators and pollination ecology in conjunction with the Native Pollinator Conservation Initiative and St. Louis University.

For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org/pollinators .

Full press release: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=19653

Balboa Park and other public gardens in San Diego
June 11, 2011 By Tony Cooper

With summer approaching, you may want to consider visiting one of San Diego's many public gardens. Tony Cooper highlights some of what San Diego has to offer:

For more on operating hours and entrance fees, read the full article: http://www.sandiego.com/things-to-do/balboa-park-and-other-gardens-perfect-for-summer-outings

Fairy Festival at San Diego Botanic Gardens this Saturday
June 12, 2011 By Crystal Carter

This Saturday, the San Diego Botanic Gardens (fromerly Quail Botanical Gardens) will be hosting the 4th annual Fairy Festival. Over 2,500 attendants are expected at the event.

From the article:

Children are encouraged to wear their fairy costumes to partake in activities including creating a fairy house, fairy face-painting, writing messages on the "wishing bush" and shopping in the Fairyland market. Snap Tap-N-Sing, a children's music and movement program, will have fun activities for the fairy folk, including singing and dancing to the whimsical instruments of fairy land. The fairy festival will go from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with loads of fairy crafts (priced at $1 to $5), including making fairy wands, crowns and flower fairies. Fairies will get to take home some fairy trinkets, including fairy bell bracelets, fairy flower cones, flower pots, wood picture frames, fairy treasure boxes, and fairy flower vases. The Fairy Queen will grace the festival and will be taking pictures with the other little fairies (so a camera is suggested) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be an interactive fairy-tale reading to close the gathering from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the Botanic Garden's website: sdbgarden.org

Full article: http://www.nctimes.com/entertainment/attractions/article_15490d89-f73c-5259-8a98-927462f97c36.html

Vietnam plans to build 90 coal plants
June 12, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Excerpt from the article:

Vietnam's government has announced plans to build 90 coal-fired plants over the next 15 years even while being listed as among the top 11 most vulnerable nation's to climate change in the world, according to Eco-Business. Vietnam says the coal plants are necessary because the economically booming nation has undergone frequent energy shortages, recently exacerbated by drought that diminished the output of Vietnam's hydroelectric dams. The government has stated it will put in $83 billion to build the coal plants, which will double Vietnam's energy production by 2020, altogether providing over 100,000 megawatts.

Continue reading: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0612_hance_vietnam_coal.html

Fresno Zoo works to improve nutrition for its animals
June 12, 2011 By Marc Benjamin

While going through accreditation last year, the AZA recommended that the Fresno Chaffee Zoo enhance its nutritional program. So, they are teaming up with nutritionists at the San Diego Zoo "to improve animal nutrition." This will be the first such partnership with the San Diego Zoo in the U.S.

From the article:

[Michael] Schlegel [a nutritionist with the San Diego Zoo] will help guide Chaffee through its hundreds of different meals that meet specific dietary needs. "There is something new every day," he said. "Everything is a research project because a lot of times the answer isn't out there, so we try to find an answer to enhance our understanding and try to share that with our colleagues." Most zoos have veterinarians -- but nutrition is a small part of what is taught in medical school, Schlegel said. He is one of about a dozen full-time nutritionists in U.S. zoos.

His expertise is in demand because animal diets are becoming more specialized -- there is chow for everything from flamingos to monkeys to giraffes and zebras. And animals -- even some from the same species -- sometimes get special diets because their nutritional needs vary. They may be pregnant, lactating, too fat, too skinny, recently born or not fully grown, for instance.

Chaffee will be paying the San Diego Zoo a $10,000 fee for the consultation work, but Schlegel and his team hope to save the Fresno zoo money in the long run by helping them recognize efficiency opportunities in their feeding program.

Full article: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/06/12/2424811/fresno-chaffee-zoo-looks-to-improve.html

The 10 reasons for hope on endangered species
June 12, 2011 By Allison Alberts

The San Diego Zoo is working towards conservation efforts to save endangered species. Allison Alberts, the chief conservation officer at San Diego Zoo Global, discusses how we can study animals and plants in nature to learn how to live more sustainably. She says, "When we begin to see nature as a respected teacher rather than a resource to be consumed, we become that much more motivated to conserve it. Every species holds precious secrets not just to their own survival, but to ours as well, giving us a powerful new reason to commit ourselves to creating a more hopeful future for endangered wildlife around the world."

There can be lots of disheartening news about the environment, but Alberts highlights 10 reasons for hope (excerpt from the article):

• At the San Diego Zoo Global, we are working with our partner Elephants Without Borders on a promising experiment in which local farmers use chili paste to deter elephants from raiding crops, resulting in reduced human-elephant conflict.
• In the Peruvian Amazon, we have partnered with the indigenous Maijuna people on an innovative program to distribute climbing harnesses in local communities as a sustainable alternative to cutting down threatened aguaje palm trees.
• In collaboration with wildlife agencies, we successfully reintroduced the first mountain yellow-legged frogs into a high elevation forest stream from which they had been extinct for more than 40 years.
• Andean condor chicks hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have now matured and begun to raise their own offspring in the mountains of Colombia, making an important contribution to the steadily growing wild population.
• In partnership with the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, we founded a new population of Rimatara lorikeets that has grown to over 100 birds, including youngsters who found their own way to a nearby island to establish a third population in the wild.
• Although the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey numbers fewer than 150 animals, its population is growing and our scientists have observed births in several family groups in the limestone forest of northern Vietnam.
• Together with our partners at the British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust, we successfully repatriated the 125th head-started Anegada iguana to the wild, increasing the size of the population by more than 30 percent.
• The Peruvian government announced the creation of the Archaeological and Ecological Park of Batán Grande to conserve 112,379 acres of dry tropical forest, linking two smaller protected areas that would otherwise be isolated and conserving habitat for a wide variety of species, including the Andean bear.
• Public participation in local conservation efforts is expanding rapidly, including new opportunities in the natural areas surrounding the Safari Park, a new on-site wetlands demonstration area, and a Native Biodiversity Outdoor Learning Center where visitors can explore efforts to save pocket mice, condors, kangaroo rats, cactus wrens and burrowing owls.
• Scientific advances in biotechnology and stem cell research are providing a new kind of hope for endangered species, including the development of stem cell technologies for drills and rhinos by our colleagues at Scripps Research Institute, which hold great promise for treating disease and reducing the risk of extinction in critically small populations.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jun/12/10-reasons-for-hope-on-endangered-species/

"Promiscuity gene" in zebra finches passed down to offspring
June 13, 2011 By Sarah C. P. Williams

Excerpt from the article:

Some birds chirp to show happiness, but when a male zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) sings to a female finch he's never met before, he's looking to have an affair. If she sings back, she's probably willing to have one, too. But affairs make more sense for males than for females; when males mate outside of their typical monogamous coupling, they spread their genes far and wide, but adulterous females don't spread their genes any further than they would otherwise and additional fathers do not help raise offspring. So why do females do it? A new analysis of courtships from thousands of encounters between finches, as well as genetic analyses of paternity, reveals that the female offspring of more promiscuous males are more likely to mate with multiple males themselves. The reason, researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may be that some males harbor a "promiscuity gene" that they pass down to their offspring, both male and female.

Full post: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/scienceshot-what-makes-a-finch.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Forstmeier W, et al. 2011. Female extrapair mating behavior can evolve via indirect selection on males. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1103195108

Taxnomic Name Resolution Service catches incorrect species names
June 13, 2011 By John Whitfield

Last year, Brian Enquist (a plant ecologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson) was working with collaborators to analyze a "data set of 22.5 million records on the distribution and traits of plants in the Americas." However, this task soon proved to be close to impossible because the data set "contained 611,728 names: [almost] twice as many as there are thought to be plant species on Earth." The problem was that many of the names were spelled incorrectly and was compounded by the fact that different names were used for the same plant. So, Enquist and his team came up with the Taxonomic Names Resolution Service, a free online tool which "aims to find and fix the incorrect plant names that plague scientists' records." when Enquist ran his original data set through the TNRS, about two-thirds were corrected, leaving only 202,252 names in the set.

Try the Taxonomic Name Resolution Service

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110613/full/474263a.html

Germany backs out of Yasuni deal
June 13, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Excerpt from the article:

Germany has backed out of a pledge to commit $50 million a year to Ecuador's Yasuni ITT Initiative, reports Science Insider. The move by Germany potentially upsets an innovative program hailed by environmentalists and scientists alike. This one-of-a-kind initiative would protect a 200,000 hectare bloc in Yasuni National Park from oil drilling in return for a trust fund of $3.6 billion, or about half the market value of the nearly billion barrels of oil lying underneath the area. The plan is meant to mitigate climate change, protect biodiversity, and safeguard the rights of indigenous people.

The ITT block makes up a fifth of the Yasuni National Park, which is "considered a top contender for the most biodiverse place on Earth." The government in Ecuador is now saying that without adequate funding for the Initiative, they may have to open up the forest to oil companies. No reason has been given by Germany for withdrawing funding for the project.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0613-hance_yasuni_germany.html

Bangladesh plans special force to protect tigers
June 13, 2011 By Ethirajan Anbarasan

Earlier this year, the Bangladesh governement "seized three tiger skins and a large quantity of bones, the biggest haul of illegal tiger parts in decades." In response to this, they are setting up a 300-member special force which will patrol the Sundarbans mangrove forests etween Bangladesh and India. The forests are home to 400 endangered Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris). The government hopes that this new force, which will receive a loan of $36 million from the Wildlife Crime Control unit at the World Bank, will help the forest department to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated techniques of illegal poachers.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13745698

Tree-frog biodiversity linked to long-established forests
June 13, 2011

A new study that examines species diversity in tree frogs in the Amazon may have implications for vulnerable habitats. Scientists have long wondered why certain areas have greater species richness, and many had hypothesized that the "biodiversity of tropical rainforest was due to their hot wet conditions." However, by performing DNA analysis on 360 different tree-frog species, it is more likely the case that areas with the highest biodiversity were established over 60 million years ago, with less diverse sites having been colonised by tree frogs more recently. Dr. John Wiens from Stony Brook University explains that, "As more of the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed and more species are driven to extinction by human activities, the loss of species richness during our lifetimes may actually take tens of millions of to recover from."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13630240

CITATION: Wiens JJ, Pyron RA, Moen DS. 2011. Phylogenetic origins of local-scale diversity patterns and the causes of Amazonian megadiversity. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01625.x

L.A. adds milk, juice, soup cartons to curbside recycling programs
June 13, 2011 By Susan Carpenter

Los Angeles has joined the group of 200 other California cities that provides a carton recycling program, allowing residents to recycle "milk, juice, soup and wine cartons." The city hopes that this will "divert as much as 430 tons of waste from landfills." L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says, "This is a big deal in the sense that we’ll be the largest city in the state that has a carton recycling program....It solidifies our position as the No. 1 recycling city in the nation."

From the article:

The cartons that can now be recycled curbside in L.A. are typically used for milk, juice, soup, broth, soy and other nut milks and wine. There are two types of cartons. One is made from paperboard coated with plastic and is usually used for chilled drinks such as milk or juice. The other is made from paperboard, plastic and foil, and is used to keep liquid foods (such as soup) and beverages (including soy mik) stable without refrigeration.

Carton recycling takes place at paper mills, which sepraate the paper pulp from the plastic and foil. The paper pulp is typically used for products such as bathroom tissue. The leftover plastics and foil are often used to generate electricity or turned into extruded plastic products, such as lumber.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/la-carton-recycling.html

Scientists find chytridiomycosis in the last disease-free region of Central America
June 13, 2011

Scientists have found chytridiomycosis in 2 percent of frogs tested in the Darien National Park in Panama, one of the last areas "in the entire mountainous neotropics to be free of the disease."

Excerpt from the article:

"We would like to save all of the species in the Darien, but there isn't time to do that now," said Brian Gratwicke, biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and international coordinator for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. "Our project is one of a few to take an active stance against the probable extinction of these species. We have already succeeded in breeding three species in captivity. Time may be running out, but we are looking for more resources to take advantage of the time that remains."

The Darien National Park is a World Heritage site and represents one of Central America's largest remaining wilderness areas. In 2007, Doug Woodhams, a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, tested 49 frogs at a site bordering the Darien. At that time, none tested positive for the disease. In January 2010, however, Woodhams found that 2 percent of the 93 frogs he tested were infected.

"Finding chytridiomycosis on frogs at a site bordering the Darien happened much sooner than anyone predicted," Woodhams said. "The unrelenting and extremely fast-paced spread of this fungus is alarming."

Scientists at the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project and the Smithsonian National Zoo are working to establish assurance colonies of frogs from the region, but are striving to quickly increase their breeding capacity while finding a cure for the chytrid fungus.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-scientists-deadly-amphibian-disease-disease-free.html

Plovers tracked across the Pacific
June 13, 2011 By Tom Marshall

Scientists at Montana State University, Brigam Young University in Hawaii, and the British Antarctic Survey have monitored Pacific golden plovers (Pluvialis fulva) for the first time on their annual migration from Hawaii to Alaska and back again. By attaching small geolocators to the birds' legs, they were able to log the data from 6 months of the birds' activity. They discovered that the plovers may be stopping off in Japan before landing in Alaska, and that they average 63 km/hr (a little over 39 mph) and travel almost 4,800 km (almost 3,000 mi) in three days. With the wind behind them, certain birds were able to reach speeds of 167-185 km/hr (130-115 mph). The Pacific golden plovers are an ideal species for migration studies, since they almost always return to the same wintering territories each year, making it very easy to locate particular individuals.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-plovers-tracked-pacific.html

CITATION: Johnson OW, et al. 2011. Tracking the migrations of Pacific golden-plovers (Pluvialis fulva) between Hawaii and Alaska: new insight on flight performance, breeding ground destinations, and nesting from birds carrying light level geolocators. Wader Study Group Bulletin 118(1).

2011 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce released
June 13, 2011 By Ashlie Rodriguez

The Environmental Working Group has released the "2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce." Apples were found to have pesticides present in 98% of the 700 samples tested by the USDA, making it the "dirtiest" fruit on the list.

From the article:

The guide was the seventh annual report by the nonprofit organization, which compares pesticide loads on 53 fruits and vegetables. It lists the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels, and also publishes a “clean 15” list of the least affected produce. After apples, the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides were celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens.

Fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide levels include onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocados and asparagus.

The group hopes that the list will help shoppers in lowering the amount of pesticides that they are exposed to through their diet.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/pesticides-fruit-vegetables-ewg-guide.html

Glasgow University microchip 'speeds up DNA analysis'
June 13, 2011 By Eleanor Bradford

A team from Glasgow University's department of electronics has developed a microchip that dramatically speeds up the amount of time it takes to perform DNA sequencing. While DNA analysis can currently take up to two weeks to perform, the new microchip can "analyze DNA in just hours."

From the article:

Professor Cumming [from Glasgow University] said speeding up DNA analysis could help treat bacterial infections in future.

It was used to identify the rare strain of E. coli that infected more than 3,000 people in Germany - the first time "genomics" have been used to identify the characteristics of a bug during an outbreak.

"If someone presents themselves with a particular kind of bacterial infection, you can find the DNA sequence of the bacteria and then you could choose an antibiotic which was particularly targeted to that kind of bacteria, rather than just giving a broad spectrum antibiotic, " he said.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-13756119

Chicago Botanic Garden and Kraft Food partner to create Kraft Foods Garden
June 13, 2011

Excerpts from the article:

Kraft Foods, in collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Garden, today announced a partnership to build and maintain a three-season, sustainably-grown vegetable garden at Kraft Foods headquarters in Northfield, IL. The 8,000-square-foot garden is expected to yield 14,000 pounds of food, equivalent to 28,000 meals. All food will be donated to local agencies, including soup kitchens and food pantries in the networks of Great Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank and to Woman, Infant and Children (WIC) centers in Cook and Lake Counties, part of Kraft Foods mission to fight hunger locally, regionally and globally.

...This is the first initiative undertaken by Kraft Foods at corporate campus and first corporate garden designed by Chicago Botanic Garden.

Full press release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/6/prweb8558412.htm

TV DVR units cost consumers billions in electricity
June 14, 2011 By Tiffany Hsu

A new report has found that "DVR set-top boxes...suck out the same amount of energy annually as is produced by nine coal-burning power plants." There are approximately 160 million of these sets in the US, and they "eat up 27 terawatt-hours of electricity a year and cost consumers about $3 billion." Even when the boxes aren't on or recording, they consume almost the same amount of power. While low-powered DVR sets are available in Europe, this technology is not yet available in US boxes. The report recommends American "consumers look into alternatives rated Energy Star 4.0 or higher."

Full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/tv-dvr-units-waste-2-billion-in-electricity-each-year-nrdc.html

CITATION: National Resources Defence Council. 2011. Better viewing, lower energy bills, and less pollution: improving the efficiency of television set-top boxes [report]. 6 p. Retrieved 2011 June 17 from http://www.nrdc.org/energy/files/settopboxes.pdf

NASA picture of largest fire in Arizona history
June 14, 2011

From the article:

NASA released a satellite image of the Wallow Fire that has become the largest fire in Arizona history. This image, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite, shows the fire at 1:25 p.m. local time on June 8, 2011, when the fire had burned 608 square miles, mostly in the Apache National Forest. According to the Forest Service, more than 730 square miles has now gone up in smoke. The first is presently 18 percent contained.

Maps and full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0614-nasa_fires.html

Volcano CO2 emissions no match for human activity
June 14, 2011 By Sid Perkins

Excerpt from the article:

[A new report reveals that in] a mere 2 to 5 days, smokestacks, tailpipes, and other human sources of CO2 spew a year's worth of volcanic emissions of that greenhouse gas. According to the paper, five recent studies suggest that volcanoes worldwide (such as Alaska's Shishaldin, shown) emit, on average, between 130 million and 440 million metric tons of CO2 each year. But in 2010, anthropogenic emissions of the planet-warming gas were estimated to be a whopping 35 billion metric tons. Individual events—such as Mount Pinatubo, whose major eruption in 1991 lasted about 9 hours—can produce CO 2 at the same rate that humans do, but they do so only for short periods of time. It would take more than 700 Mount Pinatubo-sized eruptions over the course of a year to emit as much carbon dioxide as people do, the study notes.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/scienceshot-volcano-co2-emission.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Gerlach T. 2011. Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Eos 92(24):201-208. Retrieved online from: http://www.agu.org/pubs/pdf/2011EO240001.pdf

Notice for CITES species proposals
June 14, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 114
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N068; 96300-1671-0000 FY11-R4

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We invite you to provide us with information and recommendations on animal and plant species that should be considered as candidates for U.S. proposals to amend Appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES or the Convention) at the upcoming sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16). Such amendments may concern the addition of species to Appendix I or II, the transfer of species from one Appendix to another, or the removal of species from Appendix II.

ADDRESSES: Send correspondence by August 15, 2011 pertaining to species proposals to the Division of Scientific Authority; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive; Room 110; Arlington, VA 22203; or via e-mail to: CoP16species@fws.gov. Comments and materials we receive pertaining to species proposals will be available for public inspection, by appointment, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Division of Scientific Authority.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rosemarie Gnam, Chief, Division of Scientific Authority; phone 703-358-1708; fax 703-358-2276; e-mail: scientificauthority@fws.gov.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-14/pdf/2011-14605.pdf

Baby vampire bats at the Philadelphia Zoo
June 14, 2011

The Philadelphia Zoo has welcomed the birth of two baby vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) this spring. The bats are still nursing, although nursing typically only lasts for three months. After the bats have been weaned, the zoo will feed them bovine blood and vitamins. In the wild, the bats are found in Mexico, Central America and South America. The common vampire bat is the only bat species which is "capable of walking, running, hopping and climbing on the ground" (from the Philadelphia Zoo website).

Philadelphia Zoo vampire bat factsheet: http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/zoo/Meet-Our-Animals/Mammals/Other-Mammals/Vampire-Bat.htm

Full article and photos: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/06/i-vant-them-baby-vampire-bats.html

New bee species has world's longest tongue
June 14, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Researchers have discovered a new bee (Euglossa natesi) in the Columbian rainforest, which they say "has the longest tongue of any known bee, and may even have the world's longest tongue compared to body size of any animal: twice the size of the bee itself."

From the article:

"This insect is unusual, because it has the largest tongue found thus far and measures two times the size of its body," Rudolfo Ospina, the director of the biology department at Colombia's National University, said in a press release. The bee's tongue, which is kept curled up in its mouth when not extended, measures 33.76 millimeters (1.32 inches), about the length of a paperclip. A member of Euglossa bees, the new species uses its incredibly long tongue to feed on a variety of orchids. While all Euglossa bees—known for their bright colors—have long tongues, none beats Euglossa natesi.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0614-hance_bee_tongue.html

New microscope allows scientists to view molecules in real time
June 14, 2011

A physicist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has designed a new microscope that "is beginning to uncover secrets such as how enzymes regulate various cell functions." Jennifer Ross' impetus for building such a microscope came from her research, which required a better view of microtubule function. Microtubules "are strong, hollow tubes about 25 nanometers in diameter that form bundles to provide structure to a vast variety of cells from plants to humans," such as in plant cellulose and human nerve axons.

From the article:

Jennifer Ross built a microscope she calls Single Molecule TIRF, for total internal reflection fluorescence, that is much brighter than commercially available instruments and has the remarkable ability to see and photograph single molecules in real time.

...Ross and colleagues are already moving on to next steps, building an even more powerful new microscope with more capabilities using National Science Foundation funding. They will be turning their attention next to a relatively unknown enzyme called fidgetin, named after a mouse strain with a tremor that twitches its head back and forth rather than the usual up and down. The animals, first noted in the 1940s, suffer from a mutation in fidgetin production causing this unusual tremor.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-microscope-cell-mysteries-molecular.html

International Knockout Mouse Consortium creating library of mouse stem-cell lines
June 15, 2011 By Elie Dolgin

A "[global] effort to disable every mouse gene [is nearing] completion." The International Knockout Mouse Consortium (IKMC) was launched in 2006 and "aims to disable each of the 20,000-odd genes in the mouse genome and make the resulting cell lines available to the scientific community." So far, the effort has cost more than $100 million and is expected to be completed within the next three years.

From the article:

"This resource will be of enormous benefit, not just to the mouse genetic community but to every scientist, every company looking at mammalian physiology, and of course everyone who wants to design better drugs and better health care," says Steve Brown, director of the Mammalian Genetics Unit at MRC Harwell, UK. "It is one of the most significant biological resources in the past century of science, and I don't think I'm overstating the case here."

Previously, researchers typically spent years engineering mice to lack specific genes so that they could model human diseases involving those genes. This process was slow, laborious and piecemeal. And even after all that effort, there was often no easy way to share the animals with other researchers. So the International Knockout Mouse Consortium (IKMC) set out to create a library of mouse embryonic stem-cell lines representing every possible gene knockout, and then to distribute the cells to researchers for further study.

So far, around 17,000 genes have been knocked out leaving about 3,000 to go.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110615/full/474262a.html

CITATION: Skarnes WC, et al. 2011. A conditional knockout resource for the genome-wide study of mouse gene function. Nature 747(7351):337-342. doi:10.1038/nature10163

Entomologists launch the 5,000 Insect Genome Project (i5k)
June 15, 2011

A group of researchers has launched the i5k Initiative, also known as the 5,000 Insect Genome Project.

From the article:

The Initiative aims to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insects and other arthropods over the next five years in order to "improve our lives by contributing to a better understanding of insect biology and transforming our ability to manage arthropods that threaten our health, food supply, and economic security."

"We hope that generating this data will lead to better models for insecticide resistance, better models for developing new pesticides, better models for understanding transmission of disease, or for control of agricultural pests," said Daniel Lawson, a coordinator at the European Bioinformatics Institute. "Moving into the genetics era revolutionizes what you can do, what you can try to assay in your species, what you can infer from your experiments."

The founders also invite entomologists from "around the world to sign up and to create wiki pages at http://arthropodgenomes.org/wiki/i5K in order to recommend which insect genomes should be sequenced in the future, report which insect genomes are already being sequenced, and to start conversations with other scientists who are working on similar projects."

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/06/15/entomologists_launch_the_5000_insect_genome_project_i5k.html

CITATION: Robinson GE, et al. 2011. Creating a buzz about insect genomes [Letter]. Science 331(6023):1386. doi:10.1126/science.331.6023.1386

New study on links between poverty and forests
June 15, 2011 By Natasha Gilbert

A new study conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has collected the largest amount of data to date on the links between forests and poverty. It concludes that "income from forests has been largely 'undervalued', particularly in assessments of poverty and income," and that more than one-fifth of the income of people living in developing countries comes from forests. The study "also overturns some existing assumptions, showing, for example, that forests provide vital income to whole communities, not just the poorest, and that richer households are most likely to contribute to deforestation." Researchers hope that this study will help to inform conservationists and those working with the rural poor in developing nations.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110615/full/news.2011.371.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110621

Genetic analysis finds direct relative to extinct Vegas Valley leopard frog
June 15, 2011

The Vegas Valley leopard frog (Rana fisheri) is "the only North American frog officially considered to have gone extinct in recent history (c. 1942)." However, by extracting DNA from Vegas Valley leopard frogs collected in 1913 and housed at the California Academy of Sciences, scientists were then able to compare the DNA to data in GenBank. (GenBank is "a database that contains DNA sequence data for a myriad of organisms, including 62 other species of frogs from North America.) The researchers then discovered that the Vegas Valley leopard frogs were genetically "virtually identical" to the Threatened Chiricahua leopard frog (Rana chiricahuensis) which is native to central Arizona.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-life-extinct-species-ancient-dna.html

CITATION: Hekkala ER, et al. 2011. Resurrecting an extinct species: archival DNA, taxonomy, and conservation of the Vegas Valley leopard frog. Conservation Genetics. doi:10.1007/s10592-011-0229-6

New species of deep-sea worms named in Birch Aquarium contest
June 15, 2011 By Jessica Crawford

Last week saw the conclusion of Birch Aquarium at Scripps' Name a Species Contest, with the winners announced on June 8 on World Oceans Day.

From the article:

Laura McIntyre, 19, from San Diego, will name the deep-sea worm belonging to the genus Vrijenhoekia. McIntyre submitted the species name ketea, the Latin word for “sea monsters.” A first-grade classroom at The Children’s School in La Jolla was selected to name the second worm belonging to the genus Podarkeopsis. Students submitted the species name falenothiras, the Greek word for “whale hunter.”

...Traditionally, the person who first describes a newfound plant or animal is entitled to name it, but Scripps invited the public to share in the process. In May, more than 165 species names were submitted for the two worms. Names were received from 22 states as well as from Greece and Taiwan. Participants were asked to follow proper naming conventions as detailed in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, as well as provide a description of how they came up with their suggestion.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-species-deep-sea-worms-contest.html

'SpongeBob' mushroom discovered in the forests of Borneo
June 15, 2011

Scientists have discovered a second member of the Songiforma genus in the forests of Borneo. Named Spongiforma squarepantsii after the popular Sponge Bob Squarepants cartoon character, the mushroom is bright orange and smells "vaguely fruity or strongly musty." When viewed under a scanning electron microscope, "the spore-producing area of the fungus looks like a seafloor carpeted in tube sponges."

From the article:

Desjardin said Spongiforma are related to a group of mushrooms that includes the tasty porcini. But the genus sports an unusual look that is far from the expected cap and stem style.

"It's just like a sponge with these big hollow holes," he explained. "When it's wet and moist and fresh, you can wring water out of it and it will spring back to its original size. Most mushrooms don't do that."

...In its humid home, Spongiforma has taken a different approach to keeping its spores wet. "It's become gelatinous or rubbery," Desjardin said. "Its adaptation is to revive very quickly if it dries out, by absorbing very small amounts of moisture from the air."

S. squarepantsii is now one of the five percent of fungi which have been named in the world by scientists.

Full article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/sfsu-md061511.php

CITATION: Desjardin DE, Peay KB, Bruns TD. 2011. Spongiforma squarepantsii, a new species of gasteroid bolete from Borneo. Mycologia:10-433v1-10433. Retrieved online from:

Dump at the Pump Day promotes taking public transit
June 15, 2011 By Robert J. Hawkins

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System held its sixth annual Dump the Pump Day at the San Diego Zoo this Thursday. Organizers compared the amount of carbon dioxide that a typical vehicle produces in a single year (about 12,000 pounds) to the size of Ranchapour, one of the Zoo's male elephants. MTS is hoping that by showing people how much carbon dioxide they produce will help to increase the amount of people who use public transportation in their daily commute. Megan Owen, a researcher at the zoo, pointed out that climate change is a serious challenge, saying, “In 1996, when the Zoo opened the Polar Bear Plunge, few had heard of climate change....Now polar bears are on the brink of extinction.” Supervisor Ron Roberts and the MTS are hoping that Dump the Pump Day will allow San Diegans to lessen their carbon footprints and help slow the effects of climate change.

For more on Dump the Pump Day: http://www.sdmts.com/marketing/dumpthepump.asp

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jun/15/dump-pump-day-promotes-taking-transit-day/

Wild Equity Institute files suit against government for not protecting Franciscan manzanita
June 15, 2011 By Peter Fimrite

The Wild Equity Institute has filed a suit against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for failing to protect the Franciscan manzanita plant (Arctostaphylos franciscana), which was discovered in 2009 in the wild for the first time since 1947.

From the article:

The lawsuit...claims Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service neglected to list the Franciscan manzanita under the Endangered Species Act even though two years have passed since the last wild specimen left in the world was discovered.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to use our most powerful recovery tool, the Endangered Species Act, to protect and restore the Franciscan manzanita," said Brent Plater, executive director of the institute. "The Franciscan manzanita simply cannot afford further delay."

The lawsuit was filed, Plater said, because the proposed listing did not appear on the department's work plan for the next fiscal year.

The plant was moved from the original location where it was discovered to a safer location within the Presidio in San Francisco.

Full article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/14/BADO1JTQ1D.DTL

Native plants seed harvest in Southern California
June 16, 2011 By Janet Zimmerman

Botanists are working in Southern California to collect native plant seeds "to restore public lands destroyed by wildfires and replace endangered species' habitat lost to commercial solar development." The Seeds of Success program, which is "part of a preservation effort ordered by Congress in response to an increasing number of catastrophic fires," also aims to protect native species that are threatened by "invasive plants, climate change, urban development and off-highway vehicle use."

From the article:

Botanists and volunteers from BLM offices, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont and the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research are tasked with finding and collecting 10,000 seeds from each of thousands of native plant species throughout the region.

...Part of each seed lot is stored at the U.S. National Seed Bank as an insurance policy against future threats such as climate change , and some go to native plant researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture . The trove also is shared with the Kew Millennium Seed Bank operated by the Royal Botanic Garden in England, which aims to save 25 percent of the world's plant species by 2020.

Full article: http://www.pe.com/localnews/stories/PE_News_Local_D_seeds17.3b2b90d.html

Endangered species permit applications
June 16, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 116
FWS-R2-ES-2011-N115; 20124-1113-0000-F5

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: The following applicants have applied for scientific research permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species under the
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Act requires that we invite public comment on these permit applications.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be submitted by July 18, 2011 to the Chief, Endangered Species Division, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, subject to the
requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act. Documents will be available for public inspection, by appointment only, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Ave., SW., Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM. Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Jacobsen, Chief, Endangered Species Division, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103; (505) 248-6920.

Permit TE-046517
Applicant: United States Geological Survey, New Mexico Cooperative Unit, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Applicant requests a new permit to hold and rear captive Rio Grande silvery minnows (Hybognathus amarus) and bonytail chub (Gila elegans) at the rearing facility at New Mexico State Universtiy.

Permit TE-42737A
Applicant: Sevenecoten, LLC, Dripping Springs, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for golden-cheeked warbler
(Dendroica chrysoparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) within Texas.

Permit TE-150490
Applicant: Sea Life Arizona, Tempe, Arizona.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to hold and display for educational purposes the following native fish: woundfin (Plagopterus argentissimus), bonytail (Gila elegans), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), Gila chub (Gila intermedia), Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis occidentalis), humpback chub (Gila cypha), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), Yaqui chub (Gila purpea), Yaqui sucker (Catostomus bernardini), and Yaqui topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonoriensis) within the Aquarium.

Permit TE-42823A
Applicant: Wiebke Boeing, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for Pecos gambusia (Gambusia nobilis), Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster's springsnail (Juturnia kosteri), and Noel's amphipod (Gammarus desperatus) in sinkholes of the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Roswell, New Mexico.

Permit TE-051819
Applicant: Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, Texas.
Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to hold, conduct husbandry activities, and captively breed the following species: Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum), Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis), and black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) within the Fort Worth Zoo.

Permit TE-43719A
Applicant: Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys, collect samples, and conduct genetic analysis of Huachuca water umbel (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva) and Arizona hedgehog cactu (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus) within Arizona and at the botanical garden.

Permit TE-43746A
Applicant: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) within Arizona.

Permit TE-800923
Applicant: University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys, collect genetic samples, and captively hold the following species: Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), Gila topminnow (Poecciliopsis occidentalis), and Gila chub (Gila intermedia) within Arizona.

Permit TE-43777A
Applicant: Sea Life US, LLC, Grapevine, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for husbandry and holding of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Kemps ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) at the Sea Life Aquarium in Texas.

Permit TE-172278
Applicant: John C. Abbott, Austin, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) within the Camp Maxey National Guard facility in Texas.

Permit TE-44306A
Applicant: United States Geological Survey, Bozeman, Montana.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct a study on the effects of electricity on growth and reproduction of razorback suckers (Xyrauchen texanus) at the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery in Texas.

Permit TE-026711
Applicant: Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff, Arizona.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for the following species: southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus), Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis), Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis occidentalis), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), Arizona cliffrose (Purshia subintegra), and Gila chub (Gila intermedia) within Arizona.

Permit TE-118414
Applicant: Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) within Oklahoma.

Permit TE-829995
Applicant: Dallas Zoo and Aquarium, Dallas, Texas.
Applicant requests an amendment to hold, conduct husbandry activities, and captively breed Houston toads (Bufo houstonensis) within the zoo.

Permit TE-207369
Applicant: U.S. Army Garrison--Fort Huachuca, Fort Huachuca, Arizona.Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys, collect samples, and conduct genetic analysis of Huachuca water umbel (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva) and to conduct presence/absence surveys of southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) within Arizona.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-16/pdf/2011-14927.pdf

Charging stations for electric cars unveiled in Balboa Park
June 16, 2011 By Sasha Doppelt

Balboa Park is now home to 10 electric-vehicle charging stations, jointly provided by the company ECOtality, the City of San Diego, SDG&E, and others.

From the article:

Mayor Jerry Sanders said San Diego is taking a leadership role in adopting electric vehicles. "Once we have a basic infrastructure in place this fall, San Diego will become the testing place for EVs," Sanders said. "We'll learn from drivers how we can improve the system and ultimately San Diego will serve as a model for other cities not only nationwide but worldwide."

ECOtality plans to install one thousand charging stations throughout San Diego by the end of the year. It's free to charge your car in Balboa Park for the next month and a half, and will cost about $2.50 an hour after that. (The Park's Reuben H Fleet Science Center also hopes to add an electric vehicle exhibit soon.)

Continue reading: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jun/16/charging-stations-electric-cars-unveiled-balboa-pa/

Over 900 species added to endangered list during past year
June 16, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The latest IUCN Red List includes 19 new species of amphibians, eight of which were listed as Critically Endangered, data on New Caledonia's endemic reptiles, and a complete evaluation of 248 lobster species (most of these were found to be data deficient, so there is no status determination yet). A good finding was that the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) moved from Endangered to Vulnerable.

From the article:

'The past twelve months have seen 914 species added to the threatened list by the world's authority of species endangerment, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List. Over 19,000 species are now classified in one of three threatened categories, i.e. Vulnerable, Endangered, and Critically Endangered, a jump of 8,219 species since 2000. Species are added to the threatened list for a variety of reasons: for many this year was the first time they were evaluated, for others new information was discovered about their plight, and for some their situation in the wild simply deteriorated. While scientists have described nearly 2 million species, the IUCN Red List has evaluated only around 3 percent of these.

"The key to halting the extinction crisis is to target efforts towards eradicating the major threats faced by species and their environment; only then can their future be secured," explains Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission in a press release. "The IUCN Red List acts as a gateway to such efforts, by providing decision makers with a goldmine of information not only on the current status of the species, but also on existing threats and the conservation actions required."

Continue reading: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0616-hance_iucn_redlist_2011.html

Old, large, living trees must be left standing to protect nesting animals
June 16, 2011

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have conducted a study that shows animals nest in tree holes "formed by damage and decay, a process that can take several centuries." Kathy Martin, a professor in the Faculty of Forestry, found that most tree holes were made by woodpeckers or through damage and decay. On most continents (South America, Europe, Asia and Australia), the majority of the holes were made by damage and decay, but in the United States, they were mostly made by woodpeckers. Over 1,000 bird and animal species rely on these holes for nesting sites as "they offer safe environments for sleeping, reproduction and raising young." The study holds implications for forestry policies, which often "protect younger trees but promote the harvest of older, larger, living trees." The research appears in this month's issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-large-trees-left-animals.html

CITATION: Cockle KL, Martin K, Wesolowski T. 2011. Woodpeckers, decay, and the future of cavity-nesting vertebrate communities worldwide. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. doi:10.1890/110013

Louisiana wetlands loss continues, decrease not as dramatic
June 17, 2011

From the blog post:

A report released by the U.S. Geological Survey this month found that the rate of wetland loss has decreased substantially since the 1970’s. During that decade, heavy dredging for oil fields and other development destroyed 40 square miles a year of coastal wetlands. Between 1985 and 2004, that figure dropped to 11.7 square miles, thanks to restoration efforts, stricter regulation and milder hurricane seasons. Marsh creation projects, shoreline protection and sediment dispersal in the past two decades have helped sustain wetlands, said geographer Brady Couvillion at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center. “This was a period where a majority of these projects were on the ground, and it coincided  with a period where we focused on more heavily regulated oil and gas pipelines and development,” he said.

Continue reading: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/louisiana-wetlands-loss.html

California farmers paid to protect tricolored blackbirds
June 17, 2011 By Louis Sahagun

Through their "5 dollars/5 birds" campaign, Audubon California was able to pay three farmers in Riverside County and Central California to "delay harvesting their fields through the nesting season, [resulting] in the protection of an estimated 50,000 tricolored blackbirds (Agelaius tricolor)."

From the article:

Tricolored blackbirds once numbered in the millions. Today, the population, which has one of the smallest ranges of any bird in North America, has declined to about 400,000.

“With the continuing loss of native marshes and grasslands, the species has become dependent on agricultural lands, and most of the large colonies nest in grain fields,” Frost said. “Because tricolored blackbirds nest in just a few large colonies, a farmer harvesting a field unknowingly might wipe out a huge portion of the entire species’ young in just a few minutes."

Full post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/tricolored-blackbirds-compensation-agreements-farmers.html

Rocky mountain flowers dwindle as climate warms
June 17, 2011 By Nicholas Riccardi

A new study published in the Journal of Ecology found that flowers that bloom during midsummer in the Rocky Mountains are becoming more rare, as climate change and other factors have reduced the length of the growing season.

From the blog post:

The implications are worrisome, not just for those who enjoy the scenic splashes of color. Pollinators such as bees and other animals such as humming birds depend on a healthy flower system. Their numbers could also drop should temperatures continue to rise and flower populations fall. "Some pollinators with short periods of activity may require only a single flower species," write the ecologists in their paper, "but pollinators active all season must have flowers available in sufficient numbers through the season."

Full post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/mountain-flowers-fading.html

CITATION: Aldridge G, et al. 2011. Emergence of a mid-season period of low floral resources in a montane meadow ecosystem associated with climate change. Journal of Ecology 99(4):905-913. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2011.01826.x

Arabian oryx moves from "Endangered" to "Vulnerable"
June 17, 2011 By John Platt

The Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) has become the first species to move from the "Extinct in the Wild" category (in 1972) to "Vulnerable" by the IUCN. In 1986, the oryx had been recategorized as "Endangered", but intense "conservation and re-introduction efforts have increased the species' wild population to 1,000 individuals."

From the article:

Once present throughout the Middle East, the Arabian Oryx was overhunted in the 19th and 20th centuries until the only animals that remained were in zoos. Following captive breeding, re-introductions started in Oman in 1982. A brief period of poaching from 1996 to 1999 resulted in more than 200 Oryx deaths before the remaining animals in that country were placed in protective pens. The species was later re-introduced in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, where they have fared well.

"To have brought the Arabian Oryx back from the brink of extinction is a major feat and a true conservation success story, one which we hope will be repeated many times over for other threatened species," Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, director general of Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi, said in a prepared statement. "It is a classic example of how data from the IUCN Red List can feed into on-the-ground conservation action to deliver tangible and successful results."

This year's IUCN Red List of Endangered Species also includes "19 new amphibians, eight of which are listed as Critically Endangered,...an assessment of New Caledonia's endemic reptiles,...and an appraisal of all 248 known lobster species."

Full blog post: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=arabian-oryx-makes-history-as-first-2011-06-17

Good World Games’ MyConservationPark helps you save endangered species
June 19, 2011 By Leena Rao

The company Good World Games has created MyConservationPark, a Facebook game which "allows you to protect an endangered animal from environmental and human threats while enriching the park with fauna and flora to create a sustainable habitat." Players can purchase items in the game, the proceeds of which will be donated to various Good World Games' partners (including Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Sea Shepherd, Wildaid and Orangutan Outreach).

From the article:

There are 2 modes of Play in the game: Play and Decorate. In Play mode, new challenges constantly appear that you must overcome in order to save and protect your endangered species (i.e. there’s a fire in your park, hire a firefighter to put it out). In this mode, your eco-system and hero levels are affected by your success in conquering these challenges.

In Decorate mode, you can create a haven for your species and add people and creatures, trees, food and water, watchtowers and sheds, and arrange your park as you see fit. You can purchase virtual goods such as park rangers, native species such as antelopes, structures such as watchtowers and camps, flora (indigenous trees and bushes), water and insects.

Top-ranked players will also have the chance to win actual prizes, which include paid trips to help volunteer at select conservation organizations.

Full article: http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/19/good-world-games-myconservationpark-helps-you-save-endangered-species/

Loggerhead turtles strand in Southeast with skin disease
June 19, 2011 By Bo Petersen

Since the beginning of the year, 15 live stranding loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) have been admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium so that they can be treated for the skin disease SCUD, or septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease. The turtles are responding to the antibiotics that are being administered by the aquarium's veterinarians, but staff are concerned about the high amount of turtles being stranded with SCUD this year. Typically, only a couple of turtles are admitted to the aquarium each year to be treated for skin problems. The turtles are also being found stranded in other states along the southeast coast, including in Florida and Georgia. Veterinarians think that the spike in strandings could be caused by a combination of factors, including nutrients (fertilizer chemicals that were also responsible for a number of SCUD cases in the 1980s and 90s) and an especially cold winter last year, which may have left the turtles with compromised immune systems.

Full article: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/jun/19/turtles-strand-with-skin-diseases/

Endangered Madagascar wildlife on sale in Thailand
June 19, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

From the article:

Conservation group TRAFFIC uncovered nearly 600 Madagascar reptiles and amphibians on sale in Thai markets, including endangered species and those banned for sale by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The animals, representing 24 reptiles species and 9 amphibians, are being sold for the international pet trade.

"We know there is a significant ongoing illegal trade in protected species from Madagascar, mainly destined for Asia, which has been exacerbated by the current political situation in the country leading to weaker enforcement of existing laws and safeguarding of protected areas," says Richard Hughes, WWF’s Representative in Madagascar.

Some of the things that tip officials off to smuggling are discrepancies in paperwork, such as documentation of chameleons being bred in Kazakhstan without any reports of exports of chameleons out of Kazakhstan. The majority of the animals being smuggled were reptiles and amphibians, although "surveyors also found 12 lesser Madagascan tenrecs (Echinops telfairi) in a shop in Bangkok." Officials are further concerned because they are finding that the illegal trade of animals is "expanding...beyond traditional markets to online and private houses," which holds implications for monitoring and enforcement of regulations.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0619-hance_malagasy_thailand.html

Wing hairs help to keep bats in the air
June 20, 2011 By Marian Turner

New research conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland in College Park reveals that "bats use tiny hairs to sense the speed and direction of air flowing over their wings."

From the article:

Bats are the only mammals capable of powered flight; their wings are made of a membrane covered with microscopic hairs.

To discover what information bats glean from their wing hairs, the researchers implanted electrodes into the animals' brains and fixed their heads and wings to a vibration-isolation table. Then they directed puffs of air at the hairs and monitored the resulting brain activity. The air activated neurons in the primary somatosensory cortex — part of the brain that is triggered by the sense of touch. The air puffs were not strong enough to activate touch receptors in the wing membrane, so the scientists think that other receptors, called Merkel cells, are triggered by the movement of the hairs. When the researchers removed the wing hairs using depilatory cream, the neurons no longer responded to the air puffs.

The neurons fired most strongly when the air puffs hit the rear part of the wing. Airflow from behind can be a sign of turbulent conditions, so the team suggests that information from the hairs might signal to the bat that it needs to stabilize.

The researchers also discovered that bats with their hair removed had a harder flew faster and made wider turns in an obstacle course, causing the researchers to speculate that the hairs may help bats sense when they are flying to slowly and at risk for "stalling."

The results of this research may have implications for biomimicry applications. For instance, Geoffrey Spedding, a zoologist at the University of Southern California, is thinking of ways to apply it to preventing stalls in aircraft which currently use "Pilot tubes," a somewhat unreliable technology for this purpose.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110620/full/news.2011.376.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110621#B2

CITATION: Sterbing-D’Angelo S, et al. 2011. Bat wing sensors support flight control. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1018740108

Rodents' sense of smell triggered by chemical in carnivore urine
June 20, 2011 By Nicola Nosengo

A team of Harvard Medical School researchers have discovered a chemical that is "found in high concentrations in the urine of carnivores that makes [other animals] run for cover." Through a non-invasive study of zoo carnivores, Stephen Liberles and colleagues found that one member of a group of olfactory receptors called trace anime-associated receptors (TAARs) is triggered by the smell of carnivore urine. TAAR4, the receptor in particular, is activated by 2-phenylethylamine, a molecule found in high concentrations in commercially available bobcat urine. The researchers collected urine samples from "38 predators such as lions, snow leopards and servals to herbivores including cows, giraffes and a zebra..." as well as from rodents and humans.

From the article:

Carnivores had by far the greatest concentration of 2-phenylethylamine in their urine, with the highest levels in lion, serval and tiger. Levels in the herbivores' urine were up to 3,000 times lower. The chemical might be a by-product of digesting meat proteins, although the researchers have yet to confirm this idea. Liberles and his team double-checked the role of 2-phenylethylamine by placing a few drops of it - on its own, or within lion urine - in a cage. They found that mice and rats stayed away from that part of the cage. But when they used an enzyme to remove the chemical from lion urine, the drops no longer caused any reaction.

The next step for the scientists is to replicate the study in a mouse which has the TAAR4 receptor knocked out to see if it reacts differently to the presence of 2-phenylethylamine.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110620/full/news.2011.375.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110621

CITATIONS:
Ferrero DM, et al. 2011. Detection and avoidance of a carnivore odor by prey. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1103317108

Borowsky B, et al. 2001. Trace amines: identification of a family of mammalian G protein-coupled receptors. PNAS 98(16):8966-8971. doi:10.1073/pnas.151105198

Born to be Wild documentary now playing at Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
June 20, 2011

Born to be Wild, a new documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman, is showing in the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. The film "follows the lives of orphaned orangutans and elephants" and shows the "amazing bond between humans and animals."

Excerpt from the website:

Stunningly captured in IMAX, BORN TO BE WILD is a heartwarming adventure that will transport moviegoers around the world into the lush rainforests of Borneo with world-renowned primatologist Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, and across the rugged Kenyan savannah with celebrated elephant authority Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick. Witness these teams save endangered species one life at a time as they rescue, rehabilitate and return these incredible animals back to the wild.

Full article: http://www.rhfleet.org/site/imax/borntobewild.cfm

Ipso report warns of mass marine extinction
June 20, 2011 By Fiona Harvey

A new report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (Ipso) is warning that "fish, sharks, whales and other marine species are in imminent danger of an 'unprecedented' and catastrophic exctinction event at the hands of humankind, are are disappearing at a far faster rate than anyone had predicted" and warns of potential mass extinctions.

From the article:

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions are combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (Ipso), prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford University.

..."The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, scientific director of Ipso. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised. This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children's and generations beyond that."

The authors of the report are calling on governments from around the world to take drastic and urgent measures to conserve marine ecosystems if die-offs are to be prevented.

Ipso report: http://www.stateoftheocean.org/

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/20/marine-life-oceans-extinction-threat

Tropical forests more effective than temperate forests in fighting climate change
June 20, 2011

Research published in this month's Nature Geoscience shows that "...afforestation in tropical areas is about three times more effective at reducing warming than afforestation in temperate zones."

From the article:

Using computer models, Vivek Arora and Alvaro Montenegro estimate that converting all the world's croplands to forests would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by only 0.45°C, a fraction of this rise forecast by scientists based on current emissions trajectories. The authors say their results indicate the importance of reducing greenhouse emissions rather than relying on afforestation in temperate regions.

... But the authors find that reforestation in the tropics has a disproportionate cooling effect relative to tree planting efforts away from the Equator, but not because of carbon sequestration. Forests in far northern and southern regions absorb more sunlight than croplands, causing local warming. Meanwhile heat absorption by tropical forests is offset by increased water transpiration, which has a cooling effect.

The authors argue that to mitigate climate change, we need to avoid deforestation and continue to re-forest the tropics.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0620-afforestation_tropics_temperate.html

CITATION: Arora VK, Montenegro A. 2011. Small temperature benefits provided by realistic afforestation efforts. Nature Geoscience. doi:10.1038/NGEO1182

Seven new species of forest mice discovered in Philippines
June 20, 2011

American and Filipino biologists have discovered seven new species of mammals on Luzon Island, all of which belong to the genus Apomys (a genus of forest mice endemic to the Philippines). Not including bats, this increases "the number of native mammals known from Luzon Island...from 49 to 49 (17 percent)."

From the article:

"These animals are part of the rich biological heritage of the Philippines", said Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, Director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). "The forests where they live are crucial watershed areas for Manila and many other cities. Protecting their mountain forest habitat is good for them and for people." The DENR is a collaborator of the project, providing assistance at field sites and co-organizing conferences on wildlife and conservation.

All of the species are forest mice, and each species lives only in a small part of Luzon. According to Dr. Lawrence Heaney from The Field Museum, project leader and lead author of the publication, "These are wonderful little mice that live in forested regions high in the mountains. Although they are often abundant, they actively avoid humans and rarely cause any harm. They prefer to eat earthworms and seeds on the forest floor."

The researchers point out that there are many speices yet to be discovered in the Philippines, and the country may prove to have the "greatest concentration of unique species of animals of any country in the world." Additionally, while some of the areas where the new species were discovered are currently protected areas, others are not and the species from these areas are threatened by "logging, the expansion of agriculture, and mining."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-species-mammals-luzon.html

CITATION: Heaney L, et al. 2011. Seven new species and a new subgenus of forest mice (Rodentia: Muridae: Apomys) from Luzon Island. Fieldiana Life and Earth Sciences 2:1-60. doi:10.3158/2158-5520-2.1.1

Buffalo Zoo’s naturalist program teaches teens about animal-related careers
June 20, 2011 By Qina Liu

The Buffalo Zoo has a junior teen naturalist program open to 13- and 14-year-olds "...which provides an opportunity to learn about animal-related careers." The program runs for three weeks and is five hours a day, three days a week. The studens will learn how to handle various animals and will culminate in a job shadowing opportunity. Rebecca Balk, a school program specialist at the zoo, said, "During the first week...students will learn about the history of the zoo, exhibit designs and conservation issues. The next week, students will observe animal care and behavior as well as have the opportunity to meet zookeepers. Individuals will be trained to handle specific animals such as parrots and turtles. Teens will also be given animal facts and assigned to different stations, so they can teach members of the public about what they learned."

The program coses $270 for zoo members and $300 for non-members.

Full article: http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2011/06/20/zoos-teen-naturalist-program-filling-up.html

Wild pollinators worth up to $2.4 billion to California farmers
June 20, 2011 By Ann Brody Guy

A new study conducted by UC Berkeley scientists identifies the economic value of native pollinators to California farmers, putting the dollar amount between $937 million and $2.4 billion.

From the article:

About one-third of the value of California agriculture comes from pollinator-dependent crops, representing a net value of $11.7 billion per year, according to the study. Currently, many farmers rent European honeybees to ensure crop pollination, and it has been widely assumed that wild pollinators were not a significant source of crop pollination. However, the new study estimated that wild pollinators residing in California’s natural habitats, chiefly rangelands, provide 35-39 percent, or more than one-third, of all pollination “services” to the state’s crops.

“This means that preserving rangelands has significant economic value, not only to the ranchers who graze their cattle there, but also to farmers who need the pollinators,” said Claire Kremen, UC Berkeley associate professor of environmental science, policy and management, and senior author of the study.

The study is the first to show that "rangeland conservation cannot be separated from the needs of agriculture."

Full article: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/06/20/wild-pollinators-worth-billions-to-farmers/

CITATION: Chaplin-Kramer R, Tuxen-Bettman K, Kremen C. 2011. Value of wildland habitat for supplying pollination services to Californian agriculture. Rangelands 33(3):33-41. doi:10.2111/1551-501x-33.3.33

Fighting chytrid fungus in frogs with bacteria and fungicides
June 21, 2011

Researchers from University of Zurich and their collaborators explore how to fight chytridiomycosis (chytrid fungus), which is devastating frog populations around the world, in a paper published in this April's Frontiers in Zoology.

From the article:

[Benedickt Schmidt and his collaborators] see two particularly promising methods. The first involves using bacteria that live naturally on the frog's skin. Some of these skin bacteria block the chytrid fungus and can thus cure the frogs. "The approach works in the lab," explains Schmidt. "Now we need to test how the method can be used for frogs living in the wild." The second approach is simple: You catch frogs or tadpoles, treat them for the fungus and let them go again. "This also works fine in principle," says Schmidt. The only problem is how to prevent the animals from becoming reinfected as soon as you release them back into the wild.

The study also looks into the possibility of vaccinating the frogs.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-massive-declines-frog-populations-bacteria.html

CITATION: Woodhams DC, et al. 2011. Mitigating amphibian disease: strategies to maintain wild populations and control chytridiomycosis. Frontiers in Zoology 8:8. Retrieved online from: http://www.frontiersinzoology.com/content/pdf/1742-9994-8-8.pdf

Emperor penguin found wandering on New Zealand beach
June 21, 2011

For the first time since 1967, an emporer penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) has been found wandering on a New Zealand beach. Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, thinks that the 10-month-old penguin "was likely to have been born during the last Antarctic winter" and likely took a "wrong turn" while searching for food.

From the article:

He said emperor penguins can spend months at a time in the ocean, coming ashore only to molt or rest, but did not know what might have caused this particular one to become disoriented. Miskelly said the penguin appeared healthy and well fed, with plenty of body fat, and probably came ashore for a rest.

However, Miskelly said the penguin would need to find its way back south soon if it were to survive. Despite the onset of the New Zealand winter, the bird was probably hot and thirsty, he said, and it had been eating wet sand. "It doesn't realise that the sand isn't going to melt inside it," Miskelly said. "They typically eat snow, because it's their only liquid."

New Zealand officials are asking people to stand away from the penguin and "plan to let nature take its course." They say that "the bird could live several weeks before needing another meal."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/21/emperor-penguins-detour-new-zealand

Open access publications increasing
June 21, 2011 By John Whitfield

An analysis of the open-access publishing movement "has found that the number of papers in freely accessible journals is growing at a steady 25% per year."

From the article:

The analysis, by information scientist Mikael Laakso of the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki and his colleagues, also found that the number of fully open-access journals is growing at around 15% every year as new journals are founded and subscription journals switch to the open-access model. By contrast, subscription journals are growing at about 3.5%. "Most indicators suggest growth is not slowing," says Laakso. "The open-access publishing model has proven itself to work."

...Since 2005, Laakso says, innovation has slowed but growth continues — the consolidation phase. Following this trend, last week Nature Publishing Group (NPG) launched Scientific Reports, an author-pays, open-access, online-only journal, which reviews papers on technical soundness rather than impact.

NPG's acknowledged inspiration is PLoS ONE, which in 2010 published 6,749 papers, making it the world's largest journal. It has been a "phenomenal success", says Jason Wilde, business development director at NPG. "It shows that authors and readers like the model of a broad-based journal with light peer review." Scientific Reports will provide PLoS ONE with a rival and help drive up standards, says Wilde. "In any market there should be competition."

Although open-access publications are increasing, proponents of a 100% open access model find that the rate of change is not fast enough and are pushing for further adoption of article repositories and other methods of free access.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110621/full/474428a.html

CITATION: Laakso M, et al. 2011. The development of open access journal publishing from 1993 to 2009. PLoS ONE 6(6):e20961. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020961

Rejection of petition to list Utah population of Gila monster as endangered or threatened
June 21, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 119
FWS-R6-ES-2011-0036; MO 92210-0-0008

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Utah population of the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) as an endangered or a threatened distinct population segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate critical habitat. Based on our review, we find that the petition does not present substantial information indicating that listing the Utah population of the Gila monster may be warranted, because the population does not constitute a DPS, and is therefore not a listable entity under the Act. Therefore, we are not initiating a status review in response to this petition. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the status of, or threats to, the Gila monster or its habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on June 21, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number [FWS-R6-ES-2011-0036]. Supporting
documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Ecological Services Office, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT 84119. Please submit any
new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Crist, Field Supervisor, Utah Ecological Services Office (see ADDRESSES), by telephone (801-975-3330) or by facsimile (801-975-3331).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-21/pdf/2011-15399.pdf

Grand Canyon protected, Uranium mining ban extended
June 21, 2011 By Ayesha Rascoe

Excerpts from the article:

The Obama administration on Monday extended its ban on mining on 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon by six months, as it heads toward a possible long-term moratorium on mining in the area.

...In 2009, the department declared a two-year time-out on new mining claims in the area, which holds substantial uranium deposits, as the agency studied its options. The six-month extension of the ban will ensure that no new mining projects are started in the area while the department finishes its final environmental review, the department said.

...The department said its preferred alternative would keep the entire area off-limits for new mining claims for 20 years.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/20/us-usa-mining-uranium-idUSTRE75J6ND20110620

Baby gorilla born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
June 21, 2011 By Sarah Grieco

A male western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) was born last Saturday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It is "the first gorilla born at the Safari Park in more than 10 years." Keepers have not weighed or examined the newborn yet, as they do not want to interfere with the mother who is "taking excellent care of it." 22-year old Kokamo, who has been at the Safari Park since 2010, has given birth to four other offspring previously. She was moved to the Park in accordance with the Species Survival Plan to breed with one of the silverback males already in the collection. The newborn is the sixth gorilla now living at the Safari Park.

Full article: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Baby-Gorilla-Born-at-SD-Safari-Park-124293244.html

Proposal for L.A. Zoo to privatize delayed
June 22, 2011 By Rick Orlov

A proposal which would privatize the operation of the Los Angeles Zoo "have been delayed at least a month because of questions about the deal's long-term effects on employees and the public." The city's financial troubles had prompted the proposal.

From the article:

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, the nonprofit group that supports the Griffith Park attraction, has embraced the proposal and plans to bid for the contract to operate the zoo once the request for proposals is released.

Councilman Tom LaBonge, who chairs the committee and in whose district the zoo is located, said he wants a report completed in 30 days. "We want to do this right," LaBonge said. "We are not going to go ahead until all the questions are answered."

Full article: http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_18331459

U.S. tribes to explore forest carbon opportunities
June 22, 2011

A new $2.45 million pilot project will "test the feasibility of developing carbon projects on tribal lands" in Washington state.

From the article:

"Due to a myriad of issues regarding private property laws, tribes have been left out of the regulatory process for federal and state sponsored climate change initiatives and this project will help tribes across the country clear that hurdle," added Tiffany Potter, Managing Director at EcoAnalytics.

There are more than 80 forest carbon projects currently active across the United States, but only four projects listed under the Climate Action Reserve verification system are generating certified reductions credits. At present there are no active forest carbon projects on indigenous reservations.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0621-usa_tribes_forest_carbon.html

Proposal to establish manatee refuge in Florida
June 22, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 120
FWS-R4-ES-2010-0079; 92220-1113-0000-C3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, propose to establish a manatee refuge in Citrus County, Florida, in the waters of Kings Bay, including its tributaries and connected waters. We propose this action based on our determination that there is substantial evidence showing that certain waterborne activities would result in the taking of one or more manatees and that certain waterborne activities must be restricted to prevent the taking of one or more manatees in Kings Bay. We considered the biological needs of the manatee, the level of take at these sites, and the likelihood of additional take of manatees due to human activity at these sites in proposing this manatee refuge. These factors were the basis for establishing this area as a manatee refuge by a temporary emergency rule on November 9, 2010, which expired on March 15, 2011. We announced in the emergency rule that we would begin proceedings to establish this area as a manatee refuge. This proposed rule is part of that process. We also announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment for this action.

DATES: We will consider any comments on both the proposed rule and the draft environmental assessment that are received by the close of business on August 22, 2011 or at the public hearing. We will hold a public informational open house from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., on July 7, 2011, at the location identified in the ADDRESSES section.

ADDRESSES: Written comments: You may submit comments on the proposed rule and draft environmental assessment (EA) by one of the following methods: Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemanking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R4-ES-2010-0079, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel at the top of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check the box next to Proposed Rules to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on "Submit Comments''. U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2010-0079; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Valade, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Florida Ecological Services Office, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, Florida 32256; by telephone (904/731-3336); by facsimile (904/731-3045); by e-mail: manatee@fws.gov; or on-line at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-22/pdf/2011-15603.pdf

Tanzania cancels Serengeti road project
June 23, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Partly in response to a scientific study that explored the impacts of a proposed road cutting through the Serengeti National Park, the Tanzanian government has cancelled the project.

From the article:

In what is a victory for environmentalists, scientists, tourism, and the largest land migration on Earth, the Tanzanian government has cancelled a commercial road that would have cut through the northern portion of the Serengeti National Park. According to scientists the road would have severed the migration route of 1.5 million wildebeest and a half million other antelope and zebra, in turn impacting the entire ecosystem of the Serengeti plains.

The report stated that the proposed road would cut down the wildebeest herd by over one-third (approximately one million animals). The government still plans on building a road close to the boundaries of the park, and may construct a gravel road cutting through the park that could be used for tourists and administration.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0623-hance_serengeti_road.html

Endangered species permit applications
June 23, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 121
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N127; 96300-1671-0000-P5

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species, marine mammals, or both. With some exceptions, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits activities with listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that allows such activities. Both laws require that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before July 25, 2011. We must receive requests for marine mammal permit public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section by July 25, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Brenda Tapia, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-2280; or e-mail DMAFR@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenda Tapia, (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

Applicant: Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO; PRT--42831A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples of Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mediculus), Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) and medium tree finch (Camarhynchus pauper) for disease and health evaluation for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Feld Entertainment Inc., Vienna, VA; PRT-37444A
The applicant requests a permit to import for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education, one African leopard (Panthera pardus), one Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), and 6 tigers (Panthera tigris). The captive-born animals are being imported from Schweiberdingen, Germany in cooperation with Alexander Lacey.

Multiple Applicants
The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.
Applicant: Michael DeRouen, Beaumont, TX; PRT-37076A
Applicant: Leonard Smith, N. Myrtle Beach, SC; PRT-45363A

Applicant: Tom Smith, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT; PRT-225854
The applicant requests an amendment to the permit to authorize harassment of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) by adjusting the video camera equipment and conducting aerial surveys using FLIR (forward looking infrared) and ground-truth surveys with snowmobiles near dens for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over the remainder of the 5-year period of the permit.

Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management, Anchorage, AK; PRT-039386
The applicant requests an amendment and renewal of the permit to take up to 6000 walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) annually by biopsy darting and up to 50 walrus annually for tagging; to collect unlimited number of specimens from dead animals; to conduct aerial surveys; and to import unlimited number of biological specimens for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-23/pdf/2011-15719.pdf

Draft recovery plan for Mexican spotted owl
June 24, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 122
FWS-R2-ES-2011-N108; 20124-1113-0000-C2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of our draft recovery plan, first revision, for the Mexican Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis lucida) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This species occurs in the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, south through the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico. We request review and comment on our plan from local, State, and Federal agencies; Tribes; and the public. We will also accept any new information on the status of the Mexican spotted owl throughout its range to assist in finalizing the revised recovery plan.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive written comments on or before August 23, 2011. However, we will accept information about any species at any time.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review the draft recovery plan, you may obtain a copy by visiting our Web site at http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans. Alternatively, you may contact the Arizona Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951 (602) 242-0210, phone). If you wish to comment on the plan, you may submit your comments in writing by any one of the following methods: U.S. mail: Field Supervisor, at the above address; Hand-delivery: Arizona Ecological Services Office at the above address; Fax: (602) 242-2513; or E-mail: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/Arizona/ (type "Mexican spotted owl'' in the document title search field).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, at the above address, phone number, or e-mail.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-24/pdf/2011-15975.pdf

California coast vital to Pacific Ocean's top predators
June 24, 2011 By Susan Murphy

The Tagging of Pacific Predators project has published a report after ten years of tracking 4,300 marine animals.

From the article:

Most of the 23 species studied...migrate and congregate in the waters off California because of its abundance of food, according to the report published this week in the journal Nature by scientists around the world, including San Diego.

Scientists compared the California Current ecosystem to Africa’s Serengeti Plain for its richness of life. The current, which moves south along the West Coast from Canada to Mexico, is highly productive due to the cold water upwelling, which brings to the surface nutrient-rich sediments, supporting large populations of sea life.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re elephant seals, or blue whales or leatherback turtles, all of these animals are coming to the California Current as a foraging ground," said Scott Benson, marine ecologist with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. "This provides further information of the importance of the California Current to these large, highly mobile marine predators."

Scientists were also surprised to discover the "extreme range" of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), which complete a 7,000-mile migration from Indonesia to California, where they feed on jellyfish, and turn back around to return to Asia.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jun/24/california-coast-vital-pacific-oceans-top-predator/

CITATION: Block BA, et al. 2011. Tracking apex marine predator movements in a dynamic ocean [letter]. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature10082

New additions to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list
June 24, 2011 By Maev Kennedy

This week, UNESCO added the Ningaloo coast in Australia and the Kenya lake system in the Great Rift Valley to the World Heritage Sites list.

From the article:

The Ningaloo coast in Western Australia covers 708,350 hectares of coastal waters and land, including one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world, and is home to rare wildlife including whale sharks and sea turtles, already attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year. The three shallow lakes in Kenya's Rift Valley form the most important site anywhere for lesser flamingo, as well as mammals including giraffe, black rhino, kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs.

Other changes to the list were to move the Sumatran tropical rainforest and the Rio Platano biosphere reserve to the Heritage in Danger list, while the Manas wildlife sanctuary in India was moved from the endangered sites list back onto the main heritage list after showing enough improvements since 1992.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/24/australia-ningaloo-coast-unesco-world-heritage

Ground-nesting birds eavesdrop on predatory chipmunks
June 24, 2011 By Ella Davies

A new study is the first of its kind "to show that birds heed the chatter of non-avian species." Dr. Kenneth Schmidt and PhD candidate Quinn Emmering from Texas Tech University recorded chipmunk calls and played them in the forest, with the results that "[c]anopy-dwelling birds were uninterrupted by the chipmunk calls but those species nesting on the ground paid considerably more attention," moving their nests up to 20 meters (approximately 66 feet) further away from the sounds.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13890816

CITATION: Emmering QC, Schmidt KA. 2011. Nesting songbirds assess spatial heterogeneity of predatory chipmunks by eavesdropping on their vocalisations. Journal of Animal Ecology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01869.x

Louisville Zoo getting rescued polar bear cub
June 24, 2011

The Louisville Zoo's Glacier Run exhibit will soon be home to a new polar bear cub. The cub was found in April by ConocoPhillips employees and subsequently rescued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after the cub's mother didn't return after a number of days. The 5-month-old female is named Qannik, which means snowflake, and will travel from Anchorage to Louisville with zoo staff. Part of the trip will take place on a UPS Boeing 747-400.

Full article: http://www.adn.com/2011/06/24/1934205/louisville-zoo-getting-rescued.html

The Vilas Zoo's education garden is good for the animals
July, 2011 By Nancy Christy and Neil Heinen

The Henry Vilas Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska has expanded its Lussier Education Garden to include a section that grows food for the zoo's animals. Jim Hubing, the director of the zoo, wanted a way to feed the zoo's animals "healthy, local, sustainably grown food" but also wanted to spread the zoo's mission. Hubing says, "It's all part of our conservation message...that you can grow your own food. Our reason for being is to teach people to conserve our natural resources, and that includes growing food." The garden includes "beans, onions, Swiss chard, cucumber, elderberry, raspberry, summer squash, peppers..., millet for birds and cabbage for goats." There are also "kid-friendly" signs that say things like "Strawberry—eaten by primates, bears and humans," “Broccoli—fed to reptiles, boys, girls and primates,” and “Radish—bears like these.”

Full article: http://www.madisonmagazine.com/Madison-Magazine/July-2011/The-Vilas-Zoos-Education-Garden-is-Good-for-the-Animals/