Latest Zoo & Conservation News
Week ending August 27, 2011

Compiled by:
Library Staff
San Diego Zoo Global


In this week's news (local news in red):


Poll shows Americans would rather go on photo safaris than hunting safaris
August 16, 2011

According to a recent poll conducted by Synovate eNation and commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, "70.4 percent of Americans would pay to go on an African safari to view lions, whereas only 6.6 percent of Americans would pay to hunt lions." With the population of African lions (Panthera leo) in decline, the potential impact on countries where lions are a tourist attraction is potentially devastating. Poll results also indicate that 89.8% of Americans support efforts to protect African lions. Over half of African lion trophies and commercial trade in lion parts occurs in the U.S. In March, IFAW and other organizations submitted a petition to USFWS to list the African lion as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Over the last two decades, "lion populations have dropped by at least 48.5 percent...with fewer than 30,000 African lions thought to remain today in the wild." Listing the species as endangered would prohibit the import and trade of lion trophies in the US.

Full press release: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-poll-americans-want-cameras-aimed-at-african-lions-not-rifles-127892403.html

Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates "HallowFest: A Garden of Good...and Evil"
August 17, 2011

The Chicago Botanic Gardens is expanding the number of activities that will be part of their annual "HallowFest: A Garden of Good...and Evil" Halloween festivities. The event features visitors in costume, framily-friendly shows, a pooch parade, vendor booths, trick-or-treating amid Halloweed-themed decorations. The garden will have both "spooky" and "friendly" paths, glowing jack-o-lanterns, and Halloween live entertainment. Visitors will also have the opportunity to carve their own pumpkins, get their faces painted, or participate in a costume contest.

Full article: http://gardennews.biz/?id=7398&pg=1&keys=

Rhesus monkeys separated from mothers exhibit more stress later in life
August 18, 2011 By Hamish Pritchard

A report in the Proceedings of he National Academy of Sciences indicates that "...rhesus monkey babies (Macaca mulatta) do not fully recover from the stress of being separated from their mothers at birth." These monkeys exhibited significantly reduced levels of cortisol, a stress-coping hormone, even after three years of leading normal lives after the separation. They were more anxious, had poor social skills, and suffered depression more than monkeys raised by their mothers. The study indicates that the effect of separating from the mother cannot be reversed and has long-term effects.

There may be implications for humans, a premise supported in an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) earlier this week indicating a relationship between childhood maltreatment and later depression.

From the article:

Dr Andrea Danese of King's College London, co-author of AJP study, said: "In this case you have findings in animals that resemble to an extent the findings in humans both from a behavioural point of view and from a biological point of view."

"If you take studies in humans who have experienced loss I think the findings are quite consistent. Children who lose parents or are separated from parents tend to show more anxious behaviour, and tend also to have changes in the same type of hormones that were measured. In some cases they have poorer social skills, they have more aggressive behaviour."

These studies may provide information to help understand the relationship between early maltreatment and later problems, and lead to better treatment.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14562120

CITATION: Feng X, et al. Maternal separation produces lasting changes in cortisol and behavior in rhesus monkeys. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1010943108

Naples Zoo exhibiting African ratels
August 18, 2011 By Tim Tetzaff

A few months ago, the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens received three African honey badgers, or ratels (Mellivora capensis), from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Only four American zoos exhibit this unusual animal, including the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Also known as the Honey badger, this little 25-pound animal is fearless and ferocious, known to attack cobras, chase off lions, and tear apart beehives while being enveloped in a stinging swarm of bees. Although it is still unknown how this is accomplished, ratels are also able to survive being bitten by venomous snakes like cobras. In preparation for receiving the ratels, construction of a suitable habitat involved extensive reinforcement and heavy materials.

Full article: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5355-Naples_Zoo_is_One_of_Only_Four_Zoos_in_the_United_States_Exibiting_African_Honey_Badgers

Wildlife responds rapidly to climate change by moving to higher, cooler elevations
August 18, 2011

In an article in Science, researchers report on a recent study analyzing data on over 2,000 plant and animal species. Their data reveal that species are responding to climate change by moving towards the poles almost three times faster than expected.

From the article:

Analysing data for over 2000 responses by animal and plant species, the research team estimated that, on average, species have moved to higher elevations at 12.2 metres per decade and, more dramatically, to higher latitudes at 17.6 kilometres per decade.

Project leader Chris Thomas, Professor of Conservation Biology at York, said: "These changes are equivalent to animals and plants shifting away from the Equator at around 20 cm per hour, for every hour of the day, for every day of the year. This has been going on for the last 40 years and is set to continue for at least the rest of this century. "

This study shows for the first time how species are adapting to climate warming, moving furthest in areas experiencing the most warming. Implications for species extinction where such movement are not possible is indicated.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-faster-higher-wildlife-increasingly-rapidly.html

CITATION: Chen I-C, et al. Rapid range shift of species associated with high levels of climate warming. Science 333(6045):1024-1026. doi:10.1126/science.1206432

Portland gardeners encourage heirloom seed use for plant diversity, vitality
August 18, 2011

Corina Reynolds, a Portland permaculturist, is part of a seed-saving movement spreading across the country to encourage gardeners to collect and save seeds from their own garden and community. The reason is partly maintaining biodiversity, partly economics. The number of seed varieties available commercially has been steadily reduced during the past 20 years, making a focus on biodiversity more important. For gardeners with a favorite kind of plant, saving a seed in case it is no longer available is becoming more important. Other reasons include using seed that produces good-tasting produce, stores well, is high-yielding and adapted to the local climate.

From the article:

“The whole idea of a local variety is vulnerable or is under attack,” says Karen Wolfgang, owner and project coordinator at Independence Gardens in Portland. The seeds that home gardeners and farmers purchase from large corporations are often bred for uniformity, and can be less robust in flavor, nutritional value, and disease resistance, according to Reynolds.

“The varieties that are the most popular with the really big companies are the ones that are good for agribusiness,” Freifelder adds. “And those are not the ones that are selected for things like flavor. They’re selected for things like shipping and shelf life.” 

After growing six to 12 generations of a particular type of seed, changes in plant vigor, color, or fruit size will become more consistently evident, as will qualities such as resistance to local pests or adaptability to Portland’s cool, rainy springs, according to Reynolds. “It takes a while for those genetic traits to really set in. In the mean time, you can have fun experimenting.”

For more information on Portland Seed Saving Workshops, visit IndependenceGardensPDX.com or portlandnursery.com.

Full article: http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/news/2011/08/portland_gardeners_encourage_heirloom_seed_use_for_plant_diversity_vitality/

Regenerative powers in the animal kingdom explored in Biological Bulletin
August 18, 2011

Animal regeneration is the subject of a virtual symposium in this month's Biological Bulletin. Some animals can regrow tissue and function after injury or loss, while others cannot. This question of regeneration has been of interest to scientists and the public for years, and modern analytic methods are finally providing some answers. Topics include regeneration of the eye lens in frogs, spinal cord regeneration in the sea lamprey, stem cells and allorecognition in sea squirt regeneration, fin regeneration in zebrafish and medeka, and neural regenearation in the snail and sea squirt.

From the article:

"[The] use of animal models to understand the mechanism of regeneration is both fruitful and of potentially enormous significance to the future practice of medicine," write the issue's co-editors, Joel Smith of the MBL's Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering; and James L. Olds of the Department of Molecular Neuroscience at George Mason University.

These articles add to the knowledge-base on regeneration, and may help direct future research that could support the development of treatments for humans.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-regenerative-powers-animal-kingdom-explored.html

CITATION: Models and Mechanisms of Regenerative Biology across Phylogeny. Special issue of Biological Bulletin (August 2011). Table of Contents: http://www.biolbull.org/future/221.1.shtml

Houston Zoo event focuses on early learning for parents and children
August 19, 2011 By Vivian Gomez

The Houston Zoo will be hosting an educational event for children ages six and under on August 27th. Called "Passport to Bright Futures," youngsters and their parents begin the event at the John P. McGovern Children's Zoo. There they get a passport that guides them to interactive exhibits, receiving a stamp at each station. Completed passports may be redeemed for a small gift. In addition, a performance by the Non-Toxic Band is planned.

Full announcement: http://ultimatemontrose.com/stories/260479-events-zoo-event-focuses-on-early-learning-for-parents-kids

The first kangaroo genome sequence
August 19, 2011

Published in Genome Biology, "an international consortium of researchers present the first kangaroo genome sequence – that of the tammar wallaby species – and find hidden in their data the gene that may well be responsible for the kangaroo's characteristic hop." Scientists were also able to determine the genes that are responsible for some of Tammar wallabies' (Macropus eugenii) unusual characteristics, such as an 11-month period of suspended animation in the womb and an excellent sense of smell. Prof. Marilyn Renfree, the lead author on the study, said, "The tammar wallaby sequencing project has provided us with many possibilities for understanding how marsupials are so different to us." The tammar wallaby is the first kanagroo to have its genome sequenced, and may provide a better understanding of evolutionary changes, as well as findings that help research on treatments in people.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-kangaroo-genome-sequence.html

CITATION: Renfree MB, et al. 2011. Genome sequence of an Australian kangaroo, Macropus eugenii, provides insight into the evolution of mammalian reproduction and development. Genome Biology 12:123. doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-8-123

Oakland Zoo kicks off Quarters for Conservation
August 19, 2011

Visitors at the Bay Area Oakland Zoo will be able to not only support conservation efforts through donations, but also determine how much funding each conservation effort will receive. As part of a new program, Quarters for Conservation, each visit will result in a twenty-five cent donation to conservation. In addition, each visitor will receive a voting token upon entering the zoo that will be used to vote at a conservation station in the Flamingo Plaza. Current projects that visitors may vote on include protecting chimpanzees in Uganda, African elephants in Kenya, or California condors in the wild. Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Manager at Oakland Zoo, says, "It is exciting to be part of the evolution of zoos as they emerge into true institutions for conservation action. Quarters for Conservation will greatly increase our capacity to support animals in the wild. Visitors can now feel a sense of connection and pride knowing they are saving wildlife with each visit to the Oakland Zoo."

Full press release: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/08/19/prweb8731011.DTL

Grasslands study shows species variety is important to ecosystem services
August 19, 2011

With biodiversity levels declining around the globe, a new study of grassland plant species provides additional data on the importance of species variety. Using data from 17 biodiversity experiments, researchers learned that the importance of biodiversity has been underestimated in its value in providing ecosystem services for people, "such as food production, carbon storage, and water purification."

From the article:

“Most previous studies considered only the number of species needed to provide one service under one set of environmental conditions,” says Prof. Michel Loreau from McGill University’s biology department who supervised the study. “These studies found that many species appeared redundant. That is, it appeared that the extinction of many species would not affect the functioning of the ecosystem because other species could compensate for their loss.”

Now, by looking at grassland plant species, investigators have found that most of the studied species were important at least once for the maintenance of ecosystem services, because different sets of species were important during different years, at different places, for different services, and under different global change (e.g., climate or land-use change) scenarios. Furthermore, the species needed to provide one service during multiple years were not the same as those needed to provide multiple services during one year. “This means that biodiversity is even more important for maintaining ecosystem services than was previously thought,” says Dr. Forest Isbell, the lead author and investigator of this study. “Our results indicate that many species are needed to maintain ecosystem services at multiple times and places in a changing world, and that species are less redundant than was previously thought.”

The study underscores the importance of conserving biodiversity as a precaution to future environmental changes.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-grass-greener.html

CITATION: Isbell F, et al. 2011. High plant diversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature10282

Efforts to protect wildlife from North Sea oil leak
August 19, 2011

While Shell continues its efforts to stop the oil leak at the Shell Gannet F. Subsea installation in the North Sea, the Scottish Government continues to assess and advise on the impact of the spill to marine life. Aerial surveillance has determined that very few birds are in the oil leak area, and a Marine Scotland ship is collecting samples of fish, water and sediment.

From the article:

A dedicated seabird aerial survey was undertaken on Tuesday this week.  Four species of seabird were recorded within the survey area: gannet, fulmar and guillemot/razorbill, with the most abundant bird species being gannet. A further survey is underway.  Work will continue overnight to enable the data being collected to be analysed.  Statistical analysis of data is essential to enable a robust scientific understanding of the risks to seabirds and the data being collected will complement the existing historic data that has been used to assess the situation since the incident was first reported.

Data from these efforts will help guide measures to protect the marine environment.

Full article: http://www.fishupdate.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/15987/Efforts_to_protect_wildlife_from_oil_leak.html

Brazil's yearly deforestation up 15%, but not as high as expected
August 19, 2011 By Richard Van Noorden

Brazil has implemented drastic deforestation cuts since 2006, but coarse-resolution satellite photos from the DETER satellite system indicate that these efforts have not been completely successful and deforestion in the Amazon rainforest is up 15% from last year. However, compared with predictions based on deforestation spikes in March, April and May, these results are better than anticipated.

From the article:

The spikes in deforestation were ascribed to landowners anticipating a change in the country’s forest code. That legislation has required Amazon landowners to maintain forest on 80% of their land. But the new bill, passed by the nation’s House of Representatives, would create some exemptions for small landowners and allow state governments to adjust the 80% rule. It might still be reformed in the Senate.

DETER estimate: http://www.inpe.br/ingles/news/news_20110817_01.php

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/08/brazils_yearly_deforestation_u.html

Worst weeds for dogs
August 19, 2011 By Emily Green

Veterinatian Nancy Kay and UC Davis weed scientist Joseph DiTomaso agree that foxtails are the worst weeds for dogs. Wild barley (Hordeum murinum) and ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus or Bromus rigidus) are two commonly found foxtail grasses. These produce awns intended to drill into the soil that also drill into dogs' eyes, noses, mouth, paws, and tails. Dr. Kay reports seeing 60 to 90 foxtail cases a month. She recommends regular inspections of dogs after any outing, and a safety net that can be attached to a dog's collar, the "OutFox Field Guard." Symptoms of foxtails includes compulsive licking of paws of convulsive sneezing. Also on the list of weeds that cause problems for dogs is the Calilfornia burclover (Medicago polymorpha), puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris), hedgeparsley (Torilis arvensis), and chervil (Anthriscus caucalis).

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/2011/08/dogs-foxtails.html

Science Exchange allows researchers to outsource experiments
August 19, 2011 By Zoe Corbyn

Co-founder Elizabeth Iorns of Science Exchange in Palo Alto, California, launched an ebay-like website to let scientists barter facilities and equipment for scientific research to people with projects but lacking resources. This is intended to allow universities to maximize their facilities, provide flexibility to researchers who may not have access to labs or equipment, and facilitate payment between users and suppliers. In addition, there is an exchange of information between experimenter and laboratory that can enrich both entities. Science Exchange will charge a commission and handle the transaction. Initial response to the service has been positive, with more than 70 institutions registered. Potentially, this service could change how funds are maximized, and how scientists conduct research.

Science Exchange website: http://scienceexchange.com/

Full interview: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110819/full/news.2011.492.html

Orange goo on Alaska shore was fungal spores
August 19, 2011 By Rachel D'Oro

Recently, an orange-colored goo lined the shore of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community on Alaska's northwest coast. Analysis has determined that it is fungal spores, "consistent with spores from fungi that create 'rust,' a plant disease that accounts for the color, said officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration." Kivalina's 374 residents are concerned about the effect on water and wildlife. The spores might cause allergic reactions or contribute to respiratory diseases, according to NOAA spokeswoman Julle Speegle. As yet, no one has determined exactly what species these spores represent, and could be from an as-yet unidentified arctic species. Officials recommend filtering the spores out of water sources, but not knowing the exact species makes it difficult to provide solutions.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-orange-goo-alaska-shore-fungal.html

Southwestern pond turtle shows signs of a comeback
August 20, 2011 By Tony Perry

Southwestern pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) were once common on the coastal part of San Diego County, but development, invasive species, and predators decimated the population. By 2003, only 120 pond turtles were found in the San Diego region, and it is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. The USGS, the San Diego Zoo, the California Department of Fish and Game and the San Diego Association of Governments started a "save the turtles" program in 2009. This included raising turtle eggs, releasing young turtles, and removing predators and invasive species as practical. Thomas Owens, senior keeper at the herpetology department, reported on the progress of the program this week, stating that new young pond turtles had been reported at the study site. Twelve pond turtles are on exhibit at the zoo's Elephant Odyssey and ten at the Reptile House.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/08/modern-life-has-been-tough-for-the-southwestern-pond-turtles-that-once-were-populous-in-the-coastal-part-of-san-diego-county.html

Asian elephant displays evidence of insight
August 20, 2011 By Ker Than

Kandula, at seven years old and the youngest Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., provided evidence for the first time that elephants can solve problems in their head, develop solutions, and act on that information. During a study, Kandula stood on a large plastic cube, enabling him to reach a cluster of fruit hung just out of his reach. He was able to repeat this behavior several times over multiple days. In the study, Kandula was provided with objects that could have been used to reach the fruit, but did not use them.

From the article:

For several sessions, Kandula just stared at the hanging fruit, ignoring the stick as well as the cube that was nearby.

"He did not attempt to use a tool to reach the food for seven 20-minute sessions on seven different days," Hunter College's Reiss said. "And then he finally had what looked to be this sudden revelation, and he headed right over to the block, pushed it in a direct line right underneath the fruit, and stepped right up on it and got the food in one swift movement.

"We can't get inside their heads ... but the fact that he immediately went over to the block suggests that he was imagining [the process] ahead of time," Reiss said.

When repeating the study with older elephants at the zoo, the researchers were unable to replicate the results. They are not sure if this means that younger elephants may be better problem solvers, or if it is because Kandula is an exceptionally curious elephant.

Full article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/08/110819-elephant-eureka-aha-moment-zoo-intelligence-science-plos/

CITATION: Foerder P, Galloway M, Barthel T, Moore DE, Reiss D. 2011. Insightful problem solving in an Asian elephant. PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023251

SD U-T conducts poll regarding Balboa Park traffic issue
August 20, 2011 By Roger Showley

The Union-Tribune conducted an informal online poll regarding the plans to clear out traffic from Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. Two-thirds of the respondents "favor no cars or traffic in the center of the park," although there was no consensus on which plan should be implemented.

From the article:

The second question- how should changes be made - brought 2,231 responses. They broke down this way:

The newspaper plans to conduct a similar poll after an environmental assessment is completed in a few months.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/aug/20/balboa-park-poll-results-no-clear-winner/

Australia's Coral Sea is 'biodiversity hotspot'
August 20, 2011

A new study conducted by the Pew Environment Group has found that the Coral Sea, a "388,800 square mile zone stretching from the Great Barrier Reef to the waters of the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia," is "one of the last remaining places brimming with large predatory fish." The sea is home to 341 species recognized by the IUCN for their conservation significance and provides "migration corridors for species such as humpback whales, loggerhead turtles and freshwater eels...."

From the article:

Fifty-two species of deep-water sharks, rays and chimaera fish have been recorded in the Coral Sea -- 18 of which are known only from there -- while it also holds the world's only confirmed spawning aggregation of black marlin.

Numerous threatened and migratory whales, turtles and sharks, as well as tunas and billfish, are found in the open sea while cays provided habitat and roosting places for seabirds and nesting spots for endangered green turtles.

The southern Coral Sea also has large densities of fish and squid which, as middle-rankers in the food chain, play an important role in regulating food web stability, the report said.

Because the area can be considered a "biodiversity hotspot," Pew is recommending that the area be made into a conservation marine park.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-australia-coral-sea-biodiversity-hotspot.html

CITATION: Ceccarelli DM. 2011. Australia's Coral Sea: a biophysical profile. Report for the Protect our Coral Seal Coalition. Retrieved online: http://www.pewenvironment.org/uploadedFiles/PEG/Publications/Report/Pew-CoralSeaBiophysicalProfile-Aug2011.pdf

Milwaukee's annual Zoo A La Carte
August 21, 2011 By Bret Buganski

Last week, the Milwaukee County Zoo held their annual Zoo A La Carte event, with 28 Milwaukee restaurants serving food. The motto of the event is "Feast with the beast," which describes how people get together to "taste great food while enjoying the zoo." Zoo A La Carte is the zoo's largest fundraiser and typically "accountes for about ten percent of the zoo's operating budget." Organizers aimed to raise over $1 million during the event.

Full article: http://www.fox6now.com/news/witi-milwaukees-annual-zoo-a-la-carte-20110821,0,1963819.story

Climate change impacts genetic diversity within species
August 21, 2011 By Virginia Gewin

Researchers have completed a study in which they attempted "to understand how global warming might affect...'cryptic' diversity," which is the genetic diversity within a single species. Carston Nowak, a conservation biologist at the Senckenberg Research Institutes and Natural History Museum in Gelnhausen, Germany, and colleagues looked at European aquatic insects that are especially vulnerable to climate change as they require cold water to live and cannot easily travel long distances. The scientists measured the genetic diversity in the insects by sequencing genes in their mitochondira, which "allowed the authors to divide each species into a number of evolutionary significant units (ESUs) — the technical term for a population within a species that is genetically distinct from the rest of its kind."

From the article:

Under the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] business-as-usual climate scenario, 79% of ESUs included in the study are projected to become extinct by 2080; for a reduced-emissions scenario this fell to 59%. ESUs suffered a much greater rate of extinctions than species.

This lost evolutionary potential could hinder species' ability to adapt to change. "This genetic diversity is the most fundamental form of biodiversity — essentially, it's the substrate for evolution," says Nowak.

The study brings to light how even if conservationists are able to prevent species from going extinct, global climate change may "lead to the loss of significant amounts of hidden diversity." Informed conservation decision making will need to take into account "DNA-sequencing initiatives [in order] to reveal high levels of cryptic diversity."

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110821/full/news.2011.490.html

CITATIONS:
Balint M, et al. 2011. Cryptic biodiversity loss linked to global climate change. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1191

Provan J, Maggs CA. 2011. Unique genetic variation at a species's reare edge is under threat from global climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0536

New private reserve protects endangered bird-rich cloud forest in Central Peru
August 21, 2011

This June, a new private reserve run by 125 local families was established in Central Peru. The San Marcos Private Conservation Area (PCA) was established under a clause in the country's law "that allows any landowner to convert their holdings into a nature reserve."

From the article:

San Marcos Private Conservation Area consists of 970 hectares (2,400 acres) of Polylepis forest, a high-elevation habitat that supports a wealth of bird species, including the Royal Cinclodes, White-browed Tit-Spinetail, and Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant. Five new plant species and two new frog species have already been discovered within the borders of the San Marcos Private Conservation Area.

While limited in extent, San Marcos PCA protects a key watershed that feeds the Andean community of San Marcos, the city of Huánuco and 11,800-acre Tingo Maria National Park. Cloud forests like San Marcos are particularly important in maintaining water flows, according to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

The permit which allows the landowners to run the nature reserve can be renewed in 40 years.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0821-peru_san_marcos.html

Conservation of Iberian lynx may not be hindered by low genetic diversity
August 21, 2011

Researchers examing the DNA from Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) fossils found that "they have had very little genetic variation over the last 50,000 years, suggesting that a small long-term population size is the 'norm' in the species and has not hampered their survival." The Iberian lynx is considered to be the most endangered cat species in the world and is the most threatened carnivore in Europe. There are currently only 279 individuals living in two isolated populations in Spain. Typically, low genetic diversity in species is due to population bottlenecks caused by drastic ecosystem changes and can be a hindrance to conservation efforts. However, if lynx populations historically have low genetic diversity, their current low genetic diversity may not pose a problem for captive breeding efforts. According to Dr. Love Dalen from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the study's results "...may help conservation biologists to assess how large a population needs to be to ensure its long-term survival...."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-iberian-lynx-doomed-genetics.html

CITATION: Rodriguez R, et al. 2011. 50,000 years of genetic uniformity in the critically endangered Iberian lynx. Molecular Ecology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05231.x

UK leads clampdown on rhino horn trade
August 21, 2011

At the recent CITES meeting in Geneva, the UK "secured an international agreement to clamp down on the illegal trade of rhino horn."

From the article:

The UK will lead a global steering group to dispel the myths that rhino horn can cure cancer or help stroke patients, which are fuelling demand for it in Asia and driving up its price to £50,000 a kilo.

Countries and conservation groups will share intelligence and policing tactics and work on public awareness campaigns against the illegal trade.

The country will also sponsor a workshop in South Africa this year "to develop better co-operation between countries where rhinos are poached and those where their horns are sold."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/21/rhino-horn-trade-clampdown

Proposed rule change regarding captive-bred tigers
August 22, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 162
FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027; 96300-1671-0000-R4

From the announcement:

We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to amend the regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act (Act) by removing inter-subspecific crossed or generic tiger (Panthera tigris) (i.e., specimens not identified or identifiable as members of Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies from the list of species that are exempt from registration under the Captive-bred Wildlife (CBW) regulations. The exemption currently allows those individuals or breeding operations who want to conduct otherwise prohibited activities, such as take, interstate commerce, and export, under the Act with U.S. captive-bred, live inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers to do so without becoming registered. We are proposing this change to the regulations to strengthen control over captive breeding of tigers in the United States to ensure that such breeding supports the conservation of the species in the wild consistent with the purposes of the Act. The inter-subspecific crossed or generic tigers remain listed as endangered under the Act, and a person would need to obtain authorization under the current statutory and regulatory requirements to conduct any otherwise prohibited activities with them.

DATES: We will consider comments received or postmarked on or before September 21, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027, 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 "Send a Comment.''
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-IA-2011-0027; 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: Timothy J. Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 212, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone 703-358-21040; fax 703-358-2281.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-22/pdf/2011-21303.pdf

Amazon rainforest communities added to Google Street View
August 22, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Google is adding addresses along sections of the Amazon River and Rio Negro in Brazil to its Street View service.

In partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), an organization that has helped the Brazilian state of Amazonas develop and implement innovative forest protection projects, members of Google Earth Outreach and Street View are taking pictures of river communities and rainforest along the banks of two of the world's largest rivers and adding them to Google Places and Google Maps. Google says the effort aims to provide the public with images of the region and build local capacity to use technology.

"We’re training some of FAS’s representatives on the imagery collection process and leaving some of our equipment behind for them to continue the work," writes Karina Andrade of Google Street View on the Official Google Blog. "By teaching locals how to operate these tools, they can continue sharing their points of view, culture and ways of life with audiences across the globe."

Google is also working to upload Street Views and satellite images of the Amazon rainforest into Google Earth.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0821-google_amazon_street_view.html

Chilean sea bass sometimes incorrectly labeled as sustainable
August 22, 2011 By Lisa Lyons

Researchers from Clemson University recently completed a study in which they "analyzed DNA isolated from store-bought, eco-labeled Chilean sea bass." They found that not all of the sea bass labeled as MSC-certified (MSC stands for the Marine Stewardship Council) were actually MSC-certified. Sea bass that has this label must come from three distinct populations, one in Chile, and two in sub-Antarctic waters.

From the article:

In fact, some of the fish that his team purchased turned out to be other species entirely. Of those that were Chilean sea bass, some 15 percent were genetically distinct from fish collected previously from the certified fishery. One sample carried a haplotype (defined as a combination of genetic variants in cellular components known as mitochondria) that has only been found on the other side of the globe, in the southern Indian Ocean. Other haplotypes that the researchers uncovered amongst fish marked with an MSC-certified label commonly trace to South American waters, and still others had never been recorded before in previous genetic surveys.

Researchers were not surprised to find that the fish were often mislabeled, as the "fish pass through many hands from the time they are caught to the time they are purchased." They recommend that concerned consumers do not purchase Chilean sea bass, as there is really no easy way to determine if it actually is deserving of the MSC label.

Full press release: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/cp-esi081611.php

CITATION: Marko PB, Nance HA, Guynn KD. 2011. Genetic detection of mislabeled fish from a certified sustainable fishery. Current Biology 21(16):R621-R622. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.07.006

Chester Zoo team to build orangutan bridges in Borneo
August 22, 2011 By Victoria Gill

The Chester Zoo will be teaming up with the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project in Borneo to build bridges that would help to bring together fragmented Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) populations. The bridges will be made out of the same polyester webbing that is used in the zoo's orangutan exhibits.

From the article:

Marc Ancrenaz, co-founder of the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project, is leading the venture.

Chester Zoo's Nick Davis explained: "When Marc came to the zoo, he noticed that we had this webbing material that we used for our enclosure. Dr Davis, who will take part in the Borneo expedition said that, for orangutans, "we're limited in the materials we can use, because they destroy everything".

The tough polyester webbing material that the zoo uses to make swings and hammocks in its enclosure, appear to be "orangutan-proof".

These bridges should help the fragmented orangutan population to cross rivers and palm oil plantations, roads, and villages.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14592436

Landscape-level burning aided increase in eastern collared lizard population
August 22, 2011 By Diana Lutz

The cover of August's Ecology showcases a 30-year followup study "monitoring the reintroduction of collared lizards on Ozark glades in 1984." The population of the eastern collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris collaris) was decimated after firefighting efforts caused a dramatic change in the local vegetation. The long-term study was conducted by Alan R. Templeton, professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis.

From the article:

During [the study], 1,662 lizards living on 139 glades on three mountains were captured or recaptured 4,545 times.

....The major revelation of the work was that burning entire mountains and valleys, called landscape-level burning, undid ecological damage that was slowed but not stopped by smaller prescribed burns. In fact, it allowed the lizards to undertake their own expanded restoration effort without the assistance of worried biologists. Moreover, burning benefited many species besides the lizards, including a rare fen orchid and fen dragonfly, that were flying under the radar and would probably never have commanded labor intensive restoration efforts on their own.

In short, fire turned restoration from a time-consuming labor-intensive process to one that ran pretty much on its own.

There is currently a self-sustaining population of collared lizards living on Stegall Mountain, the first mountain to be recolonized.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-science-case-collared-lizard.html

CITATION: Templeton AR, Brazeal H, Neuwald JL. 2011. The transition from isolated patches to a metapopulation in the eastern collared lizard in response to prescribed fires. Ecology 92(9):1736-1747. doi:10.1890/10-1994.1

Android app locates endangered species where you are
August 22, 2011 By Jaymi Heimbuch

A new Android app called "Species Finder" has been created by the Center for Biological Diversity. Using a phone's GPS, the app will "generate a list of all the threatened and endangered species living in whichever county you're currently located in." It will also provide users with a "link to more information about that particular plant or animal, as wel as what can be done to help them."

From the article:

"This unique app will bring people and endangered species closer together, allowing anyone with a Droid to discover biodiversity and wildlife in a new way," Peter Galvin, the Center's conservation director said in a press release. "Whether you're a kid with a passion for wildlife, a birdwatcher looking for rare birds, a natural history buff or just a tourist who wants to explore the local landscape, you'll be able to call up information about these extraordinary animals in a few keystrokes."

The Species Finder app can be downloaded from the Android Market: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.cbd

Full article: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/08/android-app-locates-endangered-species-wherever-you-are.php

Plant Buddies are endangered plants in a keychain
August 22, 2011 By Ali Herriyanto

The company Fascinations is now selling a keychain called the Plant Buddy, which is a "selection of endangered cacti that are put into ultra mini terrariums to take with you wherever you go as a charm." The cactus in the terrarium needs to be watered every 30 days and can be transplanted into the ground once it is grown. The plants included in the kits are Stone Rose (Genus Anacampseros), Golden Marble (Genus Opuntia Monachantha), or Eve’s Needle (Genus Astrocylindropuntia Subulata). Each kit comes with planting soil, housing, and a keychain attachment. The keychain retails for $5.95.

More information on the Plant Buddy: http://www.fascinations.com/unique-toys-gifts/plant-buddy

Full article: http://www.chipchick.com/2011/08/plant-buddies.html

New Association of Zoos and Aquarium policy to maximize occupational safety of elephant care professionals
August 22, 2011

The Association of Zoos and has released a policy aimed at requiring AZA-accredited facilities to practice protective contact methods when working with elephants. The new AZA policy states that “elephant care providers…shall not share the same unrestricted space with elephants [except for the specific purposes] of required health and welfare procedures, transport, research, active breeding and calf management programs, and medical treatments and testing.” AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy released a statement that said, “AZA provides significant training and professional development opportunities for zoo and aquarium professionals, including elephant care providers.  This new policy will significantly expand training, with the goal of developing a safer workplace.”

The full policy can be downloaded from AZA here: http://www.aza.org/maximizing-safety-elephant-professionals/.

Full article: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=20650

Edangered species permit applications
August 24, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 164
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N173; 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. 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 law requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before September 23, 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: Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg, FL; PRT-758093
The applicant requests reissuance of their permit to import biological samples taken from hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) collected in the wild in Panama and Bermuda, for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Thomas McCarthy, New York, NY; PRT-50258A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples taken from snow leopards (Uncia uncial) in the wild in Mongolia for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

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: Robert Oswald, Nazareth, PA; PRT-49806A
Applicant: Mitzy McCorvey, Houston, TX; PRT-50554A

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-24/pdf/2011-21650.pdf

Kawailoa Wind Energy Generation Facility draft conservation plan and environmental assessment
August 24, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 164
FWS-R1-ES-2011-N162;10120-1112-0000-F2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from Kawailoa Wind Power LLC (applicant), a subsidiary of First Wind LLC, for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The applicant is requesting a 20-year ITP pursuant to the ESA to authorize take of six species--four endangered birds, one threatened bird, and one endangered mammal (collectively these six species are hereafter referred to as the "Covered Species''). The permit application includes a draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) describing the applicant's actions and the measures the applicant will implement to minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of the Covered Species, the ITP application also includes a draft Implementing Agreement (IA). The Service also announces the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that has been prepared in response to the permit application in accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Service is making the permit application package and draft EA available for public review and comment.

DATES: All comments from interested parties must be received on or before October 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Loyal Mehrhoff, Project Leader, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850. You may also send comments by facsimile to (808) 792-9581.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aaron Nadig, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES above); telephone (808) 792-9400.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-24/pdf/2011-21614.pdf

National Zoo animals react to the earthquake
August 24, 2011

This Tuesday, a rare 5.8 earthquake shook the East Coast. The National Zoo released information on how their animals responded to the quake. No injuries were reported for staff and visitors and they were able to reopen on time the next day. Animal care staff reported that many animals grouped together during the earthquake or went into the water in their exhibits. The giant pandas did not seem to respond to the quake. Interestingly, many of the primates were able to sense the quake before it hit.

From the announcement:

Great Apes

Small Mammals

Read more about the reactions of the various animals at the National Zoo’s website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/PressMaterials/PressReleases/NZP/2011/earthquake.cfm

Female bonobo at Planckendael Zoo named “world’s smartest ape”
August 24, 2011 By Yann Ollivier

Two Belgian zoos recently participated in a friendly contest based on the Flemish game show “Smartest Person in the World.” In the contest, bonobo keepers at the Planckendael Zoo and chimp keepers at the Antwerp zoo pitted their animals against each other in “six tests in which the apes had to use rudimentary tools like branches to extract nuts or oranges from hiding places.” The keepers had expected that the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)would win the challenges, as they have been observed to use tools to obtain food, while bonobos (Pan paniscus) have not been observed to have done this. Additionally, the chimps were exposed to the tests before the contest began, while initially the bonobos seemed to be afraid of the games. However, the chimps seemed to be distracted by in-fighting within the group, with “two younger males…challenging the dominant member.” Instead, Djanoa, a non-dominant female bonobo, “showed uncommon patience and perseverance,” winning 4 of the 6 tests. The zoos participated in the game in order to “draw attention and raise funds for a campaign aimed at cutting down on monkey hunts in Cameroon, where ‘bush meat’ is often considered a prize delicacy.”

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-monkeying-belgian-zoos-girls.html

New study concludes there are 8.7 million species on Earth
August 24, 2011

This week, Census of Marine Life scientists announced the completion of a study that allowed them to estimate the total number of species on Earth to be 8.7 million (+/- 1.3 million) — 6.5 million land species and 2.2 million marine species. Previous estimates varied widely, ranging between 3 million and 100 million. The authors of the study also estimate that “a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and cataloged,” causing them to be concerned that many species may go extinct before they are even discovered. The authors came to the final tally “by identifying numerical patterns within the taxonomic classification system....” Dr. Adl, one of the study’s authors, said, "We discovered that, using numbers from the higher taxonomic groups, we can predict the number of species. The approach accurately predicted the number of species in several well-studied groups such as mammals, fishes and birds, providing confidence in the method."

The scientists predicted the following counts for the various types of life on Earth (excerpted from the article):

  1. ~7.77 million species of animals (of which 953,434 have been described and cataloged)
  2. ~298,000 species of plants (of which 215,644 have been described and cataloged)
  3. ~611,000 species of fungi (moulds, mushrooms) (of which 43,271 have been described and cataloged)
  4. ~36,400 species of protozoa (single-cell organisms with animal-like behavior, eg. movement, of which 8,118 have been described and cataloged)
  5. ~27,500 species of chromista (including, eg. brown algae, diatoms, water moulds, of which 13,033 have been described and cataloged)

The scientists predicted that using traditional methods of describing species would “require up to 1,200 years of work by more than 300,000 taxonomists at an approximate cost of $364 billion,” although newer methods are drastically speeding up the process.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823180459.htm

CITATION: Mora C, Tittensor DP, Adl S, Simpson AGB, Worm B. 2011. How many species are there on Earth and in the ocean? PLoS Biology 9(8):e1001127 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127

VertNet will provide online access to museums’ vertebrate collection data
August 24, 2011

The University of California, Berkeley, is leading the way to create VertNet, “a cloud-based collection of vertebrate specimens.” VertNet will provide the “online storage of information from vertebrate collections at the Smithsonian Institution, American Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Natural History in Paris, UC  Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) and from hundreds of other animal collections around the world.” [The San Diego Natural History Museum is also a parcipant.] The goal is to make information about these animals “readily available to academic researchers and citizen scientists alike.” The project received a 3-year grant of $2.4 million from the National Science Foundation this year to get started. Data from the initial participants should be digitized and available online by the middle of 2012.

VertNet will bring together data already collected in four separate databases: “MaNIS for mammals, ORNIS for birds, HerpNET for reptiles and amphibians; and FishNet.” The information contained in the database will range from simple data like a species name and the place it was collected to “extensive field notes, photographs, audio recordings and information about tissue samples.” John Wieczorek from MVZ said that making the data available online through a single source will cause collection use to “skyrocket”, noting that MVZ’s collection use “went from the hundreds of thousands to tens of millions per year” after they uploaded their specimen and tissue collections to the web. Although many of the museums were initially hesitant to share their data, they joined in the project once they saw that their collections would be more widely used.

Brent Mishler, a professor of integrative biology and director of the campus herbaria at UC Berkeley, says, “The value of online specimens is not only to document existing and new species, but also to investigate the spread of invasive species and future changes to distributions of native species and communities.”

More information about VertNet can be found at: http://vertnet.org/index.php

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/08/24/storing_vertebrates_in_the_cloud.html

Proposed rule to designate critical habitat in Riverside County for Coachella Valley milk-vetch
August 25, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 165
FWS-R8-ES-2011-0064; MO 92210-0-0009

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise designated critical habitat for Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae (Coachella Valley milk-vetch) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, we are proposing approximately 25,704 acres (10,402 hectares) as critical habitat for this taxon in Riverside County, California.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before October 24, 2011. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section by October 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2011-0064, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.
(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0064; 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: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Rd., Ste. 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431- 9440; facsimile 760-431-5902.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-25/pdf/2011-21442.pdf

Could zooplankton save frogs from deadly chytrid fungus?
August 26, 2011

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that the freshwater microorganism Daphnia magna "will consume the zoopore or the free-swimming state of the 'chytrid' fungus." The discovery may provide a biological solution for fighting the chytrid fungus, which has been decimating populations of amphibians worldwide.

From the article:

"We feel that biological control offers the best chance to control this fungal disease, and now we have a good candidate for that," said Julia Buck, a doctoral student in zoology at and Oregon State University lead author of the study, which is published in Biodiversity and Conservation. "Efforts to eradicate this disease have been unsuccessful, but so far no one has attempted biocontrol of the chytrid fungus. That may be the way to go."

Buck and colleagues suggest that Daphnia magna could reduce the density of B. dendrobatidis, the chytrid fungus, enough to enable amphibians to fight off infection.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0826-amphibian_cure.html

CITATION: Buck JC, Truong L, Blaustein AR. 2011. Predation by zooplankton on Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis biological control of the deadly amphibian chytrid fungus? Biodiversity and Conservation. doi:10.1007/s10531-011-0147-4

USFWS reopening comments period on delisting of Eastern gray wolf
August 26, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 166
FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029 ; 92220-1113-000

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: On May 5, 2011, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), published a proposed rule to reevaluate the listing of the Minnesota population of gray wolves (Canis lupus) and revise the listing to conform to current statutory and policy requirements (76 FR 26086). In that proposed rule, we recognized recent taxonomic information indicating that the gray wolf subspecies Canis lupus lycaon should be elevated to the full species C. lycaon. We proposed 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 also proposed to revise the range of the gray wolf (the species C. lupus) by removing all or parts of 29 eastern States, which, based in part on recognition of C. lycaon, were not part of the historical range of the gray wolf.

We announce the reopening of the comment period for our May 5, 2011, proposed rule to provide for public review and comment of additional information regarding our recognition of C. lycaon as a separate species. We seek information, data, and comments from the public with respect to new information relevant to the taxonomy of wolves in North America. In addition we are making a correction to our May 5, 2011, proposed rule and notifying the public that we are considering concluding that proposed rule with two or more final rules.

DATES: We request that comments on this proposal be submitted by the close of business on September 26, 2011. Any comments that we receive after the closing date may not be considered in the final decision on this action.

ADDRESSES:
Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R3-ES-2011-0029, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel at the top of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on "Submit a Comment.''
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery 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, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458. 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-2011-08-26/pdf/2011-21839.pdf

Termination of southern sea otter translocation program
August 26, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 166
FWS-R8-FHC-2011-0046; 94310-1337-0000-D2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to remove the regulations that govern the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) translocation program, including the establishment of an experimental population of southern sea otters, and all associated management actions. We are also proposing to amend the Authority citation for 50 CFR part 17 by removing the reference to Public Law 99- 625, the statute that authorized the Secretary to promulgate regulations establishing the southern sea otter translocation program. Removal of the regulations will terminate the program. We are proposing this action because we believe that the southern sea otter translocation program has failed to fulfill its purpose, as outlined in the southern sea otter translocation plan, and that our recovery and management goals for the species cannot be met by continuing the program. Our conclusion is based, in part, on an evaluation of the program against specific failure criteria established at the program's inception. This proposed action would terminate the designation of the experimental population of southern sea otters, abolish the southern sea otter translocation and management zones, and eliminate the current requirement to remove southern sea otters from San Nicolas Island and the management zone. This proposed rule would also eliminate future actions, required under the current regulations, to capture and relocate southern sea otters for the purpose of establishing an experimental population, and to remove southern sea otters in perpetuity from an ``otter-free'' management zone. As a result, it would allow southern sea otters to expand their range naturally into southern California waters. We have prepared a revised draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) to accompany this proposed rule.

DATES: We will consider comments on the proposed rule, associated revised draft SEIS (which includes a revised draft translocation program evaluation as Appendix C), and the IRFA that are received or postmarked on or before October 24, 2011 or at a public hearing. We will hold two public informational open houses from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., each followed by a public hearing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on October 4, 2011, and October 6, 2011, at the locations identified in the ADDRESSES section.

ADDRESSES: Written Comments: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, the revised draft SEIS, and the IRFA by one of the following methods:
[cir] Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R8-FHC-2011-0046, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then click on the Search button. On the resultant screen, you may submit a comment by clicking on "Submit a Comment.''
[cir] By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-FHC-2011-0046; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
In person: Individuals may attend a public hearing and present oral or written comments, or both, on the proposed rule, revised draft SEIS, or the IRFA.

Copies of Documents: The proposed rule, revised draft SEIS, and IFRA are available by the following methods:
[cir] Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R8-FHC-2011-0046, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then click on the Search button. On the resultant screen, you may view supporting documents by clicking on the "Open Docket Folder'' icon.
[cir] Agency Web site: You can view supporting documents on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/ventura/.
[cir] In person: You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to view the documents, comments, and materials in person at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003-7726; by telephone (805/644-1766); by facsimile (805/644-3958); or by visiting our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/ventura/.

Public Hearings: We will hold two public informational open houses, each followed by a public hearing, at Fleischmann Auditorium, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 on October 4, 2011, and at La Feliz Room, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Long Marine Laboratory, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 on October 6, 2011. See the DATES section above for the times of these hearings.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lilian Carswell, at the above Ventura street address, by telephone (805/644-1766), by facsimile (805/644-3958), or by electronic mail (Lilian_Carswell@fws.gov). Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Services (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-26/pdf/2011-21556.pdf

Revised recovery plan for Mojave population of desert tortoise
August 26, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 166
FWS-R8-ES-2010-N198; 80221-1113-0000-C2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a revised recovery plan for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This species is found in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts in southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, and the southwestern tip of Utah in the United States, as well as in Sonora and northern Sinaloa in Mexico. The listed Mojave population of the desert tortoise includes those animals living north and west of the Colorado River in the Mojave Desert of California, Nevada, Arizona, and southwestern Utah, and in the Sonoran (Colorado) Desert in California.

ADDRESSES: An electronic copy of the revised recovery plan is available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html. Alternatively, the revised recovery plan and reference materials are available by appointment, during normal business hours, at the following location: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, NV 89502 (telephone: 775-861-6300). Requests for copies of the revised recovery plan should be addressed to the State Supervisor at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roy Averill-Murray, Desert Tortoise Recovery Coordinator, at the above address or telephone number.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-26/pdf/2011-21879.pdf