2011 Briefs : July-September

Multiple sclerosis-like disease discovered in Japanese macaques
June 29, 2011

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's Oregon National Primate Research Center have discovered a multiple sclerosis-like disease in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). They discovered that the disease, Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis, is caused by a herpes virus, which may "give significant clues into how multiple sclerosis develops in humans."

From the article:

From 1986 through 2010, 56 of the Japanese macaque monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU spontaneously developed paralysis in their hind limbs, along with other symptoms. The monkeys were humanely euthanized because they could not have been returned to the monkey colony safely. Researchers later did necropsies on the their bodies and performed MRI scans on eight of the animals.

That work and other testing allowed researchers to discover that an MS-like disease called Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis was causing the paralysis. While the disease typically afflicted young adult animals, it also was present in juveniles and older animals, and was present in both males and females.

People working with macaques can now "move toward trying to prevent or treat the virus in monkeys, which might help scientists make progress in treating MS in humans."

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628163321.htm

CITATION: Axthelm MK, et al. 2011. Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis: a spontaneous multiple sclerosis-like disease in a nonhuman primate. Annals of Neurology. doi:10.1002/ana.22449

Judge rules polar bears still threatened
June 30, 2011

In response to challenges by the state of Alaska and hunting groups that listing the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as threated was "irrational", US District Court Judge Emmet Smith upheld the US Fish and Wildlife Service's "decision to protect the bear because of the melting of the Arctic sea ice." In 2006, when polar bears were added to the Endangered Species List by Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne, they were the first species to be added "solely because of the threat from global warming." The plaintiffs in the case argued that there were already sufficient laws protecting the bears. There are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears globally, although scientists believe that their habitat will shrink by two-thirds by 2050 due to rising temperatures in the Arctic.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/polar-bears-arctic-sea-melting-global-warming.html#more

Pacific Ocean study finds plastic in 1 in 10 fish
June 30, 2011 By Tony Barboza

Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego conducted a study that found plastic particles present in the stomachs of 10% of fish they collected. In 2009, graduate students from SIO travelled to the "Pacific garbage patch, an area of high concentration of fragments of floating garbage about 1,000 miles of the California coast," and collected 141 fish. Most of the fish collected were lanternfish, small fish that are "a common food source for larger fish". Although this study found a smaller percentage of plastic present than previous studies (some indicated that as many as 35% of fish ingested plastic), the authors stress that the conclusion is the same: "garbage is present in the food chain."

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/06/1-in-10-fish-in-northern-pacific-ocean-found-have-ingested-plastic-study-finds.html#more

Tammar wallabies produce 80% less methane than other ruminants
June 30, 2011 By Sarah C.P. Williams

Australian scientists have discovered what they believe to be the reason macropods produce less methane than other ruminants. By studying Tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii), they were able to isolate a group of bacteria classified as Wallaby Group 1 (WG-1).

From the blog post:

When the researchers grew the bacteria in a nutrient broth, they found that the microbes produce a compound called succinate instead of methane as an end product of digestion. As succinate is not a greenhouse gas, the scientists hope that further studies on the WG-1 bacteria will help researchers find a way to modify livestock to produce less gas—methane gas, that is.

Full blog post: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/06/scienceshot-why-wallabies-dont.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Pope PB, et al. 2011. Isolation of Succinivibrionaceae implicated in low methane emissions from Tammar wallabies. Science. doi:10.1126/science.1205760

US National Parks' cultural and natural resources threatened
July 1, 2011 By Virginia Morell

A new report titled The State of America's National Parks was conducted by the National Parks Conservation Association. In the report, which tracks a decade-long study, the NPCA cites "unchecked development, thousands of invasive species, climate change, and reduced budgets and staff" as the main threats to America's national parks. They also warn that at risk are "millions of artifacts, from Native American cultures to more recent historic events, largely because these items either are not being protected or have never been cataloged."

From the article:

"...[T]he report warns that prehistoric and historic sites, including battlefields, are suffering primarily because they receive less attention and funding than do parks known for their natural beauty. As a result, looters and vandals are rapidly destroying America's cultural treasures—and there simply aren't enough staff members on hand to protect these resources, let alone study and interpret them for visitors. Some 43 million of the National Park Service's (NPS's) 80 million museum artifacts have yet to be catalogued, the report states, while another 28 million objects are at risk of being damaged or lost.

Archaeologists and anthropologists working for the National Parks Service are not surprised by the findings, saying that they confirm what the NPS has been hearing from visitors and staff for a long time. The NPS is currently working on a "plan of action" to improve America's parks by 2016, when the service will be celebrating its centennial.

National Parks Conservation Association report: http://www.npca.org/cpr/sanp/SANP-long-WEB.pdf

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/us-national-parks-cultural-and.html?ref=hp

Adoptions and offspring swapping in Eastern gray kangaroos
July 1, 2011 By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg

Australian researchers have made the surprising discovery that Eastern gray kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) sometimes "swap" offspring, with mothers adopting other young. At the Wilsons Promontory National Park in Australia, Graeme Coulson (a zoology professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia) was able to perform extensive research on the kangaroos. According to the article, "Hundreds of animals have been collared, given ear tags and genotyped from a tissue sample taken when they are tagged. The project, which began in 2008, is a 15-year-long study of population dynamics and reproductive strategies in the Eastern gray kangaroo."

Coulson and colleagues described the first documented report of "spontaneous adoptions in the wild," with a mother kangaroo "[bending] forward, [opening] her arms, and [inviting] someome else's youngster to hop into her pouch." The adoptions all occurred when the young kangaroos were still nursing and lasted until the end of "pouch life." The researchers documented a five percent adoption rate in the kangaroo population at Wilsons Promontory. Although they are not entirely sure of the causes yet, as there are no apparent benefits to the mothers, the researchers believe that the offspring swaps might occur when mothers are startled by a predator and are too distracted to realize that the young that is approaching them is not actually their offspring. The findings were presented at a joint meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists and the Australizan Mammal Society in Portland, Oregon.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-offspring-swapping-stun-kangaroo.html

Lincoln Park Zoo works with forest preserve to conserve smooth green snakes
July 1, 2011

The Lincoln Park Zoo and Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) are working together to conserve the smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis), which is considered an Illinois Species in Greatest Need of Conservation. The species population is declining due to "habitat loss, conversion of grasslands into agriculture, urbanization, and the widespread use of pesticides."

From the article:

With little chance of natural recovery, LCFPD and the zoo established a partnership in 2010 to aid the recovery process through population supplementation, translocation, and reintroduction into suitable habitat. The partnership's first challenge was to locate the snakes last summer – not an easy proposition with such a small population of tiny snakes that blend in so well with the grasses. But hard work paid off when a few adult snakes were located and brought to the zoo for breeding, and a large communal nest of more than 80 smooth green snake eggs was discovered in an undesirable location that is slated for development. The eggs were taken to the zoo for incubation and 83 neonates hatched in mid-summer 2010.

On June 30, three zoo-raised snakes were hard released into the wild, with the other three released into enclosures within the Lake County Forest Preserve. The group expects to release about 12 more snakes throughout the summer, some of which will have radio transmitters attached to aid biologists in tracking their movements and survival rates.

Full press release: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=19987

Deforestation rises in the Amazon for third consecutive month
July 1, 2011 By Gayathri Vaidyanathan

Perhaps in response to a proposed change in Brazil's Forest Law which would "reduce the amount of privately-owned land that must be maintained as forest by small landholders from 80% to 50%", Brazil's forest monitoring system has found increased logging rates for the third month in a row. This May, 267.9 square kilometers (approx. 103 square miles) were cleared, "a 144% increase on the 109.6 square kilometers cleared in May last year." Deforestation rates had been decreasing since 2004 until this year.

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/deforestation_rises_in_the_ama.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110705

Tanzania's road through Serengeti still on, but unpaved
July 1, 2011 By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala

Although last week it was reported that the Tanzanian government would be halting plans to build a road through the Serengeti, the government is now saying that an unpaved road will be constructed through the national park. The revisions to the initial plan also include providing game rangers who will "control traffic to avoid disturbing the annual migration of wildebeest."

From the article:

Roads outside the national park will be paved, but roads leading to the park and those inside the wildlife sanctuary will not be. Conservationists say the road through the northern edge of the Serengeti would hinder the annual migration of two million wildebeest, one of the world's top wildlife spectacles. UNESCO has urged the international community to provide support to Tanzania, which relies heavily on tourism, for an alternative route, running south of Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The World Bank said in March it had offered Tanzania an alternative to stop the Serengeti road project.

Although the conservation community is gravely concerned about interrupting the annual wildebeest migration, some members of the Tanzanian parliament point to the need to "open up the region" for the 300,000 residents of the Serengeti. Kebwe Stephen Kebwe, the Serengeti member of parliament, said in a phone interview, "The wildlife migration pattern has been there for years ... a 52-kilometre stretch of road, even if unpaved, will not affect anything." Additionally, Kebwe stated that the Tanzanian government has made the road a "priority project" and will allocate sufficient funds in the 2011/2012 budget to construct the road.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/01/us-tanzania-serengeti-road-idUSTRE7601KK20110701

Chester Zoo hopes 'to create a generation of online conservationists' through social media
July 1, 2011 By Mark Kinver

The Chester Zoo has launched the Act for Wildlife website, which they hope will engage young people with conservation through "social media, video and blogs." In a survey the zoo commissioned, they found that "66% of adults felt that 10-year-olds were more interested in technology than wildlife" and that while "94% of adults felt that biodiversity conservation was important...only 15% actively helped a cause." The website will "...allow users to find out more about the effort to save species, put questions to staff working around the globe and follow their fieldwork," and will act as a way to build a nation-wide online community of conservationists.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13908846

Blue Ventures wins $100,000 award for sustainable fisheries project
July 1, 2011 By Catherine de Lange

Excerpt from the article:

A marine conservation charity that helps coastal communities sustainably manage and profit from marine life has won a US$100,000 prize for sustainable practices.

Blue Ventures, a UK-based conservation organisation that works in Belize, Madagascar and Malaysia, took first place in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an international competition that rewards innovative sustainability projects, in New York, United States, last month (10 June).

The charity focuses on developing evidence-based, integrated ways to reduce the impact of fisheries on marine habitats, while accepting that local communities rely on fishing for their income.

...One pilot project that Blue Ventures has helped to set up and run, for example, is a community-based network of cucumber and seaweed farms in Madagascar. Over the next three years, the project will be scaled up and full management passed to locals, taking the pressure off natural resources while letting villagers retain control over their finances.

The charity has also recommended the seasonal closure of octopus fisheries in particularly vulnerable areas, and has helped to set up alternative businesses, based on crafts and catering, with local women's organisations.

Continue reading: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/sustainable-fisheries-net-us-100-000-award.html

Balboa Park museums offer cool kid-friendly fun
July 2, 2011 By Emily Sorensen

The author describes some kid-friendly activities in Balboa Park, including:

Balboa Park offers free admission on Tuesdays to certain museums. To view the schedule of free admissions, visit www.balboapark.org.

Full article: http://www.pomeradonews.com/2011/07/01/balboa-park-museums-offer-cool-kid-friendly-fun/

Tree frogs "refresh stickiness" with every step
July 2, 2011 By Michael Price

From Science:

Trying to re-stick a piece of tape to a surface after it's become dusty is infuriating. So how do tree frogs pull it off? It turns out the arboreal amphibians, which secrete gluey mucus from pads on their feet, refresh their stickiness with every step they take. Biologists presenting at the Society for Experimental Biology annual conference in Glasgow found that the White's tree frog (Litoria caerulea) self-cleans as it climbs thanks to special channels in its feet that slime away dirt and debris. When the frog moves its limbs forward, the mucus and any accumulated gunk slip through the channels and stay behind while new sticky mucus is secreted in its place. The researchers say these findings could one day inspire such technology as self-cleaning medical bandages and self-renewing adhesives.

Original source: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/scienceshot-how-tree-frogs-keep.html?ref=hp

Seeds of Success aims to preserve native plants
July 4, 2011 By Janet Zimmerman

Excerpts from the article:

Botanists are combing Southern California hillsides and deserts in a nationwide scramble to gather and stockpile enough native plant seeds to restore public lands destroyed by wildfires and replace endangered species' habitat lost to commercial solar development.

The idea for the harvest sprouted in 2001 after massive fires across the country, similar to those burning now in Arizona and blazes that regularly damage the Great Basin in Idaho, said Peggy Olwell. She's in charge of the plant conservation program for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, overseer of the seed collection effort. "We wanted to reseed, but we didn't have the native plant materials available on the market. We didn't have the quantity of material or the diversity of species," Olwell said.

...Botanists and volunteers from BLM offices, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research aim to collect 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 seeds 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.eastvalleytribune.com/nation_world/article_9373528c-a425-11e0-a889-001cc4c002e0.html

Britain's richest man to build giant Arctic iron ore mine
July 4, 2011 By Terry Macalister

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's richest man, is planning to build a "giant new opencast mine 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle in a bid to extract a potential $23bn (£14bn) worth of iron ore."

From the article:

The "mega-mine" – which includes a 150km railway line and two new ports – is believed to be the largest mineral extraction project in the Arctic and highlights the huge commercial potential of the far north as global warming makes industrial development in the region easier.

...But the wildlife group WWF, describes the planned mine as a "game changer" and a test case that could affect all future industrialisation of the far north. "It is certainly ... of a scale that would be massive anywhere in the world," said Martin von Mirbach, a director of the Arctic programme at WWF in Canada. WWF is demanding the company proceeds with extreme caution.

Environmental impact statements have accepted that there are unique animals that would be affected by the development, including terrestrial mammals such as caribou, Arctic fox and hare; marine mammals such as polar bears, narwhals, beluga whales and blowhead whales; and migratory birds including snow geese, rough-legged hawks and gyro-falcons. Additionally, the report admits that some fish habit would be lost due to the "unavoidable" building of railway sections into the edge of several lakes.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/04/lakshmi-mittal-arctic-iron-ore

Rhino poaching crisis in South Africa as 200 killed in six months
July 4, 2011

South Africa has seen a surge of rhino poaching during 2011, with "almost 200 rhinos [killed] during the first half of the year," compared to 333 total killed last year in South Africa. Conservationists and government officials indicate that sophisticated crime rings are behind the increase in poaching.

From the article:

Poaching is driven by demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is used for traditional medicine, and conservationists want to see international moves to crack down on the supply and demand ends of the chain in order to save the rhino.

In South Africa, law enforcement efforts are being stepped up in response to poaching. Figures show 20 poachers have been killed "in combat", while six have been convicted and 123 people have been arrested this year.

Conservationists are also concerned that rhino poaching seems to be spreading to other parts of Southern Africa.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/04/rhino-poaching-south-africa-wwf

Most of 'missing species' live in known biodiversity hotspots
July 4, 2011

A new study conducted by Lucas Joppa, an ecologist from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, and his colleagues show that most of the world's undiscovered species live in areas that have already been identified as biodiversity hotspots. Conservationists have made these hotspots conservation priorities, and Joppa and his coauthors were concerned that by focusing on these areas scientists may be ignoring areas of the world with the most unknown species.

From the article:

To address this dilemma, Joppa and his coauthors created a model that incorporates taxonomic effects over time to estimate how many species of flowering plants, which form the basis of the biodiversity hotspots concept, remain to be discovered in regions around the world. They then compared those estimates with regions currently identified as global conservation priorities. The two sets matched.

Six regions already identified by conservation scientists as hotspots – Mexico to Panama; Colombia; Ecuador to Peru; Paraguay and Chile southward; southern Africa; and Australia – were estimated by the models to contain 70 percent of all predicted missing species. Only two regions with high estimates of missing species – the region from Angola to Zimbabwe, and the northern Palearctic, which encompasses parts of Europe and Asia – contained no biodiversity hotspots.

The results confirmed that the conservation community is focusing their work in most of the right places in the world, but also showed that there is "an increased sense of urgency to the global extinction crisis."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-species-hotspots.html

CITATION: Joppa LN, Roberts DL, Myers N, Pimm SL. 2011. Biodiversity hotspots house most undiscovered plant species. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1109389108

Sanders pushes car-free zone in Balboa Park
July 5, 2011 By Dave Rice

Mayor Jerry Sanders is backing the plan from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs which would "redevelop Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama into a car-free zone." The plan would "...create a bypass bridge to loop around the plaza, stopping traffic on El Prado as it crosses over SR 163 and diverting it to the right toward a paid parking garage near the organ pavilion. The garage will feature 'a green rooftop park of lawns and gardens,' and will be financed through a bond to be repaid with the parking fees generated." The plan will go to the city council on July 17, where the Plaza de Panama Committee hopes to discuss a memorandum of understanding that would help the committee begin development so the project could be completed before the 2015 centennial celebration.

Read Mayor Sanders' open letter: http://www.sandiego.gov/mayor/pdf/110630balboamou.pdf

Full blog post: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2011/jul/05/sanders-pushes-car-free-zone-in-balboa-park/

Captive chimpanzees show signs of compromised mental health
July 5, 2011

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kent, UK, captive chimpanzees were shown to exhibit signs of "mental illness," such as "self-mutilation, repetetive rocking, [and] the eating of faeces and drinking of urine."

From the article:

The research, which was conducted by Dr Nicholas Newton-Fisher and Lucy Birkett from the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservation and is published by the online journal PLoS ONE, was conducted among 40 socially-housed zoo-living chimpanzees from six collections in the USA and UK. After determining the prevalence, diversity, frequency, and duration of abnormal behaviour from 1200 hours of continuous behavioural data, the researchers concluded that, while most behaviour of zoo-living chimpanzees is ‘normal’ in that it is typical of their wild counterparts, abnormal behaviour is endemic in this population despite enrichment efforts such as social housing.

Such abnormal behaviour has been attributed to the fact that many zoo-living chimpanzees have little opportunity to adjust association patterns, occupy restricted and barren spaces compared to the natural habitat, and have large parts of their lives substantially managed by humans. Controlled diets and provisioned feeding contrast radically with the ever-changing foraging and decision-making processes of daily life in the wild.

The authors of the study hope that their research will help even "the best zoo environments" to better learn about "how the chimpanzee mind copes with captivity."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-captive-chimpanzees-compromised-mental-health.html

CITATION: Birkett LP, Newton-Fisher NE. 2011. How abnormal is the behaviour of captive, zoo-living chimpanzees? PLoS ONE 6(6):e20101. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020101

Biofuels from kelp
July 5, 2011

Kelp (Laminaria digitata) could provide an alternative biofuel source to those grown on land, especially since "marine ecosystems are an untapped resource that account for over 50% of global biomass and seaweeds themselves are capable of producing more biomass per square metre than fast growing terrestrial plants such as sugar cane." New research conducted by Welsh scientists have shed more insight onto how to most efficiently convert kelp into biofuel. By collecting samples throughout the year and performing chemical analysis, they were able to determine that July would be the best month for harvesting kelp, as the kelp then has "the highest proportions of carbohydrate and the lowest metal count" — the most efficient chemical makeup for producing biofuels.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/05/biofuels_from_the_sea.html

Flooding hinders Yellowstone River oil cleanup
July 5, 2011

An oil pipeline ruptured last Saturday, spilling between 750 and 1,000 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River, which runs from northwestern Wyoming through Yellowstone National Park. ExxonMobil insists "that it had 'met all regulatory requirements' and that the pipeline had been inspected in December." So far the company "has deployed more than 280 people to clean up [the] oil spill...but their efforts have been hindered by flooding."

From the article:

It said cleanup activities involving absorbent pads and vacuum trucks were focused on a 19-mile stretch of the river downstream from the pipeline spill with another 222 miles under surveillance. "Daily aerial flights over the river are being undertaken to identify additional oil locations and monitor and direct cleanup activity," it said in a statement. "We are also walking the parts of the shorelines where it is safe to do so... Given the current flooding and very swift river currents, we will need to wait until it is safe to get into some areas," it added, without elaborating.

Water sampling results have not yet been published, although some local residents have reported suffering from "headaches and nausea." According to an article published in the New York Times, "wildlife-rescue teams have yet to find significant numbers of oiled birds, fish or amphibians," but they do remain concerned about the long-term effects that the oil buildup could have on the local ecosystem.

Full articles: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/flooding-hinders-yellowstone-river-oil-cleanup and http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/07/08/08greenwire-wildlife-along-yellowstone-river-faring-well-s-70037.html

Naked mole rat's genome sequenced
July 5, 2011 BY Victoria Gill

Scientists have completed sequencing the naked mole rat's (Heterocephalus glaber) genome, which they hope will provide some insight as to why the animals are so long-lived and how they apparently have "some resistance to cancer." Although most small mammals do not have a very long life span, the naked mole rat can live over 30 years in captivity. Also interesting about the mole rats is that they "have very little or no pain sensation in their skin and a low metabolic rate that allows them to live with limited oxygen" and that they exhibit complex social behaviors, living "in groups of up to 300 animals [with] a queen who can 'switch off' the reproduction in other animals." Researchers hope that the genome will help them to perform more sophisticated studies of the animals.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14031978

Fisher decline documented in California
July 5, 2011

A new report indicates that fishers (Martes pennanti) are on the decline on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in northwestern California. By using a mark-resight method to survey the population of the species, which is a "house-cat sized member of the weasel family and candidate for endangered species listing", the Hoopa Valley Tribe and conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Massachussetts reported a "73-percent decline in the density of fishers." Possible reasons for this decline are "changes in prey habitat, disease, and increases in predation," although the researchers cite the need for additional studies.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-fisher-decline-documented-california.html

Embedding microchips in ornamental shrubs
July 5, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Radiofrequency Identification (RFID), or microchip technology, has been used for years in animal identification systems and is now being tested for use in plants. Researchers note that microchip techniques have varied applications for plants. The technology can be used to help guide visitors through parks and botanical gardens, to thwart theft of valuable plants, and to aid scientists and growers in monitoring plant health. For example, RFID codes have been used successfully with grapevines to create databases and to generate ''virtual gardens'' in which production, monitoring, global positioning system coordinates, and other data are archived.

Microchips have traditionally been attached externally, which can change the aesthetics of plants. Researchers in Italy have designed a new way to tag shrubs by imbedding microchips, thus minimizing damages to plants' appearance.

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-embedding-microchips-ornamental-shrubs.html

CITATION: Luvisi A, et al. 2010. Radiofrequency identification tagging in ornamental shrubs: an application in rose. HortTechnology 20:1037-1042.

New diet for gorillas at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo helps animals with needed weight loss
July 5, 2011 By James Ewinger

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has had success with a new diet for two male Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). By replacing the commercially processed biscuits that used to make up most of the gorillas' diets with leafy greens and vegetables, the zoo was able to help Bebac, 26, and Mokolo, 23, lose 20 and 60 pounds (respectively). Both gorillas suffer from heart disease, and the zoo hopes that this dietary change will help to slow the progress of the disease. The diet change has also ended regurgitation and reingestion in the gorillas, which the veterinarians believe may be caused by a high starch content in their previous food. An additional aspect of the research which is ongoing is to determine exactly what constitutes a healthy gorilla, as there is little known about the health and mortality of wild gorillas.

Full article: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2011/07/new_diet_for_apes_at_cleveland.html

CA climate: inland warmer; coast cooler and wetter
July 6, 2011 By Peter Fimrite

A study analyzing 40 years of climate statistics has concluded that coastal California regions are getting wetter and cooler while inland areas are getting hotter. Meteorologist Jan Null found that "Eureka, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego" all cooled down, with San Francisco cooling down the most by 1 degree. Rainfall increased in all coastal cities studied except for San Diego and Losa Angeles. Inland areas got drier and hotter, with Fresno's annual temperature increasing by 1.1 degree. Null indicates that the findings confirm climate change predictions, stating: "People say, 'Wait a minute, what about global warming? Shouldn't it be warmer?' " Null said. "Well, if you have more warm days in the Central Valley, you are going to have a stronger sea breeze so you will cool off the coastal areas. That certainly does not contradict any of the models about global warming. This is what is to be expected."

Full article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/06/MNDM1K6KFE.DTL

Robot modelled after snail movement can move in any direction
July 6, 2011 By Jaymi Heimbuch

Researchers at the Biomechatronics Lab at Chuo University in Japan have modelled a robot after the snail because of "their strategies for using undulation and 'galloping' to move around." The motion is referred to as galloping because of how snails "[stretch] the front of the body forward, and [pull] the back of the body up to meet it." The new robot can move in all directions and changes shape based upon obstacles it may encounter.

Full article and video of the robot "in action": http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/07/gallpping-snail-robot-can-move-in-any-direction.php

Lizard smuggler gets 15 months in prison
July 6, 2011 By Kate Mather

Michael Plank attempted to "smuggle 15 lizards into the United States by strapping the squirming reptiles to his chest" in 2009 when he was passing through customs in Los Angeles after flying from Australia. Plank was caught trying to smuggle two geckos, two monitor lizards and 11 skinks from Australia. He was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for the felony charge of smuggling goods into the United States. The lizards are currently being housed at the San Diego Zoo.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/07/lizard-smuggler-sentenced.html

American burying beetles to be released at the Wilds
July 6, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

In 1989, the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) -- once found in 35 states -- became the first insect to be listed as a federally protected endangered species, according to a news release from the Wilds. Researchers at the Wilds have been working in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in an effort to re-establish this species in Ohio.

The Ohio State University and the Cincinnati and St. Louis zoos are also part of the effort to raise and release beetles for the species recovery plan.

Full article: http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/article/20110706/NEWS01/107060323

Annual Farm to Table Benefit at Cleveland Botanical Gardens
July 6, 2011

The Cleveland Botanical Gardens is hosting their annual Farm to Table Benefit dinner on July 18 from 5:30-9:00pm. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Garden's Green Corps program and the North Union Farmers Market.

From the announcement:

The 13th annual collaboration with North Union Farmers Market will once again bring Cleveland's top chefs together in one resplendent summer setting. As usual, you'll sample from many dishes and styles of cuisine prepared from a wide array of fresh, summer ingredients local to Ohio.

The night begins with keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and world-renowned internist. Dr. Roizen is an expert on dietary wellness and the creator of "RealAge"—a test to determine a person's true physical age based on fitness and well-being. He is a celebrated speaker and author of eight books including Cooking the RealAge Way: Turn Back Your Biological Clock with More than 80 Delicious and Easy Recipes.

The cost for members is $85 and $100 for non-members.

Full announcement: http://gardennews.biz/?id=6698

Proposed changes in propagation rules for Bald and Golden eagles
July 6, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 129
FWS-R9-MB-2011-0020; 91200-1231-9BPP

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We solicit recommendations on whether the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) should be included among other raptors that may be propagated in captivity under Federal raptor propagation permits.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by October 4, 2011 by either one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R9-MB-2011-0020.
U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attention: FWS-R9-MB-2011-0020; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203-1610.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. George T. Allen, 703-358-1825.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Propagation of bald eagles and golden eagles has not been allowed under the raptor propagation permit regulations at 50 CFR 21.30. We are now considering whether to permit this activity. We request comments and suggestions on this topic from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, and other interested parties.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-06/pdf/2011-16877.pdf

Proposed rule allowing use of raptors in abatement activities
July 6, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 129
FWS-R9-MB-2009-0045; 91200-1231-9BPP

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We are considering promulgating migratory bird permit regulations for a permit to use raptors (birds of prey) in abatement activities. Abatement means the use of trained raptors to flush, scare (haze), or take birds or other wildlife to mitigate damage or other problems, including risks to human health and safety. We have permitted this activity under special purpose permits since 2007 pursuant to a migratory bird permit policy memorandum. We now intend to prepare a specific permit regulation to authorize this activity. We seek information and suggestions from the public to help us formulate any proposed regulation.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or suggestions by October 4, 2011 by the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. We will not post duplicate comments from any entity, nor will they be put into our administrative record for this issue.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attention FWS-R9-MB-2009-0045; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203-1610.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Lawrence at 703-358-2016.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-06/pdf/2011-16880.pdf

Endangered species applications for permit
July 6, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 129
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N141; 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. We also correct and reopen the comment period for a previously announced application.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before August 5, 2011.

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; (703) 358-2104 (telephone); (703) 358-2280 (fax); DMAFR@fws.gov (e-mail).

Applicant: Feld Entertainment Inc., Vienna, VA; PRT-37444A (Corrected Application)
On June 23, 2011, we published a Federal Register notice inviting the public to comment on several applications for permits to conduct certain activities with endangered species (76 FR 36934). We made an error by omitting one animal in the Feld Entertainment, Inc. application, which starts at the bottom of column 3 on page 36934. The omitted animal is a captive-born tiger (Panthera tigris). All the other information we printed was correct. With this notice, we correct that error and reopen the comment period for PRT-37444A. The corrected entry for this application is as follows: The applicant request a permits 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 seven tigers (Panthera tigris). The captive-born animals are being imported from
Schweiberdingen, Germany, in cooperation with Alexander Lacey.

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: Alan Maki, Alpine, WY; PRT-43269A
Applicant: Jeffrey Rachor, Dallas, TX; PRT-43976A
Applicant: Lewis Metzger, Houston, TX; PRT-46316A
Applicant: David Cote, Morristown, NJ; PRT-43284A

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-06/pdf/2011-16907.pdf

New rule regarding activities with U.S. captive-bred Scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and Dama gazelle
July 7, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 130
FWS-R9-IA-2010-0056; 96300-1671-0000-R4

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise the regulations that implement the Endangered Species Act (Act). This action would eliminate the exclusion of U.S. captive-bred live wildlife and sport-hunted trophies of three endangered antelopes--scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah), addax (Addax nasomaculatus), and dama gazelle (Gazella dama)--from certain prohibited activities, such as take and export, under the Act. This proposed change to the regulations is in response to a court order that found that the rule for these three species violated section 10(c) of the Act. These three antelope species remain listed as endangered under the Act, and a person would need to qualify for an exemption or obtain an authorization under the current statutory and regulatory requirements to conduct any prohibited activities.

DATES: We will consider comments received or postmarked on or before August 8, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R9-IA-2010-0056.U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-IA-2010-0056; 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: Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 212, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone 703-358-2093; fax 703-358-2280.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-07/pdf/2011-16982.pdf

Endangered species recovery permit applications
July 7, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 130
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N139; 80221-1113-0000-F5

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.

DATES: Comments on these permit applications must be received on or before August 8, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Written data or comments should be submitted 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.

Applicants

Permit No. TE-43668A
Applicant: Gerald T. Braden, Angelus Oaks, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the Stephens' kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) and San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus); take (harass by survey, capture, band, color band, release and monitor nests) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) and least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus); and take (harass by survey) the 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 and Nevada for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-174305
Applicant: Department of Air Force, Vandenberg Air Force Base, 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 Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-039305
Applicant: Michael W. Kline, San Diego, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in San Diego and Imperial Counties, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-43675A
Applicant: Nancy W. Fox-Hernandez, 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 throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-43944A
Applicant: Brenton T. Spies, Northridge, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, kill, and release) the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) in conjunction with research activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-44855A
Applicant: Clint M. Scheuerman, Encinitas, California.
The applicant requests a permit 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-039305
Applicant: Ursula A. Carliss, Laguna Niguel, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (harass by survey) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) and least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-795930
Applicant: Helm Biological Consulting, Sheridan, California.
The applicant requests a permit to take (collect soil containing federally listed fairy shrimp cysts, translocate, and inoculate cysts into restored vernal pools) the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with vernal pool restoration and population enhancement activities at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District Nature Preserve Mitigation Bank in Sacramento County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-45776A
Applicant: Matt P. Coyle, Rocklin, California.
The applicant requests a permit 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-009018
Applicant: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, California.
The applicant requests a permit to remove/reduce to possession the following species, in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities on Federal lands throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing each species' survival:

Acanthomintha obovata subsp. duttonii (San Mateo thornmint);
Alopecurus aequalis var. sonomensis (Sonoma alopecurus);
Amsinckia grandiflora (large-flowered fiddleneck);
Arabis mcdonaldiana (McDonald's rock-cress);
Arctostaphylos hookeri var. ravenii (Presidio manzanita);
Astragalus claranus (Clara Hunt's milk-vetch);
Blennosperma bakeri (Sonoma sunshine);
Callitropsis abramsiana (Santa Cruz cypress);
Calystegia stebbinsii (Stebbins' morning-glory);
Carex albida (white sedge);
Castilleja affinis subsp. neglecta (Tiburon paintbrush);
Ceanothus ferrisiae (coyote ceanothus);
Ceanothus ophiochilus (Vail Lake ceanothus);
Ceanothus roderickii (Pine Hill ceanothus);
Chorizanthe howellii (Howell's spineflower);
Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana (Ben Lomond spineflower);
Chorizanthe robusta (incl. vars. robusta and hartwegii) (robust spineflower and Scott Valley spineflower);
Chorizanthe valida (Sonoma spineflower);
Cirsium fontinale var. fontinale (fountain thistle);
Cirsium fontinale var. obispoense (Chorro Creek bog thistle);
Cirsium hydrophilum var. hydrophilum (Suisun thistle);
Cirsium loncholepis (La Graciosa thistle);
Clarkia franciscana (Presidio clarkia);
Clarkia imbricata (Vine Hill clarkia);
Clarkia speciosa subsp. immaculata (Pismo clarkia);
Cordylanthus mollis subsp. mollis (soft bird's-beak);
Cordylanthus palmatus (palmate-bracted bird's beak);
Cordylanthus tenuis subsp. capillaris (Pennell's bird's-beak);
Delphinium bakeri (Baker's larkspur);
Delphinium luteum (yellow larkspur);
Dudleya setchellii (Santa Clara Valley dudleya);
Eremalche kernensis (Kern mallow);
Eriodictyon altissimum (Indian Knob mountain balm);
Eriogonum apricum (incl. var. prostratum) (Ione (incl. Irish Hill) buckwheat);
Eriophyllum latilobum (San Mateo woolly sunflower);
Eryngium constancei (Loch Lomond coyote thistle);
Erysimum capitatum var. angustatum (Contra Costa wallflower);
Erysimum menziesii (Menzies' wallflower);
Erysimum teretifolium (Ben Lomond wallflower);
Fremontodendron californicum subsp. decumbens (Pine Hill flannelbush);
Galium californicum subsp. sierrae (El Dorado bedstraw);
Gilia tenuiflora subsp. arenaria (Monterey gilia);
Lasthenia burkei (Burke's goldfields);
Lessingia germanorum (=L.g. var. germanorum) (San Francisco lessingia);
Lilium occidentale (Western lily);
Lilium pardalinum subsp. pitkinense (Pitkin Marsh lily);
Limnanthes floccosa subsp. californica (Butte County meadowfoam);
Limnanthes vinculans (Sebastopol meadowfoam);
Lupinus nipomensis (Nipomo Mesa lupine);
Lupinus tidestromii (clover lupine);
Navarretia leucocephala subsp. pauciflora (=N. pauciflora) (few-flowered navarretia);
Navarretia leucocephala subsp. plieantha (many-flowered navarretia);
Oenothera deltoides subsp. howellii (Antioch Dunes evening-primrose);
Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei (Bakersfield cactus);
Orcuttia pilosa (hairy orcutt grass);
Orcuttia viscida (Sacramento orcutt grass);
Parvisedum leiocarpum (Lake County stonecrop);
Pentachaeta bellidiflora (white-rayed pentachaeta);
Phlox hirsuta (Yreka phlox);
Piperia yadonii (Yadon's piperia);
Plagiobothrys strictus (Calistoga allocarya);
Poa napensis (Napa bluegrass);
Polygonum hickmanii (Scotts Valley polygonum);
Potentilla hickmanii (Hickman's potentilla);
Pseudobahia bahiifolia (Hartweg's golden sunburst);
Sidalcea keckii (Keck's checker-mallow);
Sidalcea oregana subsp. valida (Kenwood Marsh checker-mallow);
Streptanthus albidus subsp. albidus (Metcalf Canyon jewelflower);
Streptanthus niger (Tiburon jewelflower);
Suaeda californica (California seablite);
Thlaspi californicum (Kneeland Prairie penny-cress);
Trifolium amoenum (showy Indian clover);
Trifolium trichocalyx (Monterey clover);
Tuctoria greenei (Greene's tuctoria);
Tuctoria mucronata (Solano grass).

Permit No. TE-45778A
Applicant: Ellis Ecological Services Incorporated, Estacada, Oregon.
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, electrofish, measure, collect, handle, and release) the Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) and the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, Klamath County, Oregon, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-07/pdf/2011-16993.pdf

Ancestry of polar bears traced to Ireland
July 7, 2011

Although polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and brown bears (Ursus arctos) differ greatly physiologically and behaviorally, a new study shows that "the female ancestor of all living polar bears was a brown bear that lived in the vicinity of present-day Britain and Ireland just prior to the peak of the last ice age -- 20,000 to 50,000 years ago." Previously, it was believed that the female ancestor of polar bears had lived on Alaskan islands only 14,000 years ago.

From the article:

[Beth] Shapiro (one of the lead authors of the study) hopes to design future studies of the polar bear's DNA by concentrating on other parts of the animal's genome. "Until now we have focused our efforts on the polar bear's mitochondrial DNA, which traces only the mother's side of the family tree," Shapiro said. "But there is much to be learned from the nuclear genome -- the genetic material contained within the nucleus of the cell, which has been passed to offspring from both mothers and fathers." Shapiro said that a more complete investigation of this part of the genetic story could answer deeper questions about how interactions with other species and environmental changes affected the polar bear in the distant past, how frequently hybridizations between species actually happened, and how these hybridizations affected the genetic diversity of the polar bear generally.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-ancestry-polar-ireland.html

CITATION: Edwards CJ, et al. 2011. Ancient hybridization and an Irish origin for the modern polar bear matriline. Current Biology. doi:10.1016/jcub.2011.05.058

Gardeners can help keep pollinators healthy
July 7, 2011 By Jeff Mulhollem and Chuck Gill

Since 1990, wild honeybee populations have dropped 25 percent due to Colony Collapse Disorder and other environmental factors. To help honeybees and other pollinator species, home gardeners can plant pollinator-friendly gardens. Ginger Pryor, the state coordinator of the Penn State Extension's Master Gardener Program, suggested the following tips:

– Choose native speceis of plants, as insects are "four times more likely to be attracted to them"

– Plant species that bloom from early spring to late fall. Having a variety of plants with different shapes and colors will attract an assortment of pollinators.

– Avoid invasive plant species

– Provide a water source. “Water sources such as shallow birdbaths, mud puddles or even just a small saucer with sand and rocks to supply pollinators with necessary water and minerals are acceptable,” Pryor said.

– Minimize or reduce pesticide use as much as possible.

Full article: http://gantdaily.com/2011/07/07/gardeners-can-help-keep-pollinators-healthy/

Como Park Zoo helps bring rare Wyoming toad back from brink of extinction
Juuly 7, 2011 By Miles Trump

The Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota, shipped 1,300 Wyoming toad (Bufo baxteri) tadpoles "to be released near the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge outside Laramie, Wyoming." The endangered toad is one of the rarest toads in the world. Initially thought to be extinct in the early 1980s, researchers found one later in the decade near Lake Mortensen in Wyoming. The zoo had received 11 of the toads in 2010 for breeding and this is the first year they will release its captive population of tadpoles.

From the article:

The toads live in a special room in the zoo's Animal Support Building. Breeding begins in April, when a hibernation chamber simulates the toads' natural habitat for more than five weeks, Barney said. Then, males and females are paired for 24 hours for breeding, she said. In one year, Como Zoo has doubled its number of Wyoming toads to 22.

The zoo received an $8,000 grant from the Frog Crossing Foundation last spring to help fund equipment and training to take care of the toads. With the money, Barney was able to travel to the Amphibian School in Toledo, Ohio, "to learn exactly how to take care of captive populations of amphibians" and to Laramie to do field research.

Full article: http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_18422734

Science On a Shpere is Detroit Zoo's newest attraction
July 7, 2011 By Judy Davis

The Detroit Zoo has become the second zoo in the country to install the exhibit Science On a Sphere as a permanent exhibit. The exhibit is "an animated, hologram-like globe that displays representations of the planet’s atmospheric, oceanic and land activity in 3D." The seven-minute presentation allows visitors to "examine the Earth's activities including atmospheric storms, climate change and ocean temperature." The exhibit opened last Firday with over 2,000 daily visitors over the holiday weekend. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is the other zoo that has installed the exhibit permanently.

Full article: http://royaloak.patch.com/articles/science-on-a-sphere-is-detroit-zoos-newest-attraction

Irish rhino horn racket uncovered by Europol
July 7, 2011

Europol has discovered a crime ring based in Ireland that is "illegally trading rhino horn worth tens of thousands of euros as far afield as China." There is a high demand for rhino horn, which "is a prized ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine and is also used for decoration and to produce luxury goods." The cost of a rhino horn can range between 25,000 ($36,000) and 200,000 Euros ($284,900). The group "targeted antique dealers, auction houses, art galleries, museums, private collections and zoos, 'resorting to theft and aggravated burglary where necessary...' " in order to obtain the rhino horns. Europol recommends "alerting potential targets 'of possible visits to defraud or attack them for their specimens.'" Already this year, 200 rhinos have been killed for their horns in South Africa.

Male black widow spiders sniff out cannibal females
July 6, 2011 By Victoria Gill

A new study published in Animal Behaviour has shown that male black widow spiders (Latrodectus hesperus) are able to pick up "chemical cues" from webs to avoid hungry females, who are more likely to cannibalise the males after mating.

From the article:

James Chadwick Johnson from Arizona State University, US, who led the study, hand-fed female black widow spiders to make sure he had a well-fed group of females for the experiment....The team gave these females one cricket per week....The other group of females in the test were starved for several weeks. This did not endanger their lives, but they were "visibly smaller". In the test, the researchers placed male spiders onto the different females' webs to see how they would react. To make sure the males were only taking cues from the female spiders' silk, they also put males onto a small bundle of clean silk - with no debris from consumed prey - taken from the webs of both well-fed and hungry females.

Researchers found that the males were able to tell the difference between the webs of well-fed and hungry females by picking up scents through their feet. When they were on the web of a well-fed female, "they carried out their typical courtship dance much more actively."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14044032

CITATION: Chadwick Johnson J, Trubl P, Blackmore V, Miles L. 2011. Male black widows court well-fed females more than starved females: silken cues indicate sexual cannibalism risk. Animal Bheaviour. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.05.018

Controversy over potential benefit/harm of invasive species
July 6, 2011 By Michael Price

In a response to Mark Davis' argument in Nature last month "that experts and laypeople are committing a naturalistic fallacy when it comes to favoring native species over nonnative or invasive species," a group of 141 scientists have signed a petition that opposes the piece.

From the article:

Daniel Simberloff, an ecologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, writes today on behalf of the signatories that Davis and his colleagues were attacking strawmen in their letter. "[M]ost conservation biologists and ecologists do not oppose non-native species per se -- only those targeted by the Convention on Biological Diversity as threatening 'ecosystems, habitats or species,'" he wrote. "There is no campaign against all [nonnative] introductions."

He and other ecologists agree with Davis that there are sometimes apparent benefits to introducing nonnative species to an area, but point out that it is impossible to know what sort of impact invasives will have on an environment in the long term.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/are-nonnative-species-victims-of.html?ref=hp

CITATIONS:
Davis M, et al. 2011. Don't judge species on their origins. Nature 474:153-154. doi:10.1038/474153a

Simberloff D. 2011. Non-natives: 141 scientists object. Nature 475:36. doi:10.1038/475036a

Full list of signatories: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v475/n7354/extref/475036a-s1.pdf

Ranchers using herbicides to deforest the Amazon
July 6, 2011

IBAMA, Brazil's enviornmental law enforcement agency, has reported that 180 hectares (450 acres) of Amazonian rainforest were defoliated using a mix of herbicides similar to Agent Orange.

From the article:

The affected area, which is south of the city of Canutama and near the Mapinguari Jacareúba / Katawixi indigenous reservation in Rondônia, was first detected by Brazil's deforestation monitoring system. A subsequent helicopter overflight last month by IBAMA revealed thousands of trees largely stripped of their vegetation. Authorities later found nearly four tons of chemicals...along trans-Amazon highway 174. The herbicides would have been enough to defoliate roughly 3,000 ha (7,500 acres) of forest, which would then be cleared for cattle ranching or agriculture.

IBAMA says use of chemical defoliants is a relatively new phenomenon in the region, but represents a troubling development, according to Cicero Furtado, coordinator of the investigation...."If used improperly, [the chemicals] can cause serious damage to the environment such as pollution of groundwater, loss of biological diversity in soil, killing animals and insects, among others," added a statement from IBAMA.

Authorities say they will investigate the crime, is punishable by fines ranging from 500,000-2 million reals ($320,000-1.3 million).

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0706-agent_orange_amazon.html

GigaScience provides first citable data
July 6, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

GigaScience, an innovative new journal and integrated database to be launched by BioMed Central in November 2011, has released their first datasets to be given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). This enables a long-needed way to properly recognize the data producers who have provided an untold number of essential resources to the entire research community. This not only promotes very rapid data release, but also provides easy access, reuse, tracking, and most importantly permanency for such datasets. The journal is being launched by a collaboration between BGI, the world's largest genomics institute, and open access publisher BioMed Central, a leader in scientific data sharing and open data.

The datasets, created by BGI and its collaborators in Germany and in the Genome10K project, include the sequence and assembly data from the recent deadly outbreak strain E. coli O104, and 7 large vertebrates, including the giant panda, which is in great danger of extinction; the chinese rhesus and crab-eating cynomolous macaques, which are commonly used biomedical animal models; the polar bear and the emperor and adelie penguins, which live in extremely hostile environments; and the domestic pigeon, which has unusually accurate navigation abilities. The datasets have been assigned Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to enable other scientists to cite the datasets, in the same manner as scientific papers.

The data available through GigaScience will be made available "prior to the publication of their association scientific journal articles" and will be freely available for readers and reproducible for researchers.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/06/from_deadly_e_coli_to_endangered_polar_bears_gigascience_provides_first_citable_data.html

More than half of tuna species at risk of extinction
July 7, 2011

The latest assessment from IUCN show "that three species [of tuna] are threatened with global extinction, while two more will be under threat without action to help them." Conservationists are calling "for urgent action to tackle over-fishing," although this will be a difficult task to undertake because of the high commercial value of some of the fish.

From the article:

IUCN experts warned that all three bluefin tuna species – southern, Atlantic and Pacific – were susceptible to collapse because of pressure from fishing for the high-value fish. Southern bluefin tuna are already critically endangered, the highest category of risk, and Atlantic bluefin are endangered, the assessment for the IUCN red list of threatened species found. Bigeye tuna are vulnerable to extinction, while yellowfin and albacore tuna are close to being under threat, or will be threatened with extinction if conservation measures are not put in place to turn their fortunes around.

Last year, an attempt to list bluefin tuna as endangered under CITES was defeated by a large majority of countries.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/07/tuna-species-risk-extinction

'Beehive fences' keep African elephants out
July 7, 2011 By Virginia Morrell

From the article:

African elephants are afraid of bees (they even have an alarm call for them), and scientists are now using that fear to help protect the crops of Kenyan farmers. In previous studies, a team of researchers showed that the behemoths rapidly leave areas where they hear the sound of buzzing bees. Now these same scientists have designed and tested a fence that incorporates beehives spaced 10 meters apart. The team installed 1700 meters of the fences along the boundaries of 17 farms in Northern Kenya that are often raided by wild elephants; another 1700 meters of the same farms were protected only by thorn tree fences. After two years, the beehive fences easily won the contest: only one bull elephant broke through this fence, while 31 elephants managed to crash the thorn fence, the scientists report in the current issue of The African Journal of Ecology. Beehive fences can thus be used to help limit the number of human-elephant conflicts, a growing problem as the human population in Africa increases, and farmers and elephants compete for land and water resources, the researchers say.

Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/scienceshot-beehive-fences-keep.html?ref=hp

CITATION: King LE, Douglas-Hamilton I, Vollrath F. 2011. Beehive fences as effective deterrents for crop-raiding elephants: field trials in northern Kenya. African Journal of Ecology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.2011.01275.x

Yellowstone River spill not good for wildlife, but could be worse
July 7, 2011 BY Sara Reardon

Excerpt from the article:

The good news about the oil pipe that ruptured outside Laurel, Montana, last Friday and spilled up to 42,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River is that the river is moving, preventing the oil from building up on larger animals like it did in the Gulf Coast spill. The bad news is that it's moving far too fast, spreading the oil as much as 240 miles downstream and splashing it onto shores.

Above average snowmelt has raised river levels tremendously and caused extensive flooding in the area for weeks. The prevailing theory, denied by ExxonMobil officials, is that the raging water itself broke a poorly-buried pipe by throwing debris. Either way, the high waters have significantly hampered cleanup efforts and it's tough to know, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) officials say, how widely ecosystems will be affected.

Scientists are most concerned about the spill's negative impact on birds, as the oil can build up in their feathers and they can "pass it on to their eggs."

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/yellowstone-river-spill-not-good.html

"Winter in July" at Phoenix Zoo
July 8, 2011 By Connie Cone Sexton

The Phoenix Zoo is hosting "Winter in July" on July 16th, where guests will be able to play in the snow. According to the article, guests can:

- Throw snowballs at spinning and twirling targets;
- Cool off at the "Leapin' Lagoon" and "Yakulla Caverns" water-play areas;
- Watch some of your favorite animals beat the heat with lots of snow and ice treats;
- Enjoy dancing, games and prizes.

The event is free for members and included with entrance to the Zoo. Guests are encouraged to bring their own coolers and food to the event. Additionally, guests may bring their own bicycles to ride around the park.

A recent study commissioned by AZA has found that the Phoenix Zoo contributes $64 million in economic activity to Arizona, employing 316 people and generating $23.6 million in salaries and wages.

Full article: http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2011/07/07/20110707phoenix-zoo-cool-place-visit-help-state-economy.html

New U.S. program funds research collaborations in developing world
July 8, 2011 By Natalie Villacorta

PEER (Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research) is a new joint grants initiative between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). PEER aims to improve "the scientific infrastructure of developing nations." For example, one of the first grants gave $30,000 to the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh that will "establish a seismology and geology center that will archive, proces, and analyze seismic data" to be used in an NSF-funded project at Columbia University. Since January, $150,000 has been awarded "to scientists in Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mali, Kenya, and Burkina Faso who are working with NSF grantees on topics such as climate change, seismology, biodiversity, and hydrology."

From the article:

PEER is part of a larger effort by USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to use science and technology to help address pressing needs in the developing world. "We can define development as lack of access to the basic scientific and technical advances that so many of us take for granted," he said. Shah cited oral rehydration therapy as a simple scientific invention that has saved tens of millions of lives.

So far, USAID has pledged to spend $7 million over 5 years, an amount it calculates will leverage up to $100 million invested by NSF. Any scientists in developing countries who are collaborating with NSF-funded researchers on challenges related to renewable energy, food security, climate change, and disaster mitigation may submit a proposal, and the National Academies' National Research Council will manage the peer review process.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/new-us-program-funds-research-co.html?ref=hp

Photo of blackspot tuskfish first of wild fish using tools
July 8, 2011 By Rebecca Kessler

A diver has captured what many believe to be the first photos of a fish in the wild using a tool. Scott Gardener was able to take photos of a blackspot tuskfish (Choerodon schoenleinii) "holding a clam in its mouth and whacking it against a rock" until the shell cracked and the fish ate the bivalve inside. Although tool use has been documented in a number of different species, it is not widely documented in fish.

From the article:

Archerfish target jets of water at terrestrial prey, but whether this constitutes tool use has been contentious. There have also been a handful of reports of fish cracking open hard-shelled prey, such as bivalves and sea urchins, by banging them on rocks or coral, but there's no photo or video evidence to back it up, according to Culum Brown, a behavioral ecologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and a co-author of the present paper, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Coral Reefs.

The tuskfish caught on camera was clearly quite skilled at its task, "landing absolutely pinpoint blows" with the shell, Brown says. A scattering of crushed shells around its anvil rock suggests that Gardner didn't just stumble upon the fish during its original eureka moment. In fact, numerous such shell middens are visible around the reef. Blackspot tuskfish, members of the wrasse family, are popular food fish, so it's surprising that its shell-smashing behavior has remained unknown, Brown says. "My feeling is that when we go out and really look for it, it'll turn out to be common."

Some scientists point out that in this instance the fish is using a "proto-tool", since it is using a stable object (the rock) to break open the shell, rather than controlling an object to smash against the shell.

Photos of the tuskfish: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h1463564t1t2t00m/

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/diver-snaps-first-photo-of-fish-.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Jones AM, Brown C, Gardner S. 2011. Tool use in the tuskfish Choerodon schoenleinii? Coral Reefs. doi:10.1007/s00338-011-0790-y

Cell lines lost in flood at Copenhagen Biobank
July 8, 2011 By Gretchen Vogel

Last week there were heavy rains in Copenhagen, Denmark, resulting in the flooding of the Danish Cancer Society's Biobank. Hundreds of cell lines have been destroyed, although employees at the Biobank were able to "salvage more than 1 million tissue samples," some of which were invovled in a 20-year study.

From the article:

The cell lines are unlikely to survive the thaw, but the tissue samples are less delicate, Olsen says. "It doesn't matter that they were warmed up for a few hours, as long as you freeze them down again," he says. Some of the lost cell lines were shared with other laboratories and can be retrieved, but Olsen estimates that many dozens have been lost permanently. He says the cleanup and full damage assessment will take months.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/cell-lines-lost-in-flood-at-copenhagen.html?ref=hp

Mesker Park Zoo throws hippo 60th birthday party
July 8, 2011 By Samm Quinn

Indiana's Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden celebrated Family Fun Day on July 8, part of which included a birthday party for Donna, a Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) who is turning 60 years old. Donna is regarded to be the oldest Nile hippo in captivity, and her sister Julie who lives at the Memphis Zoo is the second oldest at 50 years old. Some of the events include a singalong for Donna in the afternoon, cake for zoo visitors attending the party, and a fruit popsicle for Donna's birthday treat. Zoo staff believe Donna has had such a long life because she has an "easygoing attitude," with keepers saying, "She lets us do what needs to be done to help her."

Full article: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2011/jul/08/no-headline---ev_hippobirthday/

South Sudan home of second-largest land migration
July 10, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Excerpt from the article:

At midnight local time on Friday, South Sudan became the world's newest nation. As celebrations continue in the new capital of Juba and congratulations come from every corner of the globe, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is urging the newborn nation to protect its ecosystems and rich wildlife in order to build a sustainable and forward-looking economy. Home to the world's second largest land migration, South Sudan boasts an abundance of African megafauna that is becoming increasingly rare throughout much of the continent.

... Every year 1.3 million antelope, including white-eared kob, tiang antelope, Mongalla gazelle, and reedbuck, migrate across savanna and wetlands in South Sudan. The migration was only discovered in 2007 after decades of civil war had kept scientists out. But as spectacular as it is, the migration isn't the South Sudan's only wildlife wonder. Researchers were surprised to see that much of the wildlife survived the region's political turmoil, including buffalo, giraffe, lion, bongo, chimpanzee, and some 8,000 elephants.

Conservationists are hoping that the South Sudanese government will work to protect its ecosystem in order to develop an ecotourism industry. The majority of its revenue currently comes from oil.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0710-hance_southsudan.html

Paignton Zoo wins top national horticulture award
July 11, 2011 By Philip Knowling

The Paignton Zoo in the UK has won the Norah Stucken Award for their "innovative high density vertical crop-growing system" called VertiCrop.

Kevin Frediani, the zoo's curator of plants and gardens says in the article:

“VertiCrop is designed to grow crops where they are needed – in towns and cities. It uses automatic irrigation and hydroponic technology, meaning it grows plants without soil, so it doesn’t need good agricultural land which can be used to grow staple crops instead. Growing crops vertically also reduces the area of land needed and by growing food near to where it is consumed there are no food miles attached."

VertiCrop grows 11,000 plants in 100 sqare meters (approx. 1,076 sq ft).

Full article: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5295-Paignton_Zoo_Wins_a_Top_National_Horticulture_Award

Climate change to push over 10 percent of the world's species to extinction by 2100
July 11, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Excerpt from the article:

Scientists have predicted for decades that climate change could have a grave impact on life on Earth, which is already facing numerous threats from habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive species, and other impacts. However, empirical proof of extinctions--and even endangerment--due to climate change have been difficult to come by. A new study in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science has found that by the time today's infants are 90 years old (i.e. the year 2100) climate change could have pushed over 11 percent of the world's species to extinction.

...Scouring recent studies, Ilya Maclean and Robert Wilson with the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, found widespread evidence of over a hundred ways in which climate change is already impacting species, including rising temperatures, changes in rainfall, and decreased sea ice. They also noted a number of predicted, but not yet observed, ways in which scientists expect climate change to impact species.

"The responses included documented changes to extinction risk, population size, and geographic range size for 305 taxa from all major groups of organisms, covering a high proportion of the global terrestrial and marine surface," the scientists write, adding that vertebrate species appear more threatened by climate change than plants and invertebrates.

Continue reading: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0711-hance_climate_extinction.html

CITATION: Maclean IMD, Wilson RJ. 2011. Recent ecological responses to climate change support predictions of high extinction risk. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1017352108

Tiny snails survive digestion by birds
July 11, 2011 By Ella Davies

A new study has determined that Tornatellides boeningi, a tiny land snail measuring just 2.5 mm, can survive intact after being eaten by birds. Larger snails, however, were much less likely to survive after being eaten. On the Japanese island of Hahjima, Japanese white-eyes (Zosterops japonicus) "feast" on the snails. By feeding the snails to the white-eyes in a controlled study, scientists from Tohoku University found that 15% of the snails survived. While it is well known that birds help with seed dispersal, this study shows that birds may also be an important factor in spreading snail populations.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14048754

Fire destroys San Diego Zoo giftshop
July 11, 2011

Early on Monday morning, a fire destroyed a gift shop near the panda exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. No animals or people were hurt, although the damage to the building and the contents "are considered a total loss at $700,000." San Diego Fire-Rescue Department are stating that the cause was arson, although it is still under investigation. The Zoo was able to open as scheduled that same day.

Full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/07/fire-that-destroyed-gift-store-at-san-diego-zoo-was-arson.html

Rhino horn 'kingpin' arrested in South Africa
July 11, 2011

South African police have arrested Chumlong Lemtongthai, a Thai man who is believed to be a " 'leading figure' in international poaching. Officials allege that Lemtongthai "obtained trophy hunting permits and used them to organise illegal poaching expeditions - he would then buy back the horns from the hunters for an average of 65,000 rand ($9,700; £6,034) per kilogram and export them." The last few years have seen a spike in the number of rhino poachings, with more than 300 rhinos killed in South Africa in 2010.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14114327

Endangered Species Permits
July 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 133
FWS-R4-ES-2011-N129; 40120-1112-0000-F5

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 requires that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive written data or comments on the applications at the address given below, by August 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Documents and other information submitted with the applications 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 to the following office within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30345 (Attn: Cameron Shaw, Permit Coordinator).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cameron Shaw, telephone 904/731-3191; facsimile 904/731-3045.

Permit Applications:

Applicant: William Holimon, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Little Rock, Arkansas, TE-142294.
The applicant requests renewal of authorization for trapping, banding, translocating, and installing artificial nesting cavities for red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) in Arkansas.

Applicant: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Social Circle, Georgia, TE-36886A.
Applicant requests renewal of authorization to take (capture and release) Indiana bats (Myotis sodalist) and gray bats (Myotis grisescens) for the purpose of conducting presence/absence surveys, population monitoring, and ecological studies. This work will be conducted throughout Georgia.

Applicant: CCR Environmental Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, TE-59008.
Applicant requests amendment of permit to add the following species for the purpose of conducting presence/absence surveys in the States of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Louisiana: Armored snail (Pyrgulopsis pachyta), speckled pocketbook (Lampsilis streckeri), and Rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrical cylindrical).

Applicant: Avian Research and Conservation Institute, Gainesville, Florida, TE-38642A.
Applicant requests authorization to take snail kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis) for the purpose of attaching scientific devices to conduct research. This activity will be conducted in Polk, Osceola, Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach, Hendry, Broward, Collier, Monroe and Dade Counties, Florida.

Applicant: University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, TE-38522A.
Applicant requests authorization to take Indiana bats and gray bats for the purpose of conducting research on these species within Barren, Edmonson and Hart Counties, Kentucky.

Applicant: Christopher Hintz, PhD., Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia, TE-40005A.
Applicant requests authorization to take by the use of ground penetrating radar, nests of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) for the purpose of studying nesting success. This work will be conducted throughout the Atlantic coastline of Georgia.

Applicant: Dr. David Nelson, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, TE-40523A.
Applicant requests authorization to take (trap, take tissue samples) the Alabama red-bellied turtle (Pseudemys labamensis). This study will be conducted in the Blakeley River drainage in Alabama.

Applicant: Dr. Thomas Risch, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro Arkansas, TE-75913.
Applicant requests renewal of authorization to take (capture and release) Indiana bats, Ozark big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii ingens), and gray bats for the purpose of conducting presence/absence surveys, population monitoring, and ecological studies. This work will be conducted throughout Arkansas.

Applicant: Stuart McGregor, Geologic Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Alabama, TE-41252A.
Applicant requests authorization to conduct presence/absence surveys throughout Alabama for 39 listed mussel species.

Applicant: Eglin Air Force Base, Niceville Florida, TE-42183A.
The applicant requests authorization for trapping, banding, translocating and installing artificial nesting cavities for red- cockaded woodpeckers on Eglin Air Force Base, Niceville Florida.

Applicant: David Saugey, Jessieville, Arkansas, TE-43704A.
Applicant requests authorization for non-lethal take of Indiana bats, gray bats, Virginia big-eared bats (Corynorihinus townsendii virginianus) and Ozark big-eared bats for the purpose of conducting presence/absence surveys and collecting scientific data on roost sites. This work will be conducted throughout the range of these species.

Applicant: Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Cupey, Puerto Rico, TE-125521.
Applicant requests a permit amendment to house Puerto Rican parrots (Amazona vittata) at the Puerto Rico Zoo in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-12/html/2011-17422.htm

Half male, half female butterfly hatches at London's Natural History Museum
July 12, 2011 By Ian Sample

A great mormon butterfly (Papilio memnon) hatched last month at the London Natural History Museum that was half male and half female. The gynandromorph butterfly (gynandromorph insects have both male and female cells) exhibits a "striking difference between its wing colorings and other features."

From the article:

The insect, which has a 10cm wingspan, is almost black on its male side, but the female side is much paler, with clearly visible flecks of blue, red and tortoiseshell. A closer inspection revealed the insect to have one antenna longer than the other, a single male clasp on its abdomen, and male and female reproductive organs that had fused down the middle.

The butterfly is infertile, but is expected to live a normal butterfly lifespan of about 1 month. According to the article, approximately 1 in 10,000 butterflies is a gynandromorph.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/12/half-male-half-female-butterfly

Aphids survive being eaten by falling off plants
July 12, 2011

Researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel have discovered that aphids (Uroleucon sonchi L.) are able to escape being eaten by herbivores by falling off of plants.

From the article:

As soon as aphids feeding on a plant sense the heat and humidity in a mammal's breath, they drop to safety before they are inadvertently ingested together with the plant the animal is feeding on....Many insects seek food and shelter on plants that may in turn be eaten by mammalian herbivores, who also accidentally ingest the resident insects. Gish and colleagues examined how the aphid Uroleucon sonchi L. deals with the danger of incidental predation by mammalian herbivores - in this case a goat. They were also interested in how the aphids' escape behavior might be affected by environmental conditions.

The scientists discovered that 76% of the aphids in a colony survived being eaten by a goat by dropping off of the plant, with the same results when a scientist breathed on the aphids, mimicking the heat and humidity of an herbivore's breath.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-freefall-aphids-survival-strategy.html

CITATION: Gish M, et al. 2011. Avoiding incidental predation by mammalian herbivores: accurate detection and efficient response in aphids. Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature. doi:10.1007/s00114-011-0819-7

Border fences pose threats to wildlife on US-Mexico border
July 12, 2011

A new study published by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin shows that "current and proposed border fences pose significant threats to wildlife populations, with those animals living in border regions along the Texas Gulf and California coasts showing some of the greatest vulnerability." The risks to species living along the border include habitat fragmentation, human population growth along the border, and increased vulnerability to natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires because of their limited mobility. Inbreeding depression is also a concern.

From the article:

"The U.S.-Mexico border spans regions of extraordinary biological diversity as well as intense human impacts," says Keitt. "Loss of biological diversity can have negative impacts on the ecosystem services that are the basis of our life-support system."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is waived from environmental regulations when building security infrastructure. There are about 750 miles of border fences and human migration barriers along the border.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-border-pose-threats-wildlife-us-mexico.html

CITATION: Lasky K, Jetz W, Keitt TH. 2011. Conservation biogeography of the US-Mexico border: a transcontinental risk assessment of barriers to animal dispersal. Diversity and Distributions 17(4):673-687. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00765.x

San Diego Zoo polar bears play in 18 tons of snow
July 13, 2011

From the article:

Eighteen tons of snow was brought into the Polar Bear Plunge exhibit Wednesday morning. Just as they would in the wild, the bears are digging and playing in it, much to the delight of zoogoers. "To see them out there having so much fun, it's just great. I don't know how else to explain it, you just have to watch it and everybody here is smiling ear to ear, just like our bears are," senior polar bear keeper Joanne Simerson said. Zookeepers say they want people to have a good time, but they also want to stress the message that we need to help change the environment to preserve the arctic ice that polar bears live on.

Full story and video of the bears enjoying the snow: http://www.cbs8.com/story/15078638/zoo-polar-bears-enjoy-summer-snow-day

Large electric vehicle-charging infrastructure to come to San Diego
July 14, 2011 By Katie Gatto

Excerpt from the article:

ECOtality Inc., a company that works on clean electric transportation and storage technologies, has announced the formation of a partnership with car2go, a car sharing service that is a subsidiary of Daimler North America Corporation. The two companies will be developing a system that will provide a large-scale electric vehicle-charging infrastructure that will be designed to support the first 100-percent electric car-sharing program in North America.

The program, which is being put into place in the San Diego metropolitan area, will consist of a fleet of about 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles, making it the largest single fleet of electric vehicles in the United States to date. There are expected to be roughly 1000 charging stations deployed in the metro area as part of the project.

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-ecotality-car2go-team-infrastructure-san.html

Loss of large predators disrupting multiple plant, animal, and human ecosystems
July 14, 2011

A new report in Science emphasizes the huge impact that large, apex predators (such as wolves, lions, sharks and sea otters) have on their environment. The authors are saying that the human-caused decline of these species is severely disrupting their local ecosystems, affecting "everything from habitat loss to pollution, carbon sequestration, wildfire, climate, invasive species and spread of diesase [and] is also a driving force in the sixth mass extinction in Earth history...."

Examples cited in the study [excerpt from the article]:

The researchers hope that their study will bring focus to an issue they feel has been too often overlooked.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-loss-large-predators-disrupting-multiple.html

CITATION: Estes JA, et al. 2011. Trophic downgrading of planet earth. Science. doi:10.1126/science.1205106

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14066052

San Diego Zoo Safari Park names gorilla in memory of President Emeritus Lee Monroe
July 7, 2011 By Ken Bohn

Kokamo, a female gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, gave birth to the newest member of the gorilla troop at the park on June 17. The male gorilla has been named Monroe in memory of Lee Monroe, M.D., a former president of San Diego Zoo Global who continued to support the organization after his retirement. Monroe is now the sixth western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at the Safari Park, and the first to be born since 2001. According to zoo staff, Kokamo is an excellent mother and has formed a strong bond with Monroe. Both mother and baby can be seen on exhibit with the rest of the troop every day.

Full article: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5288-San_Diego_Zoo_Safari_Park_Names_Gorilla_in_Memory_of_President_Emeritus_Lee_Monroe

Baby parrots learn names from their parents
July 13, 2011

While scientists have known that individual parrots have their own "signature calls [which] others use when addressing it" and which individual birds use themselves in "avian 'conversation' ", they have not known if individuals chose the calls themselves or are somehow "assigned" them. Researchers at Cornell University performed a study on wild parrots that shows "that even before chicks can 'talk,' their parents have provided them with a [name], which they will tweak and then use throughout their lives." The scientists set up recording devices in the middle of a large wild population of green-rumped parrotlet (Forpus passerinus) nests in Venezuela and compared "the calls made by the parents before the chicks were of squawking age and all the calls made by the chicks once they began to call." Additionally, to determine whether the calls were innate or taught, the researchers swapped the eggs around so that many parents were raising chicks not genetically related to them. The researchers found that "parents started making signature calls when the chicks were very young, providing a template that the chicks imitated and added their own flourishes to in order to create their names." The chicks imitated the parrots who raised them, even the ones who swapped nests.

Full article: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/07/13/baby-parrots-learn-their-names-from-their-parents/

CITATION: Berg KS, Delgado S, Cortopassi KA, Beissinger SR, Bradbury JW. 2011. Vertical transmission of learned signatures in a wild parrot. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0932

Acidifying oceans could threaten California mussel population
July 14, 2011

Researchers at UC Davis have conducted a study that shows California mussels (Mytilus californianus) may be in trouble if current climate change trends continue. Acidity in ocean water has "increased by almost a third since the mid 18th century" due to increased levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed into the ocean. To determine the effects of this increased acidity on California mussels, Brian Gaylord, associate professor of evolution and ecology at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, and colleagues raised mussels in normal seawater and in water with two different levels of elevated acidity (based on projections of possible climate change scenarios). They found that "...compared to those raised in normal seawater, the young mussels living in the more acid waters had smaller, thinner, weaker shells, and as much as a third less body mass." This could make them more susceptible to predation and drying out in low tides. The study raises concerns about the future of California mussels, as it is a "vital coastal species because so many other marine creatures depend on it for food and habitat."

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/14/acidifying_oceans_could_hit_california_mussels_a_key_species.html

CITATION: Gaylord B, et al. 2011. Functional impacts of ocean acidification in an ecologially critical foundation species. Journal of Experimental Biology 214:2586-2594. doi:10.1242/jeb.062125

Bornean rainbow toad spotted after 87 years
July 14, 2011 By Chloe McIvor

From the blog post:

The striking Bornean rainbow toad (Ansonia latidisca) has been seen for the first time since the 1920s and finally caught on camera. Previously, the only image of the toad was a black and white drawing, but we can now see that the toad clearly deserves its title. The spectacular species was one of Conservation International’s (CI) ‘ten most wanted amphibians’ and was rediscovered in Malaysia by a team led by Indraneil Das from Malaysia Sarawak University (UNIMAS).

The discovery comes as part of a CI search for lost amphibian species launched in August 2010, which, in its first five months, supported expeditions by 126 researchers in 21 different countries. The search mission is targeting 100 amphibians not seen for more than 10 years and aims to update the conservation status of these elusive species.

Full article and photos: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/technicolour_toad_spotted_afte.html

Respiratory virus jumps from monkeys to humans
July 14, 2011 By Zoe Cormier

A new strain of adenovirus has for the first time "been shown to jump from animals to humans — and then to infect other humans." After a "deadly outbreak of respiratory illness spread through a colony of titi monkeys (Callicebus curpreus)" at a research center in UC Davis in 2009, researchers at the UC San Francisco identified a previously unknown adenovirus which they are calling TMAdV (titi-monkey adenovirus). By culturing the virus in human and monkey cell lines, the researchers found that it grew much better in the human cells, suggesting "that the virus could infect humans as well as titi monkeys." Interviews with staff at the UC Davis research center revealed that the main caretaker for the monkey colony, who "had the closest daily contact with the colony," had experienced "flu-like upper-respiratory-tract symptoms for four weeks." Also, this researcher had infected one of his or her own family members, showing that TMAdV could spread between humans. UCSF scientists are still trying to determine the original source of the infection in the titi monkey colony. They do not "suspect that there will be a pandemic of TMAdV," as random blood samples from the general public found two healthy people with significant levels of antibody to TMAdV.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110714/full/news.2011.416.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110719

CITATION: Chen EC, et al. 2011. Cross-species transmission of a novel adenovirus associated with a fulminant pneumonia outbreak in a New World monkey colony. PLoS Pathogens 7:e1002155. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002155

Deal may speed listing process for plants and animals
July 12, 2011 By Laura Zuckerman

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has struck a deal with the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity that would require the government until 2018 to make "preliminary decisions...on whether to set aside critical habitat or provide other protections for more than 750 species...." The Center for Biological Diversity has been battling with the USFWS for over a decade, claiming "that the government has been too slow in assigning federal safeguards to various species on the brink of extinction."

From the article:

The settlement would address a backlog of 250 animals and plants the government says warrant protections but which have been placed on a waiting list behind species deemed a higher priority. Some mammals, birds and fish have been on the so-called candidate list for decades. The deal would require those animals be approved or denied listing as threatened or endangered by the 2018 deadline.

Full article: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/deal-may-speed-protections-for-imperiled-animal-plant-species

Conservationists sound alarm over long-tailed macaque
July 15, 2011

Trade of the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) has more than doubled in the period from 2004-2008 compared to the rates in 1999-2003. Ian Redmond, chairman of the SSN Primate Working Group, said, "The long-tailed macaque is the most heavily-traded mammal currently listed on the CITES appendices and our research findings raise alarming questions concerning the long-term viability of targeted populations of the species if this trade is allowed to continued at current levels." From 2004-2008, over 260,000 macaques were traded in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, and Vietnam, compared to 120,000 between 1999 and 2003. In addition to illegal trade of these animals, they are threatened by "hunting, habitat loss and degradation, and human encroachment."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-conservationists-alarm-macaque.html

Male and female giant pandas prefer different habitats
July 15, 2011 By Matt Walker

Researchers at the Institute for Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing studied the movement of giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and discovered that male and female pandas prefer different types of habitats. Dunqu Qi and Fuwen Wei "conducted transect surveys recording the presence of pandas by sight or by their droppings..." and studied the DNA in fecal samples to determine the sex of the pandas in the studied areas. While both male and female pandas tend to live in "highly fragmented montane forests in remote China" that are rich in bamboo, their main food source, the researchers found that females are much more picky about their habitats.

From the article:

[Females] tend to limit their movements to within high altitude conifer forests and mixed forests, as well as historically clear-felled forest. They also prefer habitat that slopes at between 10 and 20 degrees. Such areas are better for raising young. Female pandas are selective about their den sites and often make dens in stands of large conifer trees more than 200 years old. That also suggests that den sites may be limited in logged areas. Males, in contrast, range more widely, covering areas that overlap the ranges of several females.

The scientists hope their study can aid in continuing conservation and reintroduction efforts.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14153997

CITATION: Qi D, et al. 2011. Different habitat preferences of male and female giant pandas. Journal of Zoology. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2011.00831.x

Scientists to assemble 'knowledgebase' on plants and microbes
July 15, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

In the decade that has passed since the completion of the first draft sequence of the human genome, biologists have grown increasingly aware of a problem ironically generated by the success of their work. Biological experiments in the age of genomics -- including DNA sequencing, gene expression profiles, studies of cell-signaling pathways, protein binding, and other information-rich inquiries -- generate quantities of raw data so immense that they threaten to overwhelm researchers' ability to make sense of them.

Two Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) investigators are among the leaders of a multi-institutional effort announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to address the problem in one particular area of research involving plant and microbial life. The team has been awarded funding to create out of many separate streams of biological information a single, integrated cyber-"knowledgebase" (called Kbase, for short) focused specifically on these two fundamentally important forms of life.

Continue reading: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/15/scientists_to_assemble_knowledgebase_on_plants_microbes_to_aid_us_biofuel_environment_efforts.html

SeaWorld Orlando builds hospital for wild dolphins
July 16, 2011 By Jason Garcia

SeaWorld Orlando will be opening a facility in the upcoming weeks that will serve as a rehab hospital for stranded dolphins. SeaWorld staff hope to help more of the animals by providing a closer location to many of the strandings. The new complex will be located on the edge of the park and will have separate filtration and sewage systems, food-prep areas and employee showers from the main park. The separate systems are in place to prevent any spread of disease from the wild animals to the captive collection, as an outbreak about 20 years ago at the Miami Seaquarium wiped out a number of captive marine mammals after they contracted morbillivirus from rescued pilot whales. The new facility will have a 40,000-gallon pool that "is large enough to hold cetaceans as large as a 13-foot pilot whale or as many as five bottlenose dolphins at once." According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, "...an average of 51 live cetaceans...are stranded on Florida shores every year."

Full article: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-07-16/travel/os-seaworld-dolphin-hospital-20110716_1_seaworld-orlando-marine-mammals-bottlenose-dolphins

First radio-collaring of Bornean slow loris
July 17, 2011

Conservationists wokring at the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Borneo have fitted a Bornean slow loris (Nycticebus menagensis) with a radio collar for the first time. The Bornean slow loris is unique in that it is "the only species of its kind which is equipped with toxic defence and a hunting mechanism to snare its prey." The researchers will "record its every movement, ranging from sleeping habits and preferences to behavior..." with the tiny radio transmitter, which weighs less than three percent of the animal's body weight. The research is being done as part of the Nocturnal Primate Project, which is funded by the Columbus Zoo and Cleveland Zoologicla Society. There isn't that much known about the Bornean slow loris, so researchers hope the data will add to the understanding of this species' behavior in the wild, in addition to raising awareness "on the importance of protecting nocturnal primates."

Full article: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=601827

Vet performs mouth-to-beak resuscitation on bald eagle
July 17, 2011 By Lynn Curwin

Dr. Jeff Cooney, an Oregon veterinarian, was performing surgery on a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to treat "several injuries, including a fractured wing and wounded leg," when the bird stopped breathing. Cooney was able to perform mouth-to-beak resuscitation to save the bird's life. Cooney said of the bird," He has gained 10 percent of his body weight and is eating fish like crazy. His attitude is greatly improved, and he's starting to act like a normal, rambunctious bald eagle." The bird is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder and paralyzed right leg. According to the website Exotic Pet Vet, the following procedures should be followed when performing CPR on birds:

If a bird is found unconscious, the same parameters are evaluated: respiration (looking for the breast rising and falling, see if the abdomen is rising and falling, as well), airway (open the beak and examine the oral cavity, clear if necessary with a finger or cotton-tipped applicator, taking care to not have a finger bitten) and heartbeat (since it would be difficult to find and evaluate a pulse on a bird, listen to the chest on either side of the keel bone for heartbeat, or use a stethoscope, if available).

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/309230#ixzz1SZxrpp00

San Diego Zoo's one-week-old silver leaf monkey removed from mother's care
July 17, 2011 By Tammy Spratt

Excerpt from the article:

A one-week-old silver leaf monkey (Trachypithecus cristatus) benefits from a little human care at the San Diego Zoo. The female named "Thai" was born on July 3 to a first-time mother. Unfortunately Thai's mother was not holding the newborn in a way that allowed her to nurse naturally, so animal care staff intervened and are bottle-feeding the baby several times each day. The small, orange monkey continues to spend time with her family between feedings so that social bonds remain strong.

Continue reading: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5311-San_Diego_Zoos_One-Week-Old_Silver_Leaf_Monkey_Removed_From_Mothers_Care

From Good Care to Great Welfare symposium
July 17, 2011

The Detroit Zoo will be holding the From Good Care to Great Welfare symposium on August 6-7.

From the announcement:

From Good Care to Great Welfare will include presentations, posters and panels focusing on four primary topic areas: Understanding and bridging the gap between providing good care and ensuring great welfare; Understanding the impacts of captivity; Multidisciplinary approaches and assessment techniques to better understand and enhance zoo animal welfare; and Welfare of non charismatic vertebrates - birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Additional information on the symposium and instructions for registering and for submitting abstracts for presentations and posters can be found at czaw.org. Dr.Cynthia Bennett, Director of Animal Welfare, Detroit Zoological Society, can also be contacted directly by e-mail (cbennett@dzs.org) or phone (248) 541-5717 ext. 3720.

Full announcement: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=19015

Recovery of blue iguana population on Grand Cayman island
July 18, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Blue iguanas (Cyclura lewisi) used to roam in great numbers on the Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean. However, it was brought to the edge of extinction due to predation from cats and dogs, human encroachment, and habitat destruction. In 2002, scientists estimated the wild population at only two dozen individuals. Today, thanks to the work of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, there are 500 wild blue iguanas "roaming [the] Salina Reserve." The program raises young iguanas in captivity until they are large enough "to keep feral cats at bay" (approx. at two years of age) and then releases them into the Salina Reserve. They hope to increase the numbers of blue iguanas in protected areas to over 1,000 individuals within the next few years. The program is supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the International Reptile Conservation Foundation.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0718-hance_blueiguana.html

Amazon drought and forest fire prediction system devised
July 18, 2011

A group of researchers led by Katia Fernandes of Columbia University has developed a correlative model to anticipate drought and subsequent forest fires in the Amazon rainforest.  “The model could be used to forecast drought up to three months in advance, giving authorities a window to alert ranchers and farmers about the increased risk of using fire to clear land during the dry season.” According to another related study, droughts have increased in the region since the mid 1970s, with 2005 and 2010 marking the most severe years on record.  Scientists predict continued environmental fluctuation as a result of climate change, deforestation, forest degradation, and fragmentation.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0718-amazon_fernandes.html

CITATIONS:
K. Fernandes, et al. (2011), North Tropical Atlantic influence on western Amazon fire season variability, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L12701, http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011GL047392

Marengo, J. A., J. Tomasella, L. M. Alves, W. R. Soares, and D. A. Rodriguez (2011), The drought of 2010 in the context of historical droughts in the Amazon region, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L12703, http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011GL047436

Hundreds of critically endangered white-cheeked crested gibbons found in remote Vietnam
July 18, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Approximately 455 northern white-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys)—a new population made up of 130 gibbon groups—have been found in Vietnam’s Pu Mat National Park by researchers with Conservation International (CI).”  This new group, which triples the species’ global population, is the “only known viable population of this species in the world,” however road development through the Park threatens the group’s stability.

From the article:

"We don’t think we can stop the roads, so the best solution is targeted gibbon protection in key areas for this population," Primatologist Luu Tuong Bach, a consultant to CI, said. "The major issue will be the hunting of these gibbons that were previously protected by the harsh terrain; so gun control will be vital. Without direct protection in Pu Mat National Park, it is likely that Vietnam will lose this species in the near future."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0718-hance_gibbons_vietnam.html

Whitebark pine in danger of extinction
July 18, 2011 By Bettina Boxall

The USFWS announced that the whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is "in such widespread decline that it deserved a place on the endangered species list," although the agency "instead designated whitebark as a candidate species, saying that the funding and resources were unavailable to grant the pine protections under the Endangered Species Act." The trees are threatened by the federal government's "long-standing policy of fire suppression," as low-intensity fires help to maintain healthy whitebark stands, as well as white pine blister rust. Scientists also expect climate change to have an adverse effect on whitebark pine, as the species' habitat will be "warmer and drier and more hospitable to other species."

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/07/whitebark-pine-extinction.html

BP pipeline leaks oily mixture onto Alaskan tundra
July 18, 2011 By Yereth Rosen and Tom Bergin

On Monday, BP announced that a pipeline at its oilfield in Lisburne, Alaska—currently closed for maintenance—“ruptured during [valve] testing and spilled a mixture of methanol and oily water onto the tundra.”  According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, “the spill occurred on Saturday and amounted to 2,100 to 4,200 gallons, affecting 4,960 square feet of gravel pad and about 2,040 square feet of wet and aquatic tundra.”

Efforts are focused on containment and cleanup, after which the pipeline will be excavated to determine the cause of failure.  Production at the Lisburne field remains shut off.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/18/us-oil-alaska-spill-idUSTRE76H0VA20110718

Being a dominant breeder is costly for female banded mongooses
July 18, 2011 By Tamera Jones

Scientists studying the relationships among females in banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) societies have long known that they operate on a hierarchical structure through which older females are permitted to breed while younger females must wait.  New findings from researchers in Uganda now suggest that older females who try to prevent younger females from having pups also experience considerable stress and adverse growth conditions for their own young.

From the article:

They found that dominant females are more likely to get injured, they spend less time foraging and eating, and rowing with younger members of the group means investing less time with their own pups. The fact that dominant females endure these costs suggests that letting subordinate females breed must be even more costly for them. "Our results show that dominant females have to balance how much they invest in suppressing subordinates," says Bell.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-dominant-breeder-costly-female-banded.html

CITATION: Bell MBV, et al. 2011. The cost of dominance: suppressing subordinate reproduction affects the reproductive success of dominant female banded mongooses. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.1093

Female elephant seals mate at sea, outside of the harem
July 18, 2011 By Rebecca Kessler

Researchers at the University of Pretoria have discovered that female southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) sometimes mate outside of the traditional harem. Typically, the elephant seal breeding system involves "one big, pumped-up male [who] jealously defends a harem of females" from other potential mates in "thunderous, bloody battles." By fighting off his competition, the "beachmaster" gains "exclusive mating rights to the...females in his domain." Every year, females return to the beach two times: once to molt, and once to give birth to a pup and then mate. However, what confused scientists was that some females were arriving for the first time at the mating location and giving birth to a pup, meaning that they must have mated somewhere out of the harem.

From the article:

The clincher came when the team looked at data from satellite tags they'd attached to 53 females. Two of the tagged females skipped a breeding season at Marion Island, then showed up pregnant the following year. Except to molt, the AWOL seals had stayed at sea for their entire gap year. They must have bred at sea as other seal species do. "The females have got a real choice here," says de Bruyn, whose paper will appear in the September issue of Animal Behaviour. "They're employing this totally nonpolygynous alternate mating strategy, which really opens our eyes to the whole study of polygyny in mammals and in other vertebrates as well."

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/cheating-on-the-beachmaster.html?ref=hp

CITATION: de Bruyn PJN, Tosh CA, Bester MN, Cameron EZ, McIntyre T, Wilkinson IS. 2011. Sex at sea: alternative mating system in an extremely polygynous mammal. Animal Behaviour. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.06.006

USFWS denies listing Grand Canyon cave pseudoscorpion
July 19, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 138
FWS-R2-ES-2011-0044; MO 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Grand Canyon cave pseudoscorpion (Archeolarca cavicola) as threatened or endangered with critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of the best scientific and commercial information available, we find that listing the Grand Canyon cave pseudoscorpion is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to the Grand Canyon cave pseudoscorpion or its habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on July 19, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R2-ES-2011-0044. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours by contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021; telephone (602) 242-0210; facsimile (602) 242-2513.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 321 W. Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021; telephone (602) 242-0210; facsimile (602) 242-2513. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at (800) 877-8339.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-19/pdf/2011-17864.pdf

Zoo Keeper Olympics at Santa Fe College in Florida
July 20, 2011 By Jackie Alexander

Zoo keeping students at Santa Fe College's Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, Florida are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week by competing in an event they are dubbing the "Zoo Keeper Olympics." Johnathan Miot, the zoo's director, said that "...teams of students will take the field in front of the zoo in relay races, a matching game of pictures and scientific names of animals, and animal handling with fake snakes." They will also hold a one-year birthday party for Dulu, a gibbon who is one of the zoo's newest members.

Full article: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20110720/ARTICLES/110729980/1002/sitemaps?tc=ar

Balboa Park makeover moves forward
July 20, 2011 By R. Stickney

The San Diego City Council approved a memo of understanding (MOU) this week that would restore the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park to allow for pedestrian use before the centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California International Exposition. The plan, put forth by the Plaza de Panama Committee and funded in part by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, would "replace the cars, roadways and parking spaces that currently cram the park's inner core with landscaping, trees, and pedestrian-friendly gathering places." With the approved MOU, the committee can now conduct an environmental impact study. Opponents of the plan include the Save Our Heritage Organization, a group that "is critical of the bypass bridge, paid parking garage and other alterations of the park."

Full article and photos: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/politics/Balboa-Park-Makeover-Moves-Forward-125881428.html

New Amazon drought and forest fire prediction system
July 18, 2011

A new study conducted by researchers from Columbia University and published in Geophysical Research Letters describes a model that will "anticipate drought and forest fires in the Amazon rainforest." Lead author Katia Fernandes hopes that the new model would predict drought "up to three months in advance" and would give authorities time to warn people about increased wildfire risks.

From the article:

The research, which used precipitation records dating back to 1970 and hotspots tracked by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA satellites, finds a strong correlation between sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic and subsequent drought in the western Amazon. Drought in the Amazon is increasingly associated with forest fires due to land-clearing fires set by agricultural developers and cattle ranchers.

Another study published in the same issue of Geophysical Research Letters "identifies the 2005 and 2010 droughts in the Amazon as the worst on record." Additionally, droughts since the 1970s have increased in length. Researchers are concerned that "climate change could turn much of the Amazon into a tinderbox."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0718-amazon_fernandes.html

CITATIONS:
Fernandes K, et al. 2011. North Tropical Atlantic influence on western Amazon fire season variability. Geophysical Research Letters 38:L12701. doi:10.1029/2011GL047392

Marengo JA, et al. 2011. The drought of 2010 in the context of historical droughts in the Amazon region. Geophysical Research Letters 38:L12703. doi:10.1029/2011GL047436

Rapid venom evolution in pit vipers may be defensive
July 18, 2011

In a new study, researchers from the American Museum of Natural History show that pit vipers quickly develop venom toxins in response to pressure from predators, inluding opossums, hedgehogs and mongooses.

From the article:

"Snake venom toxins evolve incredibly rapidly," says Robert Voss, curator in the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History. "Most herpetologists interpret this as evidence that venom in snakes evolves because of interactions with their prey, but if that were true you would see equally rapid evolution in toxin-targeted molecules of prey species, which has not yet been seen. What we've found is that a venom-targeted protein is evolving rapidly in mammals that eat snakes. That suggests that venom has a defensive as well as a trophic role."

The new research came out of a previous phylogenetic study of marsupials, published as a Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, that suggested unusually rapid evolution in one gene among a group of snake-eating opossums. The rapidly evolving gene codes for von Willebrand's factor, an important blood-clotting protein that is known to be the target of several snake-venom toxins. The association of rapid evolution in a venom-targeted gene among just those opossums known to eat pitvipers was the essential clue that prompted further study.

Full article: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/07/18/rapid.venom.evolution.pit.vipers.may.be.defensive

CITATION: Jansa SA, Voss RS. 2011. Adaptive evolution of the venom-targeted vWF protein in opossums that eat pitvipers. PLoS ONE 6(6):e20997. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020997

What does the Serengeti Highway decision mean for Lake Natron?
July 19, 2011

The Tanzanian Government recently announced that a proposed highway through the Serengeti will not be paved. New roads connecting Tanzanian cities in the Lake Natron area are concerning conservation groups because of the potential effect on the ecology, and the possibility that plans for a soda ash plant at the lake could be revived.

From the article:

Lake Natron is the most important breeding site for Lesser flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) in Eastern Africa. This region has 1.5-2.5 million birds – which constitute 75% of their global population – and they are all hatched at Lake Natron. Since 2006, plans have been underway to construct a soda ash plant at the Lake but it faced strong opposition from within Tanzania and globally.

Opponents to the road believe that a more detailed environmental assessment should be completed "to ensure both people and biodiversity benefit."

Full article: http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/07/what-does-the-serengeti-highway-decision-mean-for-lake-natron/

Desert birds, including loggerhead shrikes, may benefit in some ways from climate change
July 19, 2011

A study conducted by researchers at Baylor University shows that for some southwest desert bird species, climate change may actually benefit them as there will be less chance of wildfire in their habitats. Specifically, scaled quail (Calipepla squamata), loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus) and rock wrens (Salpinctes obsoletus) will be "...less affected by current and future wildfires because climate change will dry out the landscape, changing the pine forests to uplands without trees and grasses, which provides fuel for wildfires."

From the article:

With the drying out of grasslands, the researchers say, the likelihood of widespread and intense wildfires will decrease over the next 50 years, as wildfires naturally occur and use up the current fuel base. The Baylor researchers also found that as the grasslands dry out, the birds will be able to forage for prey much easier.

"The results were somewhat surprising because the collective thought is that fire and climate change will have only negative effects on animals, but we found that is not the case with these bird species now or in the future around this area, " said study co-author Dr. Joseph White, professor of biology at Baylor who is a fire management expert. "Climate change affects the environment's processes and those processes affect different animals in different ways. In the case of these bird species, our predictive modeling shows it will affect them less than other animals, and we believe in some cases actually help them prosper."

Full article: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/07/19/study.finds.some.desert.birds.less.affected.wildfires.and.climate.change

CITATION: White JD, et al. 2011. Understanding interaction effects of climate change and fire management on bird distributions through combined process and habitat models. Conservation Biology 25(3):536-546. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01684.x

Badger cull in England on hold during project re-evaluation
July 19, 2011 By Richard Black

To control bovine TB, several measures have been undertaken in England including culling the badgers who carry the disease, but this year that practice is on hold. More work on methodology is being undertaken, and if that is successful, a pilot culling project will be undertaken in the spring, with full implemention planned for 2013.

From the article:

Previously, the government - backed by its top science officials - had concluded that culling in hotspot areas, where the TB bacterium is carried from farm to farm via badgers, could reduce the local incidence of disease by 16%. Those figures were derived from the world's biggest scientific study into the issue, the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT, also known as the Krebs Trial). The European badger (Meles meles) is a protected species under European and UK law but ministers can sanction killing in certain circumstances, including to tackle disease.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14204236

Songbirds use scent to attract mates
July 19, 2011

Songbirds have the smallest olfactory bulbs relative to brain size among birds, but recent research has discovered that they have a high number of olfactory receptors. Danielle Whittaker, a Michigan State University researcher, learned that not only did the birds use scent in attracting mates, but this scent is attractive across populations and sexes. A surprising discovery was the preference by female birds for the odor of the smaller males.

From the article:

Body-spray commercials feature young men dousing themselves with fragrance and – voila – hordes of beautiful women or even bands of angels descend upon them. Male birds deploy a similar tactic when they release their cologne – or preen oil – secreted from a gland at the base of their tail. It not only works to attract the attention of female birds, but it also has the unintended effect of attracting males as well.

"It's kind of like the 'Axe effect,' in that females were attracted to the scent and didn't seem to care where it came from, meaning their own population or a different one – even though birds in these populations look and behave differently," Whittaker said. "And I think the males were drawn in as an aggressive response to the scent of another male."

In previous studies in which the birds were able to see their potential mates, females "tended to prefer larger males with larger plumage ornaments." The researchers hope to determine "how...unattractive males overcompensate by producing greater amounts of an attractive scent."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-avian-axe-effect-attention-females.html

CITATION: Whittaker DJ, et al. 2010. Songbird chemosignals: volatile compounds in preen gland secretions vary among individuals, sexes, and populations. Behavioral Ecology 21(3):608-614. doi:10.1093/beheco/arq033

Chesapeake Bay virus activity mirrors seasonal changes, plays critical ecosystem role
July 19, 2011 By Elizabeth Boyle

The role of viruses in the ecosystem in Chesapeake Bay was the focus of a 4-year study conducted by Danielle Winget, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. Winget and her colleagues "collected samples during 18 cruises...and analyzed more than 1,000 independent samples" during the study.

From the article:

The research...looked at viral lysis, the process through which viruses invade and destroy cells (in this case, microbes such as bacteria). The 4.5-year study revealed that the occurrence of viral lysis on microbes follows seasonal patterns. Particularly of interest, the researchers found that it plays a disproportionally large role in the mortality of microbes in the wintertime.

“Every year you can go back and find approximately the same proportion of bacteria being killed by viruses, and it follows these really nice seasonal patterns,” said lead author Danielle Winget. “It shows viruses are a part of this ecosystem, and they’re actually alive and interacting and following the same patterns of other living things.”

The researchers hope that their study will help to inform future research concerning the health of the Cheseapeake Bay. They say that it is important to understand the role of viruses in the Bay's ecosystem, which could help combat the effects of hypoxia (reduced oxygen concentration) in the Bay's waters during the summer.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-viruses-chesapeake-virus-mirrors-seasonal.html

CITATION: Winget DM, et al. 2011. Repeating patterns of virioplankton production within an estuarine ecosystem. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101907108

Hummingbirds catch flying bugs with the help of fast-closing beaks
July 19, 2011

While hummingbirds have beaks that are constructed to feed mainly on flowers, they still need protein and additional nutrients from small insects. To enable the birds to capture insects in mid-air, their beaks are specially adapted to snap closed, a process known as snap-buckling.

From the article:

The shape of a hummingbird's beak allows for a "controlled elastic snap" that allows it to snatch up flying insects in a mere fraction of a second —with greater speed and power than could be achieved by jaw muscles alone, says a new study in a forthcoming issue of Journal of Theoretical Biology.

In 2004 in the journal Nature, Yanega and University of Connecticut biologist Margaret Rubega reported that part of the answer lies in the hummingbird's flexible bill. Using high speed video of three hummingbird species catching fruit flies, the researchers found that the hummingbird's bendy lower beak flexes by as much as 25 degrees when it opens, while also widening at the base to create a larger surface for catching insects.

This new study describes how when the birds' beaks are "maximally bent, [they] suddenly spring back to [their] original position and snap closed." The beak is able to snap shut extremely fast, closing "in less than a hundredth of a second."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-hummingbirds-bugs-fast-closing-beaks-video.html

CITATION: Smith M, Yanega G, Ruina A. 2011. Elastic instability model of rapid beak closure in hummingbirds. Journal of Theoretical Biology 282:41-51. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.05.007

Great white shark jumps from sea into research boat
July 19, 2011 By Xan Rice

While studying sharks off Seal Island on South Africa's Cape Coast, researchers were trapped on deck by a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) that leaped into their boat with them.

From the article:

Dorien Schröder, team leader at Oceans Research, based at Mossel Bay, said that last Monday morning, after more than an hour of shark activity around the vessel, the Cheetah, the waters at the stern had been quiet for five minutes. "Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from [the] side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crew member who was chumming [throwing food bait] on the port side," she said.

All of the people on the boat were able to remain out of the reach of the shark by standing at the bow of the boat. Schröder worked to keep the shark alive by pouring water over its gills and, together with a rescue ship, lifted the shark back into the water with a crane. They then towed the shark back into deep waters by typing "ropes to the sharks tail fin and behind its pectoral fin." After the crew removed the ropes, the shark swam away. The crew believes that the shark jumped on board by accident, rather than trying to attack the people on the boat.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/19/great-white-shark-jumps-boat

Zoologists find out how sloths perfected energy saving
July 19, 2011

Zoologists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena studied sloth movement to determine what, if any, structural difference there are between sloths and other animals. Dr. John Nyakatura, who performed the study as part of his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology. By utilizing x-ray video equipment, Dr. Nyakatura found, to his surprise, that sloths (both two-toed and three-toed) move very similarly to other mammals such as monkeys. He explained, "The position of their legs and the bending of their joins matches exactly those of other mammlas in the process of walking," except that they are hanging upside down and move much more slowly. Dr. Nyakatura noted that the anatomical structure of the animals — long arms, short shoulder blades, "dislocation of certain muscular contact points" — allow sloths to "keep their own body weight with a minimum of energy input." Nyakatura concluded that sloths' slow movement evolved in response to the animals' anatomy, in both two- and three-toed sloths which are only distantly related.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-decoding-zoologists-sloths-energy.html

Spur-thighed tortoise populations can withstand fires every 30 years
July 19, 2011

In a study of spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca), young tortoises were shown unable to survive fire in any terrain while older tortoises were more resistant because their shells are ossified. The team of Spanish researchers determined that the older reptiles (which are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN) can survive if there are 30 years between large fires.

From the article:

"Tortoises can withstand high temperatures, but this does not mean their shells are completely fire proof", Ana Sanz-Aguilar, lead author of the study, tells SINC. One such forest fire occurred on 1 August 2004 in the Sierra de la Carrasquilla mountains iin Murcia, Spain, which incinerated a 250-hectare area that was home to a large population of thess reptiles. The researchers have been studying the behaviour of more than 1,000 of the animals over the past decade.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, shows that the tortoises' response to fire varied greatly according to their age, with the fire killing 100% of the animals aged under four and causing increased mortality rates of 62% in sub-adults (aged from 4 to 8) and 12% in adults (over 8 years of age). "For the dynamics of this species, a 12% increased mortality rate among adults is more serious than the disappearance of all the young tortoises", says Sanz-Aguilar.

Sanz-Aguilar also said that if fires occur more frequently than once every 30 years, the risk of extinction among the species increases exponentially. The researchers noted that fires that occur during the spring are more dangerous to the tortoises, as the animals are more likely to hide under bushes rather than in shelters (which they dig out in the winter and summer, when temperatures are more extreme).

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-tortoise-populations-years.html

CITATION: Sanz-Aguilar A, et al. 2011. Coexisting with fire: the case of the terrestrial tortoise Testudo graeca in mediterranean shrublands. Biological Conservation 144:1040-1049. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.12.023

Polar bear cubs drowning due to sea ice loss
July 19, 2011 By Bruce Barcott

The danger of ice loss in the Arctic to the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) population has increased support from a study (which will be presented at the upcoming International Bear Association Conference) of the effect of open-water swims by young cubs. Using collars that transmit GPS information, the researchers were able to follow female polar bears' spring movement in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The study showed that when cubs must swim long distances, almost half did not survive.

From the article:

"This research is the first analysis to identify a significant multi-year trend of increased long-distance swimming by polar bears," co-author Geoff York said Monday. "Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears' feet, forcing some to swim longer distances to find food and habitat."

Among cubs who were forced to swim long distances, 45 percent died during the journey. However, among cubs who did not have to swim long distances, there was only an 18 percent mortality rate. According to the National Snow and Ice Center in Boulder, CO, "2011 is now on track to drop below the record low-ice minimum set in 2007."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/19/polar-bear-cubs-drowning-ice

Buena Vista Lagoon gets a flock of light-footed clapper rails
July 19, 2011 By Paul Sisson

Fifteen endangered light-footed clapper rails (Rallus longirostris levipes) were released at the Buena Vista Lagoon between Oceanside and Carlsbad. This release was part of cooperative efforts between SeaWorld San Diego, the Chula Vista Nature Center and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "Team Clapper Rail" has released 300 rails into the San Diego River channel. Government surveys show that the agencies' work "has helped increase the bird's population from 142 breeding pairs in 1985 to 424 today."

From the article:

The team has conducted clapper rail releases in previous years in other San Diego County lagoons and estuaries, including Batiquitos and San Elijo lagoons in North County. However, Buena Vista is filled with fresh water from Buena Vista Creek, giving it a much different makeup from other local lagoons that regularly have salt water entering from the ocean to create traditional salt marsh habitat. In their traditional salty habitat, clapper rails would make their nests in native cordgrass, but Buena Vista is filled with cattails and bulrushes.

The conservationists expect the birds to adapt to the freshwater environment "just fine," and have noted that the rails are already learning to "hunt crustaceans, fish and other prey." They hope to introduce additional birds in the future to help create a self-supporting population of rails at the lagoon.

Full article: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/oceanside/article_5b356a16-0035-570d-a025-456181742fc8.html

Pilot Stanford biology class always meets outside
July 19, 2011 By Owen Liu

As part of a core experimental lab required for biology and pre-med students, one pilot section of Stanford University students holds classes at Jasper Ridge Biology Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This nature reserve includes 1,200 acres and a biological field station.

From the article:

The study system revolves around the ecology of yeast communities that grow naturally in the nectar of a local plant, the sticky monkey-flower, or Mimulus aurantiacus. Mimulus is a plant native to California that produces beautiful orange flowers in the springtime.  Fukami and the students use a vast array of tools and techniques to ask a range of questions about the plants, the creatures that eat it and those that spread its pollen, and other factors that affect nectar yeast communities.

...Using materials ranging from the simple-but-handy pen and notebook to state-of-the-art cameras and temperature monitors, teams of two students form a question and design an experiment together that they investigate over the length of the 10-week Stanford academic quarter.  And the cherry on top is that the data that the students gather works seamlessly into Fukami’s own research on the community ecology of yeast communities.

Fukami hopes that by incorporating inquiry-based learning into his classroom, students "...can have some fun doing ecological research, and use that as a good example of how science works.”

Full article: http://peninsulapress.com/2011/07/19/the-outdoor-classroom/

From guerrilla gardens to suburban flower beds, 'seed bombs' can be a useful planting tool
July 19, 2011

Though "seed bombs" (self-contained, slow-release seed capsules packaged with rich compost and wrapped in clay) emerged back in the 1970s with the guerrilla gardening movement, their popularity is presently rising rapidly due to the proliferation of vending-machine distribution. Across the country, environmental designer Daniel Phillips is merchandising seed bomb vending in the fashion of gumball machines, predominately placed near college campuses and community gardens.

From the article:

“Most seeds are very light and there is risk of them being blown away by the wind, making them unsuitable for launching long distances,” [Josie Jeffery, author of this year’s “Seedbombs: Going Wild With Flowers” (Leaping Hare Press)] writes. “The compost and clay act as a carrier so they can be launched over walls or fences and into inaccessible areas.”

“What we’re looking for is low cost and short-term use,” said Phillips, who has formulated [seed bomb] mixes for every state in the nation. “Edible plants, too, and something for birds and butterflies. We even have a few that can be used to clean up polluted sites with plants suited for removing toxins and heavy metals.”

When planting with seed bombs, it is important to consider the climate and geographic terrain appropriate for specific seeds, respect for private property, and potential effects on local native species or agricultre

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home-garden/from-guerrilla-gardens-to-suburban-flower-beds-seed-bombs-can-be-a-useful-planting-tool/2011/07/19/gIQAbwkyNI_story.html

'Bifocals' in mangrove fish species discovered
July 20, 2011

University of British Columbia graduate student Gregory L. Owens discovered a bifocal-like horizontal divide in the eyes of Anableps anableps, a close relative of the guppy that lives in central and northern South American mangrove swamps. "The upper half of its eyes penetrate the water line, while the lower half of its eyes are submerged."

From the article:

Its opsin genes, which code for light receptors in the eye, closely resemble those of otherfish species that don't see above water, so it was unknown if the four-eyed fish's eyes were adapted to both aerial and aquatic light.

By determining the type and distribution of mRNA in the retina, Owens discovered that the eye was clearly divided in sensitivity. One part of the retina, exposed to aerial light, has cones (neurons that convert light into brain signals) that are sensitive to the green wavelengths that predominate in the air. The other part of the retina, exposed to aquatic light, has cones more attuned to the yellow wavelengths of muddy water. The whole eye, meanwhile, is sensitive to other wavelengths, from ultraviolet to blue.

The study, which is part of a larger fish opsin research program at the University of Victoria examining gene duplication, shows how duplication can lead to innovation to suit particular needs.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-bifocals-mangrove-fish-species.html

CITATION: Owens GL, Rennison DJ, Allison WT, Taylor JS. 2011. In the four-eyed fish (Anableps anableps), the regions of the retina exposed to aquatic and aerial light do not express the same set of opsin genes. Biological Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0582

Researchers improve method to create induced pluripotent stem cells
July 20, 2011

Through protein fusion, researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical school have developed a new strategy which sheds new light the mechanism behind developing induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS). This new method improves efficiency and purity in IPS cell creation, facilitates reprogramming, decreases the potential for tumor formation, and does no require co-culture with feeder cells.

From the article:

Currently, iPS cells are created by introducing four defined genes to an adult cell. The genes reprogram the adult cell into a stem cell, which can differentiate into many different types of the cells in the body. Typically, the four genes introduced are Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc, a combination known as OSKM.

The U of M researchers found that by fusing two proteins – a master stem cell regulator (Oct4) and a fragment of a muscle cell inducer (MyoD) – they succeeded in "powering up" the stem cell regulator, which can dramatically improve the efficiency and purity of reprogrammed iPS cells.

According to senior author Kikyo, this new strategy will dramatically speed up the process of making patient-specific iPS cells, which makes clinical applications via transplantation of the cells more feasible to treat many diseases incurable otherwise.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-method-pluripotent-stem-cells.html

CITATION: Hirai H, Tani T, Katoku-Kikyo N, Kellner S, Karian P, Firpo M, Kikyo N. 2011. Radical Acceleration of Nuclear Reprogramming by Chromatin Remodeling With the Transactivation Domain of MyoD. Stem Cells. doi:10.1002/stem.684

Google Street Trike visits the Detroit Zoo
July 20, 2011 By Judy Davids

More than 15,000 online voters cast their ballots in favor of the Google Street Team creating a virtual tour of the Detroit Zoo, which beat out the San Diego Zoo among other organizations nominated for the contest. The Google Trike, "a three-wheeled pedi-cab equipped with digital cameras," captured digital images of the zoo's indoor and outdoor attractions, which will provide panoramic, interactive imagery on Google Maps via Street View. This project is part of an intiative to enhance street view accessibility on theme parks, zoos, trails, landmarks, university campuses, and sport venues world wide.

Full article: http://royaloak.patch.com/articles/video-google-street-trike-visits-the-detroit-zoo#video-7067459

New discovery places turtles next to lizards on family tree
July 20, 2011

Scientists have long had difficulty classifying the evolutionary origins of turtles; various past studies have linked them to birds, crocodiles, as well as other reptiles. However, the microRNA research of Yale University graduate student Tyler Lyson now stronly suggests that turtles belong next to lizards in the evolutionary tree.

From the article:

Co-author Kevin Peterson, a paleobiologist at Dartmouth College, developed a technique to use microRNAs — small molecules that control gene activity and can switch certain genes on and off — to study evolutionary relationships. After discovering hundreds of microRNAs in the Carolina anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), Peterson and co-authors then compared these to the microRNAs of a western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) and an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). The team found that four of the lizard's microRNAs were also present in the turtle, but were absent in birds, crocodiles and all other animals.

"Different microRNAs develop fairly rapidly in different animal species over time, but once developed, they then remain virtually unchanged," Peterson said. "They provide a kind of molecular map that allows us to trace a species' evolution."

The Yale research team plans to use similar microRNA analysis to help determine origins and relationships of other animals as well. A web-based platform is also in development, which will enable sharing among researchers worldwide.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-discovery-turtles-lizards-family-tree.html

CITATION: Lyson TR, et al. 2011. MicroRNAs support a turtle + lizard clade. Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0477

Kenya president burns ivory to highlight poaching crisis
July 20, 2011

In an effort to draw attention to deaths associated with Elephant poaching, Kenya's president Mwai Kibaki set fire to more than five tons of elephant ivory. The tusks were confiscated from Singapore in 2002, and DNA analysis linked their origin to Zambia and Malawi.

From the article:

"Through the disposal of contraband ivory, we seek to formally demonstrate to the world our determination to eliminate all forms of illegal trade in ivory," Kibaki told several hundred people at a rural Kenya WildlifeService training facility. "We must all appreciate the negative effects of illegal trade to our national economies. We cannot afford to sit back and allow criminal networks to destroy our common future."

Kenyan officials first set fire to a mound of ivory in 1989, a desperate call-to-action to alert the world to a poaching crisis that sent Africa's elephant populations plummeting. Elephant numbers are much healthier today, but activists say that another second elephant crisis is coming as China's middle class seeks to satisfy its appetite for ivory.

Africa has about 500,000 elephants, down from 1.3 million in the 1970s. Kenya has 37,000 elephants, up from the 16,000 it had at the height of the crisis in 1989 but far below the country's peak.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/20/kenya-president-burns-elephant-ivory-poaching

Amazon tribes win support to protect 46 million ha (114 million acres) of Amazon forest
July 21, 2011

A "biocultural conservation corridor" initiative was launched by indigenous communities last week in northeastern and southwestern sections of Brazilian Amazonia, which amount to 46 million ha (114 million acres) threatened forest. The initiative, coordinated by the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and funded in part by the Skoll Foundation, is a holistic approach in consideration of indigenous peopls' cultural, biological, political, and economic interests with goals for developing a sustainable, green economy.

From the article:

The initiative will "strengthen the capacity of the indigenous communities and government agencies to monitor, manage and protect the indigenous reserves and adjacent areas while creating positive conditions for long-term financing of forest protection," according to a statement from the Skoll Foundation.

The initiative presents a unique opportunity to involve indigenous groups in conservation efforts across two sharply contrasting regions — one relatively untouched and under low threat (the Karib), the other heavily impacted by deforestation and under high threat (the Munde-Kwahiba) — potentially providing valuable insight for similar approaches elsewhere.

ACT Brazil will lead the initiative. Partners include Kanindé, the Conservation Strategy Fund, Metareilá, and IDESAM. Kanindé is an NGO run by the Surui people, who are pioneering an indigenous-run forest carbon (REDD+) project on their lands.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0721-biocultural_conservation_corridor.html

An eye gene colors butterfly wings red
July 21, 2011

Research teams, including Smithsonian scientists in Panama, have discovered that mimicry of red wing patterns among Heliconius butterflies occurs through changes in the same gene.

From the article:

"The variety of wing patterns in Heliconius butterflies has always fascinated collectors," said Owen McMillan, geneticist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, "People have been trying to sort out the genetics of mimicry rings since the 1970's. Now we put together some old genetics techniques and some newer genomics techniques and came up with the very surprising result that only one gene codes for all of the red wing patterns. The differences that we see in the patterns seems to be due to the way the gene is regulated."

First the team used genetic screens to look for genes that are turned on differently in butterflies with red wing patterns and lacking in other butterflies without this pattern. When they discovered a promising gene, they used stains to show where this gene was expressed on butterfly wings showing different patterns. They found the gene to be expressed exactly where red pigment occurs in the wings in every case. The match was so perfect that they could identify subtle differences in red patterns between species using these stains.

Through the use of gene banks, the researchers found that the same gene that codes for the red in Heliconius wings was already identified as a gene called optix, which is involved in eye development in other organisms.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/21/an_eye_gene_colors_butterfly_wings_red.html

CITATION: Reed RD, et al. 2011. Optix drives the repeated convergent evolution of butterfly wing pattern mimicry. Science. doi:10.1126/science.1208227

No new panda cub for National Zoo this year
July 22, 2011 By Michael E. Ruane

Despite initial optimism, the National Zoo announced last Friday that Mei Xiang, its female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), experienced a false pregnancy. This marks the sixth false pregnancy in her and partner Tian Tian's breeding history, and the zoo has plans to attempt reproduction only once more with Mei next year. If the pair do not achieve reproductive success, they are likely to be replaced; the zoo remains determined to produce panda cubs.

From the article:

Last January, the zoo announced a new agreement with China that extended the potential stay of the two giant pandas for five more years... [The new agreement] called for an intensive, China-U.S. study of the pandas this year and next year to try to determine why they have produced only one cub. And it left the door open to the possibility of replacement pandas if the study concludes that one or both animals are unsuitable for breeding, officials said.

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-new-panda-cub-for-zoo-this-year/2011/06/27/gIQAv5rRTI_story.html

Second rare hatching of North Island brown kiwi chick
July 22, 2011

A rare North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantell) chick hatched at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Mar. 23, 2011, and the zoo has already marked its second hatching, which took place June 25. These new chicks are two of only six North Island brown kiwis hatched in North America within the past five years; 21 birds of this species are currently living in United States zoos.

Kiwis, native to New Zealand, are flightless birds that lay the largest egg in relation to body size of any bird, and chicks are independent upon hatching (precocial). Kiwis are also nocturnal and uniquely rely largely on their sense of smell to find food.

From the article:

Kiwis have a high mortality rate in the wild mostly due to predation by invasive species; 50% of Kiwi eggs fail to hatch, 90% of chicks do not survive to six months of age and only 5% reach adulthood. Kiwi males are sexually mature at two years of age and females are reproductive at about three years old.

The Columbus Zoo’s conservation program has supported projects to protect the Kiwi including supplying funds to construct predator proof fencing around reserves and fitting kKwis with transmitters to enable regular monitoring.

Full article: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/07/rare-hatching-of-north-island-brown-kiwi-chick.html

Woodland Park Zoo to release endangered western pond turtles back into wild
July 22, 2011

The Woodland Park Zoo has been working for the last 20 years with the Oregon Zoo, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and USFWS in the Turtle Recovery Project. This week, they are releasing 20 juvenile western pond turtles (Clemmys marmorata) into the wild. There are currently 1,500 individuals living in the wild in Washington, up from only 150 back in 1990. The turtles' main threats are "predation by the non-native bullfrog, disease and habitat loss."

From the article:

The turtles were collected from the wild as eggs, hatched and “head started” at Woodland Park Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Once the turtles reach a suitable size of about 2 ounces – large enough to escape the large mouths of bullfrogs and large-mouth bass – they are returned to their homes and closely monitored by biologists.The largest of the 10-month-old turtles will be equipped with tiny radio transmitters glued to their shells so biologists can learn more about post-release dispersal, habitat use during active and hibernation periods and, ultimately, their survival rate.

Full press release: http://www.kirotv.com/news/28638340/detail.html

Reid Park Zoo seeking donations to remove toxic oleanders
July 22, 2011 By Michael Truelsen

Last week, a male giraffe ("Watoto") died at the Reid Park Zoo in Tuscon, AZ, after ingesting toxic oldeander plants. One of the zoo's female giraffes, "Denver", is sick after eating the same plants and is being monitored by veterinary staff. The Zoo is asking for donations "to provide funding for Zoo improvement projects." Visitors can donate in person or through the zoo's website.

From the press release:

The City of Tucson will be removing oleander plants from the perimeter of the Zoo. The well established oleander is deeply entwined with fencing and has served as a park barrier as well as visual screen since the Zoo's construction. The extensive demolition and removal project will drastically alter the appearance of the Zoo perimeter. Funds raised in this effort will be used to assist in this project, especially in the addition of privacy fencing and alternate plant materials to replace the current ones. Excess funds, if any, will be used to assist the Zoo with other improvement projects.

Full article: http://cityofsouthtucson.kold.com/news/community-spirit/donations-sought-help-remove-zoos-oleanders/55631

Pima County Native Plant Nursery saving trees, water with 'tall pots'
July 22, 2011

The Pima County Native Plant Nursery in Tucson, AZ, is in the midst of a switching their arid land trees to "tall pots" from conventional potting methods. The tall pots, which allow a tree's roots to grow naturally downward, consist of "30-inch-long segments of 6-inch-diameter PVC sewer pipe with wire mesh bottoms." Advantages over traditional potting methods, which turn trees' roots into a "tangled knot," include more efficient water usage, less need for weeding and soil, and ease of transplantation. To plant trees that were raised in traditional 15-gallon pots, you need to use a shovel to dig a wide hole for the tree, but with tall pots, all you need are post-hole augers to dig a "narrow, deep hole." Additionally, trees can be transplanted in as early as three months, as "compared to the 18 months needed in traditional nursery containers." While tall pots work well for arid land trees, they do not work for planting cacti and succulents, as their roots grow laterally rather than downward.

Full article: http://tucsoncitizen.com/pima-county-news/2011/07/22/pima-county-nursery-saving-trees-water-with-tall-pots/

Mandrill makes 'pedicuring' tool
July 22, 2011 By Victoria Gill

Scientists from Durham University, UK, captured video footage that shows a mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) "stripping a twig and using the resulting tool to clean under its toenails." Lead author Dr. Riccardo Pansini said, "The gap between monkeys and great apes is not as large as we thought it was in terms of tool use and modification," noting that intelligence may be underestimated in monkeys.

From the article:

In the footage that Dr Pansini captured, a large male mandrill strips down a twig, apparently to make it narrower. The animal then uses the modified stick to scrape dirt from underneath its toenails. Though the scientist was excited to witness this deliberate tool modification, he said it was not entirely surprising. "Mandrills have been seen to clean their ears with modified tools in the wild," he told BBC Nature. "This was thought to help prevent ear infections and therefore might be an important behaviour in terms of hygiene."

Dr. Pansini thinks that this behavior may have been brought about because the monkey was living in captivity and therefore had "more time...to carry out tasks that are not focused on looking for food or mating."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14227783

CITATION: Ransini R, de Ruiter JR. 2011. Observation of tool use and modification for apparent hygiene purposes in a mandrill. Bheavioural Processes. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2011.06.003

Bionic Learning Network using biomimicry to create robotic animals
July 22, 2011 By Adam Clark Estes

The Bionic Learning Network is a collaboration between Festo (a German tech company) and universities that is working on biomimicry projects. Their current project is building robotic animals, such as the SmartBird which is modelled after a herring gull. Markus Fischer, head designer for Festo, says that "the...process of mimicking nature in robotics helps...designers think up ways to build lighter weight, more elegant machines." The purpose of the animals is more about learning different design processes for the designers, rather than having a specific use for the end-product.

Watch the TED talk featuring Markus Fischer

Full article: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/07/zoos-worth-robotic-animals/40308/

Zoo animals trying to stay cool in heat wave
July 22, 2011

With record temperatures in the Midwest and East Coast, zoos are working hard to make sure their animals stay comfortable in the heat. Keepers at the Minenesota Zoo and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay give their tigers bloodsicles and provide splash pools for the large cats. Jill Revelle at Busch Gardens said on getting the tigers into their pools, "During the summer, we encourage them...by throwing toys, bones and food into the water for them to dive after. At the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, the animals have indoor/outdoor habitats that provide air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter in addition to having outdoor pools. The Detroit Zoo also provides their animals with frozen treats, such as frozen fish and watermelon.

Full article: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/topstories/article/211902/483/Bloodsicle-Anyone-How-Zoo-Animals-Keep-Cool-

Start@Kew - 5 day sustainability family event at Kew Gardens
July 22, 2011

Kew Gardens is hosting their first Start@Kew event, which is part of the Start initiative by UK's Prince William. Start@Kew will run from August 25-29 and is geared towards families to teach them how they can incorporate sustainable practices into their everyday lives. The event is free with regular admission to the gardens.

From the announcement:

Start@Kew will be located on a magnificent site between Kew Palace and the Orangery, will be bursting with kids and family activities, a performance area, exhibits, demonstrations and interactive experiences that show the proven benefits of using fewer resources such as energy, water, food, fuel and materials. Joey Tabone, CEO of Start, says: “The gorgeous environment of Kew and its connection with the natural world is the perfect setting for inspiring people. Everyone who comes to Kew at the end of August will be guaranteed a stimulating and memorable family day out – and of course a great Start experience that will be truly inspirational.”

Full announcement: http://www.kew.org/news/start-at-kew1.htm

Researchers to track proboscis monkey in Borneo by satellite
July 24, 2011

Researchers have tagged the first proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) with a satellite tag and will soon tag ten more monkeys. The endangered monkeys are found only in the forests of Borneo, with their main threat being "habitat loss due to logging and plantation expansion." The researchers at the Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Center in Malaysia hope that by tracking the monkeys' movements, they will be able to determine which size of habitat would be adquate to sustain a viable population fo the animals. Additionally, they are attempting to "identify the effectiveness of conservation corridors versus simple river buffer." The project is jointly funded by a palm oil company, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, and a Malaysian tourist resort.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0724-proboscis_monkey-pod.html

Green algae covers 200 square miles of Yellow Sea in China
July 25, 2011

A green algae bloom covering 7,400 square miles total, including almost 200 square miles of the Yellow Sea off China is threatening marine life. While the algae is not poisonous, it depletes oxygen from the water. This algae first appeared in the Yellow Sea in 2007, and in 2008, tons of it had to be removed for Summer Olympics events. Chinese scientists have not yet determined the causes of the algae blooms.

Full article and photos of the bloom: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/25/thick-green-algae-covers-200-square-miles-of-yellow-sea/?hpt=hp_c2

Climate change could increase size and frequency of Yellowstone fires
July 25, 2011 By Sid Perkins

New research conducted by ecologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is showing that "climate change could increase the number of large wildfires in Yellowstone National Park," with a resulting change in the types of species located in any one area in the Park. The study's lead author, Monica Turner, says that factors that increase the likelihood of fire in a forested area are "low rainfall, severe droughts and hight temperature." By developing a model, Turner and her co-authors looked at the effect of climate change on the "frequency of fires larger than 200 hectares" in the park.

From the article:

In 1972–99, years with a spring and summer temperature only 0.5° C above the average were rife with large fires, the team reports. That doesn't bode well, says Turner, because by the end of the century average spring and summer temperatures are expected to be between 4.5° and 5.5° C higher than they were between 1961 and 1990. Although years with no large fires have been common in the past, the team's analyses suggest that by 2050, fires larger than 200 hectares will occur almost every year. Before 1990, the fire rotation — the amount of time needed to burn an area equal to an entire landscape of interest — was more than 120 years in most of the Yellowstone ecosystem. But the model predicts that by the middle of this century, fire rotation will fall below 20 years for all but the most southeasterly portions of the ecosystem.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110725/full/news.2011.440.html

CITATION: Westerling AL, et al. 2011. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1110199108

New framework helps conservationists decide when to relocate a species
July 25, 2011

Researchers from CSIRO, University of Queensland and USGS have come up with a "pragmatic decision framework for determining when, if ever, to move species in the face of climate change." The new framework aims to assist natural resource managers in evaluating the costs and benefits of managed relocation, or assisted colonisation, of a species. Managed relocation "involves moving plants or animals from an area that is, or will become, untenable because of climate change, to areas where there are more suitable climactic conditions but in which the plants or animals have not occurred previously." The new framework takes into account "factors such as: the size of the population, the expected losses in the population through relocation, and the expected numbers that the new location could be expected to support." Dr. Tara Martin, a researcher from CSIRO, said, "Our framework provides managers with a rational basis for making timely decisions under uncertainty to ensure species persistence in the long-term....Without relocating species we are destined to lose some of our most important and iconic wildlife, but at the end of the day we also need viable ecosystems into which we can move species."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-species-affected-climate-shift.html

CITATION: McDonald-Madden E, Runge MC, Possingham HP, Martin TG. 2011. Optimal timing for managed relocation of species faced with climate change. Nature Climate Change 1:261-265. doi:10.1038/nclimate1170

Hikers spread invasive plant seeds accidentally
July 25, 2011

Researchers at the Center for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in Australia have conducted a study that examines the effects that hikers have in spreading the seeds of invasive plants.

From the article:

Scientists analyzed how seeds from five different invasive plants get scattered by hikers around Kosciuszko National Park. They calculated that during just one hiking season up to 1.9 million plant seeds could be carried on walkers' socks, while 2.4 million seeds could attach themselves to their trousers.

Unsurprisingly, all the seeds attached to socks better than to trousers. Some were still stuck at the end of a five-kilometer walk.

"Around 33,000 visitors go through the alpine area of Kosciuszko National Park each season. Half go for short walks, half go for much longer walks, which means there's a lot of potential for accidental seed dispersal," says Professor James Bullock, one of the authors of the study.

The researchers say that the best way to prevent the spread of invasives by hikers is for parks to educate their visitors. Bullock said, "We recommend that people are careful when going from car parks to more wild areas. They should take care to pull seeds off their socks before they leave the car park."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-hikers-invasive-seeds-accidentally.html

CITATION: Pickering CM, et al. 2011. Estimating human-mediated dispersal of seeds within an Australian protected area. Biological Invasions 13(8):1869-1880. doi:10.1007/s10530-011-0006-y

Mountain lion trekked from South Dakota to Connecticut
July 26, 2011

Scientists believe that a mountain lion (Puma concolor) that was "killed on a road in...Connecticut" came all the way from the Black Hills of South Dakoat, 1,800 miles away. By comparing the animal's DNA to perviously collected hair and fecal samples in Minnesota and Wisconsin, scientists were able to reconstruct the mountain lion's route across the United States, which they say is "one of the longest-ever recorded journeys by a land mammal."

From the article:

When it was struck by a car and killed in June in Milford, Connecticut, about 50 miles north-east of New York City, the young, lean, 140lb (64kg) male became the first mountain lion seen in that state in more than a century, said Daniel Esty, commissioner of the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

...The continental crossing from South Dakota to Connecticut put the cat on a path south around Lake Michigan, passed Chicago, the old industrial "rust belt" cities of Ohio and western Pennsylvania and north of New York City.According to scientists with the US Department of Agriculture, DNA taken from the mountain lion showed its genetic structure matched a population of cats native to the sparsely populated Black Hills region of South Dakota.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14303496

Hogle Zoo's male orangutan undergoes second surgery for breast cancer
July 26, 2011

Veterinarians at Utah's Hogle Zoo recently performed an operation on Eli, the zoo's 21-year-old male orangutan, to remove "all traces of potentially cancerous tissue from his body." Eli previously underwent surgery in May to have two cancerous masses removed from his chest. The veterinary staff are reporting that the procedure went well, although they are giving Eli some time to recover from the anesthetic. Eli's case was extremely rare, as there have not been any other documented cases of breast cancer in male orangutans.

From the article:

Eli's cancer was discovered during a routine physical, Henderson said. Trainers had noticed a nodule on the animal's chest and during the examination it was tested and found to be cancerous. Surgeons observed Eli's movement before the procedure and planned their incisions and sutures to have the least affect on his range of motion.

After he regains lucidity, Henderson said, Eli will likely have to be kept in a solitary display cage for a few days to keep his female companions from picking at his wounds.

Full article: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705388226/Hogle-Zoos-male-orangutan-undergoes-2nd-surgery-for-breast-cancer.html?s_cid=rss-30

Female Asian elephants members of extensive social networks
July 26, 2011

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have examined the social networks of female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and determined that although it may seem that the animals have "no extensive social affiliations," they actually are members of "extensive clusters of interconnected groups" at the population level.

From the article:

Researchers followed the friendships among over a hundred female adult Asian elephants in the Uda Walawe National Park in Sri Lanka for five seasons and analyzed how these relationships changed over time. While the elephants tended to congregate in groups containing three adult females, there could be as many as 17 in a single group. Social strategies were also variable, with some elephants always being seen in each other's company while others were 'social butterflies' who frequently changed companions. Surprisingly, 16% completely changed their 'top five' friends over the course of the study. Elephants who had few companions were very faithful to them, whereas those who had many tended to be less loyal.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/26/social_networking_elephants_never_forget.html

CITATION: de Silva S, Ranjeewa ADG, Kryazhimskiy S. 2011. The dynamics of social networks among female Asian elephants. BMC Ecology 11:17. doi:10.1186/1472-6785-11-17

Indianapolis Zoo's African elephant first with 3 successful AIs
July 27, 2011

Kubwa, an African elephant (Loxodonta africana) at the Indianapolis Zoo, gave birth on July 20 to a female weighing 238 lbs. This birth makes Kubwa "the first African elephant in the world to conceive and give birth successfully via artificial insemination three times."

From the article:

The calf nursed many times during the first day and Kubwa again demonstrated very good mothering instincts. As has been the case with all of her calves, the new little one initially needs a bit of help to reach the source of mom’s milk. Kubwa is a very tall elephant, so a small step stool arrangement has been used so the calf can step up with her two front legs and stretch up to nurse. It has worked very well in the past, and it appears our new, very lively little girl learned the trick quickly – trainers report she is nursing frequently!

The Zoo has had five other successful elephant births since 2000.

Full article: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/07/third-baby-elephant-makes-history-at-indianapolis-zoo.html

Dancing baby hippo Adhama becomes a hit at San Diego Zoo
July 27, 2011

Adhama, the male hippo that was born at the San Diego Zoo five months ago, has become somewhat of a Youtube sensation. The Zoo posted a video of Adhama "performing fancy moves in his tank" and playing around with his mom, Funani. Matt Akel, Animal Care Supervisor at the Zoo, said, "You see her push him around, but she's just playing. You see him stand up on the rock to take a breath, spin sideways and tumble in the water. He's interesting to watch and we tend to get really big crowds." The video, which can be seen here, has been viewed almost 290,000 times.

Full article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/news/dancing-baby-hippo-adhama-becomes-a-hit/story-e6frg8ro-1226102601007

USFWS to prepare Environmental Impact Statement on Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan
July 29, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 146
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N131; 80221-1112-80221-F2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, for the proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The EIS will be a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR), for which the Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), together with the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), intend to gather information necessary for preparation. The DRECP will then be prepared to meet the requirements of the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and the State of California's Endangered Species Act and Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act. The BLM, in compliance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, as amended, will consider this NEPA process and the resulting DRECP documents in its analysis toward possible amendment of BLM's California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan of 1980, as amended.

DATES: Please send written comments on or before September 12, 2011.
Three public scoping meetings will be held for the EIS/EIR, and we will accept written comments at these meetings. These public meetings will be held on the following dates and at the following locations:
1. August 16, 2011, 7-9 p.m., Lake Arrowhead Ballroom, Doubletree Ontario Hotel, 222 N Vineyard Ave. Ontario, CA 91764.
2. August 24, 2011, 2-4 p.m., Hearing Room A, California Energy Commission, 1516 Ninth St. Sacramento, CA 95814.
3. August 24, 2011, 7-9 p.m., Hearing Room A, California Energy Commission, 1516 Ninth St. Sacramento, CA 95814.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any one of the following methods.
E-mail: FW8DRECP@fws.gov. Include "Scoping Comments'' in the subject line of the message.
Fax: Attn: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, (760) 431-5902.
U.S. Mail: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011.
In-Person Drop-off: You may drop off comments during regular business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Corey, Assistant Field Supervisor, by phone at (760) 431-9440, or by U.S. mail at the above address; or Vicki Campbell, DRECP Program Manager, by phone at (916) 978-4320, or by U.S. mail at the BLM California State Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1623, Sacramento, CA 95825.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-29/pdf/2011-19175.pdf

Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for California red-legged frog
July 29, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 146
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N144; 81440-1113-0000-F3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received, from Swallow Creek Ranch (Applicant), an application for an enhancement of survival permit for the Federally threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This permit application includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) between the Applicant and the Service. The Agreement and permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: To ensure we are able to consider your comments, please send them to us by August 29, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The documents are available on our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/ventura. A limited number of printed copies are available by request. You may request the documents or submit comments by any of the following methods.
E-mail: fw8SHA_swallowcreekranch@fws.gov. Include "Swallow Creek Ranch SHA'' in the subject line of the message.
U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office; 2493 Portola Road, Suite B; Ventura, CA 93003.
Fax: Attn: Field Supervisor, (805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Morrissette, Safe Harbor Coordinator, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at the address above or by telephone at (805) 644-1766.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-29/pdf/2011-19204.pdf

African rainfall data 'will improve climate predictions'
July 22, 2011 By Mico Tatalovic

Thanks to data from a European Meteosat satellite, scientists will soon have long-term data for accurate climate predictions in Africa. This open-access 30-year dataset will be released within a year, according to David Grimes at the University of Reading.

From the article:

"Some models predict an increase in rainfall in some areas, other models predict a decrease of rainfall in the same area, and part of the reason for that is that data coming out of Africa [are] very poor and very sparse," Grimes said.

The new data "can tell us whether the rainfall and the climate in particular areas, at particular times of year or seasons, have been changing in the past 30 years, and then we can compare that with what climate models predict," said Grimes. "If the climate models say the same thing as our data sets that would give us much more confidence in their future predictions."

Data on African climate and weather have lacked consistency in the past and without accurate data, determining change patterns is difficult.

Full article: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/african-rainfall-data-will-improve-climate-predictions-.html

Mass turtle deaths on Great Barrier Reef have scientists worried
July 25, 2011

The bodies of more than 400 sick and dying turtles and dugongs (Dugong dugon) were found on the coast near the Great Barrier Reef, and many more animals may have died in more remote areas or the open ocean.

From the article:

Experts think the fatalities could be the result of extreme weather in northern Australia. Devastating floods in December and January, and a cyclone in February, caused a runoff of nutrients into the ocean, potentially killing the seagrass that both turtles and dugongs -- or "sea cows" -- feed on. The grass provides nutrients and improves the animals' ability to breath underwater.

"There is evidence that marine animals, including turtles, are suffering from poor nutrition because of a lack of seagrass," Vicky Darling, the Queensland Environment Minister, said.

The impact of this disaster is comparable to that caused by an oil spill, and may result in the loss of a generation of juvenile turtles.

Full article: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpps/news/international/mass-turtle-deaths-on-great-barrier-reef-have-scientists-worried-dpgonc-20110725-to_14282463#ixzz1TVj2MLvS

Saving (and studying) one of Nigeria's last montane forests
July 26, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

From 2000 to 2005, over half of Nigeria's primary forests were destroyed, and the country has one of the worst environmental track records. There is good news: The Nigerian Montane Forest Project (NMFP) is providing an example of a way to reverse this trend. Started by Nigerian native Hazel Chapman, who is an evolutionary ecology professory at the University of Canterbury, the NMFP conducts research in the Ngel Nyaki Forest (approx. 1,780 acres). The Ngel Nyaki Forest is home to the most endangered subspecies of chimpanzee, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti).

From the article:

Growing up in Malawi and Nigeria with a father who was passionate about botany, and who would take his intrepid daughter with him on forest expeditions, convinced Hazel Chapman to pursue a career in ecology. She traveled the world, studying in Scotland and New Zealand, but in 2002 Chapman returned to Nigeria to explore some of the remaining montane forest in Nigeria.

"The aim of the expedition was to revisit the forests my father had worked in during the 1970s and see how they had fared over the years. Our survey involved 50 days of trekking, mainly in the Gotel Mountains and Mambilla Plateau, with a base in Gashaka Gumti National Park. One of the forests we visited on the Mambilla Plateau was Ngel Nyaki Forest, and I couldn't help thinking that it would be a perfect site for field research."

In 2004 Chapman returned with students to undertake the first studies in the Ngel Nyaki Forest. By the next year, building began on the field station. Today the project is booming.

Nigeria's montane forests are important biodiversity refuges, home to some notable primate and rare bird species. The Nigerian Montane Forest Project has helped preserve these species and their habitat. However, pressure from cattle ranching and humans threatens the forests, and unless changes are implemented, the future does not look good.

Full article, and interview with Hazel Chapman: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0726-hance_chapman.html?homepg

Cows 'may offer greener fuel key'
July 26, 2011

Enzymes found in the stomachs of cattle and other ruminants that break down plant matter have the potential to create environmentally friendly fuel, according to Edinburgh scientists. Scientists at ART-Geonomics at Edinburg's Roslin institute, Ingenza, and John Wallace from the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen are conducting the study. They hope that their findings will provide ways to create not only fuel, but comodity and fine chemicals.

From the article:

Dr Ian Fotheringham, president of Ingenza, said: "People have been trying to unlock the energy in plant and tree matter for years but our approach recognises how nature has already successfully done it.

"If we can identify novel enzymes that allow ruminants to break down these tough structures, and then replicate them on a large scale, the possibilities for more sustainable and renewable industrial practices are enormous.

"Society is starting to look towards how greener practices can contribute to economic growth and more sustainable living in a meaningful way. This project could be a real step towards that."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-14291266

Are cancers newly evolved species?
July 26, 2011

Peter Duesberg, a molecular and cell biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says that cancerous tumors are parasitic organisms which depend on their hosts for food, but otherwise are independent life forms. Duesberg and his colleagues theorize that carcinogenesis is a form of speciation, resulting in the evolution of a new species. The researchers relied on a comparison of cell karyotype stabiltity across cell cultures, comparing karyotypes of different cancers and cancers from different patients.

Dr. Mark Vincent of the London Regional Cancer Program and University of Western Ontario agrees, arguing that "carcinogenesis and the clonal evolution of cancer cells are speciation events in the strict Darwinian sense."

From the article:

The evolution of cancer "seems to be different from the evolution of a grasshopper, for instance, in part because the cancer genome is not a stable genome like that of other species. The challenging question is, what has it become?" Vincent said in an interview. "Duesberg's argument from karyotype is different from my argument from the definition of a species, but it is consistent."

Vincent noted that there are three known transmissible cancers, including devil facial tumor disease, a "parasitic cancer" that attacks and kills Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii). It is transmitted from one animal to another by a whole cancer cell. A similar parasitic cancer, canine transmissible venereal tumor, is transmitted between dogs via a single cancer cell that has a genome dating from the time when dogs were first domesticated. A third transmissible cancer was found in hamsters.

"Cancer has become a successful parasite," Vincent said.

Duesbeg's arguments derive from his controversial proposal that the reigning theory of cancer – that tumors begin when a handful of mutated genes send a cell into uncontrolled growth – is wrong. He argues, instead, that carcinogenesis is initiated by a disruption of the chromosomes, which leads to duplicates, deletions, breaks and other chromosomal damage that alter the balance of tens of thousands of genes. The result is a cell with totally new traits – that is, a new phenotype.

Duesberg's research may support new methods for diagnosing and treating cancer.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/07/26/are_cancers_newly_evolved_species.html

CITATION: Duesberg P, Mandrioli D, McCormack A, Nicholson JM. 2011. Is carcinogenesis a form of speciation? Cell Cycle 10(13):2100-2114. doi:10.4161/cc.10.13.16352

Cave restrictions extended a year over bat disease
July 27, 2011 By Wayne Harrison

To protect bat populations from a fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, last year the U.S. Forest Service limited access to caves and abandoned mines in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Those restrictions have been extended for ome more year. While officials are not sure how spores are transported, they feel that preventing human contact with the bats may be a solution. Critics note that the bats may the cause. More than one million bats have been killed since 2006. A possible fine of $5,000.00 has been posted for trespassing in closed caves.

Full article: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/28685382/detail.html

Organized crime is wiping out wildlife
July 27, 2011

According to WCS conservationist Elizabeth Bennett in the June 7 online journal Oryx, organized crime syndicates have discovered that there is profit to be made from illegal trade in wildlife parts. The result is a dramatic impact on well-known species such as rhinos, tigers, and elephants. East Asia is providing a large market and increasingly sophisticated methods are being used, including e-commerce, to procure and transport wildlife.

From the article:

"We are failing to conserve some of the world's most beloved and charismatic species," said Bennett, who began her career in conservation more than 25 years ago in Asia. "We are rapidly losing big, spectacular animals to an entirely new type of trade driven by criminalized syndicates. It is deeply alarming, and the world is not yet taking it seriously. When these criminal networks wipe out wildlife, conservation loses, and local people lose the wildlife on which their livelihoods often depend."

For example, South Africa lost almost 230 rhinoceroses to poaching from January to October, 2010; and less than 3,500 tigers roam in the wild, occupying less than 7 percent of their historic range.

Unless wildlife laws are strictly enforced and increased resources brought to bear on the criminal organizations, some wildlife populations may dwindle and disappear.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-crime-wildlife.html

Publication changes announced at International Botanical Congress in Melbourne
July 27, 2011

The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has undergone a name change to "make explicit that the Code applies not only to plants, but also to algae and fungi." The Code will now be entitled the "International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants" and will now for the first time "allow for the electronic publication of names of new taxa." A demonstration at the 18th International Botanical Congress in July 2011 underscored the efficiency of electronic publishing. PhytoKeys, which has taken the lead in electronic publishing of new plants, will continue to provide print versions of the journal to the six leading botanical libraries of the world. Electronic publication of new names will enable taxonimists and publishers to disseminate information more quickly and efficiently. With habitat disappearring in many parts fo the world, finding and describing new species before they disappear is of extreme importance.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-electronic-publishing-news-international-botanical.html

CITATION: Miller JS, et al. 2011. Outcomes of the 2011 Botanical Nomenclature Section at the XVIII International Botanical Congress. PhytoKeys 5:1-3. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.5.1850

Robot water strider modeled after insect
July 27, 2011 By George Wigmore

Qinmin Pan and colleagues at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have developed a robot that literally walks on water, using the science behind the water strider.

From the article:

Tiny hairs on the legs of the water strider enable it form tiny swirling vortices, trapping small pockets of air, and enabling them to skirt across water without drowning.

Taking inspiration from the water strider and advantage of the high surface tension of water, the tiny 15 cm-long robot can stand, turn and walk perfectly fine on water, reaching speeds of up to 15 cm per second. Despite weighing as much as 390 water striders, the robot can stay afloat supported by ten water-repelling legs, propelled by two actuating legs driven by two tiny motors.

In the past, robots that walk on water have been developed, but they have been expensive and limited in ability. This new robot can be equipped with a camera or other equipment, allowing it to monitor water-related activity.

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/robot_water_strider_skims_the.html

The end is in sight for amphibian fungal disease
July 27, 2011

Chytridiomycosis, a fungal infection, has been implicated in the extinction of perhaps 200 species of amphibians over the past 30 years. In a new approach, researchers at the National Natural Sciences Museum in Spain have studied techniques to prevent this infetion, and propose methods to instead control the problem.

From the article:

"There are several alternatives for mitigating chytridiomycosis that are more effective than trying to prevent the pathogen from arriving or eradicating it from the environment", Jaime Bosch, a researcher at the National Natural Sciences Museum (MNCN-CSIC) in Spain and co-author of the new study on controlling the infection that has attacked 200 species of frogs, toads and other amphibians, tells SINC.

After reviewing all the current mitigation actions – or those that could possibly be developed in the near future – the researchers have concluded that new strategies based on the use of different methods to control infection levels "could be enough to prevent outbreaks of the disease and could, therefore, largely prevent local extinctions", says Bosch.

Pilot studies using increased temperature and baths of antifungal itraconazole have shown promise, but more research is needed before these treatments can be recommended.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-sight-amphibian-fungal-disease.html

CITATION: Woodhams DC, et al. 2011. Mitigating amphibian disease: strategies to maintain wild populations and control chytridiomycosis. Frontiers in Zoology 8:8. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-8-8

Pearl-flowered legume a surprise new find in the Cape Snowy Mountains, South Africa
July 27, 2011

The Sneeuberg Centre of Floristic Endemism, which is South Africa's newest Centre of Endemism, was only recently recognized in 2009 by researchers from the Department of Botany at Rhodes University. In the first two botanical expeditions to this area, scientists found "27 endemic species confined to these remote mountains," and several new species. One such new species is a pearl-flowered legume (Psoralea margaretiflora), endemic to the Sneeuberg and with a very limited range. Ralph Clark, one of the researchers who participated in the expeditions, is "collaborating with taxonomic experts from around the world to ensure that these new species are described and recognised in a reasonable time frame so that their conservation can be ensured." The research conducted in this area "is a response to the increasingly obvious lack of baseline biodiversity studies on the species-rich Great Escarpment in southern Africa."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-pearl-flowered-legume-cape-snowy-mountains.html

CITATION: Stirton CH, Clark VR, Barker NP, Muasya AM. 2011. Psoralea margaretiflora (Psoraleeae, Fabaceae): a new species from the Sneeuberg Centre of Floristic Endemism, Eastern Cape, South Africa. PhytoKeys 5:31-38. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.5.1585

Atlantic cod show signs of recovery off Nova Scotia
July 27, 2011 By Daniel Strain

Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Gadidae Melanogrammus) and other predators, decimated by overfishing off the coast of Nova Scotia in the 1970s, may be making a recovery, according to a study by Brian Petrie and Kenneth Frank, of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Canada. The Canadian government imposed a moratorium on cod and haddock fishing in 1993 as a result in the drop in cod population. Fewer predators caused an increase in the number of prey fish like capelin (Mallotus villosus) and Atlantic Herring (Clupea harengus). Now those numbers may be reversing, and the researchers report increased combined weights of cod and haddock.

From the article:

But the comeback is far from complete, Petrie says. Individual cod and haddock are still about half the size, on average, that they once were. Study co-author Kenneth Frank, an ecologist also with the Bedford Institute, compares rebuilding an ecosystem to the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. "When Humpty Dumpty fell, it broke into many pieces," he says. "Putting him back together again is quite a challenge." And although the new Scotian Shelf is on its way toward rebuilding that egg, it may never look the same again, he adds. Because haddock seem to be recovering faster, they, not cod, could become the shelf's dominant predators in the future.

The study may support a contention that an ecosystem can be restored through a fishing moratorium, but George Rose, a fisheries scientist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, cautions that larger fisheries may not respond like the small Scotian Shelf ecosystem.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/atlantic-cod-show-signs-of-recov.html?ref=hp

Gopher tortoises are in trouble but won't get federal protection
July 27, 2011 By Kevin Spear

Due to land development and poor management of conservation lands in Florida and the Southeast, the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is probably facing extinction. The Fish and Wildlife Service says it won't be declared a threatened species anytime soon, due to legal action currently in the courts for other species.

From the article:

"This determination does mean we believe the species needs to be listed, but we do not have the resources to pursue the listing," said Cynthia Dohner, the agency's southeast regional director. "We know the gopher tortoise population is in trouble."

The agency decided to classify the tortoise as one of nearly 250 "candidate" species, which federal officials can try to protect by encouraging voluntary help from property owners. Dohner stressed that land developers face no additional regulations because of the candidate status.

The gopher tortoise is likely to continue as a candidate species because the Fish and Wildlife Service feels its threats are not as pressing as some other species, and the process may take a few years.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-gopher-tortoises-wont-federal.html

Fossils could be feathered dinosaurs and not the first bird
July 27, 2011 By Matt McGrath

Xiaotingia, a new dinosaur fossil discovered in China, may change scientific thought about the origin of birds. Chinese palaentologist Xu Xing believes his discovery proves that Archaeopteryx, considered for 150 years as the first bird and an example of evolutionary change, is a feathery dinosaur and not a bird.

From the article:

By carefully analysing and comparing the bony bumps and grooves of this new chicken-sized fossil, Prof Xu now believe that both Archaeopteryx and Xiaotingia are in fact feathery dinosaurs and not birds at all.

"There are many, many features that suggest that Xiaotingia and Archaeopteryx are a type of dinosaur called Deinonychosaurs rather than birds. For example, both have a large hole in front of the eye; this big hole is only seen in these species and is not present in any other birds.

"Archaeopteryx and Xiaotingia are very, very similar to other Deinonychosaurs in having a quite interesting feature - the whole group is categorised by a highly specialised second pedo-digit which is highly extensible, and both Archaeopteryx and Xiaotingia show initial development of this feature."

The similarities between species of birds and reptiles from 150 million years ago are such that this argument may continue, and new finds can change scientific perspective.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14307985

CITATION: Xu X, You H, Du K, Han F. 2011. An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae. Nature 475:465-470. doi:10.1038/nature10288

Rescued bald eaglets to be released
July 27, 2011 By Justin Jouvenal

After their mother was killed by a jet, five-month-old bald eaglets (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were taken from their nest at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens and moved to the Virginia Wildlife Center. They were taught to fly and interact with other eagles, becoming an Internet hit via a webcam set up in the center. Wednesday they will be released with a ceremony and around 1,000 people have indicated they will attend.

Full blog post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-buzz/post/rescued-bald-eaglets-to-be-released/2011/07/27/gIQApFrocI_blog.html

Climate Research Unit releases climate data
July 28, 2011 By Quirin Schiermeier

The Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich has made publicly available "most of the meteorological raw data it had used to put together a contested global land temperature dataset, CRUTEM." Climate change skeptics have made several freedom-of-information-act requests over the past years but have been denied by CRU up until now, with CRU "...arguing that it had no permission to release the commercial datasets." Steven McIntyre, a Canadian statistician, had been one of the people making requests for the data so that he could perform his own "re-analysis of global temperature trends."

From the article:

In autumn 2009, unknown offenders hacked CRU computer servers and released more than a thousand emails – some containing aggressive language and alleged hints of data manipulation - exchanged over ten year or so between CRU director Phil Jones and a group of leading climate scientists. Jones and his co-workers were later cleared of all allegations of misconduct. Even so, ‘Climategate’, as critics were quick to dub the affair, prompted a severe confidence crisis from which the climate sciences have not yet fully recovered.

With yesterday’s release, raw data from 5,113 weather stations around the globe are now in the public domain. The only data missing are those from 10 stations in Poland. The Polish meteorological service, say CRU officials, refused permittence to have their data publicly released. But CRU reluctantly opted to release station data from Trinidad and Tobago against the Caribbean state’s express wish.

The climate records can be found at the Met Office Hadley Centre website

Full article: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/at_long_last_cru_releases_clim.html#more

India to initiate country-specific red list
July 28, 2011

The Environment Ministry of India has decided to "initiate the country-specific red list of endangered species" and will release a 'Red list of Indian Plants' and 'Red list of Indian Animals' by the end of 2012. The reports will be published by the Botanical Survey of India and the Zoological Survey of India. The country currently has 57 animal species listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, with many more that are listed as "data insufficient." This will be a huge task, as "India is home to approximately 90,000 species of animals and 40,000 species of plants," with many of these endemic to the country. The red lists would aid conservationists in planning their conservation strategies in India.

Full article: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/178969/indias-own-red-list-stitch.html

Colugos save time through energy-intensive gliding
July 28, 2011 By George Wigmore

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the Royal Veterinary College attached accelerometers to colugos (Galeopterus variegatus) to study how the animals move from tree to tree. Colugos are nocturnal tree-dwelling mammals that live in South East Asia which have "flaps of skin between their limbs to move from tree to tree, covering distances of nearly 150 metres (approx. 492 feet) in a single glide." Surprisingly, the researchers found that climbing up trees and then gliding from tree to tree took up to "one and a half times as much energy as travelling through the canopy," but allowed the animals to travel up to ten times faster. The researchers think that gliding allows the colugos to "spend more time foraging for food," more easily access hard to reach branches, "protect them from predators," and allow them to avoid "the risk of climbing on perilous branches."

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/gliding_is_quick_but_hard_work.html

CITATION: Byrnes G, Libby T, Lim NT-L, Spence AJ. 2011. Gliding saves time but not energy in Malayan colugos. The Journal of Experimental Biology 214, i. doi:10.1242/jeb.062687

San Diego's urban farms: oases in food deserts
July 27, 2011 By Tom Fudge

In an empoverished area in Linda Vista, by Tecolote Canyon, the Bayside Community Center is building the Linda Vista Neighborhood Garden, according to Jorge Riquelme, the executive director. Thanks to volunteer effort, brush, trees, rocks and garbage were removed to make room for the proposed garden. The garden and proposed farmer's market will provide low-income neighborhoods with a source of fresh fruits and vegetables. A similar project in City Heights has done well for the last three years. Creating urban gardens with associated markets cuts down the distance food needs to be moved, providing both fresh produce and an income to support both projects.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jul/27/urban-farms-try-feed-inner-city/

Huge Arctic fire caused large losses of carbon
July 28, 2011 By Richard Black

A 2007 fire in northern Alaska "burned across more than 1,000 sq km (400 sq miles), doubling the extent of Alaskan tundra visited by fire since 1950." While fires in this area are rare because the ground is covered in snow and ice for a large portion of the year, the warm and dry conditions in 2007 created the perfect conditions for fire when lightning struck in July. Researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville are studying this fire and conducting other field studies in the state.

From the article:

"In 2007, we had a hot, dry summer, there was no rain for a long period of time. "So the tundra must have been highly flammable, with just the right conditions for fire to spread until the snow in October finally stopped it."

According to the team's calculations, the statistics of the fire are remarkable. It is the largest on record, doubling the cumulative area burned since 1950. It put carbon into the atmosphere about 100 times faster than it usually escapes from the ground in the Arctic summer, and released more than 2 million tonnes. Although a small contribution to global emissions, this is about the same amount as the entire swathe of tundra around the Arctic absorbs in a single year. There is some vegetation on the summer lands, which did burn; but the main fuel is carbon in the ground itself.

Scientists are still unsure what climate change will mean for the Arctic. While warmer temperatures "could increase the frequency of fires and [reinforce] global warming," it could also mean that "plant life could flourish..., potentially increasing absorption and sequestering of carbon from the atmosphere."Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14306781

CITATION: Mack MC, et al. 2011. Carbon loss from an unprecedented Arctic tundra wildfire [letter]. Nature 475:489-492. doi:10.1038/nature10283

House strikes proposed ban on endangered species listings
July 28, 2011 By Daniel Strain

The House of Representatives voted 224-204 to remove a measure that would have significantly limited endangered species protection in the US. The measure, which was part of a larger Department of the Interior and related agencies appropriations bill HR 2584, "would ban the federal government from naming new endangered species under the Endangered Species Act in 2012 [and] would have blocked the feds from designating new 'critical habitats'".

From the article:

Proponents of the measure contended that the ban would stymie environmental groups from suing the feds in order to see new species make the endangered list. "This bill will allow the biologists to get back to work recovering species, rather than responding to court cases," said supporter Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) in floor debate.

Opponents, however, said that the measure would cut off a number of imperiled species from basic protections. "Without these important preliminary steps of listing and critical habitat designation, it would be impossible to develop a scientifically valid and legally defensible recovery plan for declining species," said Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) earlier this week.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/house-strikes-proposed-ban-on.html?ref=hp

Researchers map long-range migrations and habitats of leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean
July 28, 2011

Endangered leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are "the largest of all marine turtles, weighing up to 2000 pounds...and measuring almost six feet in length." Their greatest threats come from the harvesting of their eggs and breeding females on nesting beaches and through accidental capture by fishing operations. Scientists from NOAA Fisheries Service and their colleagues have tracked the movements of 126 individual turtles by satellite, following their migrations from nesting beaches to foraging areas across the Pacific. The results of the study have shown that the turtles travel from the western Pacific, to the North Pacific, to islands in the southern hemisphere, to the East Australia Current Extension. Although there has been regulation which "restricts commercial fishing in large areas north of Hawaii and off the United States west coast because of concern over accidental bycatch of leatherbacks," this new research shows that in order for conservation efforts to be successful, there must be more coordination between nations and communities around the Pacific.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-long-range-migrations-habitats-leatherback-sea.html

CITATION: Benson SR, et al. 2011. Large-scale movements and high-use areas of western Pacific leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea. Ecosphere 2(7):art84. doi:10.1890/ES11-00053.1

M. evenia leaf shape attracts bats
July 28, 2011 By Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib

In previous studies, biologist Ralph Simon and colleagues at the University of Ulm in Germany determined that bats were attracted to plants that had leaves with a hollow hemisphere. So, Simon said that he and his team were "totally amazed" when they found "that very shape on a rainforest vine in Cuba that depends on bats for pollination." Marcgravia evenia has a "large, cup-shaped leaf above its red-and-pink buds" and "reflects bat sonar with a strong echo" from many angles, which would help it "stand out against a background of varying vegitation."

From the article:

Simon and his colleagues then created an artificial vegetation backdrop on a wall in their lab and trained captive nectar-feeding bats to search for a feeder hidden in the mix. The bats found the feeder almost 50% faster – in about 12 seconds – when it was under one of the cupped-leaf shapes, versus under a regular leaf shape or on its own.

Although a cup shape reduces the light the leaf can trap for photosynthesis, it more than makes up for the loss by attracting an important pollinator to the rare flower, say the researchers. M. evenia is one of many plants that depends on bats for spreading its pollen, so the authors say they expect to find even more acoustically unique varieties.

The next step for the researchers is to find examples of this in the field, rather than reproducing results in the lab.

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/for_bats_the_leaf_marks_the_sp.html

CITATION: Simon R, Holderied MW, Koch CU, von Helversen O. 2011. Floral acoustics: conspicuous echoes of a dish-shaped leaf attract bat pollinators. Science 333(6042):631-633. doi:10.1126/science.1204210

First study of South-West Ghana bird health
July 28, 2011

Justus Deikumah, a PhD student from the University of Queensland (UQ), will be traveling home to South-West Ghana to conduct the "first ever study of the impact of habitat loss on the health and condition of birds" in the area. The region's forest has been greatly fragmented, with more and more habitat disappearing due to unsustainable land use practices. Mr. Deikumah said, "The concern is that the health and condition of birds could suffer as a result of this drastic change in habitat, leading to a decline in bird populations and ultimate extinction."

From the article:

Mr. Deikumah will use increased stress levels in birds as an early warning sign, so that appropriate conservation measures can be taken before the impacts of environmental change are irreversible.

He is using a number of indicators such as the parasite load and types of white blood cells in blood samples, which can reveal information about bird health. Mr. Deikumah will compare his results between sites in rainforest next to mines and farmland.

“Birds are being captured in about 40 different rainforest sites. I have completed about 75 per cent of the fieldwork necessary and 60 per cent of my blood smears have been successfully received back at UQ by my supervisor, Dr. Martine Maron, for further examination when I return in September” he said.

This research will add to the body of knowledge regarding the "underlying causes of bird population declines in fragmented tropical rain forest landscapes" and will aid in conservation and restoration planning in the region.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-south-west-ghana-bird-health.html

Historic Texas drought bad news for Mexican free-tail bats in Austin
July 28, 2011 By Karen Brooks

A historic Texas drought has diminished the crop output, which in turn has diminished the number of insects in the area. This means that there is less food available for the Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) living under the Congress Street bridge in Austin. The 1.5 million bats living under the bridge comprise the world's largest urban bat colony (the largest colony in the world consists of 20 million bats in a cave outside of San Antonio) and eat approximately 20,000 pounds of insects from the air each night. James Eggers, director of education for Bat Conservation International, says, "If we just have one to two years of drought, it's a natural cycle and it's not going to affect the species as a whole. What some scientists fear is that this is not a regular drought, but could be indicative of change coming because of global warming. If we have an extended drought for many years, that could affect the population of the Mexican free-tails."

A declining bat population would also be bad for Texas farmers, who in a 2006 study were shown to save "some $750,000 a year from pestilence thanks to the [bats]." The city of Austin also profits from having the bats around, making up to $8 million dollars in eco-tourism.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/28/us-bats-drought-texas-idUSTRE76R0F320110728

Eagle Fire burning out; areas begin to reopen
July 28, 2011 By Erik Anderson

A fire burning a 22-square-mile area near Warner Springs (remote northeastern San Diego County) has been 75 percent contained as of the 28th. The Eagle Fire was started by an arsonist towards the end of July and has burned over 14,000 acres. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spent around $13,000,000 fighting the fire and reports that 17 firefighters were injured and one outbuilding was destroyed.

*As of Monday, August 1, the fire was contained by Cal FIRE, who continues to extinguish hot spots. More than $15 million had been spent battling the fire by this date.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/jul/28/eagle-fire-burning-out/

Toucans wearing GPS backpacks help Smithsonian scientists study seed dispersal
July 28, 2011

Scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama have conducted an experiment which confirms that "toucans are excellent seed dispersers, particularly in the morning." Additionally, by attaching GPS transmitters in backpacks to the toucans, the researchers were able to "create a map of the relative patterns and distances that toucans distribute the seeds of a nutmeg tree."

From the article:

In the first stage of their experiment, the scientists collected fresh seeds from a common Panamanian nutmeg tree (Virola nobilis) and fed them to captive toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus) at the Rotterdam Zoo. Toucans gulp nutmeg seeds whole, the outer pulp is processed in the bird's crop, and the hard inner seed is then regurgitated. Five zoo toucans fed 100 nutmeg seeds took an average of 25.5 minutes to process and regurgitate the seeds.

Next, in Panama, the scientists netted six wild toucans (four R. sulfuratus and two R. swainsonii) that were feeding from a large nutmeg tree in the rainforest at Gamboa. They fitted the birds with lightweight backpacks containing GPS tracking devices (these devices recorded the birds' exact location every 15 minutes) and accelerometers which can measure a bird's daily activity level.

When matched with the seed-regurgitation time of the zoo toucans, the GPS data indicated the wild toucans were probably dropping nutmeg seeds a distance of 472 feet, on average, from the mother tree. Each seed had a 56 percent probability of being dropped at least 328 feet from its mother tree and an 18 percent chance of being dropped some 656 feet from the tree.

Additionally, the scientists noted that because the birds are more active in the morning and mid-day, seeds eaten at these times had a higher chance of dispersal than seeds eaten later on in the day.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-toucans-gps-backpacks-smithsonian-scientists.html

CITATION: Kays R, et al. 2011. The effect of feeding time on dispersal of Virola seeds by toucans determined from GPS tracking and accelerometers. Acta Oecologica. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2011.06.007

Stranded emperor penguin released from Wellington Zoo
July 29, 2011

The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) who was found stranded five weeks ago on a New Zealand beach 2,000 miles from home is now healthy enough to be released back into the wild. The penguin, nicknamed "Happy Feet", was the first emperor penguin to be seen in New Zealand since the 1960s. It became ill after ingesting wet sand, which scientists believe the penguin mistook for snow. Veterinarians at the Wellington Zoo have nursed the bird back to health, reporting that the animal had gained about 9 pounds since coming to the zoo and "passed an x-ray and blood test." The bird will be released offshore within the next few weeks.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/29/emperor-penguin-happy-feet-all-clear

Botswana government has no plans to end wildlife hunting
July 29, 2011

The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism in Botswana has said that there are no plans to ban wildlife hunting. They will instead "encourage photographic tourism" and place quotas on hunting species with declining numbers but animals "...with increasing numbers like elephants, will continue to be hunted withing CITES framework" (according to Mable Bolele, who works with the Ministry). This announcement comes after a recently completed aerial survey of the wildlife in the Okavango Delta, which was conducted by Mike Chase (a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research) and his colleagues at Elephants Without Borders. The data from this survey indicated that many species such as the tsessebe, lechwe and wildebeest are on the decline. And, although the elephant population is estimated at 140,000, they are threatened by drought, fires, poaching, fences, and human encroachment.

Full article (scroll down page): http://ngamitimes.com/

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center teaches teachers how to incorporate gardening into classes
July 29, 2011 By Andrea Granahan

The "Mother Garden" at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Northern California "shows teachers how to plant and tend a garden, and how to integrate it into a curriculum." The eight acre garden, which is California's sixth oldest certified organic garden (established in 1974), is part of the larger 80 acre facility and hosts an annual "week-long, live-in intensive training for school teachers." Since the program's inception in 1997, "more than 500 teachers, principals and parent volunteers from 189 Bay Area schools have gonet through the program."

From the article:

One of the first lessons children learn in school gardens is teamwork. They keep garden journals, and because gardens are social places, most have tables and chairs where the kids can eat lunch or do homework. From planning the garden layout, students begin learning math and mapping, said Patty Sherwood, and as they track their progress they learn such skills as charting. “It connects the kids to nature in a sustainable way,” said Sherwood, a former science and math teach who now specializes in garden consultation.

The teachers who attend the training learn how to "raise seedlings, manage a green house, develop a school garden and design a school curriculum using the garden."

To learn more about OAEC, visit their website.

Full article: http://sebastopol.towns.pressdemocrat.com/2011/07/news/teaching-teachers-about-school-gardens/

New population of Critically Endangered Aders' duiker found in Kenyan forest
July 29, 2011

Conservationists have discovered a new population of Critically Endangered Aders' duiker (Cephalophus adersi) in the Boni-Dodori forest in north coastal Kenya. This is the same forest where a new species of elephant-shrew (Macroscelidea) was discovered earlier this year. Previously, Aders' duikers were only found in "diminishing forest patches on Unguja Island, Zanzibar and the Arabuko-Sokoke forest in coastal Kenya." Researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT), National Museums of Kenya and the WWF captured over 3,300 images of the rare antelope on camera traps. Additionally, they found evidence of other important populations of animals living in the Boni-Dodori forest, such as "African wild-dogs (Lycaon pictus), elephants (Loxodonta africana) and lions (Panthera leo)." The conservationists are calling for protection of the forest, which is "currently under threat from rapid coastal and agricultural development," citing the extreme biodiversity of the area.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-rare-antelope-reveals-secrets-threatened.html

New mileage standards aim for less fuel, pollution
July 29, 2011

President Obama has brokered a deal that would require automakers to "double overall fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025," which would be the "largest cut in fuel consumption since the 1970s." Today's average is 27 mpg for cars and trucks.

From the article:

When achieved, the 54.5 mpg target would reduce U.S. oil consumption from vehicles by 40 percent and halve the amount of greenhouse gas pollution coming out of tailpipes. It builds on a 2009 deal between the Obama administration and automakers, which committed cars and trucks to averaging 35.5 mpg by model year 2016. For American families, the president said the agreement...means filling up the car every two weeks, instead of every week. That would save $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle purchased in 2025, compared with a 2010 model, a White House analysis said.

The deal was a compromise between what environmentalists and automakers wanted — 62 mpg and 43 mpg, respectively. The President stated that these new regulations would decrease the country's reliance on foreign oil sources and help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the environment. The deal is being challenged by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who alleged "that the new mandate was decided without the input of consumers and Congress and could harm consumers."

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jul/29/new-mileage-standards-aim-for-less-fuel-pollution/

National Science Board launches I-Corps grant program
July 29, 2011 By Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib

In this time of looming budget cuts on the national level, the National Science Board (NSF), which governs the National Science Foundation (NSF), has reiterated the need for government-funded research to "further the administration's far-reaching national goals, such as creating jobs and reviving a moribund US economy." One such new program that aims to make US science more relevant is the I-Corps (Innovation Corps) grant program. Announced at the end of July, the program is "meant to bridge the gap between bench science and innovation."

How I-Corps works:

Visit the NSF website for more information on I-Corps grants.

Full article: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/07/science_board_focuses_on_makin_2.html

Maryland company, Eco-Goats, clears weeds from parks and gardens
July 30, 2011

Eco-Goats, a Maryland-based company, provides the use of goats for a fee to customers who want to clear areas of weeds and grass.

From the article:

Brian Knox, owner of Eco-Goats, a business based in Davidsonville, Maryland, said the hungry animals graze on dense vegetation and munch unwanted weeds and invasive plants while also leaving fertilizer behind for the grasses that people want. "There is poison ivy and all kinds of stuff that you know people don't want to go in there for, and the goats don't seem to mind that much," he said.

Eco-Goats, which has been in business for three years, often brings dozens of goats to the site that a customer hopes to clear, then puts up electric fences and allows the goats to graze for days. One group of 30 goats can clear 100 square meters of brush per day, according to Eco-Goats. Because the animals are agile and good climbers, they can often get to hard-to-reach vegetation. When the work is finished, the goats have left behind their droppings which serve as fertilizer, said Eco-Goats, which charges about $5,750 for 2.5 acres.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-eco-goats-latest-graze-maryland.html

Pollinators lured away by farmland
July 30, 2011 By Mark Kinver

A new study conducted by researchers from Oxford University and Earthwatch UK were surprised by findings that showed that pollinators may be "lured away" by pollen-rich farmland instead of using these areas as corridors between stands of native trees. Their results challenge "the long-held assumption that areas that were rich in resources would encourage the movement of pollinators from one group of native trees to another, [instead] creating a barrier effect for non-specialist feeders."

From the article:

"Looked at from an insect's point of view, it makes sense," explained co-author David Boshier. "These insects are not trying to pollinate a particular species of tree, they are just foraging. So if they leave a patch of native forest and fly across farmland which happens to be rich in resources, they are likely to collect pollen and nectar there rather than carry on to another patch of native forest."

However, Dr Boshier added: "Conversely, areas of sparse resources - such as (conifer) plantations - have less to offer so the pollinators are more likely to continue their journey and reach other patch of the native forest."

The researchers studied the polliation of a Gomortega keule, an endangered tree native to central Chile, by hoverflies. Co-author Dr. Tonya Lander explained, "In general, there was more pollination happening when trees are separated by tree plantations, and less pollination happening when the trees were separated by agricultural land." The team is calling this effect the "Circe Principle, after a nymph in Homer's Odyssey who seduced Odysseus on his journey home from his adventures." They hope their research will aid future landscape models to better account for areas traditionally thought of as "non-habitat."

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14234567

CITATION: Lander TA, et al. 2011. The Circe Principle explains how resource-rich land can waylay pollinators in fragmented landscapes. Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.045

Groups hope to take over two San Diego state parks
July 31, 2011 By Michael Gardner

Governor Jerry Brown has slated 70 state parks for closure beginning in September. San Diego is home to two of these parks, Palomar Mountain and San Pasqual Battlefield, which would be closed starting in July 2012. Assembly Bill 42 is currently pending approval by the state senate. The bill, which was authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), would allow non-profits to take control of the parks from the state, thereby preventing their closure. Two groups in San Diego have begun "preliminary talks with state park officials with hopes of saving Palomar Mountain and San Pasqual Battlefield." They will have to "convince the state that they have sizable sums of money, a long-term commitment and considerable skills to do everything from fixing toilets to managing crews."

While the governor is claiming the closures will save the state about $22 million through the summer of 2013, opponents are saying the cost savings would be much less due to the costs of closing the facilities, patrolling the parks, and maintaining sewer systems. Additionally, cities would lose any profits from tourism at these areas. The state currently provides $300,00 annually to run Palomar and receives about $140,000 back in income from camping, day use, and leases. Palomar staff are also in talks with the Cleveland National Forest to potentially have that park's staff take over the running of the park in the event of a closure. The state pays $55,106 to run the San Pasqual Battlefield, with no income received.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jul/31/groups-hope-to-take-over-local-state-parks/

San Diego Zoo Safari Park to send elephants to Tucson zoo
July 31, 2011 By Tony Perry

This week, two staff members from Tuscon's Reid Park Zoo came to observe keepers interact with elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Their visit is in preparation for an exchange between the two organizations, with the Safari Park sending a group of 4 or 5 elephants to Reid Park on a breeding loan and Reid Park sending an older Asian elephant to join the herd at ths San Diego Zoo. One of the elephants who will be loaned to Reid Park to live in a new $10 million expansion called "Expedition Tanzania" is Vus'Musi, a seven-year-old male who was "sired in Swaziland and born in San Diego." The rest of the herd to be exchanged has not yet been determined.

The Safari Park has the largest elephant herd in the United States, with 17 individuals, and has been "approached by several zoos about an elephant loan." According to Jeff Andrews, animal care manager for San Diego Zoo Global, the Reid Park Zoo was selected to participate in a loan "because its elephant management plan is similar to San Diego's." San Diego Zoo Global practices "protected contact" system, in which "keepers get voluntary compliance from elephants" rather than an old style of elephant keeping which "depended on keeper dominance and punishment."

Full article: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/31/local/la-me-zoo-elephants-20110731

Surplus water flowing to California farms, reservoirs
July 31, 2011 By Matt Weiser

This year, California declared water "surpluses" due to extra snowfall in the mountains. After three years of drought, the extra water will be sold to farmers and cities for their reservoirs at a greatly discounted price. Farmers are welcoming the opportunity to purchase the discounted water and will be able to reopen acres of farmland that had remained unused during the drought. Conservationists, however, argue that the water supply is not realy "surplus," citing the need for fish populations to grow during years of abundant water supplies.

From the article:

About three-fourths of the surplus water this year was pumped out of the [Sacramento-San Joaquin] Delta. The rest came via Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River and did not pass through the Delta. "If you look at the population graphs for just about any fish species over the past 30 years, it looks like a pretty continuous decline," said Jon Rosenfield, a conservation biologist at the Bay Institute. "That's because when times are tight, we really hammer them. And when times are good, we don't let them get off the mat."

Bill Kier, a fisheries consultant and former assistant secretary of the state Resources Agency, noted surplus pumping this year contributed to shockingly large fish kills at the state and federal water diversion systems in the Delta. According to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the pumps "salvaged" or killed 8.9 million Sacramento splittail from Oct. 1, 2010, to July 17 this year. Nearly 37,000 chinook salmon and 90 sturgeon also met their demise.

Full article: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/31/3806034/surplus-water-flowing-to-states.html

Scientists name world's most important marine conservation hotspots
August 1, 2011 By Alok Jha

A team of scientists led by Dr. Sandra Pompa, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, has "identified the 20 most important regions of the world's oceans and lakes that are key to ensuring the survival of the planet's marine mammals...." The majority of these identified areas are already under threat due to "habitat degradation, introduction of exotic species and over-exploitation of natural resources."

From the article:

Pompa led a team of scientists to try and identify which parts of the world's oceans were most crucial for the world's 129 marine mammal populations. Their results, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed nine key global conservation sites that hold 84% of marine mammal species and 11 "irreplaceable" conservation sites, which contain species that are found nowhere else.

...The main conservation areas, which contain 108 species, are the coasts of Baja California, north-eastern America, Peru, Argentina, north-western Africa, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The 11 smaller conservation zones, which each contained unique species specific to them, included areas around Hawaiian and Galapagos Islands, Lake Baikal in Siberia and major rivers such as the Amazon, Ganges and Yangtze.

Researchers are most concerned about the Mexican vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a small porpoise that is endemic to the Gulf of Mexico. There are only 250 individuals left of this species.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/01/marine-life-wildlife

CITATION: Pompa S, Ehrlich PR, Ceballos G. 2011. Global distribution and conservation of marine mammals. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101525108

World sacred forests mapped out
August 1, 2011 By David A. Gabel

Scientists from the Biodiversity Institute at the University of Oxford are working on a "sacred land map" which will show "all the land owned or revered by various world religions." This map will not only include man-made sites, such as Jerusalem's Western Wall, but also all of "the great forests held sacred by various religions." The researchers are trying to determine the land's "value in terms of biodiversity." To do so, they first have to delineate the boundary lines of the sacred lands in order to conduct biodiversity assessments. They willa lso be assessing "the land's value in carbon dioxide absorption, its abundance of medicinal plants, [and] the value to local people." Dr. Shonil Bhagwat, one of the researchers working on the project, says, "We urgently need to map this vast network of religious forests, sacred sites and other community-conserved areas to understand their role in biodiversity conservation. Such mapping can allow the custoidan communities, who have protected these sites for generations, to secure their legal status."

Full article: http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/43012

California Academy of Science's 'living roof' is taking root
August 1, 2011 By Debbie Arrington

The California Academy of Sciences is home to California's "most famous roof garden," which covers the 2-1/2-acre roof atop a nine-story building. Originally planted with nine species back in 2007, there are now more than 75 native species growing on the roof. Frank Almeda, the senior curator of botany at the academy, notes that the majority of these new species were introduced by birds. Almeda used a custom planting mix which consists of "45 percent red lava rock, 20 percent fir bark, 20 percent organic matter and 15 percent sand."

Full article: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/livingroof080111/livingroof080111/

Denver Botanic Gardens kicks off sustainable food film series
August 2, 2011

The Denver Botanic Gardens is partnering with Chipotle to host a sustainable food film series during the month of August. The first film to be shown will be "Locavore", which "features farmers, families and pioneers in the Locavore food movement." Other movies to be shown during the series are "Ingredients", which is about how eating locally can affect a person's health, "French Fries to Go", a film about a man and his biodiesel truck, and more. Entrance to the screenings costs $10. Chipotle is providing free sustainable snacks and sponsoring panel discussions after each film.

Full article: http://www.ecorazzi.com/2011/08/02/denver-botanic-gardens-kicks-off-sustainable-food-film-series/

Proposed endangered status for Chupadera springsnail
August 2, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 148
FWS-R2-ES-2011-0042; MO 92210-0-0009

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to list the Chupadera springsnail (Pyrgulopsis chupaderae) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act's protections to this species. We also propose to designate critical habitat for the Chupadera springsnail under the Act. In total, approximately 0.7 hectares (1.9 acres) are being proposed for designation as critical habitat, located in Socorro County, New Mexico.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods, no later than October 3, 2011:
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2011-0042, 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 a Comment.''
(2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2011-0042; 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: Wally "J'' Murphy, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113; telephone 505-346-2525; facsimile 505-346-2542.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-02/pdf/2011-19444.pdf

USFWS denies endangered listing for Redrock stonefly
August 2, 2011 Federal Regiser / Vol. 76, No. 148
FWS-R2-ES-2011-0047; MO 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Redrock stonefly (Anacroneuria wipukupa) as endangered or threatened and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the Redrock stonefly is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to the Redrock stonefly or its habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on August 2, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R2-ES-2011-0047. 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, Arizona Ecological Services Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the above street address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Office (see ADDRESSES); by telephone at 602-242-0210; or by facsimile at 602-242-2534.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-02/pdf/2011-19447.pdf

Suspended Arctic scientist to be questioned over research contracts
August 2, 2011 By Suzanne Goldberg

Charles Monnett, a leading Arctic scientist who authored the paper linking climate change to polar bear drowning deaths, has been suspended from his job at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). The bureau cited Monnett's "oversight of research contracts" and denied that the investigation had anything to do with the topics of his research.

From the article:

"We intend to discuss actions taken in your official capacity as a biologist and any collateral duties involving contracts as an official of the US government," Eric May, an official in the department of interior's inspector general's office wrote in the letter. "Those actions include the procurement of a sole source, cost-reimbursable contract with the University of Alberta to conduct a study titled 'Populations and Sources of the Recruitment in Polar Bears.'"

The letter asked Monnett to meet government investigators on 9 August. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), which is acting as Monnett's defence team, said Monnett will be asked about his compliance with government contracting regulations as well as his relationship with the lead researcher, a reputed polar bear scientist, Andrew Derocher.

Monnett's supporters claim he is the victim of a smear campaign to discredit his work, and cite the timing of the investigation as suspicious, as it comes around the same time the government is set to make a ruling on whether to allow further oil expeditions in the Arctic.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/02/suspended-arctic-scientist-research-contracts

Garden bird disease spreads to new parts of the UK
August 2, 2011

A new form of avian poxvirus is spreading from south-east England to areas further north and west. The virus, which is especially harmful to great tits, "causes lesions, often around the eyes and beak." The virus "can be spread through contaminated bird feeders, via biting insects and through direct contact between birds." A team at the Zoological Society of London is studying the disease and are asking for public help to track the spread of the disease.

From the article:

Dr Becki Lawson, from ZSL, said: "What's different about this avian pox in this species is that the lesions can be very severe.

"It's not unusual for several birds to be affected at one site.

..."Over the last year we've seen the geographical range of this disease spread quite significantly, as far west as Wiltshire and as far north as Staffordshire."

In the most severe cases the lesions caused by the virus in great tits can prevent the birds from feeding or flying and makes them more vulnerable to predators.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14380813

Lawsuit slows Balboa Park renovations
August 3, 2011 By Lauren Steussy

The Plaza de Panama project aims to clear vehicle traffice from the center of Balboa Park, rerouting traffic around the Plaza to a parking garage behind the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The committee in charge of the planning and fundraising is chaired by Irwin Jacobs. In July, the city signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Plaza de Panama Committee, which would allow the committee to begin fundraising and planning in earnest in order to complete the construction before the 2015 centennial celebration in Balboa Park. However, the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), which opposes the project citing potential "devastating impacts on the iconic architecture and cultural landscapes of Balboa Park," has sued the city, claiming that the MOU was approved "before the completion of a State environmental review." Jan Goldsmith, the City Attorney, said that "the city did not violate state environmental law, nor is the memorandum a guarantee that the project go through," but that a signed MOU was necessary before the city could look at alternative solutions to the parking problem.

Full article: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/126707718.html

New rule authorizes incidental take of Alaskan marine mammals during oil and gas exploration
August 3, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 149

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has developed regulations that would authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of polar bears and Pacific walruses during year-round oil and gas industry (Industry) exploration, development, and production operations in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska. Industry operations for the covered period include types of activities similar to those covered by the previous 5- year Beaufort Sea incidental take regulations that were effective from August 2, 2006, through August 2, 2011. We find that the total expected takings of polar bears and Pacific walruses during oil and gas industry exploration, development, and production activities will have a negligible impact on these species and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of these species for subsistence use by Alaska Natives. We base this finding on the results of 17 years of data on the encounters and interactions between polar bears, Pacific walruses, and Industry; recent studies of potential effects of Industry on these species; oil spill risk assessments; potential and documented Industry impacts on these species; and current information regarding the natural history and status of polar bears and Pacific walruses. This rule is effective for 5 years from date of issuance.

DATES: This rule is effective August 3, 2011, and remains effective through August 3, 2016.

ADDRESSES: The final rule and associated environmental assessment (EA) are available for viewing at http://http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No, FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0098. Comments and materials received in response to this action are available for public inspection during normal working hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Office of Marine Mammals Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Perham, Office of Marine Mammals Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503, telephone: 907-786-3810 or 1-800-362-5148, or e-mail: craig_perham@fws.gov.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-03/pdf/2011-19296.pdf

Endangered species permit applications
August 3, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 149
FWS-R2-ES-2011-N145; 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 no later than September 2, 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.

Applicant: SWCA Inc, San Antonio, Texas.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for the following species within Texas:
Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis).
Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi).
Golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia).
Black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla).
Interior least tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos).
Northern aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis septentrionalis).
Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis).
Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis).
Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum).
San Marco salamander (Eurycea nana).
Texas blind salamander (Typhlomolge rathbuni).
Fountain darter (Etheostoma fonticola).
Two ground beetles without common names (Rhadine exilis and Rhadine infernalis).
Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes venyivi).
Cokendolpher Cave harvestman (Texella cokendolpheri),
Robber Baron Cave meshweaver (Cicurina baronia).
Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla).
Bracken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii).
Government Canyon Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina vespera).
Government Canyon Bat Cave spider (Neoleptoneta microps).
Tooth Cave spider (Neoleptoneta myopica).
Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion (Tartarocreagris texana).
Bee Creek Cave harvestman (Texella reddelli).
Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle (Texamaurops reddelli).
Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone).
Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reyesi).
Coffin Cave mold beetle (Batrisodes texanus) .

Permit TE-170625
Applicant: Daniel Howard, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) within Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Permit TE-150490
Applicant: New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to collect voucher specimens and seeds from the following species within New Mexico:
Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta (Sacramento prickly poppy).
Astragalus humillimus (Mancos milk-vetch).
Cirsium vinaceum (Sacramento Mountains thistle).
Coryphantha sneedii var. leei (Lee pincushion cactus).
Coryphantha sneedii var sneedii (Sneed pincushion cactus).
Echinocereus fendleri var. kuenzleri (Kuenzler hedgehog cactus).
Erigeron rhizomatus (Zuni fleabane).
Eriogonum gypsophilum (Gypsum wild buckwheat).
Hedeoma todsenii (Todsen's pennyroyal).
Helianthus paradoxus (Pecos sunflower).
Ipomopsis sancti-spiritus (Holy Ghost ipomopsis).
Pediocactus knowltonii (Knowlton cactus).
Sclerocactus mesae-verdae (Mesa Verde cactus) .

Permit TE-842565
Applicant: Cibola National Forest, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys for southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) within New Mexico.

Permit TE-46978A
Applicant: U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Central Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa.
Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to collect and distribute for reintroduction seeds from Helianthus paradoxus (Pecos sunflower) from plants in New Mexico.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-03/pdf/2011-19621.pdf

Yellowstone National Park gets 900,000+ visitors in July
August 4, 2011

For the third year in a row, Yellowstone National Park saw over 900,000 visitors over the month of July.

From the article:

July is typically the park’s peak visitation month. The park recorded 906,935 recreational visitors in July 2011, 957,785 in July 2010, and 900,515 in July 2009.

This year is the second-highest monthly visitation level recorded since 1872, when the park first opened, according to park officials. 

Park officials believe that the record numbers are due to a weak economy, since visiting the park is still a relatively inexpensive family activity. A family pass for a week costs $25.

Full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/yellowstone-national-park-visitation.html

Joan Embery and Duane Pillsbury to receive San Diego Zoo Global's conservation medal
August 4, 2011

Excerpt from the article:

Longtime San Diego Zoo advocate Joan Embery and husband Duane Pillsbury will receive the top honor from San Diego Zoo Global – its conservation medal, zoo supporters recently announced. In her career as the zoo’s goodwill and conservation ambassador, Embery made the zoo famous with frequent talk show appearances with Johnny Carson and, later, Jay Leno. The couple keeps 30 rare and endangered animals and 40 horses at their Lakeside ranch, where they host frequent outreach events.

...At the same event, medals will be handed out in a “Young Conservation Advocate” category to Luca Banks, a recent graduate of La Costa Canyon High School who volunteers with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Conservation Corps; Mason McGhee, a High Tech International senior who created a sport based on sustainability; and Nathan Tallman, a Poway High School graduate who developed a program for teaching middle school science students about the decline of amphibian populations.

Full article: http://www.swrnn.com/2011/08/04/san-diego-zoo-advocate-joan-embery-to-be-honored/

Eagle deaths investigated at Los Angeles wind power generation site
August 2, 2011

The deaths of as many as six federally protected golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) at the Pine Tree Wind Project, operated by the LA Department of Water and Power (DWP), is under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A 2010 report indicated that bird fatalities at Pine Tree that year were higher than those reported by other wind energy facilities.

From the article:

Should the inquiry result in a prosecution, the 120-megawatt facility on 8,000 acres of rugged terrain would be the first wind farm to face charges under the Endangered Species Act, which could cause some rethinking and redesign of this booming alternative energy source.

Wildlife service spokeswoman Lois Grunwald declined to comment on what she called “an ongoing investigation regarding Pine Tree.” But Joe Ramallo, spokesman for the DWP, said, “We are very concerned about golden eagle mortalities that have occurred at Pine Tree. We have been working cooperatively and collaboratively with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game to investigate these incidents."

Mr. Ramello went on to say that the DWP would be working with wildlife agencies "to develop an eagle conservation plan." Conservation organizations are concerned that if wind energy facilities don't sufficiently deal with the problem, they could cause golden eagle populations to plummet in the next 10 years.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/an-investigation-has-been-launched-into-the-deaths-of-migratory-birds-including-several-federally-protected-golden-eagles-at.html

Acoustic sensors record environmental sounds and automatically upload to the internet
August 2, 2011 By Jennifer Foreshew

Using MP3 technology and waterproof containers to capture sounds in the field, a team from Queensland University of Technology "has developed automated acoustic sensors placed in the bush to record environmental sounds, which are then transmitted to an online digital library." This could make monitoring wildlife populations less expensive and more accurate, and allow for longer periods of data collection over larger areas. Bird and animal sounds identified by the software can be posted online for identification.

From the article:

The approach has seen up to three times as many species detected than were found by traditional surveys with people in the field. Mr Wimmer said the "citizen science" approach meant the cost of analysing data could be significantly reduced.

"It is extremely hard to totally automate the analysis of large volumes of data because the environment has all kinds of noise going on -- wind, rain, trucks and cars."

But he said a fully automated approach was still some way off because of regional variation in bird calls.

Due to regional differences in bird calls, full automation is not yet possible. There is the potential to expand the technology to every ecosystem being studied.

Full article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/software-is-a-reality-check-for-wildlife/story-e6frgakx-1226106219575

Yale undergrads discover endophytes that break down plastics
August 2, 2011

Students in Yale's Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, collected endophytes (tiny organisms, often fungi and bacteria, that live between plant cells) found in rainforest plants to study for medical or social uses. Pria Anand, trying to determine if endophytes might be used in bioremediation, found that a chemical reaction occurred when an endophyte she collected came in contact with plastic. Another student, Jeffrey Huang, analyzed endophytes collected by the class to determine which ones "broke down chemical bonds most efficiently." Joathan Russel identified the enzyme that was most effective in breaking down polyurethane.

From the article:

"This shows amazing things can happen when you let undergraduates be creative," said Kaury Kucera, postdoctoral researcher in the department of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and co-instructor of the course.

Students taking the course search for and collect organisms called endophytes found in rainforest plants and then take them back to New Haven to test them for biological activity.  Students analyze the endophytes that show biological activity to see whether they might have other medical or other social uses.

Polyurethane can be degraded by other agents, but this research is important because the chemical reaction occurs in the absence of oxygen, which is the case in buried trash. Additional research is being conducted at Yale to determine if these newly discovered endophytes can degrade other materials such as polystyrene, the material which makes up styrofoam.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-rainforest-yields-degrade-plastic.html

CITATION: Russell JR, et al. 2011. Biodegradation of polyester polyurethane by endophytic fungi. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. doi:10.1128/AEM.00521-11

Timmy the gorilla dies at 52 in Louisville Zoo
August 2, 2011 By Dan Klepal

Timmy, a 52-year-old lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), was euthanized Tuesday morning due to heart disease, heart arrhyrthmia, and osteoarthritis. Born in Cameroon in west central Africa, Timmy came to the Memphis Zoo in 1960. In 1966 he was transferred to the Cleveland Zoo, going on to the Bronx Zoo in 1991, and finally the Louisville Zoo in 2004. During his lifetime, he sired 13 offspring. Timmy was the oldest male gorilla in captivity.

From the article:

Steve Wing, general curator at the zoo, said Timmy witnessed a transformation in how captive animals were kept and treated during his long life. He was the oldest male western lowland gorilla in North America.

“Society has changed, and zoos changed right along with it,” Wing said. “Gorillas used to be kept in exhibits with concrete. Now we have … exhibits full of mulch for them to live on, natural wood and ropes.

Timmy remained with his long-time companion, Paki, to the end.

Full article: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20110802/NEWS01/308020078/Timmy-gorilla-dies-52-Louisville-Zoo

African crested rat uses 'poison arrow' toxin to deter predators
August 2, 2011

The African crested rat (Lophiomys imhausi) uses plant toxin applied to spongy hair on its flanks as a defense mechanism, according to a study by Jonathan Kingdon and colleagues from the National Museums of Kenya, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and University of Oxford. The toxin comes from the Acokanthera tree (Acokanthera schimperi) and is also used by East African hunters on poison arrows.

From the article:

"The African crested rat is a fascinating example of how a species can evolve a unique set of defenses in response to pressure from predators," said Dr. Tim O'Brien, Senior Scientist of the Wildlife Conservation Society and a co-author on the study. "The animal and its acquired toxicity is unique among placental mammals."

Scientists have long suspected that the African crested rat is poisonous, primarily due to the animal's specialized behavior, such as exposing a black-and-white coloration on its flanks when threatened by predators, and accounts of dogs becoming ill or dying after encounters with rats. The new discovery concerns the nature of the chemical defense. Instead of producing poison itself—as is the case with poisonous mammals such as the duck-billed platypus and solenodon—the African crested rat finds its toxin (called ouabain) in tree bark.

More research is needed to determine how the rat avoids becoming poisoned when it applies the toxin.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/08/02/african_rodent_uses_poison_arrow_toxin_to_deter_predators.html

CITATION: Kingdon J, et al. 2011. A poisonous surprise under the coat of the African crested rat. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.1169

USFWS says 23 species on Oahu are endangered
August 2, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 148
FWS-R1-ES-2010-0043; MO 92210-0-0009

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to list 23 species on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also propose to designate critical habitat for these 23 species, to designate critical habitat for 2 plant species that are already listed as endangered, and revise critical habitat for 99 plant species that are already listed as endangered or threatened. The proposed critical habitat designation totals 43,491 acres (ac) (17,603 hectares (ha)), and includes occupied and unoccupied habitat. Approximately 93 percent of the area being proposed as critical habitat is already designated as critical habitat for the 99 plant species or other species. In this proposed rule we are also proposing a taxonomic revision of the scientific names of nine plant species.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments no later than October 3, 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 proposed rule, which is FWS-R1-ES-2010-0043. Check the box that reads "Open for Comments/Submission,'' and 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: FWS-R1-ES-2010-0043; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042; Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for public hearings must be made no later than September 16, 2011. Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850; by telephone at 808-792-9400; or by facsimile at 808-792-9581.

The 23 species include:
Plants
Bidens amplectens, Cyanea calycina, Cyanea lanceolata, Cyanea purpurellifolia, Cyrtandra gracilis, Cyrtandra kaulantha, Cyrtandra sessilis, Cyrtandra waiolani, Doryopteris takeuchii, Korthalsella degeneri, Melicope christophersenii, Melicope hiiakae, Melicope makahae, Platydesma cornuta var. cornuta, Platydesma cornuta var. decurrens, Pleomele forbesii, Psychotria hexandra ssp. oahuensis, Pteralyxia macrocarpa, Tetraplasandra lydgatei, Zanthoxylum oahuense.

Damselflies
Megalagrion leptodemas, Megalagrion nigrohamatum nigrolineatum, and Megalagrion oceanicum.

The Service also plans to designate 43,491 acres as critical habitat for these species.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-02/pdf/2011-17162.pdf

Parasite creating deformed frogs in western US
August 3, 2011 By Christine Dell'Amore

It has been long known that a parasite called Ribeiroia ondatrae causes defects in several species of frogs as their limbs develop, resulting in missing legs or multiple legs in unexpected places. To determine if there had been changes in the population of the parasite in known locations since last studied in 1999, Pieter Johnson and colleagues from the University of Colorado at Boulder collected data on frogs and parasites in 48 wetlands in California, Oregon, Washington and Montana. Their findings revealed that the frogs at these locations were still infected with parasites.

From the article:

"We found that, although the distribution of Ribeiroia across wetlands changed, there was little net effect on overall parasite prevalence, with 31 percent of wetlands gaining the parasite and 27 percent losing the parasite," according to the study.

But "what was most intriguing," Johnson said, "was that the locations of hot spots had changed substantially over the last decade."

For instance, ponds where scientists had found few "grotesque" frogs in 1999 now had 30 percent or more frogs with deformed limbs, he said. Likewise, former hot spots now had fewer of the diseased amphibians, according to their results, which are not yet published in a journal.

This study has implications for scientists' ability to predict future hotspots, as many of the areas are home to threatened or endangered species of amphibians.

Full article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/08/110802-frogs-deformed-parasites-animals-environment-mutants/

US judge rejects latest salmon recovery plan
August 3, 2011 By Robert F. Service

A plan proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries Service to make hydroelectric dams safer for endangered salmon and steelhead has been rejected by a federal judge in Portland, Oregon. U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden wrote in his ruling, "Here, NOAA Fisheries improperly relies on habitat mitigation measures that are neigher reasonably specific nor reasonably certain to occur, and in some cases not even identified."

From the article:

As part of his decision, Redden required dam operators to continue the practice of spilling water through the dams, though not through the power-generating turbines, to help juvenile salmon upriver bypass the dams and make it out to sea. Redden also ordered NOAA fisheries to consider whether "more aggressive action" is necessary, including removing dams, drawing down reservoirs, and maintaining higher water levels in streams. NOAA Fisheries has until 1 January 2014 to submit its revised biological opinion.

Considered a high-stakes test of the Endangered Species Act, the judge's ruling could change how hydropower is managed in the Northwest.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/08/us-judge-rejects-latest-salmon.html?ref=hp

Protected areas not enough to save life on Earth
August 3, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A new study in Marine Ecology Progress Series found that the over 100,000 protected areas currently in place are not sufficient to counter the loss of species globally, a loss compared to mass extinction by some scientistis.

From the article:

"The global network of protected areas is a major achievement, and the pace at which it has been achieved is impressive," says co-author Dr. Peter F. Sale, Assistant Director of the United Nations University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health, in a press release. "Protected areas are very useful conservation tools, but unfortunately, the steep continuing rate of biodiversity loss signals the need to reassess our heavy reliance on this strategy."

According to the authors, focusing solely on protected areas for biodiversity preservation has a number of flaws. For one thing, society is still far from the minimum goal of conserving 30 percent of marine and terrestrial habitats in order to conserve global biodiversity. Currently 5.8 percent of land is under strict protection, while just 0.08 percent of the ocean is similarly protected. Not all protected areas are created equal. Many allow a number of destructive, unsustainable activities within their boundaries. In addition, most terrestrial protected areas (60 percent) are simply too small—less than 1 square kilometer—to save big or migrating species. Most protected areas are not well-connected in order to allow movement of animal and plant populations, especially in the face of worsening climate change.

Increasing human population, the need for resources, and underfunding by government agencies further threatens protected habitat. Efforts to increase Earth's biocapacity need to include technology applicatons and a reduction in human population growth and consumption.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0803-hance_protected_areas_wildlife.html

CITATION: Mora C, Sale PF. 2011. Ongoing global biodiversity loss and the need to move beyond protected areas: a review of the technical and practical shortcomings of protected areas on land and sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series 434:251-266. doi:10.3354/meps09214

Warmer temperatures to expand California exotic grass populations
August 3, 2011 By Ashlie Rodriguez

Changes in California's climate could result in an increase in the distribution of exotic grasses, according to researchers from U.C. Berkeley. Potential problems include more wildfires, damage to crops from pathogens, allergic reactions in people who eat beef pastured where exotic grasses are found, and competition for often scarce water resources. The study indicates an increase in invasive plants in the future, though the impact is not as yet known. The yearlong study is available online and published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/global-warming-california-grass.html

CITATION: Sandel B, Dangremond EM. 2011. Climate change and the invasion of California by grasses. Global Change Biology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02480.x

Climate change and health: how vulnerable is your city?
August 3, 2011 By Ashlie Rodriguez

According to climate change impact maps released by the natural Resources Defense Council, average California temperatures "could rise between 4.7 to 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century." The result may be an increase in the number of unhealthy days, and more heat and air pollution related problems.

From the article:

The maps forecast the average number of days likely to spread infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, and when people might suffer from extreme heat, unhealthful air pollution, as well as flooding and droughts. Residents may also use the site to find out more about their city’s strategy to prepare for the effects of climate change and tips to mitigate the effects of unhealthy days.

The study will help inform future decisions on health issues and solutions.

The data used in creating the map came from NRDC's 2007 report, "Sneezing and Wheezing: How Global Warming Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution, and Asthma."

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/climate-change-warmer-temperatures-air-pollution-national-resources-defence-council.html

Evidence of savanna conditions 6 million years ago
August 3, 2011

Through a new method of using chemical isotopes in ancient soil, geochemist Thurs Cerling of the University of Utah measured prehistoric tree cover. This study, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Leakey Foundation, determined that most of the East African sites where human ancestors and their ape relatives lived during the past 6 million years were shady savanna habitat. Savanna is defined as "a fairly open, grassy environment with a lot of scattered trees – a grassland or wooded grassland."

From the article:

"We've been able to quantify how much shade was available in the geological past," says geochemist Thure Cerling, senior author of a study of the new method.... "And it shows there have been open habitats for all of the last 6 million years in the environments in eastern Africa where some of the most significant early human fossils were found."

"Wherever we find human ancestors, we find evidence for open habitats similar to savannas – much more open and savanna-like than forested," adds Cerling, a University of Utah distinguished professor of geology and geophysics, and biology.

The study sheds new light on the extent of savanna habitat in the area where Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Homo fossils have been found. This contradicts previous thinking that savanna conditions have been present only for the last 2 million years.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-million-years-savanna.html

CITATION: Cerling TE, et al. 2011. Woody cover and hominin environments in the past 6 million years. Nature 476:51-56. doi:10.1038/nature10306

Completed Census of Marine Life calls for protected areas to conserve deep sea environment
August 3, 2011 By Camila Ruz

Eva Ramirez-Llodra of the Institute of Marine Science in Barcelona and a team of scientists reported on the results of the Census of Marine Life (COML) Project, a 10-year study completed in 2010. While litter contues to be a problem, especially plastics, there are additional threats posed by fishing and mining.

From the article:

"There is accumulating evidence that 'mermaids' tears' (5mm in diameter) and microplastics (microscopic sand grain-sized particles of eroded plastic) are becoming more common in the world oceans," says the report. "Little is known however, of the true effect of these particles on the environment and fauna."

The main problems today are fishing and mining. Deep-sea trawling, say the researchers, is particularly damaging because the species caught are "often long lived, with slow growth and delayed maturity making them poorly adapted to sustain heavy fishing pressure."

Climate change will also be a huge factor in the future, as "rising carbon dioxide levels will increase the acidity of the oceans." To protect the deep sea environment, protected areas and management planning will be necessary, along with policy to develop ocean resources while protecting biodiverstiy.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/aug/03/protected-areas-deep-sea-environment

Nigeria Ogoniland oil clean-up 'could take 30 years'
August 4, 2011

Nigeria, one of the world's major oil producing nations, has experienced 50 years of oil operations and oil spills. A new report from the United Nations says that it could take 30 years for recovery, and "complete restoration could entail the world's 'most wide-ranging and long-term oil clean-up." Damage included contaminated wells and oil slicks on water from oil spills more than six years prior. Shell Oil Company has accepted responsibility for two oil spills.

From the article:

The report, based on examinations of some 200 locations over 14 months, said Shell had created public health and safety issues by failing to apply its own procedures in the control and maintenance of oilfield infrastructure. But it also said local people were sabotaging pipelines in order to steal oil.

The report says that restoring the region could cost $1bn (£613m) and take 25-30 years to complete. "The environmental restoration of Ogoniland could prove to be the world's most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise ever undertaken if contaminated drinking water, land, creeks and important ecosystems such as mangroves are to be brought back to full, productive health," Unep said.

This study improves understanding of a long-ignored pollution issue in the Ogoniland region, focusing world attention on the problem.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14398659

Supervisor Slater-Price channels $100k in grants to arts, community groups
August 4, 2011 By Chris Nichols

More than $100,000 in taxpayer grants from San Diego County's Neighborhood Reinvestment Program was allocated by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to several arts, environmental and community groups this week.

Those grants include:

-- $30,000 to the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority to help pay for three monument entry signs along the Coast to Crest Trail between Volcan Mountain and Del Mar.
-- $20,000 to the Friends of the Powerhouse for construction of a new boardwalk pathway at the Coast Boulevard and 17th Street beach access.
-- $12,500 to the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation to assist with restoration costs for museum aircraft such as the OV-10 "Bronco," the R4Q "Packet," the MiG-15 "Fagot," the A4M "Skyhawk," and FM-2 "Wildcat."
-- $10,000 to the Putnam Foundation to help design and install the George Inness in Italy exhibition on display in fall 2011 at the Timken Museum in Balboa Park.
-- $10,000 to the San Diego Bonsai Club to assist with landscaping costs for the Bonsai Art, Cultural, and Education Pavilion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
-- $9,790 to San Diego Coastkeeper for a computer and software for event organization, First-Aid kits, T-shirts for volunteer leaders, metal grabbers to pick up trash, and canopy tents for Coastal Cleanup Day on September 17, 2011.
-- $5,000 to the San Diego Ballet to purchase costumes, stage props, and set construction materials for the 2011-12 season and performances at school assemblies.
-- $3,500 to the Mira Mesa Chamber of Commerce to help buy and install 16 light post banners that promote area businesses on Mira Mesa Boulevard.

Due to county budget cuts, the amount each supervisor controls is $1 million annually, reduced from the previous $2 million.

Full article: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/article_5a64f892-1eb1-570b-b7d5-aab8897e8c2f.html

Kew-featured photographer discusses importance of weather in good plant photographs
August 4, 2011 By Philip Smith

According to Philip Smith, organizer of International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY), weather is an important factor in garden and plant photography. Environmental conditions affect all outdoor subjects, including plants, gardens, landscapes, and animals. A photographer must be cognizant of weather’s relationship to the natural world to capture it best. The IGPOTY awards category ‘Weather Eye’, the third of its annual ‘4Seasons’ categories, is accepting entries exhibiting the relationship between weather and plants or gardens through August 31, 2011.

Full blog post by Philip Smith: http://www.kew.org/news/kew-blogs/igpoty/eye-for-the-weather.htm

Conservation groups condemn decision to axe BBC Wildlife Fund
August 4, 2011 By Fiona Harvey

BBC has made the decision to eliminate the BBC Wildlife Fund, which has generated more than £3m (approximately 4.84 million USD) since its inception in 2007. Funded by viewer contributions, the money was used to support projects that targeted species facing extinction. The decision was condemned by 45 conservation groups, who published a letter in the Guardian addressed to BBC Chariman Chris Patten.

From the article:

The BBC told the Guardian: "We are proud of our achievements in support of the BBC Wildlife Fund. However, as with the many difficult choices the BBC currently faces, we must focus our charitable efforts in areas where we can have the most impact. We have therefore regrettably concluded that we can no longer support the Wildlife Fund editorially.

"As a result the trustees have decided to wind down the fund but will continue to monitor and evaluate existing grants. We would like to thank them for their tremendous work over the past four years."

The conservation groups contend that BBC is in a position to raise funding for endangered species, while BBC is reportedly wary of supporting ongoing projects while its own funding is being cut.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/04/conservation-wildlife

Sexually-receptive female chacma baboons are more likely to get bullied
August 4, 2011 By Tamera Jones

Dr. Elise Huchard from the German Primate Center and Dr. Guy Cowlishaw from the Zoological Society of London have published a study in Behavioral Ecology that indicates that female chacma baboons (Paio ursinus) compete over sex. This refutes the traditional view that only males fight over sex, while females fight over food. Female baboons in heat are more likely to be the victims of aggression than other females, and the female members of the troop are the aggressors.

From the article:

In total, [the researchers] analysed 1027 interactions, which included a range of aggressive behavior between females like threats, displacements and attacks.

They found that pregnant baboons start the most fights, which partly backs up the idea that aggression arises because of competition for food. But they found that these baboons aren't subjected to much bullying at all. And all the other interactions suggest that the animals don't compete just for food: females on heat and mate-guarded baboons are subjected to the most violent behaviour, but don't themselves bully. Suckling mothers were much less likely to be attacked, or to attack.

One explanation could be that females that are ready to mate are particularly vulnerable: stress is likely to delay conception, so these baboons are best off not getting involved in fights if they can help it. Huchard says that females probably fight over both food and mates depending on where they are in their reproductive cycles.

Further research is needed to determine if there is a relationship between baboon aggression and conception.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-baboon-beauties-bullied.html

CITATION: Huchard E, Cowlishaw G. 2011. Female-female aggression around mating: an extra cost of sociality in a multimale primate society. Behavioral Ecology. doi:10.1093/beheco/arr083

Fish nurseries need more than mangroves
August 4, 2011 By Rachel Mundy

In the past, research showed that mangrove swamps in the Caribbean and Mexico are vital as “nurseries” for many tropical fish species. However, a recent study conducted in Honduras by University of Oxford PhD student Jessica Jaxion-Harm suggests that habitat conservation must be more complex, as juvenile fish migrate through connective mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and coral reefs as they seek food and mature to adulthood. "You cannot separate one ecosystem from another in terms of the function they have in the lifecycle of a species,” explains Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. These findings are significant in the impact they may have on more holistic conservation of the interconnected marine environment. Habitats for tropical fish face significant threats from by tourism developments, urban habitation, and shrimp aquaculture.

Full article: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/fish-nurseries-need-more-than-mangroves-says-study.html

CITATION: Jaxion-Harm JC. 2010. The relationship between coral-reef fish (larvae, juveniles, and adults) and mangroves: a case study in Honduras [Thesis]. St. Catherines College, University of Oxford. 237 p. Retrieved online: http://www.opwall.com/Library/Opwall%20library%20pdfs/PhDs/Jessica%20Jaxion-Harm%27s%20thesis%20-Bodlain%20etc.pdf

Making sperm from stem cells in a dish
August 4, 2011

Researchers at Kyoto University have successfully turned mouse embryonic stem cells into sperm precursors, called primordial germ cells (PGCs). These cells were shown to give rise to healthy sperm. “The researchers say that such in vitro reconstitution of germ cell development represents one of the most fundamental challenges in biology,” and opens up new opportunities for infertility research and treatment. By transplanting these PGCs into sterile mice, sperm was produced and went on to successfully fertilize eggs that grew into fertile adult males and female mice.

From the article:

The same procedure could produce fertile offspring from induced pluripotent stem cells that are often derived from adult skin cells.

Continued investigations aimed at in vitro reconstitution of germ cell development, including the induction of female PGCLCs and their descendants, will be crucial for a more comprehensive understanding of germ cell biology in general, as well as for the advancement of reproductive technology and medicine.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-sperm-stem-cells-dish.html

CITATION: Hayashi K, et al. 2011. Reconstitution of the mouse germ cell specification pathway in culture by pluripotent stem cells. Cell. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.06.052

Oregon joins fight against shark fishing
August 4, 2011 By Ashlie Rodriguez

Mirroring legistlation passed in Hawaii and Washington, Oregon will now ban "the sale, trade and possession of shark fins," thanks to legislation signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber. At issue is how the fins are acquired, often cut off a live shark, which is tossed back into the ocean where it is unlikely to survive.

From the article:

“With the global trade in shark fins pushing sharks toward extinction, it will take strong actions such as this to prevent us from making irreversible changes to our ocean ecosystems,” said Whit Sheard, senior advisor for Oceana, a maritime conservation organization. “The bipartisan support for this bill once again demonstrates that support for healthy oceans is a non-partisan issue.”

Although finning is illegal in the United States, shark fins can still be imported from other countries. Shark fins are prized as a delicacy, and as a result of heavy shark "finning" the population of sharks worldwide has been reduced.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/shark-finning-ban-oregon.html

Virus new to Michigan wild was factor in fish kill
August 4, 2011 By Frank Konkel

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that the koi herpesvirus, an internationally reportable disease known to cause large-scale fish deaths in common carp (Cyprinus carpio), goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus), and koi (Cyprinus carpio), was detected in samples analyzed from a June mass fish kill (300-500 common carp) in Kent Lake at Kensingon Metropark. This marks the first reported case of koi herpesvirus in Michigan’s wild samples, thought to be introduced from released or escaped ornamental fish carrying the virus.

Dead carp were removed from the lake as early as possible to minimize additional risks from decomposing fish, yet the lake remained open to boaters. The die-off serves as a reminder to boaters and anglers to take precautions against disease transfer between locations by cleaning boats, disinfecting gear, and not moving life fish.

Full article: http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20110804/NEWS01/110804002/Virus-new-Michigan-wild-factor-fish-kill?%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%20odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

Heat-detecting molecule helps vampire bats to quickly find veins
August 4, 2011

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas in Caracas, Venezuela studied vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) in South America to learn how they can locate a vein in a victim. They learned that a "sensitive, heat-detecting molecule covering nerve endings on their noses called TRPV1" is the secret.

From the article:

Researchers have known for years that pits on vampire bats' noses allow them to detect blood vessels because they radiate heat. But no one knew exactly how this occurred.

[The researchers] sequenced genes from samples of nose tissue from wild vampire bats in Venezuela, determining that TRPV1 is the molecule responsible for their ability to detect heat.

They also determined that it was not just TRPV1 but an evolutionary genetic variation of it that allows vampire bats to detect low temperature heat. Through a mechanism known as "alternative splicing" a special form of the molecule emerged in the noses of the bats, becoming a sensitive detector for finding the hottest spots.

This finding has potential for pain management in humans, since molecules similar to TRPV1 are involved in pain sensation.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/08/04/what_steers_vampires_to_blood.html

CITATION: Gracheva EO, et al. 2011. Ganglion-specific splicing of TRPV1 underlies infrared sensation in vampire bats. Nature 476:88-91. doi:10.1038/nature10245

Sexually extravagant male birds age more rapidly
August 4, 2011 By Ben Norman

Male houbara bustards, Chlamydotis undulata, found in Southern Hemisphere deserts, spend half their year in elaborate courtship rituals to attract mates. Previous research determined that the showiest males produce the most viable sperm when mating, but new research has discovered that these males "pass their reproductive prime much sooner than their more subdued rivals and they began to produce 'burnt-out', smaller ejaculates, containing high numbers of dead and abnormal sperm."

From the article:

Dr Preston's team found that despite burning out, showy males continued their energetic sexual displays at near maximum levels.

"Male houbara bustards may help to explain how senescence, or biological aging, has evolved," concluded Preston. "Senescence is the deterioration that occurs with advancing age, yet the reason why an organism should senesce has been an evolutionary puzzle, as natural selection would be expected to 'weed-out' the genes responsible for these age-related declines."

"The bustard shows that an over-abundance of early reproductive effort comes at the cost of physiological declines later in life. This early versus late life trade-off can help explain why senescence occurs, and reveals the potential significance of sexual selection in explaining rates of aging."

Full article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/w-sem080411.php

CITATION: Preston BT, et al. 2011. Sexually extravagant males age more rapidly. Ecology Letters. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01668.x

Female tungara frogs prefer mates with less elaborate mating calls
August 4, 2011

In a study of túngara frog (Physalaemus pustulosus) females from Latin America, researchers discovered that more elaborate male mating serenades actually discourage potential mates. The males call with a series of "high pitched 'whines' with short 'clucks'" and females preferred mates with 'clucks.' Competition among males frogs for elaborate mating calls produced negative results. There may be implications for study in other species.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/08/scienceshot-one-ribbit-too-many.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Akre KL, Farris HE, Lea AM, Page RA, Ryan MJ. 2011. Signal perception in frogs and bats and the evolution of mating signals. Science 333(6043):751-752. doi:10.1126/science.1205623

EPA proposes use of CO2 sequestration technologies
August 5, 2011 By Andy Soos

Consistent with recommendations made by President Obama’s interagency task force on CO2 sequestration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to advance the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. These technologies allow carbon dioxide (CO2) capture at stationary sources (i.e. fossil fuel power plants and large industrial operations) and support long-term underground CO2 storage (geologic sequestration) with respects to the protection of American health and the environment. Long-term CO2 storage remains a relatively new technology, though various forms have been developed, including “gaseous storage in various deep geological formations (including saline formations and exhausted gas fields), liquid storage in the ocean, and solid storage by reaction of CO2 with metal oxides to produce stable carbonates.” The main objectives of this proposal include a nationwide move toward clean energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions which contribute to global warming.

Full article: http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/43039

Threatened listing reinstated for Preble's meadow jumping mouse in Wyoming
August 5, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 151
FWS-R6-ES-2011-0062; 92220-1113-0000

From the annnouncment:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing this final rule to comply with a court order that vacates our most recent rule and reinstates the regulatory protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) (Preble's) in Wyoming. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado, by order dated July 7, 2011, vacated and remanded the 2008 Final Rule to Amend the Listing for the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse To Specify Over What Portion of Its Range the Subspecies is Threatened (2008 Amended Listing Decision) and reinstated the 1998 Final Rule Listing the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse as Threatened Throughout Its Range, effective August 6, 2011. This rule reinstates the listing of Preble's in Wyoming. It also reinstates the special rule that exempts activities related to rodent control, ongoing agricultural activities, landscape maintenance, existing uses of water, noxious weed control, and ongoing ditch maintenance activities from the take provisions of the Act throughout the entire range of the Preble's.

DATES: This action is effective August 6, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and the U.S. District Court decision is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2011-0062.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Ecological Services Office, 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 670, Lakewood, CO 80225; telephone: 303-236-4773; facsimile: 303-236-4005.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-05/pdf/2011-19895.pdf

Parasitic sea lampreys fear the smell of death
August 5, 2011

Control of parasitic sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus), one of the most costly and destructive invasive species in the Great Lakes, may take a drastic turn, as new research published by Michigan State University assistant professor Michael Wagner suggests that a repellant scented with dead sea lampreys may act as a movement control mechanism. The smell of dead sea lampreys reportedly serves as an alarm cue inciting dramatic escape efforts, which could be used to steer sea lampreys away from “environmentally sensitive areas and into waterways where pesticides could be used more effectively to eliminate a larger, more concentrated population of sea lampreys." In the past, sea lamprey control has been researched and pursued using pheromones to lure the parasites into traps, however other scents and environmental cues lower the success rate of pheromone lures. Scientists and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission hope the alarm cue scent will lead to more efficient, cost effective control of sea lampreys.

Full article: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/08/05/sea.lampreys.fear.smell.death

CITATION: Wagner CM. 2011. A deathly odor suggests a new sustainable tool for controlling a costly invasive species. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68(7):1157-1160. doi:10.1139/f2011-072

Controversial weed-killer to be pulled from market
August 5, 2011 By Heidi Ledford

As a result of unexpected tree deaths associated with application, the herbicide Imprelis (aminocyclopyrachlor), manufactured by DuPont, is being recalled and discontinued. Imprelis, an herbicide in the new class called pyrimidine carboxylic acids which mimic the plant hormone auxin, is formulated to target broad-leafed plants (i.e. dandelions) and was initially popular in part because of its low toxicity to mammals. Though tested on a number of tree species and granted approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), customer complaints about dead trees were widespread soon after the product’s release. The two hardest hit species, Norway spruce (Picea abies) and white pine (Pinus strobes), were not part of Imprelis’ test data. The chemical’s effects are apparently inconsistent, as healthy trees often stand next to poisoned trees of the same species. Because of failure in detecting Imprelis’ selective arboreal toxicity during initial tests, future analysis and tests on pyrimidine carboxylic acids will face added scrutiny. Classified documentation on Imprelis may soon be released to the public by the EPA.

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

Tayras exhibit capacity to plan for the future
August 5, 2011 By Helen Fields

A recent study on tayras (Eira barbara), a weasel relative native to Central and South America, suggests that the species may be the first outside of primates and birds observed to exhibit a human-like capacity to plan for the future. The study showed that while many animals eat portions of ripe plantains while they are attached to the plant, only tayras remove the full plantain, including unripe fruit. Researchers studied tayras’ foraging habits, which include stashing unripe fruit in forestry plantation trees to return to in several days when fruit ripens. Because few animals were found to forage in plantation trees, tayras’ tactics of storing plantains there until they’re edible may be a tactical move. Though many animals are known to cache food, storing leftovers to eat later, tayras are unique in their preference to stash unripe fruit which is not yet edible; this habit suggests that the animals have the forethought to plan future subsistence needs around ripening fruit. The topic of animal forethought is controversial among scientists, and more in-depth study of tayra behavior is necessary to analyze their capacity for true planning.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/08/do-tayras-plan-for-the-future.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Soley FG, Alvarado-Diaz I. 2011. Prospective thinking in a mustelid? Eira barbara (Carnivora) cache unripe fruits to consume them once ripened. Naturwissenschaften 98(8):693-698. doi:10.1007/s00114-011-0821-0

Wetlands not aided by Mississippi diversions
August 5, 2011 By Amanda Mascarelli

Scientists are analyzing and reconsidering coastal-restoration tactics after three projects in Louisiana’s shrinking wetlands failed to restore marsh over the last two decades. Fresh water diversion, in which water from the Mississippi River was rerouted with the hope that it would bring in sediment to aid marsh plant life, instead made the region more vulnerable to hurricanes; growth of deep-rooted marsh plants that counter erosion was inadequate due in part to an excess of nutrients in agricultural and industrial runoff water.

Soil compaction, geological faulting, and oil and gas drilling are causing ground sinkage while dam and levee construction prevents sediment deposits, all of which make wetland habitat health and restoration increasingly difficult yet important to pursue. Over the next two to three decades, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act seeks to restore almost 17,000 hectares of marshland at a price of over one billion dollars, with 65% of costs attributed to freshwater-diversion projects. Though some data still exists in support of freshwater-diversion, the process requires sediment to be diverted along with water. Further analysis is required to best understand the science of marsh restoration and diversion tactics for successful implementation.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110805/full/news.2011.462.html

CITATIONS:
Kearney M, Riter J, Turner RE. 2011. Freshwater river diversions for marsh restoration in Louisiana: twenty-six years of changing vegetative cover and marsh area. Geophysical Research Letters. doi:10.1029/2011GL047847

Paola C, et al. 2011. Natural processes in delta restoration: application to the Mississippi Delta. Annual Review of Marine Science 3:67-91. doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-120709-142856

American zoos help return condor to South America
August 6, 2011 By Juan Forero

Thanks to successful conservation efforts in American Zoos, the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is making a comeback from the brink of extinction in the Andes of South America. The decline of the species decades ago was in part a result of “indiscriminate hunting” by farmers afraid the birds targeted live animals and children. Today, the success of the species depends not only on reproduction, but also cooperation among local farmers, shepherds, and army soldiers who monitor and care for the condors. Chicks are currently raised in American zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, and may be released in Colombia after they are approximately a year or year and a half old. Approximately 180 condors, twice as many as ten years ago, are now known to live in Colombia.

Full article: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/06/138952179/american-zoos-help-return-condor-to-south-america

San Diego Zoo Safari Park reopens Petting Kraal
August 7, 2011 By Pam Kragen

The Petting Kraal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has reopened after a brief closure for renovation last week. “People-friendly” goats (including six Boer goats, nine pygmy goats, and two Nubian goats) replaced several more “aloof” hooved animals (Eld’s deer, Persian gazelle and blackbuck antelope) in the hopes to enhance visitors' interactions with the animals. The animals removed from the Petting Kraal were dispersed to new homes around the park. The reopening of the Kraal is one of several events tied to the park’s “Summer Safari: African Extravaganza,” which runs through August 21 and features extended Safari Park hours until 7pm, hands-on crafts, and live entertainment.

Full article: http://www.nctimes.com/entertainment/attractions/article_5ddd640d-a8db-5c9e-a4e7-b32a71a3c913.html

US officials conducting dead bird study in Gulf
August 7, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting a new study to determine the number of bird deaths caused by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Through the “Carcass Drift Study,” funded by BP PLC, researchers will attach numbered orange and white Styrofoam floats to bird carcasses, which will then be dropped into the Gulf and tracked; a phone number is printed on each float in case someone finds it. The study should help to determine the potential paths that carcasses took during the oil spill and determine how many dead birds never made it to shore due to sinking, shark feeding, or other factors. Overall, the study relies on probability to analyze the likelihood that carcasses arrive on shore and are found by surveyors. Combined with several others, the study should help to estimate the total number of birds killed as a result of the Gulf oil spill.

Full article: http://www.wtsp.com/rss/article/204870/261/US-officials-conducting-dead-bird-study-in-Gulf?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wtsp%2Foilspill+%28WTSP.com+10+News+Oil+Spill+News%29

Urban beekeeping: the latest big environmental movement
August 7, 2011 By Alison Benjamin

In cities around the world, urban beekeeping is on the rise, and membership in beekeeping associations from Britain to Australia is similarly growing at a rapid rate. Increasingly, city bans are being overturned to accommodate the interests of urban beekeepers, including the ban lifted in New York City in 2010. Urban beekeeping is popularly pursued by the metropolitan and eco-conscious and is seen as a way for one to make a direct, personal impact on the environment by introducing pollinators to an urban environment otherwise relatively inhospitable to bees. In London, Paris, and Berlin, some of the cities’ most noteworthy landmarks are homes to hives, including Buckingham Palace, Tate Modern, and Fortnum & Mason in London, the Paris Opéra, and the cathedral and planetarium in Berlin.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/07/urban-beekeeping

Bats and birds face serious threats from growth of wind energy
August 8, 2011 By Umair Irfan

Wind energy is quickly becoming "one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world," providing 198 gigawatts of energy worldwide. There are commercial wind power generators in at least 83 countries and, for the first time, developing countries are adding wind power more quickly than in industrialized nations. And while wind has the potential to be a sustainable source of energy, current wind turbines, which can stand "400 feet tall [and] have blades turning at 160 miles per hour," pose a threat to migrating birds and bats. According to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), "upwards of 14 birds per megawatt of wind energy are killed each year, numbering more than 440,000." And while the number of birds killed by cats and by flying into windows is much, much higher (ranging in the hundreds of millions), the number of birds killed by wind turbines will go up with the increasing number of wind energy farms.

Even moreso than birds, bats are threatened by wind turbines. According to Professor John Whitaker Jr., director of the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation at Indiana State University, "[Bats] are killed in two ways: simply by being hit by the blades and...by pressure changes due to the sweep of the blades without even being hit." While bats are able to use sonar to navigate around the wind turbines to avoid being hit by the blades, "they can't detect the invisible swath of low pressure left behind turning blades," and when they fly into this low pressure system, they die from internal bleeding, a phenomenon known as barotrauma. The threat to bats from wind energy farms, combined with the threat to their population from white nose syndrome, could mean huge die-offs of North American bats in the near future. The FWS is trying to mitigate the threats to bats and birds from wind energy farms by implementing better planning measures, such as placing wind farms away from migration patterns. Additionally, they are studying the use of tools like radar to make the animals avoid the areas.

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/08/08/08climatewire-bats-and-birds-face-serious-threats-from-gro-10511.html

Abused Nazca boobies grow up to abuse other chicks
August 8, 2011 By Matt Walker

Researchers from Wake Forest University have discovered that "juvenile Nazca boobies (Sula granti) that are maltreated by older, non-relatives grow up to become more violent towards other chicks." This study provides the first evidence in wild animals that " 'child abuse' can be socially transmitted down the generations."

From the article:

Nazca boobies are sea-going birds that live in the eastern tropical Pacific, nesting on the Galapagos Islands, and on islands off the coasts of Equador, Peru and Colombia. Both parents tend to raise a single chick each year, feeding mostly on fish and the occasional squid.

The birds nest within dense colonies, and this proximity to each other encourages bouts of violence to break out. While parent birds are away feeding at sea, non-breeding adults seek out unguarded nests and attempt to interact with the chicks within. These can be positive interactions, but frequently they are abusive; the visiting adults try to perform sexual acts on the chicks or act aggressively toward them.

...The scientists found a strong correlation between the frequency that Nazca booby chicks were attacked by non-breeding adults, and the frequency that they themselves attacked chicks when they reached adulthood.

The researchers ruled out genetics as a cause for the increased tendency towards violence, as "the abuse is perpetrated between adult boobies and unrelated victims." David Anderson, one of the study's authors, thinks that abuse victims may experience increased levels of stress hormones, which then affects their inclination towards violence as they grow older. The study will appear in the upcoming issue of The Auk.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14418174

White-nose syndrome afflicting North American bats caused by a single strain of Geomyces destructans
August 8, 2011 By Chantall Van Raay

A researcher at the Institute for Infectious Disease Research is working with microbiologists nationwide to better understand white-nose syndrome, a fungus first discovered in 2006 and which has killed more than one million bats throughout the northeastern US, Ontario, and Quebec.

From the article:

To understand the fungus, its origin and spread, researchers analyzed the DNA of 16 strains from caves in seven New York counties and one from Vermont. They then compared Geomyces destructans with a closely related species called Geomyces panoma and found that all the Geomyces destructans strains were genetically identical. This led them to believe that white-nose syndrome in northeastern North America is caused by a single strain that has undergone rapid dispersal to cause all of the bat deaths, from New York to Tennessee and from Oklahoma to Quebec.

Dr. Jianping Xu and colleagues have been researching possible treatments for the fungus and have found that it was susceptible to common antifungal drugs that are used to treat "ailments ranging from athlete's foot to life-threatening infections." The researchers are working quickly to come up with a solution to the white-nose syndrome, as at the current rate of infection, hibernating bats in the US could go extinct within 20 years.

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

CITATION: Rajkumar SS, et al. 2011. Clonal genotype of Geomyces destructans among bats with White Nose Syndrom, New York, USA. Emerging Infectious Diseases 17(7). doi:10.3201/eid1707.102056

USFWS to hold Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee meeting via teleconference and webcast
August 8, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 152

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), will host a Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee) meeting via teleconference and webcast. This meeting is open to the public, but registration is required.

DATES:
Meeting: The meeting will take place on August 23, from 1 to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. Pre-meeting Public Registration: If you are a member of the public wishing to participate in the meeting via telephone or webcast, you must register online by August 16, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel London, Division of Habitat and Resource Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, (703) 358-2161.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We will host a Committee meeting via teleconference and webcast on August 23, 2011. This meeting is open to the public. Registration is required.

Agenda
The meeting agenda will include reports to the full Committee from Subcommittees on:

Adaptive Management and Mitigation;
Definition of "significant'';
Phase-In of Guidelines;
Habitat Fragmentation;
Table 1: Tier 4 Monitoring;
Avian and Bat Protection Plans; and
Role of the Service.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-08/pdf/2011-19972.pdf

Efforts to close canal to Great Lakes to prevent spread of invasive fish species
August 8, 2011 By Deborah Braconnier

Biologists are calling for a permanent closure of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which links the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan, in an effort to protect native fish species in the Great Lakes. Asian carp DNA was recently "discovered in Lake Calumet in Illinois despite an electric fence that had been place downriver in an effort to stop them from passing," although wildlife officials were unable to locate any individual fish. According to the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, "Asian carp" refers to "several species of related fish originating from Asia." They have been found "as close as 25 miles from Lake Michigan." Conservationists are also concerned by the increasing numbers of Northern Snakehead (Channa argus), a fish native to China, Korea and Russia.

From the article:

The Northern Snakehead is a fish that is raising far more fear when it comes to the delicate ecosystem in the Great Lakes. This fish is known to be able to survive icy waters, is a ravenous predator, breathes air and is able to survive out of water for days as long as it stays moist.

...It has been discovered in nine states ranging from California to Maryland and they are spreading in the Potomac River and biologists believe they may already be in the Mississippi river as well. Last year, Time magazine named the Snakehead to its top 10 list of invasive species and last month they were listed as one of 10 invasive species that create a high risk of invading the Mississippi River Basin and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-efforts-canal-great-lakes.html

Fish seed dispersal a widespread phenomenon
August 8, 2011 By Daniel Cressey

A new review article emphasizes the importance of seed dispersal by fish, a phenomenon called 'ichthyochory'.

From the article:

“[N]ew evidence demonstrates that the consumption of fruits by fishes is not a rare process concerning just a few fish and plant species in a particular area,” write Michael Horn, of California State University, Fullerton, and his colleagues. “Rather, fruit consumption by fishes is a widespread phenomenon that has been documented in all biogeographic regions and involves more than 275 fish and numerous plant species.”

However, threats to fish populations ranging from "[overfishing], damming of rivers, deforestation and logging" can result in "...decreasing fish population sizes, [which produce] smaller fish which swim less far and [hinder] traditional migration routes."

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/08/fish_seed_dispersal_research_c_2.html

CITATION: Horn MH, et al. 2011. Seed dispersal by fishes in tropical and temperate fresh waters: the growing evidence. Acta Oecologica. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2011.06.004

Pittsburgh Zoo near completion of African elephant sperm bank
August 8, 2011 By Bill Zlatos

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is near completion of a two-year project to bring genetic material from South Africa so that they "can start the first sperm bank for African elephants in North America." Project Frozen Dumbo is an "international effort to help zoos breed and conserve [African elephants], the largest living land animal." The project is a collaboration between the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, the Pittsburgh Zoo, ZooParc de Beauval in France and South African scientists and rangers.

From the article:

The zoos sent scientists to the Phinda reserve in September 2009 and April 2010. Pittsburgh planned to set up the North American sperm bank and ZooParc de Beauval would set up a European bank, enabling zoos on both continents to breed elephants without the danger of transporting them thousands of miles.

"This is a way to bring in new bloodlines without bringing an elephant in," Baker said. "It's much easier to carry a little vial of semen ... than to bring in a full-grown African elephant."

Zoo officials expect the frozen samples to last for several more years.

For now, 16 liters of semen lie in the National Zoo's BioBank in Pretoria, awaiting export and import permits to reach the United States.

The delay in exporting the genetic material out of South Africa has been caused by quarantine issues and permit requirements, as they vary from country to country and can be difficult to obtain. Once the semen bank is set up at the Pittsburgh Zoo, the zoo will not charge other organizations for the semen to be used in reproduction efforts.

Full article: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_750468.html

San Diego Zoo Safari Park experts help rare white-bellied heron
August 8, 2011

Safari Park Animal Care Manager Don Sterner and Lead Keeper Debbie Marlow recently assisted Bhutan's Royal Society for Protection of Nature with the first hatching and hand-rearing of the critically endangered white-bellied heron (Ardea insignis).

From the article:

"The Bhutanese are very concerned about the status of this bird and they recognize that some type of human intervention will probably be necessary," said Sterner. "Two eggs were pulled out of a nest but only one was viable. We were able to incubate and hand-rear this one chick, which is now more than 80 days old and close to fledging."

The two Safari Park experts undertook this first ever endeavor under difficult field conditions. With an inconsistent power supply for an egg incubator, it required around-the- clock monitoring. The two employees were chosen due to their extensive experience with other endangered bird species, including the California condor. Preparation for the Bhutan program required developing heron incubation and rearing protocols at the Safari Park last year using the great blue heron, a close relative. The white-bellied heron protocols were fine tuned due to the uniqueness of the species.

There are currently thought to be only 26 individuals left in Bhutan, with an estimated world population as low as 50 individuals.

Full article: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=20421

San Diego Zoo celebrates birthday of its youngest giant panda
August 8, 2011

Yun Zi, the youngest of the San Diego Zoo's three giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), turned two this week. Guests were able to celebrate Yun Zi's birthday with him as he enjoyed his "ice cake," which was made by keepers over a number of weeks. The cake "was decorated with bows made out of bamboo leaves, colored pieces of ice...and topped with a number '2.' The cake design included a bowl in the bottom tier that was filled with the giant panda's favorite fruits and vegetables - yams, carrots and apples - and drizzled with honey." Yun Zi is the fifth giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo. His parents are Gao Gao, a 20-year-old wild-born male panda, and Bai Yun, a 20-year-old female panda who was born at the Wolong giant panda breeding facility in China. The Zoo has set up a wishlist at www.sandiegozoo.org/wishlist for people to purchase gifts for Yun Zi.

Full article: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=20419

Study shows people most attracted to gardens with highest diversity
August 8, 2011 By Emma Marris

Although people are sometimes concerned that neighbors won't approve if they install an untraditional, native landscape in their yard, research conducted by Dr. Petra Lindemann-Matthies, professor of biology at the University of Education Karlsruhe in Germany, shows that this is not necessarily the case.

From the blog:

Petra Lindemann-Matthies...presented 250 people with photographs of a subset of 36 Swiss gardens, some diverse, some dull and dominated by lawns, and asked them to rate them on their beauty. Her colleague Thomas Marty of the University of Zürich had counted native Swiss species in each garden, giving himself 75 minutes per garden. The least diverse had only 20 species, the most, 105. It turns out that the Swiss public thinks the most diverse gardens are the most beautiful (r = 0.47). So maintaining a perfect lawn to impress the neighbors may be a losing strategy. Far better, this research suggests, to put in a meadow of native grasses and flowers and then just let it go crazy.

Lindemann-Matthies concludes that the idea of the "critical neighbor" may be a "figment of the imagination." For more information on starting your own native plant garden, visit these resources:
-Wild Ones
-National Wildlife Federation program
-Wildlife Trust and Royal Horticultrual Society

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

CITATION: Lindemann-Matthies P, Marty T. 2011. Ecological gardening increases the aesthetic quality of gardens [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 96th ESA Annual Meeting, August 7 - 12, 2011. Austin, Texas: ESA. Retrieved online: http://eco.confex.com/eco/2011/webprogram/Paper29534.html

Captive chimpanzees exhibit generosity
August 8, 2011 By Helen Fields

A new study of captive chimpanzee behavior has confirmed what researchers have long observed in the wild: that chimpanzees have a predisposition to sharing food with other chimpanzees. Previous studies on captive individuals had shown that when given "the opportunity just for themselves or for both themselves and another chimpanzee...the apes were equally likely to choose the selfish and sharing options." However, comparative psychologist Victoria Horner of Emory University thinks that these studies suffered from a design flaw, namely that the apparatuses used were too confusing for the chimpanzees, and the chimpanzees weren't able to "understand how what they did affected their partner."

From the article:

With her colleagues at Emory, including renowned primatologist Frans de Waal, Horner devised a new way to test chimps' generosity. "We did the same basic idea but from a more chimpy perspective," she says. In each experiment, two female chimps that live at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia, were put in side-by-side rooms with a mesh-covered opening between them. Both chimps had been trained to "buy" food from the researchers with tokens, colored, 5-centimeter-long pieces of PVC pipe. The team taught one chimp of the pair that a token of one color would get her a piece of banana, whereas the other color would get fruit for her and her partner. Then she was given 30 chances to choose from a bucket containing both kinds of tokens. The researchers tested seven female chimps three times each with different partners. The partner watched the whole time, sometimes fussing when the other chimp didn't reward her.

The results of this study were that the chimps "picked the token that gave them and their partners a piece of banana between 53% and 67% of the time," showing that chimpanzees tend to be "nice" to one another and can show generosity, previously thought to be a uniquely human trait.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/08/lab-chimps-extend-a-helping-hand.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Horner V, Carter JD, Suchak M, de Waal FBM. 2011. Spontaneous prosocial choice by chimpanzees. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1111088108

Balancing agriculture and rainforest biodiversity in India's Western Ghats
August 8, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Western Ghats in India is "one of the world's great tropical forests and biodiversity hotspots," home to "more than 1,000 vertebrate species and nearly 5,000 angiosperms [flowering plants] including many that are endemic to the region." What makes the area especially important is that it has been a region of agriculture for centuries, with humans existing alongside megafauna and native landscape. According to researchers who have studied the area, "75 percent of the Western Ghats is unprotected and largely used in various ways for agriculture," yet the area retains much of its biodiversity.

From the article:

"Human-modified landscapes in the Western Ghats, although densely populated by people (261 per square kilometer), show two features that are favorable for biodiversity conservation," the authors explain. "First, the human land use is largely restricted to plantation agriculture, horticulture and forestry resulting in high tree cover across the region. Second, and more importantly, patches of forest, riparian vegetation and swamps are still to be found on private lands, community lands and government lands, interspersed with production areas. These features combine to create favorable habitat and dispersal corridors for a number of organisms, ranging from invertebrates to mega-fauna."

However, the landscape of the Western Ghats is facing pressure from "an influx of people, increased consumption, and big development projects." The researchers indicate that to maintain the current balance in the region, conservationists will need to look "towards alternate conservation models that complement the existing network of protected areas," such as "[conserving] the unprotected forests that serve as rest-stops in in human- modified landscapes for the rainforest's many moving parts, and pushing for a return to the long standing tradition of biodiversity-friendly agriculture...."

Interview with the researchers and full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0808-hance_ghats_anand.html

CITATION: Pillay R, Johnsingh AJT, Raghunath R, Madhusudan MD. 2011. Patterns of spatiotemporal change in large mammal distribution and abundance in the southern Western Ghats, India. Biological Conservation 144:1567-1576. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.01.026

Epidemic of UK rhino horn thefts linked to one criminal gang
August 8, 2011 By Esther Addley

The most recent of a rash of rhino horn thefts from U.K. museums occurred on July 28 at the Ipswich Museum, where Rosie, a taxidermied black rhinoceros, had been on display since 1907. The thieves also stole the skull of another black rhino which was also on display. The thieves, who have not been caught, are thought to be linked to an Irish crime gang that also deals in drug trafficking, money laundering, and smuggling. This organized crime gang is also thought to be responsible for the theft of 20 rhino horns in the last 6 months across Europe. According to the article, "Scotland Yard and Europol are now advising galleries and collectors to consider locking up their rhino horn collections, keeping them away from public view." The crimes have been fueled by a surge in demand from Asian markets for powdered rhino horn, which is used in traditional medicines. A kilogram of rhino horn can now fetch £60,000 (over 97,000 USD). In addition to the thefts from cultural institutions, poaching of live rhinos is also increasing. According to Lucy Boddam-Whetham, the acting director of Save the Rhino International, "...we are facing the worst rhino-poaching crisis in decades." In the first 6 months of 2011, 200 rhinos were killed in South Africa, up from 125 in the same period in 2010. According to the IUCN, there are approximately 4,800 black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) and approximately 20,000 white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) left in the world.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/08/rhino-horn-thefts-chinese-medicine

Mysterious orange goo in Alaskan Arctic identified as tiny eggs
August 8, 2011 By Kim Murphy

International alarm was raised last week when "mysterious orange good...washed ashore at the northern Alaska village of Kivalina," which is located 625 miles northwest of Anchorage. However, the goo was found to be "a large mass of microscopic eggs" and not the result of climate change or a man-made disaster.

From the blog:

"We now think these are some sort of small crustacean egg or embryo, with a lipid oil droplet in the middle causing the orange color," said Jeep Rice, a lead scientist at the lab. "So this is natural. It is not chemical pollution; it is not a man-made substance." Rice said scientists were quickly able to identify a cell structure within the material once they put it under a microscope, meaning they could "identify this as animal."

Further research needs to be done to rule out that the eggs are non-toxic.

Full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/arctic-orange-goo-kivalina.html

Arctic open for exploitation: Obama administration grants Shell approval to drill
August 8, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has granted preliminary approval to Royal Dutch Shell to begin exploratory drilling north of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the Beaufort Sea. The region is "home to bowhead and beluga whales, seals, walruses, polar bears, and a wide variety of migrating birds." The drilling will be allowed pending the company's "completion of an oil response plan." However, environmentalists and indigenous peoples are opposing the drilling, "arguing that extreme conditions make drilling especially precarious and an oil spill would be near-impossible to clean-up adequately." Shell has countered these arguments by claiming that they have "the best oil-spill response plan anywhere in the world," although this week a "UN report found that the company did not live up to its own, or the Nigerian government's, standards..." when they spilled 11 million gallons of oil in Nigeria in 2008. New areas of the Arctic are becoming available for oil exploration due to melting Artic ice.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0808-hance_shell_arctic.html

Franklin Park Zoo announces birth of twin red pandas
August 9, 2011 By Jaime Lutz

The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, Massachusetts announced the birth of two red pandas (Ailurus fulgens). The male and female cubs were born on July 4 and are the first red pandas born at the zoo. For now, the cubs are staying in a nest box with their mom for their first 90 days and will most likely be on exhibit starting in October. Zoo New England, which manages the Franklin Park Zoo, is a participant in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan.

Full article: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/08/09/red_panda_twins_born_at_franklin_park_zoo/?rss_id=Boston.com+--+Massachusetts+news

Agreements reached between environmental groups and solar energy companies
August 9, 2011

Agreements between the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity with First Solar and SunPower Corp have been reached that would "help protect endangered animals around two of the largest planned solar power plants in the United States." The agreements require the companies to "add 9,000 acres to the 17,000 acres that are currently set to be marked as permanently protected areas around the plants" and to "remove 30 miles of fencing to allow for greater wildlife movement, help eliminate poisons used to control rodents in the area and make significant financial contributions to aquire undeveloped areas for restoration." First Solar will be building the 550-megawatt Topaz solar farm, and SunPower will be building 250-MW California Valley Solar Ranch Plants in the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo, which is a recovery area for the San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macroitis mutica) and the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens).

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/09/us-solar-california-idUSTRE77837B20110809

US launches National Ecological Observatory Network
August 9, 2011 By Jeff Tollefson

A project that has been in development for the last decade is ready to be launched. The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is promising to "help transform a traditionally small-scale, local science into a continental-scale group enterprise."

From the article:

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) will consist of 20 'core' observatories representing distinct eco-regions throughout the United States (see map). These will be bolstered by temporary stations that can be relocated wherever data need to be collected. The sites will house equipment and host visiting researchers, while gathering a range of environmental data over at least three decades.

The result will be a vast database that scientists can mine to tackle broad questions such as how global warming, pollution and land-use change are affecting ecosystems across the country. "NEON is really about trying to understand the biology of the entire continent rather than the biology of a specific place," says David Schimel, the project's chief science officer, based in Boulder, Colorado.

...Once the entire network is up and running, some 15,000 sensors will work in concert with scientists on the ground to supply roughly 500 distinct categories of data ranging from basic weather readings to concentrations of ozone in the air and nitrogen in the soils, leaves and streams. Scientists will collect tens of thousands of samples, including soil, water, plants and small mammals. At the same time, aerial surveys will analyse broader land-use trends as well as details such as leaf chemistry and carbon stocks, and satellite data will expand coverage over the entire continent.

NEON recently received a $434 million grant from the NSF, to be spent over the next 10 years. The money will help to fund their staff of "about 140, including some 60 scientists and engineers," and would help to begin installation of data sensors. Some researchers have raised concerns that the expensive project will be collecting more data than will be useful to scientists.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110809/full/476135a.html

Wildlife groups boycott Sri Lankan elephant census
August 9, 2011 By Bharatha Mallawarachi

The Sri Lankan government is set to conduct a comprehensive elephant census, where they will count elephants "as they come to drink from water holes, reservoirs and tanks." Previously, approximately 20 wildlife groups had volunteered their assistance in the census, but they withdrew their support this week "after Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandransena was quoted as saying 300 young elephants will be captured and handed over to Buddhist temples after the census." The wildlife groups are contending that the census is a " 'smoke screen' for capturing and domesticating the animals" and that the captured elephants will most likely go to private residences rather than to temples. The Wildlife Department denies these claims. Elephants are endangered in Sri Lanka, with an estimated population of between 5,000 - 6,000 individuals.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-wildlife-groups-boycott-sri-lankan.html

USFWS to list four foreign parrot species as endangered or threatened under ESA
August 9, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 153
FWS-R9-ES-2010-0099; MO 92210-0-0010 B6

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to list as endangered the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) and the yellow-crested cockatoo (C. sulphurea), and to list as threatened the white cockatoo (C. alba), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We are taking this action in response to a petition to list the following four parrot species: Crimson shining parrot (Prosopeia splendens), Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), white cockatoo (C. alba), and yellow-crested cockatoo (C. sulphurea) as endangered or threatened under the ESA. This document, which also serves as the completion of the status review and as the 12-month finding on the petition, announces our finding that listing is not warranted for the crimson shining parrot. We also propose a special rule for the white cockatoo in conjunction with our proposed listing as threatened for this species. We seek information from the public on the proposed listing, proposed special rule, and status review for these species.

DATES: We will consider comments and information received or postmarked on or before October 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R9- ES-2010-0099.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-ES-2010-0099, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
We will not accept comments by e-mail or fax.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone 703-358-2171.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-09/pdf/2011-19532.pdf

Endangered species permit applications
August 9, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 153
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N159; 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) prohibit 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 September 8, 2011. We must receive requests for marine mammal permit public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the ADDRESSES section by September 8, 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).

Permit Applications

A. Endangered Species

Applicant: GTWT, LLC. dba Bang 57 Ranch, Okeechobee, FL; PRT-48053A
The applicant requests a permit to authorize interstate and foreign commerce, export, and cull of excess barashingh (Rucervus duvauceli) from the captive herd maintained at their facility 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: University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology, Ann Arbor, MI; PRT-46480A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples from howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata mexicana, Alouatta pigra, and Alouatta palliata x Alouatta pigra hybrids), collected in the wild in Mexico, 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: Dennis Campbell, Dora, AL; PRT-48113A
Applicant: Harry Sanders, Fairfield, PA; PRT-48527A
Applicant: Stephen Pasquan, Belvedere, CA; PRT-45900A
Applicant: James Kelly, Fort Smith, AR; PRT-47165A

B. Endangered Marine Mammals and Marine Mammals

Applicant: Sea to Shore Alliance, Sarasota, FL; PRT-37808A
The applicant requests a permit to take, import, and export manatee specimens from West Indian manatees (Trichechus anatus) and West African manatees (Trichechus senegalensis) for the purpose of scientific research. Up to 50 T. manatus would be tagged and sampled and up to 2,000 animals would be subjected to harassment each year; samples from up to 50 live T. senegalensis and an unlimited number of samples from dead animals would be imported each year. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Red Rock Films, Chevy Chase, MD; PRT-48293A
The applicant requests a permit to photograph polar bears (Ursus maritimus) on North Slope, Alaska, for commercial and educational purposes. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 1-year period.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-09/pdf/2011-20233.pdf

Congo to 'reforest' with plantations across one million hectares
August 10, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Republic of Congo is made up of approximately 65% of forested area, with about 75,000 hectares of this classified as plantations. The government recently announced the national program of afforestation and reforestation with the aims "to create plantations across one million hectares." The plan, which the government is estimating would cost $2.6 billion, is geared to "support various industries, carbon sequestration and to take pressure off native forests." However, conservationists point out that plantations, which would consist of both native and non-native species, "store significantly less carbon and support little biodiversity when compared to natural forest."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0810-hance_congo-plantations.html

Koala given radiation treatment to treat excessive drooling
August 10, 2011

Last year, Sprinkles the koala was rescued by the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital after being hit by a car. Since that time, Sprinkles has suffered from severe skin infections and excessive drooling due to enlarged salivary glands. Dr. Rod Straw, the founder of the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre, performed a procedure (free of cost) that involved using radiation to reduce the size of Sprinkles' salivary glands. This procedure had been performed on humans previously, but never before on a koala. Dr. Amber Gillett of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital said that she had only seen "two other cases of excessive drooling in koalas," both of which had to be euthanised.

Full article: http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/north/koala-with-rare-case-of-excessive-drooling-gets-life-saving-radiation-treatment-in-albany-creek/story-fn8m0rl4-1226111903293

Peter Douglas, California Coastal Commission chief, to retire in November
August 10, 2011 By Tony Barboza

Peter Douglas, who has served as the executive director of the California Coastal Commission, will be retiring in November after 26 years of service. He was instrumental in writing the California Coastal Act and has "been the muscle behind the agency in charge of enforcing the nation's strongest coastal protection law." The interim successor for his position will be Senior Deputy Director Charles Lester, although a 12-member panel will have final say over who fills the position. Douglas has been credited with keeping the California coastline largely undeveloped, an accomplishment which made him "a lightning rod for developers and property owners."

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/california-coastal-commission-peter-douglas.html

Secret behind extraordinary jumping ability of gibbons
August 10, 2011

In a new study, researchers recorded captive gibbons making "vertical [jumps] of 3.5 metres (11.4 feet)" by accelerating their bodies "nearly 30 kilometres (19 miles) an hour." However, unlike specialized leapers like locusts and fleas, gibbons do not have an anatomy that would seem conducive to being a "super-jumper." Instead, they combine a number of different techniques to achieve their impressive leaps.

From the article:

One is to use its long and heavy arms, which account for 17 percent of body mass compared to 11 percent of humans.

The ape crouches and then swings its hook-handed arms forward during takeoff. This causes its centre of mass to shift forwards at the moment of lift, providing it with a huge onward push.

...Where the gibbon particularly scores, though, is combining the arm swing with a large counter-movement in the trunk and hind limbs before the jump-off, stretching the muscles and tendons so that they give it a spring-like lift.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-bit-gibbon-super-ape.html

CITATION: Channon AJ, Usherwood JR, Crompton RH, Gunther MM, Vereecke EE. 2011. The extraordinary athletic performance of leaping gibbons. Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0574

New York student shows plants will take root on unseeded rooftop colonies
August 10, 2011 By Emma Marris

Jason Aloisio, a graduate student at New York's Fordham University, and his colleagues conducted a study to expose the surprising amount of biodiversity in New York City. Aloisio began his experiment by laying out shallow plots of "commercially available soil mixture designed for green roofs...onto 2-by-4-metre plots on eight roofs across the city."

From the article:

Over the weeks, the plots caught seeds carried by wind and birds. After just a few months, the most successful plots were jammed with plants, with biomass rivalling that of the prairies of the Great Plains. The plants were diverse, too, with 30 species showing up in total, one-third of them native to the area. Roofs contained an average of 12 species each, and 67 of the 85 plots were colonized by at least one species. Deep plots had more biomass than shallow plots.

The biggest surprise, says Aloisio, was that so many of the colonizers were edible.... The most common plant across the plots, Amaranthus blitoides (known as mat amaranth or prostrate pigweed), is an edible plant often dismissed as a weed. Millet (Panicum miliaceum) also showed up, probably from birdseed, as did purslane (Portulaca oleracea), a succulent plant that Aloisio says is high in omega fatty acids and has a "sweet and salty flavour".

However, Charlie Miller, founder of a green roof company in Pennsylvania, points out that if left untended, the biodiversity found in these plots can decrease over time, with 3 or 4 species taking over the entire roof.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110810/full/news.2011.471.html

CITATION: Aloisio JM, Matteson KC, Palmer MI, Lewis JD. 2011. Biomass and plant diversity of naturally colonized green roof substrate in New York City [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 96th ESA Annual Meeting, August 7-12, 2011. Austin, Texas: ESA. Retrieved from: http://eco.confex.com/eco/2011/webprogram/Paper29411.html

Howletts Wild Animal Park welcomes baby Gelada baboon
August 11, 2011

Howletts Wild Animal Park in England welcomed the birth of Leena, a male Gelada baboon (Theropithecus gelada). Gelada baboons, which are endemic to the rocky highland areas of Ethiopia, are the last surviving species of the grass-grazing primates of the Theropithecus genus. The IUCN lists Gelada baboons as a species of least concern. Howletts has three other Gelada baboons — Leena's dad Agolo, mother Sereba, and another adult female named Jima. Agolo and Sereba are successfully caring for the newborn.

For photos and full article: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/08/bundle-of-good-news-for-last-surviving-species-.html

USFWS lists six foreign birds as endangered throughout their range
August 11, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 155
FWS-R9-ES-2009-0084; MO 92210-1111F114 B6

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, determine endangered status for the following six foreign species found on islands in French Polynesia and in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa: Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus); Marquesan imperial pigeon (Ducula galeata); the Eiao Marquesas reed-warbler (Acrocephalus percernis aquilonis), previously referred to as (Acrocephalus mendanae aquilonis); greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius); Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus); and slender-billed curlew (Numenius tenuirostris), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. This final rule implements the Federal protections provided by the Act for these species.

DATES: This rule becomes effective September 12, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone 703-358-2171; facsimile 703-358-1735.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-11/pdf/2011-19953.pdf

Offshore wind farms are good for wildlife, say researchers
August 11, 2011

A Dutch study sponsored by Nuon and Shell Wind Energy has determined that offshore wind farms have " 'hardly any negative effects' on wildlife, and may even benefit animals living beneath the waves." Professor Han Lindeboom from the Institute for Marien Resources and Ecosystem Studies at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and his colleagues studied the "first large-scale offshore wind farm built off the Dutch North Sea coast."

From the article:

"At most, a few bird species will avoid such a wind farm. It turns out that a wind farm also provides a new natural habitat for organisms living on the sea bed such as mussels, anemones and crabs, thereby contributing to increased biodiversity," [Lindeboom] said. "For fish and marine mammals, it provides an oasis of calm in a relatively busy coastal area."

...The researchers also noted that the turbines help to protect schools of cod, and that porpoises are heard more often inside than outside the wind farm.

Meanwhile, the survey concluded that sea bird species such as gannets tend to avoid the turbines, while seagulls appear unflustered and local cormorant numbers even increase.

However, the study did caution that rotating blades can pose a danger to some bird species and recommended that the turbines be located away from migration patterns.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/11/offshore-wind-farms-good-wildlife

CITATION: Lindeboom HJ, et al. 2011. Short-term ecological effects of an offshore wind farm in the Dutch coastal zone; a compilation. Environmental Research Letters 6(3):035101. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/3/035101

Endangered species permit applications
August 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 156
FWS-R3-ES-2011-N160; 30120-1113-0000-F6

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.

DATES: We must receive any written comments on or before September 12, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments 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 Applications

Permit Application Number: TE48832A.
Applicant: Kevin J. Roe, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release; non-destructive sampling) scaleshell mussel (Leptodea leptodon) and pink mucket (Lampsilis abrupta) in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild through scientific study.

Permit Application Number: TE182436.
Applicant: Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL.
The applicant requests an amendment to permit number TE182436 to take (capture and release; capture and kill) Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) throughout the State of Illinois. Proposed activities are to monitor and evaluate the population to enhance the recovery and survival of the species in the wild. Proposed lethal take activities are associated with scientific research of white-nose syndrome in the Indiana bat and its habitats.

Permit Application Number: TE48833A.
Applicant: Dr. Brian Carver, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) Indiana bats and gray bats (Myotis grisescens) in the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Proposed activities are aimed at enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE38856A.
Applicant: Applicant: Skelly and Loy, Inc., Harrisburg, PA.
The applicant requests a permit amendment to add the gray bat to the list of covered species on their Federal permit. Proposed take (capture and release) may occur 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: TE212427.
Applicant: Ecology and Environment, Inc., Lancaster, NY.
The applicant requests a permit amendment to add the Virginia Big-Eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) to the list of species covered under their permit. Proposed activities include surveys, population monitoring, and habitat evaluation for enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE48835A.
Applicant: Applied Science & Technology, Inc., Brighton, MI.
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) Northern riffleshell mussel (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana) within the State of Michigan. Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE206781.
Applicant: Ecological Specialists, Inc., O'Fallon, MO.
The applicant requests an amendment to permit number TE206781 to add the following mussel species to the permit: Ouachita rock pocketbook (Arkansia wheeleri), Speckled pocketbook (Lampsilis streckeri), Dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), rough pigtoe (Pleurobema plenum), and ring pink (Obovaria retusa). Proposed activities are for the enhancement of survival of the species in the wild.

Permit Application Number: TE35503A.
Applicants: Department of Natural Resources/Department of Conservation, States of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri,
Ohio and Wisconsin.
In anticipation of the spread of white-nose syndrome and the possible issuance of permits under section 10(a)(1)(A), we announce the intention to issue such permits, including the possible use of lethal taking to address public health concerns and scientific research aimed at recovery of the species. These permits will address take of Indiana bats and gray bats in the Midwest for these purposes.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-12/pdf/2011-20598.pdf

Do golf courses make good bat habitats?
August 12, 2011 By Yasmin Ogale

Although installing golf courses seem to run counter to conservation efforts due to loss of natural habitat, excessive irrigation, and heavy use of pesticides, there may actually be a benefit for bat populations. Wildlife ecologist Kevina Vulinec of Delaware State University performed a study that shows golf courses can "serve as a potential refuge and buffet for the nocturnal bats while providing groundskeepers with a free insect-control service."

From the article:

Vulinec's research was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Wildlife Links Program, which investigates golf's relationship with surrounding wildlife. Although not a golfer herself, Vulinec and her team of graduate students spent 22 nights at five golf courses in the Delaware-Maryland area, deploying mist nets to capture species, as well as ultrasonic acoustic detectors to measure bat activity in each one of five, distinct "microhabitats" on the course.

They found that bats were most likely to visit ponds serving as water hazards on the individual holes as well as the parklike areas bordering the fairways. The mosquito-rich and forest-edged environment is similar to what bats prefer in the wild, Vulinec says. And because local bat populations are threatened by habitat destruction and the fatal pandemic, White-nose syndrome, she says, golf courses could provided an important refuge.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/08/do-golf-courses-make-good-bat-ha.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Wallrichs MA, Vulinec K. 2011. Golf courses: an innovative opportunity for bat conservation [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 96th ESA Annual Meeting, August 7-12, 2011. Austin, Texas: ESA. Retrieved online: http://eco.confex.com/eco/2011/webprogram/Paper31147.html

Hidden Baja undersea park is the world's most robust marine reserve
August 12, 2011

Researchers at UCSD's Scripps Institute of Oceanography have led a 10-year analysis of Cabo Pulmo National Park in Baja California. The study reveals "that the total amount of fish in the reserve ecosystem...boomed more than 460 percent from 1999 to 2009." The most important

From the article:

The most striking result of the paper, the authors say, is that fish communities at a depleted site can recover up to a level comparable to remote, pristine sites that have never been fished by humans.

...The paper notes that factors such as the protection of spawning areas for large predators have been key to the reserve's robustness. Most importantly, local enforcement, led by the determined action of a few families, has been a major factor in the park's success. Boat captains, dive masters and other locals work to enforce the park's regulations and share surveillance, fauna protection and ocean cleanliness efforts.

Importantly, the scientists note that ecotourism has increased in the area, which could be used to promote the establishment of future coastal reserves.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-hidden-baja-undersea-world-robust.html

CITATION: Aburto-Oropeza O, et al. 2011. Large recovery of fish biomass in a no-take marine reserve. PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023601

New discovery positions Smithsonian to bolster genetic diversity among cheetahs
August 12, 2011

Anecdotally, it has been noted by reproductive biologists that older cheetahs have a harder time producing offspring, and a new study shines light onto the causes. Researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute "analyzed hormones, eggs and the uteri of 34 cheetahs at eight institutions, and determined that while the hormones and eggs of cheetahs older than 8 years appear normal, the animals' uterine tracks tend to suffer from abnormal cell growth, infections and cysts that prevent pregnancy." Since the eggs in the older cheetahs are normal, this could mean that there is the possibility of transferring viable eggs to younger cheetahs, thereby increasing the viable genetic pool. Increasing the breeding pool in captive North American cheetahs could increase the reproductive rate of the population, as "approximately 80 percent of adult female cheetahs in North American institutions have never reproduced."

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-discovery-positions-smithsonian-bolster-genetic.html

CITATION: Crosier AE, et al. 2011. Increasing age influences uterine integrity, but not ovarian function or oocyte quality, in the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). Biology of Reproduction 85(2):243-253. doi:10.1095/biolreprod.110.089417

Action for Nature names 19 International Young Eco-Heroes
August 9, 2011

Action for Nature named nineteen young people as this year's International Young Eco-Heroes. These winners have "raised thousands of dollars to support environmental issues," including wildlife protection, planting trees, providign clean drinking water, global warming and sustainable living. Action for Nature is an American non-profit organization,and has recognized over 100 youngsters, ages 8 to 16, since 2003. Beryl Kay, president of Action for Nature, calls the students' achievements "amazing and inspirational."

Full press release: http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3800

Remembering Ray Anderson, advocate for corporate environmental sustainability
August 10, 2011 By Paul Vitello

Ray C. Anderson, Chairman and and CEO of Interface, Inc., died Tuesday of cancer at age 77. He is remembered as an advocate for reducing manufacturing waste and carbon emissions. After reading The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken, Mr. Anderson experienced an epiphany, and as a result implemented changes in his own company that saved an estimated $262 million from waste alone, and reducing his company's carbon footprint by almost half. Anderson, who has been "crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions," was able to reduce the carbon footprint of his company by half. He once said, after reading Hawken's book, "A new definition of success burst into my consciousness, and the latent sense of legacy asserted itself. I got it. I was a plunderer of Earth, and that is not the legacy one wants to leave behind."

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/11/business/ray-anderson-a-carpet-innovator-dies-at-77.html?_r=1&ref=paulvitello

Lemonsforlimes.com helps gardeners trade excess produce
August 11, 2011

A new website, lemonsforlimes.com has been developed by Lori Barudoni in Folsom, CA. Based on zip code location, gardeners or people with fruit trees can contact others to trade excess produce. The site uses a point system, so fruit or vegetables shared in fall can accrue points that can be used later on when other produce ripens.

From the article:

"My hope is that lemonsforlimes.com will change the way people think about gardening and edible landscaping as it relates to sustainable living," says Barudoni. Just think if during this harvest season everyone with a fruit tree or a garden traded their abundance for what they needed with everyone in their zip code, what a difference it would make to the planet as well as the community. The planet would benefit from reducing the amount of resources that go into food being transported so far from the source. Communities would benefit with an increase in the availability of fresh and organic food, decreased grocery bills for families, and as a bonus individuals would be helping the environment by lowering their carbon footprint.

The website provides a tool for members of a community to join together to create area trading groups and "increase food sustainability in their neighborhoods"

For more information visit www.lemonsforlimes.com.

Full article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/08/11/prweb8699789.DTL

USDA entomologist researching causes of bumblebee decline
August 11, 2011

James Strange, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is doing research to learn why bumble bee populations are declining. Among the issues are problems with disease in Bombus occidentalis, a bee species used in greenhouse pollination, and the resulting use of the generalist pollinator Bombus impatiens. B.impatiens, a midwest and eastern U.S. species, may "compete with native bees for food and resources and expose native bumble bees to pathogens they are ill equipped to combat." if introduced in the western states.

From the article:

To understand the decline of B. occidentalis, Strange and his colleagues also have been tracking its habitat range and population trends. Evidence gathered so far shows that the range and populations of B. occidentalis have declined, that it is not as genetically diverse as it used to be, and that it has higher pathogen prevalence than other bee species with stable populations....

The researchers also have assembled a large database with information on more than 80,000 Bombus specimens representing 10 species throughout the country, including B. occidentalis. With Geographic Information System (GIS) modeling technology, they were able to construct historic and current range maps of several bumble bee species.

If a generalist bumble bee native to the western United States can be raised in a lab setting, it may be a solution to greenhouse pollination problems. Dr. Strange and his colleagues are currently trying to raise the western species Bombus huntii in the lab.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/08/11/the_flight_of_the_bumble_bee_why_are_they_disappearing_.html

CITATION: Cameron SA, et al. 2011. Patterns of widewpread decline in North American bumble bees. PNAS 108(2):662-667. doi:10.1073/pnas.1014743108

Avant-Garden returns to Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden
August 11, 2011

Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden is bringing back their Avant-Garden event, which will run from September 12 - January 1. The main focus will be an installation of sculptor David Rogers' "Big Bugs", sculptures which have been "carefully created...from fallen or found wood, cut saplings, twigs, raw branches, twine, bark and other natural materials. The sculptures weigh from 300 to 1,200 pounds and range from seven feet to 25 feet long."

Also taking place during Avant-Garden (from the article):

Events are limited to guests age 21+ years and take place on Thursday nights during October and November from 6:00 - 8:30 pm. The cost is $12 for members and $18 for the general public. For more information visit the Desert Botanical Garden's website.

Full press release: http://gardennews.biz/?id=7285

Timken Museum of Art releases iPad app for George Inness paintings
August 11, 2011 By Maren Dougherty

The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park has just released an iPad application that allows people to explore the works of 19th century landscape painter George Inness. It is the "first iPad app that a Balboa Park institution has launched," made in conjunction with the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) and ArtFinder. The app allows people to zoom into the images of Inness' paintings and share images through email or Facebook. The George Inness exhibit runs through September 18 at the Timken Museum.

To download the app: http://itunes.apple.com/app/george-inness/id454468663?mt=8

Full blog post: http://www.signonsandiego.com/weblogs/balboa-park/2011/aug/11/timken-museum-of-art-releases-ipad-app-for-george-/

The glass is half-full: conservation has made a difference
August 11, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

According to a paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, "decades of conservation actions at multiple scales have had a positive impact for many of the world's endangered species." Successful projects have been overshadowed by the bad news on diodiversity decline, but there is some good news. They discuss both micro-scale conservation, such as national protected areas, and macro-scale efforts which involve multiple countries, such as public pressure forcing companies to change how they produce their merchandise. Additionally, the paper argues that global organizations such as the IUCN and CITES "have been boons to conservation efforts and biodiversity overall, even if imperfect--underfunded or poorly enforced--at times.

From the article:

In the end, conservation is about preserving life on Earth and successes should be celebrated. According to the paper, at least 16 birds from 5 continents would have gone extinct between 1994 and 2004 if not for direct conservation action. In addition the paper notes that a large number of iconic species—from bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia), and Pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) to the Arabian oryx (Eschrichtius robustus)—have been saved by concentrated efforts at different scales. While it's difficult to determine just how many species have been saved from extinction by conservation actions—from protected areas to global agreements—its hard to imagine how animals like tigers, elephants, gorillas, and pandas could have survived the past century without conservationists' unflagging help, at times in the midst of overwhelming threats.

...The researchers write that "more conservation projects fail than succeed, and our highlighting of successes here should not be taken as a call to rest on our laurels. Instead, our aim is to engender hope and inspire others to continue their dedicated efforts." They recommend that conservation not only gain strength from past successes, but also learn what works and monitor both success and failure for the future.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0811-hance_scale_conservation.html

CITATION: Sodhi NS, Butler R, Laurance WF, Gibson L. 2011. Conservation successes at micro-, and meso- and Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2011.07.002

LA Council moves ahead with zoo privatization plan
August 12, 2011 By Kate Linthicum

The Los Angeles City Council will begin soliciting proposals from private or nonprofit organizations to manage the Los Angeles Zoo. City analysts are also charged to look for other options that would save money and allow the city to continue to control the zoo. Privatization is opposed by many zoo workers. Two potential operators have expressed interest, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) and Parques Reunidos, an operator of "70 amusement partks, waterparks and zoos worldwide."

From the article:

Miguel Santana, the city’s top budget official, said turning over management would help save city jobs because it would, over time, lower the cost of employee salaries, benefits and pensions. “We’re trying to relieve pressure on the system so layoffs are less likely, not more likely,” Santana said.

Santana said that if the city does not privatize management, the zoo could lose funding and face possible closure as city officials struggle to close a $200-million budget gap. That deficit is expected to grow in future years. Like many city departments, the zoo and botanical gardens have faced budget cuts and staff reductions. Over the last five years, 15% of zoo staff have been cut, according to Santana.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/08/la-council-moves-ahead-with-zoo-privatization-plan.html

Genetic barcoding gives scientists closer look into ecosystems
August 12, 2011 By Juli Berwald

Biologists developed "genetic barcodes" based on the DNA of plants and animals eight years ago. Now those barcodes are becoming an ecological tool in identifying animals or plants, and also understanding ecosystem interactions. These genetic barcodes have allowed scientists to determine that there are multiple species in populations thought to be one species. Even the contents of fish stomachs can provide genetic information on the species that were consumed, and provide predator/prey linkages. Barcoding projects have been understaken around the globe to increase the available database of species.

From the article:

Genetic barcodes are a sequence of a particular segment of DNA that has just the right amount of variability to identify that species it came from. When an unknown creature -- or part of a creature -- is found, its tissue can be barcoded. If the sequence matches another barcode in one of several international databases, the creature's identity is revealed.

....Barcoding projects are now underway throughout the globe. Near the Arctic Circle in Churchill, Canada, scientists have cataloged 6,000 species, including an unexpectedly large number of insects. In New Guinea, barcodes are used to understand the evolution of butterflies. And in Puerto Rico they're used to decipher how forests are structured.

"Barcoding is like turning up the microscope from 10x to 100x," Meyer said. This helps to give researchers a more detailed picture of the ecosystem than previously seen.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-barcodes-refocus-ecosystems.html

CITATION: Meyer C, Leray M, Boehm JT, Dell AI. 2011. Determining trophic relationships in complex food webs using DNA barcoding of gut contents [Abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 96th ESA Annual Meeting, August 7-12, 2011. Austin, Texas: ESA. Retrieved online: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-barcodes-refocus-ecosystems.html

First ever birth of Pallas' kittens via artificial insemination
August 12, 2011

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced the birth of three Pallas' cat (Otocolobus manul) kittens on June 8, 2011, following laparoscopic oviductal artificial insemination (AI). This pregnancy and birth are the first ever for a Pallas' Cat as a result of artificial insemination. Pallas' cats, native to Central Asia, are considered near-threatened, and "currently, there are ~50 Pallas’ cats housed in 19 North American zoos."

From the article:

The AI procedure was performed using laparoscopy or minimally invasive surgery combined with a new oviductal insemination technique for cats that was developed at CREW.  The Zoo’s female Pallas’ Cat, Sophia, was treated with two hormones to stimulate ovarian follicle growth and ovulation and then was inseminated in both oviducts with semen collected from the Zoo’s male Pallas’ Cat, Buster.  Three healthy kittens were born following a 69 day gestation.  The kittens, now 9 weeks of age, are being raised by their mother in an off-exhibit enclosure.

The oviductal insemination procedure may allow zoos to introduce new bloodlines using frozen semen from wild males.

Full article: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/08/first-ever-birth-of-pallas-kittens-with-the-help-of-advanced-science.html

Australia's Great Barrier Reef 'at risk from pesticide'
August 13, 2011 By Nick Bryant

A report by the Australian government on water quality has determined that agricultural pesticides are causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to unacceptable practices employed by horticulture producers, a cyclone and heavy flooding this year in Queensland may have increased the problem by "flushing pollutants out to sea." The agriculture industry contests the findings, which they say are based on old data. Conservationists would like to see limits placed on pesticides.

From the article:

In recent years, it has been coral bleaching caused by climate change that has damaged the Great Barrier Reef, but the first Australian government report on water quality there has found that agricultural pesticides are posing significant risks. Pesticides have been found up to 60km (38 miles) inside the reef at toxic concentrations known to harm coral.

Limiting pesticide use is seen as detrimental to sugar cane farming, but essential by environmental groups.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14516253

Treetop camera captures first flight of surviving osprey chick
August 14, 2011

A hidden CCTV television camera captured the first flight of a four-month-old osprey (Pandion haliaetus) chick, the only survivor of three chicks in the Northumberland Kielder Water and Forest Park in England.

From the article:

Rangers thought that spring storms had killed all three chicks. They were delighted to discover that one tiny osprey had survived. "It was quite emotional," said June Banks, who manages the Forestry Commission shop. "The youngster perched himself on the edge of the nest and eventually plucked up the courage to take a leap in the dark… Everything went like clockwork and after a circuit around the nest he arrived back safe and sound."

A second set of ospreys had hatched two chicks earliler, making Kielder "the only place in England for more than 170 years to have two breeding osprey families."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/14/osprey-chick-takes-first-flight

China opens tiger skin trade
August 14, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Just prior to a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Speces (CITES) meeting, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has announced that China will allow trade in wild cat skins, including tiger skins. Through a "Skin Registration Scheme", China will only allow the trade of cat skins from legal sources such as captive-bred cats and tiger farms, but critics say this will provide a cover for skins from poached animals.

From the article:

"The Skin Registration Scheme is going in totally the wrong direction. It’s doing nothing to actually help tiger and leopard conservation, instead providing a cover for illegal trade and creating a confused consumer market," says Debbie Banks, EIA Tiger Campaign Head, in a press release.

"Parties to CITES may feel they’ve been misled as a result of China’s tactics," Banks says. "What they’ve failed to grasp is that despite committing to the domestic trade ban on tiger bone, China has refused to make the same commitment over skins or answer questions about how many skins are being traded, but the system is there."

There are approximately 3,500 wild tigers in the world, down from 100,000 in 1900.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0814-hance_tigerskins.html

MOTE Marine Laboratory 'Home School Days'
August 15, 2011

Mote Marine Laboratory, an independent marine research organization in Sarasota, FL, is providing full-day programs for home-schooled students and their families on "Home School Days." Coastal conservation is the subject for this year's series of programs. Students will "experience empowering 'Pollution Patrol' field programs, awesome 'Rescue, Rehab, Release' classroom programs and and exciting 'Conserving our Coast' scavenger hung." The cost is $12 for members, and $17 for non-members.

Full announcement: http://www.mote.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=Education%20Programs%3A%20Home%20School%20Programs&category=Education

Environmentalists allege Dole is clearing forest in Sri Lankan national park for banana plantations
August 15, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

Sri Lanka's military has given land in Somawathiya National Park to Letsgrow Ltd., a local company, under a memorandum of understanding that would allow a private company to grow crops on military lands. In partnership with U.S. based Dole Food Company, the rainforest habitat is being cleared to make room for a banana plantation. However, environmentalists say that the military did not have the right to grant this permission, as the military was supposed to return the land to the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation after the end of the country's civil war. The land being cleared is home to between 400 and 500 Sri Lankan Elephants (Elephas maximus maximus), a subspecies listed as endangered.

From the article:

"According to the Fauna and Flora Ordinance, it is a non bailable offense to enter a national park, clear the jungle and to develop the land. The [Sri Lankan Army] has not only allowed the local agents Letsgrow Ltd to trespass on the Somawathiya National Park but has also permitted them to clear a vast area of land for cultivation," the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) director, Sajeewa Chamakara, told The Sunday Leader. Given that no officials have been allowed in to the plantation, there remains confusion how much of the land is in the park, how much is in a buffer zone, and how much on other land. In any case, no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was ever sought by the companies.

There are a number of threatened plant and animal species that live within the national forest, which may be further endanged by a banana plantation.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0814-hance_srilanka_dole.html

Drug waste harms fish
August 15, 2011 By Natasha Gilbert

A series of new studies indicate that effluent from pharmaceutical plants into rivers contain drugs that impact the fish population. Studies of wastewater plants near Hyderabad, India and New York showed high levels of pharmaceutical ingredients. In a study iof the Dore River in France, researchers have linked pharmacetical effluent wtih sex disruption in wild fish populations.

From the article:

"This is a real problem," says Wilfried Sanchez, an ecotoxicologist at the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks, and lead author of the study. Sexual abnormalities in gudgeon may not only prevent the fish from breeding, but also signal problems in other species, and a reduction in the fish population could have broader consequences for the river ecosystem.

In results they have yet to publish, Sanchez and his colleagues identified the main pharma­ceutical pollutants in the river as being dexamethasone (an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant), spironolactone (a diuretic that also blocks the effects of male sex hormones) and canrenone, also a diuretic. All were measured at concentrations of around 10 micrograms per litre, which is "very high" for biologically active substances, says Sanchez. It is unclear how these compounds ended up in the river.

More study on safe limits for pharmaceuticals in river habitats, and regulatory limitations on drugs commonly found in waterways is indicated.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110815/full/476265a.html

Same-sex zebra finch pairs form long-term bond
August 15, 2011 By Victoria Gill

A study by Julie Elie from the University of California Berkeley and colleagues Clementine Vignal and Nicolas Mathevon from the University of Saint-Etienne determined that zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) form same-sex pairs that exhibit all the behaviors of opposite-sex pairs.

Reporting in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, they observed that the birds establish life-long relationships, are highly social, preen each other and share a nest. "Same-sex pairs of monogamous birds are just as attached and faithful to each other as those paired with a member of the opposite sex."

From the article:

The findings indicate that, even in birds, the drive to find a mate is far more complicated than simply the need to reproduce. "A pair-bond in socially monogamous species represents a cooperative partnership that may give advantages for survival," said Dr Elie. "Finding a social partner, whatever its sex, could be a priority."

There are many other examples of same-sex pairing in the avian world. In monogamous gulls and albatrosses, it gives females the chance to breed without a male partner. "Female partners copulate with a paired male then rear the young together," Dr Elie explained.

The study underscores the complexity of pairing relationships.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14479670

CITATION: Elie JE, Mathevon N, Vignal C. 2011. Same-sex pair-bonds are equivalent to male-female bonds in a life-long socially monogamous songbird. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. doi:10.1007/s00265-011-1228-9

Nature Canada empowers women farmers in Paraguay to conserve nature and increase food security
August 15, 2011

BirdLife partners Nature Canada and Guyra Paraguay, working with Fortaleser (a social development organization), recently completed a project helping "500 women farmers in four rural communities to increase their food security, improve their health and strengthen their awareness of their own democratic rights."

From the article:

Many of the women in this project live in or adjacent to the buffer zone of the San Rafael Reserve and the San Rafael Important Bird Area (IBA), a place that contains one of the last large remnants of the endangered Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. Guyra Paraguay has been working for more than a decade here to strengthen its relationships with the San Rafael communities and build support for biodiversity protection – namely promote sustainable agriculture and prevent deforestation and monocultures.

Integrating conservation work with development projects like these is based on the belief that for conservation efforts to be effective, they must deliver benefits to local people. As a partner within the BirdLife International network, Nature Canada has been working with partners in the Americas since 1999 on projects that balance conservation objectives and local needs—social and economic.

This project, by improving the lives of the people in these communities, is also helping to secure a future for the region’s wildlife, including twenty-five species of bird that are at risk globally, like Endangered Black-fronted Piping-guan, Vulnerable Helmeted Woodpecker, and Near-Threatened Solitary Tinamou.

For more information on the project, visit Nature Canada's website.

Full article: http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/08/conserving-nature-empowering-women-in-paraguay/

Increased tropical forest growth could release carbon from the soil
August 15, 2011

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK have determined a relationship between climate change, tree growth in tropical forests, increased litterfall and a release of soil carbon.

The researchers used results from a six-year experiment in a rainforest at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Central America, to study how increases in litterfall -- dead plant material such as leaves, bark and twigs which fall to the ground -- might affect carbon storage in the soil. Their results show that extra litterfall triggers an effect called 'priming' where fresh carbon from plant litter provides much-needed energy to micro-organisms, which then stimulates the decomposition of carbon stored in the soil.

Lead author Dr Emma Sayer from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Most estimates of the carbon sequestration capacity of tropical forests are based on measurements of tree growth. Our study demonstrates that interactions between plants and soil can have a massive impact on carbon cycling. Models of climate change must take these feedbacks into account to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide levels."

The study indicates that the amount of carbon being released from tropical forests could be greater than previously thought. Impact on the carbon cycle is unknown.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110814141445.htm

CITATION: Sayer EJ, et al. 2011. Soil carbon release enhanced by increased tropical forest litterfall. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1190

2,000+ stream miles of critical habitat proposed for protection of endangered southwestern willow flycatcher
August 15, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed 2,090 miles of stream be protected habitat for the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii). Previously, only 730 miles of stram had been designated. The flycatcher is considered an endangered species.

From the press release:

“With this proposal, the southwestern willow flycatcher has a shot at survival,” said Noah Greenwald, the Center’s endangered species director. “Like so many species dependent on the rivers and streams of the Southwest, the southwestern willow flycatcher is on the brink of extinction and urgently needs more habitat protection.”

The proposed designation includes numerous important and well-known rivers, including the San Gabriel, Ventura, San Diego, Virgin, Colorado, Little Colorado, Gila, Rio Grande, and San Pedro.

“Protection of southwestern rivers for the flycatcher will benefit hundreds of other species and millions of people, too, who depend on these rivers for water and recreation,” said Greenwald. “There are so many benefits, economic and otherwise, of protecting endangered species that are often underappreciated.” 

Read the announcement in the Federal Register: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-15/pdf/2011-19713.pdf

Full press release: http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3803

Draft plans for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Fairbanks, Alaska
August 15, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 157
FWS-R7-2010-N290; 70133-1265-0000-S3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) for public review and comment. In this document, we describe goals and objectives, management direction, and alternatives to manage the Refuge for the 15 years following approval of the final CCP. Also available for review in the document are draft compatibility determinations, a draft wilderness review, and a draft wild and scenic river review prepared in association with the CCP, as well as supporting documents required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by November 14, 2011. We will hold public meetings in communities within and near the Refuge, and also in the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks, in Alaska. We will announce these upcoming public meetings in local news media.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or requests for copies or more information by any of the following methods. You may request a 20-page summary of the CCP; a 1,200-page hard copy of the full CCP; or a CD-ROM of the summary and full document. Agency Web Site: Download a copy of the summary or full CCP document at http://arctic.fws.gov/ccp.htm. E-mail: ArcticRefugeCCP@fws.gov. Include "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge draft CCP and draft EIS'' in the subject line of the message. Fax: Attn: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader, (907) 456-0428. U.S. Mail: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 101 12th Ave., Rm. 236, Fairbanks, AK 99701.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Seim, Planning Team Leader, at the address listed above, by phone at (907) 456-0501, or by e-mail at ArcticRefugeCCP@fws.gov.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-15/pdf/2011-20448.pdf

Rediscovered species require intense conservation efforts
August 15, 2011

A recent study on amphibian, bird, and mammal species reported to be extinct in the past 122 years has found that at least 351 of these species were “rediscovered”. Most rediscoveries occurred in the tropics, and species predominantly maintain small range sizes seriously threatened by habitat loss. These factors translate into weak population recovery, indicating that unless conservation is henceforth aggressively pursued, extinction may merely be delayed. The average time species in the study went missing is 61 years, which indicates difficulty in conservation planning directed at missing species. Overall, the study highlights limited current knowledge about tropical biological diversity and emphasizes the need for further area studies.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-rediscovery-species-brink.html

CITATION: Scheffers BR, et al. 2011. The world's rediscovered species: back from the brink? PLoS ONE 6(7):e22531. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022531

Fairfield's campus garden serving as an outdoor classroom
August 15, 2011 By Jerrod Ferrari

Created in 2010 as a project organized by the Campus Sustainability Committee, Fairfield University’s 3,000 square foot campus garden is already a vibrant contributor to the Connecticut university. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators all play diverse roles in maintaining and promoting the project. It currently serves as a laboratory for students, a resource for core science courses, the subject a web design project for engineering students, and a means of locally sourced ingredients for campus Dining Services. Through the garden, student learning encompasses a broad spectrum, including soil quality, pollination, pest control, environmental challenges, experiment design, confidence in personal gardening, and appreciation of food production among students. This year, the garden is producing carrots, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, kale, garlic, shallots, green beans, peppers, and herbs.

Full article: http://blogs.thehour.com/greenoutdoors/?p=711

Milwaukee County Zoo provides iPads for orangutan enrichment
August 15, 2011 By Brian Crecente

At the Milwaukee County Zoo, iPads are currently being introduced as enrichment objects for orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). The primates already show preference for favorite apps, shows, and games, though keepers are exercising caution with use of the devices at present; even a juvenile orangutan could destroy an iPad with ease in a bout of frustration or excitement. Scott Engel, the zoo’s iPad Enrichment Coordinator, works with orangutans MJ and Mahal for three or four 20 minute sessions each week. He began his project by visually introducing the device in camera mode from behind glass, yet the orangutans now enjoy full access, during which they use finger-paint app DrawFree, watch television shows, and play games that feed their natural curiosity. This form of enrichment involves no rewards; the orangutans participate because of their own interest.

Milwaukee County Zoo Orangutan Outreach staff hope that this pilot initiative may pave the way for similar projects at zoos nationwide, especially where orangutans require mental stimulation to keep boredom and depression at bay during winter months.  Zoo Atlanta, which already touts an “enrichment tree” built with touchscreens, may be the next implementer, though zoos in Toronto, Phoenix, Honolulu, Memphis, and Florida have also expressed interest. The project’s second phase aims at creating social interactions between orangutans at different zoos through iPads, and an eventual goal may involve enabling zoo visitors to play with or against primates through shared iPhone or iPad apps. Physical device fragility, however, presently remains an issue.

Full article: http://kotaku.com/5830764/

Big jump in San Diego County fires caused by target shooting
August 15, 2011 By Ed Joyce

Recreational target shooting has reportedly started 10 fires this year, a large jump from two known to be caused in 2010. Shooters are urged to use caution by operating in a cleared area, being aware of what is behind a target, and using cooler times of day with higher humidity levels when shrapnel is less likely to ignite a fuel bed. Both steel-tipped and steel-cored bullets have been recovered at fire sites and are attributed as probable fire sources.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/aug/15/big-jump-san-diego-county-fires-caused-target-shoo/

Philly Zoo's new Treetop Trail gives visitors up-close look at primates traveling overhead
August 15, 2011 By Brad Tuttle

The Treetop Trail, a network of approximately 700 feet of flexible, transparent stainless steel mesh tubes, was recently unveiled at the Philadelphia Zoo. Small primates, including blue eyed black lemurs (Eulemur flavifrons), Bolivian gray titi monkeys (Callicebus donacophilus), golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia), and red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus), can now use the tubes to explore trees, walkways, and travel within a six foot range of zoo visitors. Access to the tubes will be on a “time share” basis between species, and use will be voluntary by the animals. Visitors are assured that human viewing spaces will remain “free of debris”, as solid protective structures are place at each spot that visitors may walk directly underneath.

Full article: http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/12/7356978-monkeys-overhead-philly-zoo-unveils-new-treetop-trail

Trout populations face threat from climate change
August 15, 2011 By Erik Stokstad

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to analyze probable impacts of climate change as they affect common trout species. Researchers ran climate models and plugged habitat and fish data for 9890 locations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin to generate predictions. According to the study’s forecast, trout habitat will be cut in half by 2080 as a result of rising river temperatures and altered flood patterns. Of the four trout species analyzed, each is predicted to experience a different level of habitat loss. Brown trout (Salmo trutta), cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii), and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are predicted to be affected by 48%, 58%, and 77% habitat loss respectively due to competition and warming water temperatures that upset fall spawning. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), which spawn in fall as well as spring, will be the least affected species with a predicted 35% habitat loss. Though little can be done to reduce the affects of changing winter floods, land managers strategize by planting trees and shrubs in attempts to keep streams cool.

Full blog post: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/08/iconic-fishes-face-new-threat.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Wenger SJ, et al. 2011. Flow regime, temperature, and biotic interactions drive differential declines of trout species under climate change. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1103097108

Walking sticks made by Paignton Zoo gorilla sold by zoo on eBay for charity
August 16, 2011

Kumbuka, a 13-year-old lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) at Paignton Zoo in Devon, UK, is doing his part to help ape conservation by assisting keepers in making walking sticks, which are sold on eBay to benefit the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust’s ape protection efforts.  The gorilla helps by stripping bark from sticks. Though Kumbuka has a tendency to break many of the smaller sticks, those that he leaves intact are further refined and varnished by human helpers.  The project represents a rare opportunity for the public to purchase a unique object with a direct link to the species its proceeds go to protect.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-14551141

Capybara spotted roaming in Paso Robles
August 16, 2011 By Olsen Ebright

A capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeri), the world’s largest rodent, was reportedly spotted in Paso Robles, California, a long way from its native habitat in South America; it is assumed that the animal originated in the area as an exotic pet. Initial reports of the capybara first surfaced three years ago at the Hunter Ranch Golf Course in Paso Robles, though at that time the animal was assumed to actually be a beaver. Less than two years ago, however, the capybara was spotted again while chasing a dog, at which point the dog’s owner fired a shotgun at the rodent. Investigators confirmed the capybara’s footprints, though it was presumed dead after no further sightings were reported. On July 22, 2011, the capybara resurfaced once again in the pool of a Paso Robles water treatment plant. This time, plant workers captured the 100-120 pound, highly nocturnal animal on camera, though a sighting has yet to be reported since. “Capybaras stand about 2 feet tall and communicate with ‘barks, chirps, whistles, huffs, and purrs,’ according to the San Diego Zoo.” If the animal resurfaces, the California Department of Fish and Game seeks to capture it in a live trap.

Full article: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/weird/Paso-Robles-Capybara-127771708.html

Dolphins in Asia's Mekong River on brink of extinction, group says
August 16, 2011

According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, only 85 Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) remain in the Mekong River, leaving the group on the brink of extinction. Though other populations exist in the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and the Mahakam River in Indonesia, these too are critically endangered. Dwindling population size is due in part to older dolphin die-off, high calf mortality rates, and the threat of gill net entanglement. Viewed as sacred by the Khmer and Lao people and a source of local revenue through dolphin-watching ecotourism, the Irrawaddy dolphins’ significance extends beyond their own vitality, impacting human culture as well.

Full article: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/16/dolphins-in-asias-mekong-river-on-brink-of-extinction-group-says/?hpt=hp_c2

Endangered species recovery permit applications
August 16, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 158
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N158; 80221-1113-0000-F5

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.

DATES: Comments on these permit applications must be received on or before September 15, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Written data or comments should be submitted 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).

Applicants

Permit No. TE-797267
Applicant: H.T. Harvey & Associates, Los Gatos, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, handle, passive integrated transponder [PIT] tag, radio collar, and release) the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) in conjunction with surveys, research, and population monitoring activities in San Luis County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-844028
Applicant: A.A. Rich and Associates, San Enselmo, California
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (survey, electrofish, net, capture, and release) the Pahranagat roundtail chub (Gila robusta jordani) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of the species in Lincoln County, Nevada, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-221290
Applicant: Lee Ripma, San Diego, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) and 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-815144
Applicant: Rosemary Thompson, Santa Barbara, California
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (capture, handle, release, and collect tail tissue and voucher specimens) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and take (capture, handle, and release) the unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni) in conjunction with survey activities and population studies throughout the range of the species for the salamander and within the Santa Clara River Drainage for the stickleback in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48149A
Applicant: Tammy C. Lim, Oakland, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, mark, take biological samples, transport, relocate, and release) the San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) in conjunction with survey, research, and habitat enhancement activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-018909
Applicant: Kelly M. Rios, Brea, California
The applicant requests an amendment to a permit to take (capture, handle, and release) the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48170A
Applicant: Lisa Ann Gadsby, Encinitas, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in conjunction with survey activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-48210A
Applicant: Becky Rozumowicz, Orangevale, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and 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-48214A
Applicant: Tracy K. Bain, San Francisco, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in conjunction with surveys and behavioral research activities in Sonoma County, California, for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Permit No. TE-142435
Applicant: Debra M. Shier, Topanga, California
The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, mark, tag, obtain genetic samples, attach radio-telemetry devices, hold in captivity, transport, translocate, and release to the wild) the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) and the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) in conjunction with survey and research activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing the species' survival.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-16/pdf/2011-20818.pdf

Chester Zoo undergoes rebranding effort
August 16, 2011 By Gavin Lucas

The Chester Zoo of Chester, UK has just completed a rebranding initiative through Music, a Manchester-based design company. The zoo’s new identity focuses on hand drawn typeface and logotype, as well as a distinctive, playful tone of voice. Varying font weights, contextual alternatives, and animal-themed alternate characters are available to suit specific textual messages and purposes. A color palatte and stand alone animal illustrations to be used on various zoo marketing initiatives were also developed to further unify the zoo’s image.  A website update which will reflect the rebranding is currently underway.

From the article:

"The new brand centres on a personality and voice rooted in the work of those who make Chester Zoo what it is, encompassing their passion, integrity and knowledge," says Music's Anthony Smith who worked on the project with Craig Oldham. "Add to this the license for creative expression in how the font works and is applied – and the zoo has the means to make a powerful impact and really stand out in a competitive sector," he continues, "by telling their story in a very natural and genuine way."

Full article with images of rebranding: http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2011/august/music-redraws-chester-zoos-identity

'Astonish Me' Video celebrates WWF's 50th birthday
August 16, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A short film called "Astonish Me" was created by the WWF to celebrate the organization's 50th birthday celebration.

From the press release:

"Astonish Me shows that the natural world is every bit as magical and surprising as the fictional world you might see in a Hollywood film. We know about less than a tenth of the species that we suspect are out there and I really hope this film inspires a new generation of conservationists to be curious about the natural world and to want to protect it," executive producer of the film Colin Butfield, head of Campaigns WWF-UK, said in a press release.

Full article and link to video: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0816-astonishme-video.html

Analyzing corticosterone in feathers provides view of birds' long-term stress levels
August 16, 2011

Birds, like other animals, secrete a hormone called corticosterone when they are stressed. Their stress levels can thus be determined by analyzing blood samples. However, a new non-invasive method of analyzing stress levels in collected bird feathers was discovered. Not only can this method detect avian stress response "to sudden natural threats but also to human-caused activities that have a long-term impact on the environment, such as large construction projects or oil spills." The reason for this is that feathers "reflect hormone levels during the time it takes feathers to grow," as opposed to the "snapshot" offered by blood draws.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-tool-stress-hormone-birds-.html

CITATION: Lattin CR, Reed JM, DesRochers DW, Romero LM. 2011. Elevated corticosterone in feathers correlates with corticosterone-induced decreased feather quality: a validation study. Journal of Avian Biology 42(3):247-252. doi:10.1111/j.1600-048X.2010.05310.x

San Diego Zoo Global, PLNU to unveil new economic index to measure biomimicry
August 16, 2011

On August 24 at the San Diego Zoo, SDZG and Point Loma Nazarene will unveil the Da Vinci Index, which will provide a measure of the biomimicry industry.

Excerpt from the article:

Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, will unveil the Da Vinci Index at the San Diego Zoo. The Da Vinci Index measures biomimicry- the application of biological principles to human design challenges – and its related activity over the past decade and going forward with the goal of raising awareness of the emerging field.

... In November 2010, the Fermanian Institute issued its groundbreaking report, "Global Biomimicry Efforts: An Economic Game Changer,” which was commissioned by San Diego Zoo Global, and concluded that a Biomimicry Hub in San Diego could initially create a total of more than 2,100 new jobs with US$325 million added to San Diego’s annual gross regional product and US$162 million in total personal income (both figures in 2010 dollars) by 2025.

...The Da Vinci Index is designed to provide a tangible metric or barometer of progress in the field by tracking the number of biomimicry-related scholarly articles, patents, and grants, as well as the total amount of grant money spent over time. It joins other tracking indices such as the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the Index of Leading Economic Indicators, and the S&P 500 Stock Price Index.

Full article: http://www.ncnnews.org/nphweb/html/ncn/article.jsp?sid=10000013&id=10010633

UC Irvine Arboretum profile
August 16, 2011 By Zot Report

The University of California, Irvine Arboretum focuses mainly on plants from Mediterranean ecosystems and "boasts one of the finest collections of South African bulbous and cormous plants in the world." It is "a 12-acre botanical garden located next to the 200-acre San Joaquin Marsh on the UC Irvine North Campus, dedicated to the conservation of endangered plant species from California and South Africa." The Arboretum was originally started as a nursery in 1964 but has since become a center of conservation for 200 endangered plant species including rare South African aloes. It is open to the public Monday-Saturday from 9:00am-3:00pm.

Full article: http://www.myucirvine.com/news/features/uci-arboretum-a-hidden-gem-20110816

U.S. Botanic Garden scientists save smuggled plants
August 16, 2011 By Jessica Gould

The U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., is made up of a complex of 34 greenhouses and is home to 30,000 plants. It is one of dozens of CITES rescue centers in the country that takes in plants that have been confiscated by international plant smugglers. While some of the plants are simply lacking the proper paperwork to be brought into the county, others (such as many orchid species and certain cacti) are smuggled in to be sold on the black market. Sometimes, the plants are returned to the country of origin, but according to botanist Kyle Wallick, "...sometimes [it's] just too risky to return species to their homelands...because their habitats are being destroyed, or because poachers pose too great a threat." In these cases, botanists and the gardens work to determine the species of the plants they rescue so that they can provide the correct growing conditions.

Full article: http://wamu.org/news/11/08/16/botanic_garden_scientists_save_smuggled_plants.php

ZSL London Zoo hosts day for children with disabilities
August 17, 2011

The ZSL London Zoo will be hosting their annual Special Children's Day over the weekend of September 10 and 11. The day is geared specifically to "families of children with disabilities, and includes British Sign Language interpreters at animal talks and demonstrations, and guided 'Touch Tours' for visually-impaired children." There will also be additional storytelling sessions and free entrance to the Zoo's "bouncy castle". The zoo is partering with local organizations that will be providing information and support for attending families.

Full article: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/events/article-23978996-zsl-london-zoo-hosts-special-childrens-day.do

Researchers complete first major survey of chytrid fungus in Asia
August 17, 2011

An international team of researchers has completed a survey of chytridiomycosis in Asian amphibians. The survey, which took place from 2001 to 2009, will provide scientists with data that might explain why Asian amphibians have not experienced an extreme population decline like other species have around the world. The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes chytrid disease, was found to be "prevalent at very low levels in [Asia]," appearing in "only 2.35 percent of the frogs." This could mean that either the fungus is emerging in Asia, "or may have been in Asia at low levels for a long time." The Philippines was found to have the highest level of Bd infection, mirroring similar levels of early outbreaks in the Americas. Therefore, if the Bd found is indicative of an impending chytrid epidemic, scientists think that it will most likely start in this country. The researchers highlighted the need to continue surveying amphibian populations in the area, as many sites were only surveyed once.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-major-survey-amphibian-fungus-asia.html

CITATION: Swei A, et al. 2011. Is Chytridiomycosis and emerging infectious disease in Asia? PLoS ONE 6(8):e23179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023179

Endangered species permit applications
August 17, 2011 Federal Register
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N167; 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 laws require that we invite public comment before issuing these permits.

DATES: We must receive comments or requests for documents on or before September 16, 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).

III. Permit Applications

A. Endangered Species

Applicant: U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego, CA; PRT-41278A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples of Fiji crested iguanas (Brachylophus vitiensis), banded igunas (Brachylophus bulabula) and Fiji banded iguanas (Brachylophus fasciatus) from Fiji for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species through scientific research. This notification covers activities conducted by the applicant for a 5-year period.

Applicant: Nashville Zoo, Nashville, TN; PRT-48554A
The applicant requests a permit to import two captive-born red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) from Birdpark Avifauna, Netherlands for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Valley Zoological Society dba Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville, TX; PRT-48645A
The applicant requests a permit to import two captive held Orinoco crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius) from Ontario, Canada for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Morani River Ranch, Uvalde, TX; PRT-49112A
The applicant requests a permit to authorize interstate and foreign commerce, export, and cull of excess barashingh (Rucervus duvauceli), Eld's deer (Rucervus eldii), and Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) from the captive herds maintained at their facility 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: Hawthorn Corporation, Grayslake, IL; PRT-058735, 058738, 059163, 068350, 068353, 154232, and 154233
The applicant requests permits to re-issue for re-export and re-import tigers (Panthera tigris) to worldwide locations for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education. The permit numbers and animals are: [058735, Sariska; 058738, Calcutta; 059163, Kushka; 068350, Segal; 068353, Pashawn; 154232, Sirit; and 154233, Shakma]. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a three-year period and the import of any potential progeny born while overseas.

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 Anderson, Casper, WY; PRT-49064A.
Applicant: John Hodges, Alexander City, AL; PRT-49772A.
Applicant: Christopher Stevens, Keller, TX; PRT-49810A.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-17/pdf/2011-20960.pdf

Cameratraps take global snapshot of declining tropical mammals
August 17, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) has completed a cameratrap study that mapped "tropical mammal populations across seven countries in some of the world's most important rainforests." Their study found that smaller protected areas resulted in decreased levels of biodiversity while larger, continuous forest areas saw the highest levels of biodiversity and abundance. According to lead author Jorge Ahumada, "The results of the study are important in that they confirm what we suspected: habitat destruction is slowly but surely killing our planet’s mammal diversity." Additionally, the scientists discovered that insect-eating animals were most likely to be affected by habitat loss, followed by omnivores. TEAM expanded their areas of research to 10 additional sites in 2010 and plan to have 40 sites in operation by 2013. The areas included in this study were: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda), Udzungwa Mountains National Park (Tanzania), Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (Indonesia), Nam Kading National Protected Area (Laos), Central Suriname Nature Reserve (Suriname), Manaus (Brazil), and Volcan Barva Transect (Costa Rica).

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0817-hance_cameratraps_mammals.html

CITATION: Ahumada JA, et al. 2011. Community structure and diversity of tropical forest mammals: data from a global camera trap network. Phil Trans R Soc B 366:2703-2711. doi:10.1098/rstb.2011.0115

Toronto Zoo to generate biogas from collection animals' manure
August 17, 2011 By May Jeong

The Toronto Zoo is teaming up with ZooShare, a biogas co-op, to turn the zoo's animal waste into electricity.

From the article:

ZooShare’s idea is a simple one: Use the manure from zebras, rhinos, elephants and giraffes to generate biogas. If all goes to plan, the plant will produce 500 kilowatts of power, enough to service 750 homes, and will make $50,000 in annual revenue for the zoo once it is up and running next fall.

The poo will be complemented by waste from neighbouring farms and major retailers. The plant will also produce compost and farm fertilizers, and the cop-op plans to build a greenhouse to use up the nominal amount of heat that will be produced.

Currently, the zoo composts over 6,500 pounds of animal waste every year and uses it to fertilize garden beds. However, the methane that is released from this compost goes directly into the environment, going unused and contributing to climate change.

Full article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/business-categories/sustainability/powering-homes-with-toronto-zoos-poo/article2131509/

California mountain yellow-legged frogs die in Fresno Zoo's breeding tanks
August 17, 2011

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is one of three participating zoos in a program to breed and reintroduce the endangered California mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa). This week, 104 of their frogs mysteriously died after metamorphosing from tadpoles in breeding tanks. The zoo has not yet determined why the frogs died. There are only 2 survivng frogs in the zoo's breeding facility, which the zoo is considering sending to another breeding facility to possibly increase their chances of survival. The frogs, which number less than 200 individuals in the wild, are threatened by habitat loss, fungal infections, and predation by nonnative species. Other zoos participating in the breeding program include the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Full article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0817-frog-deaths-20110817,0,7097333.story

USFWS seeks to end California sea otter relocations
August 18, 2011 By Tony Barboza

A new proposal from the USFWS would allow the return of California sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) to their historic range off the coast of Southern California. Starting in 1987, in an attempt to establish an insurance population, 140 sea otters were relocated from the Monterey Bay to San Nicolas Island, located 60 miles off the coast. The agency also made an agreement with fisherman to transport any otters found in Southern California waters to San Nicolas Island. However, in 1993, the agency stopped relocating any otters to the Central Coast after it was found that many of the transported otters were not surviving the move. In 2009, USFWS was sued by environmental groups to officially end the relocation program, arguing that the animals need to be able to return to their historic ranges in order to increase their population numbers. The agency will announce a draft plan within the next week and will open it up to public comment.

Full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/08/agency-seeks-end-sea-otter-relocations-allow-them-in-southern-california.html

Great Barrier Reef: rising turtle deaths prompt warning of wildlife crisis
August 18, 2011 By Oliver Milman

This year, 649 turtles were found dead on the Queensland coast in the first seven months of the year, up from 200 during the same period in 2010. Dugongs (Dugon dugon), which are large marine mammals most closely related to the manatee, have also suffered high losses, with 96 animals reported dead in the first seven months of 2011 compared to 79 for all of 2010. This year, "widespread floods and the subsequent Cyclone Yasi...wiped out around 90% of the seagrass in certain areas of the Great Barrier Reef coast." Seagrass makes up the staple food source for sea turtles. According to Cliff Cobbo of WWF Australia, while in previous years the turtles may have been able to withstand extreme weather events, recent pressures from "more fishing nets, declining water quality and associated disease, [and] loss of critical habitats...have all undermined their chances of survival."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/18/wildlife-crisis-turtles-queensland

Zoofari scavenger hunts at the Mesker Park Zoo
August 19, 2011

The Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana, will be holding two "Zoofari" scavenger hunts on Saturday. The first one will take place in the morning and is for children between the ages of 8 and 13 and a parent. The child-parent scavenger hunt costs $40 per team and includes lunch. The grand prize is a Sports Table, with other prizes awarded for the best team name and best costumes. The evening hunt is for teams of two or more adults, costs $50 per person and includes a drink, dinner and entertainment. The grand prize for the evening scavenger hunt is a Drive Away Vacation and $500 spending money, with additional prizes awarded for best team name and best costumes. Proceeds from the event will benefit the zoo's new reptile exhibit.

To learn more, visit the zoo's website at http://www.meskerparkzoo.com.

Full article: http://www.courierpress.com/events/2011/aug/20/8386/

Draft plans for Kealia Pond and Kakahai'a National Wildlife Refuges, Maui, HI
August 19, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 161
FWS-R1-R-2011-N093; 1265-0000-10137-S3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of our draft comprehensive conservation plans and environmental assessments (Draft CCPs/EAs) for the Ke[amacr]lia Pond and Kakahai'a National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges), for public review and comment. The Draft CCPs/EAs describe our proposals for managing the Refuges for the next 15 years.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments by September 19, 2011. We will also announce opportunities for public input in local news media throughout the CCP process.

ADDRESSES: Additional information about the Refuges is available on our Web sites http://www.fws.gov/kealiapond/and http://www.fws.gov/kakahaia/. You may submit comments or request CD-ROM copies of the Draft CCPs/EAs by any of the following methods. A limited number of printed copies of the Draft CCPs/EAs are also available. E-mail: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov. Include Ke[amacr]lia Pond/Kakahai'a NWRs'' in the subject line of the message.
Fax: Attn: Glynnis Nakai, Project Leader, (808) 875-2945.
U.S. Mail: Glynnis Nakai, Project Leader, Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 1042, K[imacr]hei, Hawai'i 96753.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glynnis Nakai, Project Leader, (808) 875-1582 (phone).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-08-19/pdf/2011-21326.pdf

Woodland Park Zoo's annual Fall Fecal Fest
August 19, 2011

Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo will be holding it's semiannual Fecal Fest during the month of September. The event allows community members the opportunity to purchase larger quantities of the zoo's "famous" Zoo Doo and Bedspread compost products.

From the article:

According to the zoo, “Zoo Doo is the most exotic and highly prized compost in the Pacific Northwest. Composed of exotic species feces contributed by the zoo’s non-primate herbivores, Zoo Doo is perfect for vegetables and annuals. Bedspread, the zoo’s premium composted mulch, is like Zoo Doo but with higher amounts of wood chips and sawdust. It’s the perfect mulch for perennial beds and woody landscapes such as native gardens, rose beds, shrubs, tree rings or pathways.”

...Pick-up dates for Zoo Doo or Bedspread begin October 1 and end on October 17. The lucky winners load the compost and the Grand Poopah will arm you with shovels. Pick-up truck 8×4 bed: $60; 6×4 bed: $45; 6×3 bed: $35. Limit one full truck per person. Garbage cans: $8 to $10 depending on size; bags: $4 to $6 depending on size. Two-gallon and pint-sized buckets are available anytime at the ZooStores for $14.95 and $4.95, respectively.

People who want to enter for a chance to purchase Zoo Doo or Bedspread can send postcards addressed to Dr. Doo at the Woodland Park. Winners will be chosen at random.

Full article: http://www.myballard.com/2011/08/19/zoos-annual-fall-fecal-fest-is-coming-up/

Shell stops North Sea leak after 10 days
August 19, 2011 By Fiona Harvey

Excerpt from the article:

Shell has finally stopped the leak from its faulty oil pipeline in the North Sea, ending the flow of oil undersea after 10 days of the worst oil spill in UK waters for a decade.

Divers closed a relief valve which was the source of a small secondary leak, discovered after the first major leak in the pipeline at the Gannet Alpha platform had been plugged last week. Government officials are now opening an investigation into how the leak occurred and whether the correct procedures were followed. They will also have to decide whether Shell should pay for government expenses incurred in the clean-up operation.

Environmental groups have criticized Shell "for a lack of transparency," as a helicopter flying over the area detected oil slick on the water last Wednesday yet the company did not make a public announcement until two days later. The coastguard is estimating that the leaked oil is covering approximately 6.7 sq km (2.6 sq mi) of the North Sea. There are thought to have been 1,300 barrels released in this oil spill, compared to the 70,000 barrels leaked daily during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/19/shell-stops-second-oil-leak

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

Captive chimps could be declared endangered species
September 1, 2011 By Brandon Keim

U.S. Fish and Wildlife have accounced a decision to reconsider the status of captive chimps under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are classified as endangered while captive chimps are classified as threatened, meaning that they can be kept as pets, used in entertainment, and act as subjects of medical testing. According to the article, there are approximately 1,000 chimpanzees in private and government labs in the United States, "which outside of Gabon is the only country to permit invasive chimp research." Chimpanzees are the only animal subject to a split classification based upon wild/captive status under the Endangered Species Act.

USFWS decided to reconsider the classification of the species after being petitioned by a coalition of groups concerned about the welfare of captive chimpanzees, including the AZA and the Jane Goodall Institute. In 1990, captive chimps were classified as threatened as medical researchers "argued that [doing so] was necessary for progress on disease like AIDS." More recently, however, researchers are using "medically superior and less-controversial techniques," with the NIH recommending that the animals should only be used as a "last resort." Primatologists argue against using chimpanzees as medical test subjects, saying that the animals exhibit "intelligence and thoughtfulness" and that they "should be given the ethical consideration accorded to children who cannot speak for themselves." Jane Goodall told a committee evaluating the use of chimpanzees in medical research, "From their point of view, it's like torture. They are in prison and have done nothing wrong."

The Fish and Wildlife Service will accept public comments until Oct. 31.

Full article: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/09/chimp-status/

Teacher incorporates San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research frog experiment into curriculum
September 1, 2011 By Mary-Justine Lanyon

After attending a teacher workshop at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR), 7th-grade science teacher Randy Schuster at Mary Putnam Henck Intermediate School in Lake Arrowhead, California, was inspired to incorporate more hands-on experiments in his own classroom. Taking a cue from the ICR’s successful breeding program of the endangered California mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), in which frogs are hibernated in coolers to simulate their ideal breeding conditions in the wild, Schuster will be performing a similar experiment with his students. Instead of using the endangered California mountain yellow-legged frog, his students will be trying to breed Pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla) which are much more common in the area.

From the article:

The teacher filed the necessary paperwork with California Fish and Game to collect frogs for the classroom. "I now have 30 frogs in my room," he said. The students got to work during the first week of school, weighing and measuring the frogs that now reside in their classroom so they can monitor their growth and health.

The San Diego Zoo, Schuster said, "is interested in any new information we find out."

Depending on the ages of the frogs the students start working with, they may have to wait a year before beginning the breeding process. If, however, there are enough adult frogs, they could hibernate the frogs and then breed them in the spring.

Schuster is looking forward to collaborating with other classrooms to show his students “that science is a collaborative field.” He also hopes that his students will learn that “endangered animals are not always ‘some exotic animal that lives far away [but] can be as close as our local creek’”.

Full article: http://www.mountain-news.com/mountain_living/article_daf7998c-d4b4-11e0-87c5-001cc4c03286.html

Survey shows only slight decline in population numbers of Southern Rocky Mountain pikas
September 1, 2011

A new survey led by University of Colorado, Boulder doctoral student Liesl Erb has shown that the Southern Rocky Mountain population of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) is relatively stable. Compared to a survey of pikas in Nevada's Great Basin earlier this year that "showed local extinction rates of pika populations there have increased nearly five-fold in the last decade," pikas in the Southern Rocky Mountains were still present in 65 of the 69 sites where pikas have been found in the past. Additionally, the pikas in the Great Basin survey had "moved up in elevation nearly 500 feet in the past 10 years," most likely due to increased temperatures in the area.

From the article:

Despite the low number of extirpations, or local population extinctions, in the Southern Rockies, the CU-Boulder team found that the pattern of pika disappearance at particular sites was not random, said Erb of the ecology and evolutionary biology department and lead study author. "The sites that had been abandoned by pikas in our study area all were drier on average than the occupied sites," she said.

...One likely reason for the relative success of pikas in the Southern Rocky Mountains study is that available habitats are higher in elevation and are more contiguous than habitats in Nevada's Great Basin, said Erb. But some climate models are predicting drier conditions in parts of the Southern Rockies in the coming decades as the climate warms, she said.

Erb thinks that the pikas in the Southern Rocky Mountains are faring better than some populations in other areas because of the unique geographic traits of alpine regions. However, climate models predict that these areas may become warmer and drier in the future, which could have negative implications for pika populations living there.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-southern-rocky-mountain-pikas.html

CITATION: Erb LP, Ray C, Guralnick R. 2011. On the generality of a climate-mediated shift in the distribution of the American pika (Ochotona princeps). Ecology 92(9):1730-1735. doi:10.1890/11-0175.1

Bonn Challenge plans to restore 150 million hectares of forest
September 2, 2011

A group of politicians and conservationists met last week to launch the Bonn Challenge, which aims "to restore 150 million hectares (580,000 square miles) of deforested and degraded forests."

From the article:

"Restoring 150 million hectares of degraded lands represents an exciting and largely untapped opportunity to create more jobs and economic growth, while also protecting our climate," said Göran Persson, a former Prime Minister of Sweden who will lead the New Global Restoration Council.

"Forest restoration is a big idea that carries many benefits. It will improve food security, enhance biodiversity, protect our climate, and generate jobs,” added Manish Bapna, interim President for WRI, in a statement. "With this new 150 million hectare target... we have a great opportunity to take action that will enhance the resilience of people and nature."

WRI says the Bonn Challenge would help meet 2020 targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the U.N. REDD+ program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

There is currently about "2 billion hectares of land worldwide that are suitable for restoration"; the goal of 150 million hectares represents a little over 7 percent of this total. The supporters of the Bonn Challenge "hope it will be adopted as an official targe by the U.N., governments, and other institutions."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0902-forest_restoration_challenge.html

Firewood movement leading cause of oak infestation in San Diego County
September 2, 2011

A group of researchers from the University of California are working together "to assess and control the unprecedented infestation" by the goldspotted oak borer (Agrilus auroguttatus) of oak trees in San Diego County. Over the last 10 years, the pest has killed more than 80,000 oak trees in the region and, according to natural resource specialist Tom Scott, the infestation may be causing "...the biggest oak mortality event since the Pleistocene." The researchers believe that by controlling the export of firewood from infested areas, they may be able to prevent the further spread of the goldspotted oak borer.

From the article:

The goldspotted oak borer (Agrilus auroguttatus), which is native to Arizona but not California, likely traveled across the desert in a load of infested firewood, possibly as early as the mid-1990s, Scott said. Researchers have confirmed the presence of the beetle as early as 2000 near the towns of Descanso and Guatay, where nearly every oak tree is infested.

The half-inch-long beetle attacks mature coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia), California black oaks (Quercus kelloggii) and canyon live oaks (Quercus chrysolepis). Female beetles lay eggs in cracks and crevices of oak bark, and the larvae burrow into the cambium of the tree to feed, irreparably damaging the water- and food-conducting tissues and ultimately killing the tree. Adult beetles bore out through the bark, leaving a D-shaped hole when they exit.

The infestation causes "loss of recreation areas and wildlife habitat, lower property values and greater risk of wildfires." The cost of removing the dead trees, which often measure 5-6 feet in diameter and can be between 150-250 years old, ranges between $700 to $10,000. The researchers estimate that the "cost of removing dead and dying trees in San Diego County alone could run into the tens of millions of dollars." Additionally, the three oak species that are targeted by the oak borer "may be the single most important trees used by wildlife for food and cover in California forests and rangelands." The researchers think that the best way to prevent the spread of the pest is to educate those in the firewood industry, noting that "relatively small [changes] in firewood-handling methods" could have a large impact on saving the oak trees.

Read more about the Goldspotted oak borer at the UC Cooperative Extension's website: http://ucanr.org/sites/gsobinfo/

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-firewood-movement-oak-infestation-san.html

Warming streams could end spring-run of Chinook salmon in California
September 2, 2011

A new study conducted by scientists at UC Davis, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the National Center for Atmospheric Researhc projects that "warming streams could spell the end of spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in California by the end of the century." By making a model of the Butte Creek watershed, the researchers tested "the effect of different water management strategies on the fish [and] fed in scenarios for climate change out to 2099...." The models showed that maintaining current water management strategies would result in a die-out of the fish in almost all scenarios, because "streams became too warm for adults to survive the summer to spawn in the fall."

From the article:

The only option that preserved salmon populations, at least for a few decades, was to reduce diversions for hydropower generation at the warmest time of the year.

"If we leave the water in the stream at key times of the year, the stream stays cooler and fish can make it through to the fall," Thompson said.

Summer, of course, is also peak season for energy demand in California. But Thompson noted that it might be possible to generate more power upstream while holding water for salmon at other locations.

Full article: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2011/09/02/warming_streams_could_be_the_end_for_salmon.html

CITATION: Thompson LC, et al. 2011. Water management adaptations to prevent loss of spring-run Chinook salmon in California under climate change. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000194

Sri Lanka survey finds more elephants than expected
September 2, 2011

A three-day survey where volunteers counted elephants at water sources has found 5,879 elephants living in Sri Lanka, of which 1,100 were baby elephants. The previous estimate was 5,350 elephants living in the country.

From the article:

This was the first count since Sri Lanka's military defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009.  The end of the nearly three decade-long conflict made wildlife sanctuaries and jungles in former war zones more accessible to officials.

Some 12,000 elephants roamed Sri Lanka in 1900, but their numbers have dwindled due to poaching and loss of habitat.

For more information about the survey: http://www.dwc.gov.lk/

Full article: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Sri-Lanka-Survey-Finds-More-Elephants-Than-Expected-129086673.html

Denver Botanic Garden celebrates Día de los Muertos
September 4, 2011

The Denver Botanic Garden will be celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on Saturday, October 29, from 5-8 pm. There will be “live entertainment, artists, dancers, a sugar skull-making area and a papel picado-making are.” Guests can also get their faces painted for free and have their photos taken. The cost of admission is: $8 Adults, $7 Members/Students/Seniors, $6 Children, $5 Member Children. Visitors will receive $1 off the price of admission if they come in costume and with a painted skeleton face.

Full announcement: http://gardennews.biz/?id=7593

Proposed policy targets nearly 90 invasive plants in Encinitas
September 4, 2011 By Barbara Henry

A citizen-sponsored committee in Encinitas has put forth a draft invasive plant list that targets nearly 90 non-native plant species. The proposed policy is currently being reviewed by new City Manager Gus Vina before it is presented to the City Council. While proponents of the measure state that such a policy is necessary to protect the local habitat, some area growers think that the list is too inclusive and want commonly used landscape plants such as oleander, echium, and the Canary Island date palm removed from the list.

From the article:

The proposed city policy would require Encinitas to actively combat unwanted non-native invaders in its open-space areas, gradually remove them from city parkland, and ban developers from planting them around new housing projects.

Homeowners who have some of these species of ill repute wouldn't have to yank them out unless they seek city permission for a large structural addition to their home or other major changes to their property, the draft policy states.

The proposed policy also mentions that the state spends $85 million a year to fight unwanted, non-native plants, particularly ones that invade waterways and the riparian areas that surround them.

Efforts to control non-native plants in north coastal San Diego County have totaled $4.5 million over a five-year period, the report states.

Some of the plants that both sides agree should not be banned from use in Encinitas are pampas grass and Arundo, both of which spread quickly and are highly flammable.

The proposed list can be viewed in full at the city’s website: http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=677744&&&dbid=0

Full article: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/encinitas/article_a2a5b86c-dcbd-5c5d-8f2a-fa7baf2c3712.html#ixzz1XJr0UKby

Cincinnati Zoo’s Plant Trials Day shows off its horticulture
September 4, 2011 By Matt Cunningham

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens held its first Plant Trials Day on Thursday, showcasing the organization’s horticulture department and Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife Plant Researchers.

From the article:

The event included lectures and seminars on rare plants and plant propagation, and Steve Foltz, the zoo’s director of horticulture, said the event showcased a very active, but little known, side of the zoo’s mission.

“We probably have one of the best horticulture crews in the region,” Foltz said.

He explained that his team, which maintains the zoo’s lush gardens and planters, does much more than grab convenient plants off garden center shelves for decoration. The team uses planters to test — or ‘trial’ — various plant strains to see how they grow and perform in the Cincinnati climate.

CREW plant scientists also highlighted their work with reintroducing rare plants into their native habitats.

Full article: http://www.journal-news.com/news/hamilton-news/zoos-plant-trials-day-will-show-off-its-horticulture-1245665.html

First stem cells from endangered species
September 5, 2011

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have used normal skin cells to produce "the first stem cells from endangered species." Working with the genetics division at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and using cell lines stored in the Frozen Zoo, the researchers were able to turn skin cells from endangered species into pluripotent stem cells.

From the article:

[Dr. Oliver Ryder, director of genetics at ICR,] suggested two species for initial work. The first was a highly endangered primate called a drill that he chose because of its close genetic connection to humans, and because in captivity the animals often suffer from diabetes, which researchers are working to treat in humans using stem cell-based therapies.

The northern white rhinoceros was the second candidate. Ryder chose this animal because it is genetically far removed from primates, and because it is one of the most endangered species on the planet. There are only seven animals still in existence, two of which reside at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The researchers were surprised to find that they were able to induce pluripotency for the drill and rhino by using "the same genes that induce pluripotency in humans," rather than having to isolate "genes from animals closely related to the endangered species." While the new stem cell technology may be used to help treat diseases in endangered animals such as diabetes, there is also the potential for increasing the genetic diversity of animals of which there are very low numbers of individuals. If scientists are able to create sperm or egg cells from stem cells, "scientists could take skin cells in the Frozen Zoo from long dead animals, induce pluripotency, trigger differentiation into sperm cells, and then combine these with a living animal's eggs through in vitro fertilization," thereby increasing the genetic diversity of the breeding population.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110904140411.htm

CITATION: Ben-Nun IF, et al. 2011. Induced pluripotent stem cells from highly endangered species. Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.1706

North Carolina Zoo leads effort to raise funds for Tripoli Zoo
September 5, 2011

The North Carolina Zoo, in collaboration with AZA, WAZA, and others, “is leading an effort to provide funds to assist animals in the Tripoli Zoo in the capital city of war-torn Libya.” The zoo is hoping to raise up to $100,000 that would go towards feeding the animals. Reports last week showed that the Tripoli Zoo’s animals were severely lacking food and water, although water has now been supplied to the animals. However, there is only enough food to feed the animals for a week without additional outside funding. Dr. David Jones, the director of the North Carolina Zoo, has previously helped with efforts to assist the Kabul and Baghdad Zoos in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From the article:

Coverage has indicated that the zoo’s buildings and infrastructure remain in fairly good condition, unlike the war damage to zoos in Kabul and Baghdad. Electricity is also reportedly available at the zoo, although service has been lost intermittently. But there are no immediate plans to send personnel into Tripoli due to the remaining concern over security, Jones said.

To help the fund-raising effort, send contributions marked for the “Tripoli Zoo” to: N.C. Zoo Society, 4403 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, N.C. 27205. In addition, donations via credit card can be made beginning Thursday, September 8, on the Zoo Society’s website at www.nczoo.com.

Full announcement: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=20907

Illegal sales of diclofenac threaten vultures in India
September 5, 2011 By Natasha Gilbert

Although the Indian government banned sales of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac for veterinary use in 2006, a new study shows that pharmacies are circumventing the ban and selling the drug illegally. The drug was first banned after it was found that vultures who fed on carcasses of cattle that were treated with the drug were being poisoned, leading to a steep decline in vulture population numbers. However, the drug can still be manufactured for use in humans, and some pharmacies are selling this version to people for use in livestock.

From the article:

The team undertook surveys of more than 250 veterinary and general pharmacies in 11 Indian states between 2007 and 2010. Diclofenac was sold in 36% of pharmacies, with up to 45% of investigated pharmacies selling the drug in western and central Indian states.

And although a previous study found that "cattle carcasses in India contaminated with the drug declined by over 40% between 2006 and 2008," there is still enough in use that could drive vultures to extinction.

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/09/illegal_drug_sales_threaten_vu.html

CITATION: Cuthbert RJ, et al. 2011. Assessing the ongoing threat from veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to Critically Endangered Gyps vultures in India. Oryx 45(3):420-426. doi:10.1017/S0030605311000135

Encyclopedia of Life catalogues more than one-third of Earth’s species
September 5, 2011 By Damian Carrington

The Encyclopedia of Live (EoL), which aims to provide a "webpage for every species," has now created pages for 750,000 species, or more than one-third of the planet's 1.9 million known species. It includes multimedia content and scientific information from 180 content partners and also pages created by members.

From the article:

The EoL's directors say they want it to become a microscope in reverse, or "macroscope", helping users discern large-scale patterns. By aggregating information for analysis, they say the EoL could, for example, help map vectors of human disease, reveal mysteries behind longevity, suggest substitute plant pollinators for a growing list of places where honeybees no longer provide that service, and foster strategies to slow the spread of invasive species.

Founded in 2007, the EoL had 30,000 species pages by the beginning of 2008, making the new version a huge expansion. Renowned the Harvard University biologist Edward O Wilson, one of the driving forces behind the EoL, said the new site "opens EoL's vast and growing storehouse of knowledge to a much larger range of users, including medicine, biotechnology, ecology, and now increasingly the general public".

Although the EoL has pages in place for more than 1 million additional species, a recent estimate published in last month's PLoS Biology estimated that there are 8.7 million species on Earth, meaning that the EoL will need to expand as more and more species are discovered.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/05/encyclopedia-life-earth-species

Giant saltwater crocodile captured in Philippines
September 6, 2011

After a three-week search, villagers and hunters have captured a one-tonne (approx. 2,240 pounds) saltwater crocodile measuring 20 feet in length. The crocodile is thought to have attacked and killed two people. Phillipine officials think that it may be the largest crocodile ever captured alive in the country, although they are still searching for an even larger crocodile. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest saltwater crocodile ever caught was in Australia, measuring 5.48 meters (approx. 18 feet).

From the article:

The wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who has hunted "nuisance crocodiles" for 20 years and led the team behind the capture in Bunawan, said a search was under way for a larger crocodile he and villagers have seen roaming in the farming town's marshy outskirts.

"There is a bigger one and it could be the one creating problems," Sumiller told the Associated Press. "The villagers were saying 10% of their fear was gone because of the first capture," Sumiller said. "But there is still the other 90% to take care of."

Crocodiles are protected under Philippine laws, with poachers facing jail time and fines if they are caught. The captured crocodile will now be moved to an ecotourism park in order to "increase villagers' and tourists' awareness of the vital role the dreaded reptiles play in the ecosystem."

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/06/giant-crocodile-captured-philippines-bigger

Proposed safe harbor agreement for California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, Smith's blue butterfly, and Yadon's piperia
September 7, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 173
FWS-R8-ES-2011-N163; 81440-1113-0000-F3

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received, from the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (Applicant), an application for an enhancement of survival permit for the federally threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and federally endangered Smith's blue butterfly (Euphilotes enoptes smithi) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This permit application includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) between the Applicant and the Service. The Agreement and permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: To ensure we are able to consider your comments, please send them to us by OCTOBER 7, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The documents are available on our Web site: http://www.fws.gov/ventura. A limited number of printed copies are available by request. You may request documents or submit comments by any of the following methods.
E-mail: fw8SHA_palocorona@fws.gov. Include "Palo Corona SHA'' in the subject line of the message.
U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office; 2493 Portola Road, Suite B; Ventura, CA 93003.
Fax: Attn: Field Supervisor, (805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Morrissette, Safe Harbor Coordinator, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at the address above or by telephone at (805) 644-1766.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-07/pdf/2011-22793.pdf

Przewalski's horse has ancient origins and high genetic diversity, new study finds
September 7, 2011

Abstract from the article:

An endangered species of horse -- known as Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) -- is much more distantly related to the domestic horse than researchers had previously hypothesized, reports a team of investigators led by Kateryna Makova, a Penn State University associate professor of biology. The scientists tested the portion of the genome passed exclusively from mother to offspring -- the mitochondrial DNA -- of four Przewalski's horse lineages and compared the data to DNA from the domestic horse (Equus caballus). They concluded that, although previous scientists had assumed that Przewalski's horse and the domestic horse had diverged around the time that horses were domesticated -- about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago -- the real time of the two species' divergence from one another is much more ancient. The data gleaned from the study also suggest that present-day Przewalski's horses have a much more diverse gene pool than previously hypothesized. The new study's findings could be used to inform conservation efforts to save the endangered horse species, of which only 2,000 individuals remain in parts of China and Mongolia, and in wildlife reserves in California and the Ukraine. The paper will be published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.

Continue reading: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-endangered-horse-ancient-high-genetic.html

CITATION: Goto H, Ryder OA, Fisher AR, Schultz B, Pond SK, Nekrutenko A, Makova KD. 2011. A massively parallel sequencing approach uncovers ancient origins and high genetic variability of endangered Przewalski’s horses. Genome Biology and Evolution. doi:10.1093/gbe/evr067

South African game farm applies chemical to rhino horns to stop poachers
September 7, 2011

The Rhino and Lion game reserve in South Africa "has developed a treatment for rhino horns that is safe for the animals but causes convulsions and headaches to people who consume them...."

From the article:

The potion is a mixture of drugs used to kill parasites on the rhinos, and includes a dye that turns even finely ground horns neon pink when seen by airport scanners, Rhino and Lion Reserve spokeswoman Lorinda Hern told national news agency SAPA.

"The chemicals have the dual threat of keeping away both natural and human parasites... and last for three to four years," she said. The treatment has been tested on rhinos at the park outside Johannesburg, she said.

Since the start of 2011, 279 rhinos have been poached at parks across South Africa, compared to just 13 cases in 2007. The increase in poaching is driven by the demand for the horns in use in Asian traditional medicines.

Full article: http://news.yahoo.com/africa-poaching-fight-chemical-makes-rhino-horns-toxic-165323715.html

Toledo Zoo's Senior Discovery Days
September 7, 2011

The Toledo Zoo will be hosting Senior Discovery Days on Tuesdays throughout September and October. Guests 60 and older can attend guided tours of the zoo's Works Progress Administration-era buildings, play games of bingo, listen to big band music and enjoy games of mini golf. On the weekdays, the zoo will offer senior guests "free parking in the Anthony Wayne Trail lot, free fresh-brewed coffee and a mini-muffin in the zoo's North Star Trading Post and more." On Septemer 20, the zoo and the Area Office of Aging are hosting Senior Safari, an event that includes health screenings, exercise and safety tips and free lunch at the zoo's Nairobi Pavilion.

Full article: http://www.thenews-messenger.com/article/20110907/NEWS01/109070319/Toledo-Zoo-having-Senior-Discovery-Days-starting-Tuesday

Basketball legend Bill Walton joins Plaza de Panama team
September 7, 2011 By Gene Cubbison

Bill Walton, a San Diego native and ex-basketball player, has joined the list of supporters for the plan that would remove automobile traffic from Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama. Walton grew up playing basketball in the Park's Muni Gym and still bikes and walks there "virtually every day." He is now one of the tour guides from the Plaza de Panama Committee who will be giving "late-morning walking tours of the area on the third Saturday of every month." The proposed plan from the committee seeks $25 million to restore the Plaza in time for the centennial celebration of 1915's Panama-California Exposition; the committee is led by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. A memo of understanding was recently signed between the Panama Committee and the City of San Diego, although local group Save Our Heritage Foundation has filed suit against the City to "set aside" the MOU.

Full article: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Basketball-Star-Bill-Walton-Joins-Plaza-de-Panama-Team-129418458.html

Texas wildfire destroys structures, habitat of endangered Houston toad at state park
September 7, 2011 By Jim Forsyth

The Bastrop County Complex fire which has been burning east of Austin, Texas, has caused major damage at the Bastrop State Park. Over 90 percent of the park's 5,900 acres have been damaged, with "two Depression-era scenic overlook structures and a 1930s rain shelter" being destroyed.

From the article:

In addition, the park was the "final stronghold" of the endangered Houston Toad (Bufo houstonensis) -- the first amphibian to be granted protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, said Mike Cox of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"We have great concern about it," Cox said. "It will be a while before our biologists can actually get in there and do an assessment to see if our worst fears were realized."

Park officials are not sure when the park will reopen.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/07/us-wildfires-historic-texas-idUSTRE7867BW20110907

La Niña climate event returning, forecasters say
September 8, 2011

Forecasters from the federal Climate Prediction Center are saying that La Niña climate patterns will be re-emerging and continuing into the winter. The climate phenomenon, in which "cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean...often results in drier-than-usual conditions across the southern tier of the United States and wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley," contributed to extreme weather in the first half of 2011. If the forecasts turn out to be true, this would mean continued dry weather for already "drought-ravaged south central states" like Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/08/la-nina-climate-event-returning-forecasters-say/

USFWS proposes to list Franciscan manzanita as endangered
September 8, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 174
FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049; MO 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list Arctostaphylos franciscana (Franciscan manzanita), as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate critical habitat. After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing A. franciscana as an endangered species under the Act is warranted. Accordingly, we herein propose to list A. franciscana as an endangered species pursuant to the Act. This proposed rule, if made final, would extend the Act's protections to this species. We believe that critical habitat is not determinable at this time due to lack of knowledge of what physical and biological features are essential to the conservation of the species, or what other areas outside the site that is currently occupied, may be essential for the conservation of the species. The Service seeks data and comments from the public on this proposed listing rule and whether the designation of critical habitat for the species is prudent and determinable.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before November 7, 2011. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Keyword box, enter FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side 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 "Send a Comment or Submission.'' (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2010-0049; 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: Karen Leyse, Listing Coordinator, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; by telephone at 916-414-6600; or by facsimile at 916-414-6712.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-08/pdf/2011-22990.pdf

How the mole got its twelve fingers
September 7, 2011

A team of researchers from the University of Zurich have discovered how an extra thumb develops in moles. While most animals with paws have ten fingers, moles normally have an extra thumb, which aids digging. Studying the molecular-genetic origin of this extra thumb, they learned that it “develops later and differently during embryogenesis than the real fingers” and does not have moving joints.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714072413.htm

CITATION: Mitgutsch C, et al. 2011. Circumventing the polydactyly 'constraint': the mole's thumb. Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0494

Scientists creating 'atlas' of atmosphere
September 7, 2011 By Ed Joyce

After three years of research, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have produced a map of greenhouse gases and partides from the Arctic to the Antarctic as part of a project named HIPPO.

From the article:

HIPPO, which stands for HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations, brings together scientists from organizations across the nation, including NCAR, Harvard University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Miami and Princeton University.

"With HIPPO, we now have views of whole slices of the atmosphere," said Steven Wofsy, HIPPO principal investigator and atmospheric and environmental professor at Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "We've been quite surprised by the abundance of certain atmospheric components and the locations where they are most common."

This research should guide scientists studying greenhouse gases, seasonal CO2 emissions, and black carbon partides.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/07/ucsd-and-other-scientists-creating-atlas-atmospher/

USFWS plan aims to reduce bird, wind turbine conflicts from Gulf of Mexico to Canadian border
September 7, 2011 By Mark Collette

A group of wind industry leaders is creating a plan to “protect threatened and endangered birds from wind turbines across a broad swath of the United States, from the Coastal Bend to Canada.” The plan would create guidelines for wind farm development along this 200-mile-wide migratory flyway. The plan may include "...setting aside conservation easements as protective rest stops for migrating birds, out of the way of turbines, or siting a wind farm away from bird habitats." The whooping crane (Grus Americana), interior least tern (Sternula antillarum), piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) are species of the greatest concern in the flyway area. 

Information: www.fws.gov/southwest/es/wind.html

Full article: http://www.caller.com/news/2011/sep/07/new-plan-aims-to-reduce-bird-wind-turbine-from/

Male hummingbirds make "shrieking" sound with their tail feathers
September 8, 2011 By Daniel Strain

A new study determined how male hummingbirds make “sharp squeaks or trills” during mating season to attract females. The male hummingbirds fly high into the air then dive, and as they plummet, the air vibrates their tail feathers, producing noise.

From the article:

Male Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna), which look as if they're wearing bright-pink scarves, swoop at speeds over 20 meters per second, emitting a shriek like a startled rodent. In 2008, Christopher Clark, a physiologist now at Yale University, and colleagues first identified the source of the noise: the birds' tail plumage. When his team plucked the hummingbirds' thin, outermost tail feathers, the boisterous animals became as silent as stealth bombers.

This new study placed hummingbirds into a wind tunnel to study the noises they produced at different wind velocities. Each bird produced a signature flutter, which may have implications for studies of bird communication.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/09/dive-bombing-hummingbirds-let-th.html?ref=hp

CITATION: Clark CJ, Elias DO, Prum RO. 2011. Aeroelastic flutter produces hummingbird feather songs. Science 333(6048):1430-1433. doi:10.1126/science.1205222

Petrified Forest in Arizona adds 26,000 acres of private land
September 8, 2011 By Felicia Fonseca

More than 26,000 acres of formerly private ranch land will be added to Petrified Forest National Park, thanks to the culmination of long term negotiations with the owners. With this acquisition, the park now consists of over 130,000 acres, although the Bureau of Land Management still wants to aquire an additional 90,000 acres.

From the article:

"The opportunity to actually go out into an area that hasn't been worked before by other researchers, the opportunity to find things that are truly new to science - there's a very good chance of that, so it's pretty exciting," said Bill Parker, a paleontologist at the park. "I think we're definitely going to be able to find some things that are new out there that are really going to enhance the story of the park."

The ranch is a mix of grasslands that would be ideal for archaeological and wildlife finds, and badlands with fossils from the Triassic period that scientists say dates back 220 million years.

The park has been a source for new plant and animal species finds, with 90 new species discovered already, and scientists are looking forward to this additional new area for study. There is also potential for archeological studies.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-petrified-forest-acres-private.html

Symbiotic species reconnect across distances, study finds
September 8, 2011 By Ann Guy

In a study of coevolution, leafflower trees (Glochidion) and leafflower moths (Epicephala), two species that rely upon each other, were found to have separately colonized remote islands in the South Pacific. The leafflower trees and leafflower moths are commonly found in Asia and Australia, and this new finding contradicts the belief that such specialized species “cannot colonize remote islands.”

From the article:

"We found an unusual example of a mutualism that can be broken apart and actually puts itself back together," said study lead author David Hembry, graduate student in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. "Mutualisms are important because they are fundamental to ecosystem functioning. This is one reason they have received so much attention from biologists and environmental scientists in recent years."

..."It would seem difficult for the trees to successfully colonize these islands if they were dependent on the moths," said Hembry, who studies in the lab of Professor Rosemary Gillespie, director of UC Berkeley’s Essig Museum of Entomology. "If a seed arrived on a new island with a moth caterpillar inside, the caterpillar would mature into a moth in a few weeks, but the seed would need years before it could grow into a mature tree with flowers. The plants and moths would have to colonize the islands separately."

Unfortunately, the fact that this mutualism has been resilient in the past does not mean that it will continue to be so in the future.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-symbiotic-species-reconnect-distances.html

CITATION: Hembry DH, Okamoto T, Gillespie RG. 2011. Repeated colonization of remote islands by specialized mutualists. Biology Letters. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0771

Court approves endangered species settlement, USFWS must clear application backlogs
September 9, 2011 By Julie Cart

As a result of a federal judge’s ruling on Friday, 839 species that are candidates for Endangered Species Act protection will be moved from “regulatory purgatory” toward protection. U.S. Fish and Wildlilfe Service has four years to “clear the backlog of more than 850 plant and animal species that are in various stages of the process.”

From the article:

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.

The process of declaring species protected often lasted years, and this court ruling is intended to speed the process.

Full blog post: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/09/court-approves-endangered-species-settlement.html

New study shows switch from coal to natural gas will not "slow down climate change significantly"
September 9, 2011 By Deborah Zabarenko

Natural gas has been viewed as a ‘bridge fuel’ that would help move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, but a recent study indicates that more natural gas use would not slow down climate change significantly, and might produce leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas. While direct carbon dioxide emissions would be less with more reliance on natural gas, burning coal “releases lots of sulfates and other particles that block incoming sunlight and help cool the Earth.” 

From the article:

"It would be many decades before it would slow down global warming at all, and even then it would just be making a difference around the edges," he said.

A global, partial shift from coal to natural gas would speed up global warming slightly through at least 2050, even with no methane leaks from natural gas operations. If there were substantial methane leaks, the acceleration of climate change would continue through as late as 2140, according to Wigley's computer simulations.

This study indicates that previous thinking on the reduction of global warming through a shift in fossil fuel use may be wrong.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/09/us-climate-naturalgas-idUSTRE78876Z20110909

CITATION: Wigley T. 2011. Coal to gas: the influence of methane leakage. Climatic Change 108(3):601-608. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0217-3

Missouri Botanical Garden gets $529,000 federal grant
September 9, 2011

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s perimeter wall has been deteriorating since it was opened in 1859, and the awarding of a federal grant from the National Park Service through the Save America’s Treasures grant program for $529,623 will help with restoration. The grant stipulates that matching funds must be raised to support the project.

Full article: http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2011/09/09/missouri-botanical-garden-gets.html

Malayan tiger kills mate at El Paso Zoo
September 9, 2011

A female Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) named "Seri", on loan from the San Diego Zoo killed, a male tiger at a the El Paso Zoo. The male tiger, "Wzui", was also on loan from another zoo. Both tigers were at the El Paso Zoo " as part of the American Zoo Association's Species Survival Plan to aid in their conservation through captive breeding.” Keepers were surprised by the attack "as the two were playing together hours earlier." With only 500 Malayan tigers remaining the wild, they are a critically endangered species.

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/10/us/10brfs-tigerkills.html

Captivated by critters: Humans are wired to respond to animals
September 9, 2011

In a study of epilepsy patients, single neuron responses in the amygdala to images of “people, animals, landmarks and objects” indicate that people have a stronger response to visuals of animals than other stimuli.

From the article:

"Our study shows that neurons in the human amygdala respond preferentially to pictures of animals, meaning that we saw the most amount of activity in cells when the patients looked at cats or snakes versus buildings or people," says Florian Mormann, lead author on the paper and a former postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Biology at Caltech. "This preference extends to cute as well as ugly or dangerous animals and appears to be independent of the emotional contents of the pictures. Remarkably, we find this response behavior only in the right and not in the left amygdala."

Most studies of amygdala have focused on people and emotions, so this study adds to existing knowledge. A response to animals, which may be predators or prey, while not surprising, indicates more research is needed on phobias of animals.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110909091219.htm

CITATION: Mormann F, et al. 2011. A category-specific response to animals in the right human amygdala. Nature Neuroscience. doi:10.1038/nn.2899

Man fined $4,000 for damaging endangered western prairie fringed orchids in Sheyenne National Grasslands
September 10, 2011 By Kristen Daum

An employee of Super Sprayers, a West Fargo weed abatement company, while spraying roadside ditches also sprayed 197 western prairie fringed orchids (Platanthera praeclara) in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota. The western prairie fringed orchids are a protected species. In court, the owner of Super Sprayers was ordered to pay restitution of $4,000 to the U.S. Forest Service for the damage.

Full article: http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/333437/

Philippines urged to free giant crocodile
September 10, 2011

A 21-foot, 2,370 pound male saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) was captured in the Philippines, and its captors plan to use it as a tourist display once it has adapted to captivity. The crocodile is suspected of killing a local man who went missing in July and a 12-year-old girl in 2009. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are urging the Philippines to release the crocodile into the wild, away from human habitation.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-philippines-urged-free-giant-crocodile.html

Non-native insects have economic implications for local governments and homeowners
September 10, 2011

A new study focused on the economic impact of non-native insects. The researchers determined three ‘guilds’ based on insect feeding habits and selected insects from each group that were determined to be the most damaging species, in terms of economic impact. The insects selected were the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) in the borer guild, hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) in the sap feeder guild, and gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) in the foliage feeder guild.

From the article:

According to the study, more than 450 non-native insects are established in the United States. "This study underscores the fact that we all have a stake in environmental issues," according to Bob Haight, research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station. "The economic data shows that cities and homeowners have a strong interest in preventing the inadvertent import of non-native invasive species."

The overall cost for damages caused by these insects is estimated at over a billion dollars per year.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-local-homeowners-price-non-native-forest.html

CITATION: Aukema JE, et al. 2011. Economic impacts of non-native forest insects in the Continental United States. PLoS ONE 6(9):e24587. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024587

U.S. experiences second warmest summer on record: Texas has warmest summer on record of any state
September 10, 2011

Using records collected since 1895, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C. reports a number of climate records during this past year, including a record-breaking drought across the southern United States. “Excessive heat in six states -- Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana -- resulted in their warmest August on record.”

From the article:

Several major U.S. cities broke all-time monthly rainfall amounts during August. New York City (Central Park) measured 18.95 inches of rain, exceeding the previous record of 16.85 inches in 1882. In Philadelphia, 19.31 inches of rain was observed, besting the previous monthly record of 13.07 inches in September 1999.

Despite record rainfall in parts of the country, drought covered about one-third of the contiguous United States, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index indicated that parts of Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas are experiencing drought of greater intensity, but not yet duration, than those of the 1930s and 1950s. Drought intensity refers to the rate at which surface and ground water is lost, due to a combination of several factors, including evaporation and lack of precipitation.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110910134446.htm

New white monkey species found in Sri Lanka's rain forest
September 11, 2011

The Galle Wildlife Conservation Association has observed 30 white monkeys representing a new species in Sri Lanka. They “confirmed that the new species was not an albino of the common black monkey found in Sinharaja forest.” This monkey is a variation of the southern purple faced leaf langur (Trachypithecus vetulus). More research is needed to determine subspecies and habitat range.

Full article: http://www.colombopage.com/archive_11A/Sep11_1315723415KA.php

Sacramento Zoo opens renovated otter habitat
September 11, 2011 By Whitney Mountain

One of the Sacramento Zoo’s oldest and most popular exhibits, the North American river otter den, has been enlarged and improved. The pool is the only part of the original exhibit remaining, and now wrap-around glass walls allow guests closer contact with the animals. “With a new filtration system that helps workers keep the area clean, a new waterfall and a rock wall backdrop, and new tunnels, the otters will have a more natural setting to live in.”

For more information about the Sacramento Zoo and the new river otter exhibit, visit www.saczoo.org.

Full article: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/09/11/3900482/sacramento-zoo-opens-renovated.html

USFWS finds listing Franklin's bumble bee as endangered to be warranted
September 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 177
FWS-R1-ES-2011-0065; MO 92210-0-0008 B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Franklin's bumble bee (Bombus franklini) as endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 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 Franklin's bumble bee is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. 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.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before November 14, 2011. The deadline for submitting an electronic comment using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on this date. After November 14, 2011, you must submit information directly to the Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, below). Please note that we might not be able to address or incorporate information that we receive after the above requested date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods:
(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS-R1-ES-2011-0065, 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.'' Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.
(2) U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-2011-0065; 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: Paul Henson, State Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266, by telephone 503-231-6179, or by facsimile 503-231-6195.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-13/pdf/2011-23282.pdf

USFWS finds listing 32 Great Basin and Mojave Desert springsnails as endangered to be warranted
September 12, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 177
FWS-R8-ES-2011-0001; 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list 42 Great Basin and Mojave Desert springsnails as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We addressed 3 of the 42 petitioned species in a 90-day finding dated August 18, 2009, in which we found that substantial scientific or commercial information was presented indicating that listing may be warranted for those 3 species. In this finding, we find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing 7 of the remaining 39 may be warranted. In addition, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing may be warranted for 32 of the remaining 39 species. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating status reviews of these 32 species to determine if listing is warranted. To ensure that the status reviews are comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding these 32 species. Based on the status reviews, we will issue 12-month findings on these 32 species, which will address whether the petitioned actions are warranted, as provided in the Act. If an emergency situation develops for any of the 42 petitioned species that warrants emergency listing, we will act immediately to provide necessary protection.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct the status reviews, we request that we receive information on or before November 14, 2011. Please note that if you are using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below), the deadline for submitting an electronic comment is midnight Eastern Daylight Saving Time on this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information 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 FWS-R8-ES-2011-0001. 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: [FWS-R8-ES-2011-0001], 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: Jill Ralston, Deputy State Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1340 Financial Blvd, Suite 234, Reno, NV 89502, by telephone 775-861-6300, or by facsimile 775-861-6301.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-13/pdf/2011-23272.pdf

Young bats learn to hunt by "eavesdropping" on the sonar of older bats
September 12, 2011 By Victoria Gill

According to a recent study, young bats (Eptesicus fuscus) fly with more experienced bats and learn how to hunt from them. 

From the article:

[The researchers] trained 12 "demonstrator bats" to catch a mealworm suspended from the ceiling by a string. By repeatedly changing the location of the food item, the researchers trained the bats to actively hunt for it using their sonar or echolocation pulses. Twenty-two young "naive" bats were then brought into the experiment. Eleven of them were allowed to fly around the same room with trained demonstrators that hunted for the mealworm. The other half flew around the room with untrained bats. "When the naive bats then flew on their own, most of the animals that had previously flown with an experienced demonstrator knew how capture the mealworm," explained Dr Spanjer Wright. "None of the ones that flew with an untrained bat captured the worm."

The experienced bats emitted a high frequency buzz when they found prey, the younger bats flew close by and later were able to hunt on their own. This kind of social learning, which is not uncommon in other mammals, had not previously been “clearly demonstrated in bats.” 

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14854185

Signal from released emperor penguin lost
September 12, 2011 By Maev Kennedy

The fate of an emperor penguin that attracted international attention when he turned up in New Zealand is unknown. He had been turned loose to return to Antarctica with a tracker device attached to his body. No signal from the tracker has been received since last week, when the penguin, dubbed Happy Feet, should have been halfway to Antarctica.

From the article:

The three-and-a-half-year-old Happy Feet was found emaciated and exhausted on a beach near Wellington in mid-June, only the second emperor ever recorded in New Zealand.

He was nursed back to health at Wellington zoo, undergoing surgery to remove several kilos of sand he had swallowed having apparently mistaken it for snow. The zoo's visitor numbers doubled as people tried to catch one of his rare public appearances.

Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/12/happy-feet-penguin-tracker-silent

Arctic sea ice drops to record low
September 12, 2011 By Quirin Schiermeier

Using high-resolution microwave data, scientists at the University of Bremen in Germany have determined that the level of Arctic sea ice has dropped to a new low, 27,000 square Kilometers below the last record low of 2007.

From the article:

Increased sea ice melt is an unerring indicator of climate change. With ice cover now also thinner than in previous decades, there is “a greater potential for late season ice-loss, caused by warm water melting ice from below or winds that push the ice together”, say scientists with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/09/arctic_sea_ice_drops_to_record.html

Brazil to compensate poor for environmental protection
September 12, 2011 By Karimeh Moukaddem

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has introduced a new program called Bolsa Verde (Green Allowance), that will pay “R $300 (U.S. $180) every three months to caboclo families (traditional riverine people) living in Brazil's national forests or sustainable extractive reserves who currently have monthly incomes below R$70 (U.S. $40).” To receive the allowance, the families must promise not to illegally cut trees or poach. Satellite technology will be used to monitor the land surrounding families who will receive the Green Allowance. Indications of illegal activity will result in a loss of benefits.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0912-bolsa_verde_moukaddem.html

Lumberjack invasion spurs cross-border contact between native villages
September 12, 2011 By Scott Wallace

Ashéninka natives from Peru and Asháninka tribesmen from neighboring Brazil are working together to combat illegal logging.  Using hand-held GPS devices, the native tribesmen have been patrolling the border between Peru and Brazil, reporting exact locations where evidence of logging has occurred. Mahogany and cedar, both endangered and protected hardwoods, are among the trees being cut down. Brazilian authorities have promised to follow up with aerial surveillance and increased border patrols.

Full article: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/12/loggers-and-natives-face-off-in-the-borderlands-2/

New study examines pollination of orchids by plants and animals
September 13, 2011

In a study of 52 orchid species in South Africa, researchers are learning ways in which mutualism between orchids and animal or plant pollinators affect speciation.

From the article:

Their results, published in an e-article of The American Naturalist, showed that recently diverged orchid species either use a variety of different pollinators, or place pollen on different parts of the same pollinator, consistent with the theory of pollination-mode shifts in speciation. In contrast, fungal partners are conserved between closely related species, and orchids recruit the same fungal species even when transplanted to different areas. However, co-occurring orchid species tend to use different fungal partners, consistent with their expected role in reducing competition for nutrients.

Their findings indicate that mutualism can play different roles in speciation.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-orchids-successful.html

CITATION: Waterman RJ, et al. 2011. The effects of above- and below-ground mutualisms on orchid speciation and coexistence. American Naturalist 177:E54.

New software used in first global camera trap mammal study
September 13, 2011

Researchers at the Supercomputer Center in at the University of California, San Diego, using software they developed, participated in the “first global camera trap study of mammals, which made international headlines last month by emphasizing the importance of protected areas to ensure the diversity and survival of a wide range of animal populations.” They documented 105 species using almost 52,000 images from seven protected areas world-wide.

From the article:

Findings from the study – not only the first global camera trap mammal study but also the largest camera trap study of any class of animals – were published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Analysis of collected data has helped scientists confirm a key conclusion that until now was only understood through uncoordinated local study: that habitat loss and smaller reserves have a direct and detrimental impact on the diversity and survival of mammal populations.

The new software system called DeskTEAM allows field biologists to better process and manage digital images.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-software-global-camera-mammal.html

Torrey Pines beaches face risks from rising tides
September 13, 2011 By Mike Lee

As the oceans warm, expand, and coastlines recede, economists from San Francisco State University predict reduced tourism and a loss of around $1 million a year at Torrey Pines beaches, in addition to $350 million erosion damage to transportation arteries by 2100. The scientists looked at five coastal areas to predict economic damage from warmer temperatures. Areas in the study included “Ocean Beach in San Francisco County; Venice Beach and Malibu beaches in Los Angeles County; and Carpinteria beaches in Santa Barbara County.”

From the article:

If sea levels rise 4.6 feet by 2100, the latest report shows that Torrey Pines city and state beaches could see:

• $5 million in damages caused by a 100-year coastal flood, including damage to cars and roads.

• $99 million in tourism spending and local and state tax revenue losses (accumulated between now and 2100) caused by a narrower, eroded beach attracting fewer paying visitors.

• $20.2 million in habitat and recreation losses caused by erosion significantly reducing the beach area.

• $348.7 million caused by land, road and railway lines being lost or damaged by erosion and subsidence, including damage to the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor.

Officials in San Diego are taking these predictions seriously and considering alternative solutions.

Full article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/sep/13/torrey-pines-beach-faces/

Solar panel factory & power plant set for US-Mexico border
September 13, 2011 By Jill Replogle

For the first time, a Mexican firm, Baja Sun Energy, will manufacture solar panels and “build a solar electric plant to harvest energy from those panels in the desert near Mexicali, along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

From the article:

That’s just the first phase of a much bigger project, said David Tenney, chief financial officer of Silicon Border, which is part owner of Baja Sun. The company plans to eventually manufacture enough solar panels on a yearly basis to generate 100 megawatts of energy, and build solar farms capable of generating 150 megawatts.

Baja Sun Energy expects to employ 2,000 people during the first phase of the project.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/13/integrated-solar-plant-and-farm-planned-mexicali/

Illegal trade in Asia decimating pangolin populations
September 13, 2011 By Denis D. Gray

Pangolin anteater populations are being decimated by an Asian market for folk medicine ingredients and aphrodisiacs. The pangolin trade has been banned by CITES since 2002.

From the article:

"We are watching a species just slip away," says Chris Shepard, who has tracked wildlife trafficking in Asia for two decades. He says a 100-fold increase is needed in efforts to save the pangolin, sometimes described as a walking pine cone.

Poverty, corruption, a lack of international cooperation prevent full and consistent enforcement of endangered species protection laws.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-asia-shy-defenseless-anteater.html

Plant scientists summit to "draw up a 10-year plan for plant biology"
September 13, 2011 By Heidi Ledford

Hosted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the” first ever summit to map the future of US plant science” is planned for September 22nd and 23rd to encourage researchers to study emerging biofuel crops in a more systematic way. The meeting was the idea of Gary Stacey at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

From the article:

At the summit, Stacey aims to bring together academic and industry scientists along with representatives from funding agencies and growers' associations to draw up a ten-year plan for plant biology. On the meeting's agenda are topics from bioenergy and informatics to the field's grand, overarching goal of predicting how a plant with a given set of genes will fare in different environments. The resultant list of priorities should aid coordination across a diverse research community and help to target the funds it receives from an array of federal sources.

It is hoped that the summit will pull together representatives from funding sources, research, and business to create an overall plan and encourage stakeholder cooperation.

Full article: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110913/full/477259a.html

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo attempting to breed Southern white rhinos through AI
September 14, 2011 By Rebecca Morelle

As a result of poaching in South Africa, Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) populations have been decimated, their horns sold for medicine or ornaments. The population of this endangered species is not yet at levels considered self-sustaining in zoos, so each white rhino birth is important. At the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, natural conception between their two white rhinos is not an option, due to a foot injury suffered by the female. The zoo hopes to add to the captive population of this species through assisted reproduction, in

From the article:

Assisted reproduction in rhinos is a relatively new technique - it first took place in Hungary in 2006 - but is now being used more and more. And the team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Germany that pioneered the procedure are here to help with this rhino pair. Thomas Hildebrandt, Robert Hermes and Joseph Saragusty are something of a reproductive hit squad - flying all around the world to help animals conceive.

It is an unusual job, but it has taken a great deal of research to work out how to successfully perform artificial insemination on animals like rhinos.

Assisted reproduction is beginning to be seen as a conservation strategy and given how quickly species’ status can change due to illegal harvesting; this may become key in saving some species from extinction.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14839488

Selectively logged rainforests in Southeast Asia still maintain biodiversity
September 14, 2011 Rhett A. Butler

Despite logging for a few valuable tree species, forests in Southeast Asia maintain their biodiversity levels. A study of logged and unlogged forests in Malaysian Borneo, conducted by Brendan Fisher and others from Princeton, analyzed the number of birds and dung beetles, which are indicators of species diversity. While the value of the remaining timber fell up to 80% as a result of the logging, the reduction in biodiversity was less than a quarter.

From the article:

"Enlarging existing protected areas by acquiring logged forests can ensure larger, more viable populations of forest-dwelling species and reduce deleterious edge effects," write the authors. "Moreover, well-protected logged forests are likely to recover over time and therefore represent not only important current habitat for species, but also future habitat for species that require mature forests and cannot tolerate logged forests. For such species, maintaining connectivity between logged forests and unlogged forests is likely to be important in order to permit eventual dispersal into the recovering logged forest."

The findings are especially relevant in Asia because roughly 50 percent of forests in Malaysia and Indonesia are zoned for logging. While these "production forests" may be degraded, they do retain substantial amounts of biodiversity and provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, erosion control, and watershed maintenance.

These findings do not negate the importance of conservation efforts or indicate that logging protected areas is not damaging to the ecosystem.

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0914-logged_rainforests.html

CITATION: Fisher B, et al. 2011. Cost-effective conservation: calculating biodiversity and logging trade-offs in Southeast Asia. Conservation Letters (2011):1-8.

Invasive amphibians, reptiles in Florida outnumber world
September 15, 2011

Despite a Florida law prohibiting the release of non-native species without a permit, over the last 147 years, 137 non-native species have been introduced. The results of a 20-year study targets the pet trade as the biggest source of these invasive species of amphibians and reptiles.

From the article:

"Most people in Florida don't realize when they see an animal if it's native or non-native and unfortunately, quite a few of them don't belong here and can cause harm," said lead author Kenneth Krysko, herpetology collection manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. "No other area in the world has a problem like we do, and today's laws simply cannot be enforced to stop current trends."

Floridians have experienced some of the damage these animals can cause, from iguanas that destroy cement walls to Burmese pythons released in the Everglades that eat protected species. While the impact of many of the introduced species has not been determined, the study provides new information about how, why and when they entered the state.

This study provides baseline data that can be used to plan solutions to the problem, not only in Florida, but to solve similar problems globally.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915131604.htm

CITATION: Krysko KL, et al. 2011. Verified non-indigenous amphibians and reptiles in Florida from 1863 through 2010: outlining the invasion process and identifying invasion pathways and stages. Zootaxa 3028:1-64. Retrieved online: http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/list/2011/3028.html

Nile crocodile is actually two different species
September 15, 2011 By Deborah Braconnier

Using DNA samples, researchers from the Fordham University in New York have determined that the Nile crocodile is actually two different species, Crocodylus niloticus and Crocodylus suchus.

From the article:

The researchers, led by Evon Hekka, began this study when a colleague of hers, Michael Klemens from the Wildlife Conservation Society, sent her a DNA sample of some crocodiles that he had been in close contact with in an oasis in Ennedi Plateau, Chad. [Researchers from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research also contributed to the study.]

Hekka and her team began collecting various different Nile crocodile samples, including museum samples of some 2,000-year-old mummified crocodiles for a total of 180 different samples. It was determined that there was indeed two different species of crocodiles....

With this distinction between the two species, the evidence indicates that C. suchus is much rarer than was realized when both species were known as the Nile crocodile. There are implications for species protection.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-nile-crocodile-species.html

CITATION: Hekkala E, et al. 2011. An ancient icon reveals new mysteries: mummy DNA resurrects a cryptic species within the Nile crocodile. Molecular Ecology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05245.x

Post-Irene cleanup may damage environment
September 15, 2011 By Brian Mann

As a result of Tropical Storm Irene, large areas of ecosystem have been damaged through pollution and forces of nature. In addition to oil, chemical and sewage spills, the detritus of civilization washed into streams and rivers, while landslides and flooding changed stream and river channels. Now that cleanup efforts are underway, crews with bulldozers working rapidly to beat approaching winter weather. To speed this effort, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo temporarily suspended many of New York's environmental rules, shelving state laws protecting wetlands and scenic rivers.” Now conservationists are concerned about the impact on native species, including “rare strains of brook trout.” With the speed of the cleanup efforts and the relaxed ruling, there is a concern that habitat may be destroyed during these efforts.

Full article: http://www.npr.org/2011/09/14/140461854/post-irene-cleanup-may-damage-environment?ft=1&f=1025

New skin analysis test will help researchers determine wild animals' ages
September 15, 2011 By Katharine Gammon

The age of animals in a population is an important indicator of stability, and now a skin analysis test can be used to provide this information. This data is used to guide wildlife management decisions.

From the article:

“We never actually know the number of animals in a population, so we never know if populations are increasing or decreasing or stable,” said Randal Stahl, a researcher with the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colo. Stahl reported the design of the new test at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in August.

The test, based on an analysis of pentosidine, is being used on a trial basis on double-crested cormorants in the Great Lakes region. While age is important in understanding population demographics, data on birth and survival rates is also necessary. Other applications of the test may include invasive populations.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-wild-animals-age.html

Researchers analyze hormones in panda dung to learn more about reproduction
September 15, 2011 By Victoria Gill

Using giant panda (Ailrupoda melanoleuca) droppings collected from a population of 50-70 pandas in Foping Nature Reserve in China, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research have learned "important clues about the sex lives of these mysterious and endangered animals.” In addition to collecting hormone and DNA samples from the droppings, the researchers tracked the animals. Spikes in testosterone levels in the dung samples indicated that pandas may conserve their energy until they have found a female. Because the panda diet is nutritionally poor, the animals exhibit low levels of energy, and this may contribute to the failure to breed among captive pandas.The reputation pandas have for being “sexually incompetent” is not accurate, and in the wild, with ample supplies of food, they experience no problems. However, because testosterone is high energy, panda testosterone levels only surge when a female is present. This data may help make captive panda reproduction more successful.

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/14930876

CITATION: Nie Y-G, Zhang Z-J, Swaisgood RR, Wei F-W. 2011. Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone metabolites in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies. European Journal of Wildlife Research. doi:10.1007/s10344-011-0569-z

Feds say west coast loggerhead sea turtles endangered
September 16, 2011

Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) have been listed as threatened since 1978, and “the Center for Biological Diversity said the loggerheads have declined by at least 80 percent over the past decade.” In the Atlantic, they remain threatened, but on the west coast, where they are found off San Diego and Baja California, their numbers have been reduced to the point where they are considered endangered. One reason for the declining numbers is the increased human habitation along Japanese beaches, where the turtles nest and lay eggs before returning to the west coast. Fisheries, climate change and marine pollution also contribute to the declining population.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/16/feds-say-west-coast-loggerhead-sea-turtles-endange/

Endangered Species Permit applications
September 16, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 180
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N184; 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 October 17, 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).

Permit Applications

A. Endangered Species

Applicant: Graham Banes, Miami, FL; PRT-49805A
The applicant requests a permit to export biological samples obtained from captive-born and captive-held orangutans (Pongo spp.) held in zoos in the United States to the Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, for the purpose of scientific research.

Applicant: Nicole Smolensky, College Station, TX; PRT-47878A
The applicant requests a permit to import biological specimens of African dwarf crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis tetraspis) and slender snouted crocodiles (Crocodylus cataphractus) collected from the wild in Cameroon and Nigeria for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5-year period.

Applicant: Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles, CA; PRT 52827A
The applicant requests a permit to export eight live, captive-born komodo monitors (Varanus komodoensis) to Germany, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

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: Anthony Foyt, Hockley, TX; PRT-50926A
Applicant: Joseph Thompson, Atlanta, GA; PRT-47139A

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-16/pdf/2011-23775.pdf

Permits issued for endangered species and marine mammal activities
September 16, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 180
FWS-R9-IA-2011-N185; 96300-1671-0000-P5

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).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On the dates below, as authorized by the provisions of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended, and/or the MMPA, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), we issued requested permits subject to certain conditions set forth therein. For each permit for an endangered species, we found that (1) the application was filed in good faith, (2) The granted permit would not operate to the disadvantage of the endangered species, and (3) The granted permit would be consistent with the purposes and policy set forth in section 2 of the ESA.

Permit No. / Applicant / Receipt of application Federal Register notice / Permit issuance date

Endangered Species
15744A / San Diego Zoological Society / 76 FR 27660; May 12, 2011 / September 2, 2011.
30321A / Oklahoma City Zoological Park / 76 FR 20705; April 13, 2011 / July 22, 2011.
46316A / Lewis Metzger / 76 FR 39432; July 6, 2011 / August 15, 2011.
47120A / James Block / 76 FR 44352; July 25, 2011 / August 24, 2011.
46824A / Kendall Kilbourne / 76 FR 44352; July 25, 2011 / August 29, 2011.

Marine Mammals
770191 / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, North Florida Ecological Services Office. / 75 FR 9251; March 1, 2010 / August 30, 2011.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-16/pdf/2011-23776.pdf

SD Zoo helps endangered Hawaii crow population
September 16, 2011

The San Diego Zoo’s species recovery program hatched 20 endangered Hawaiian crow, or 'alala (Corvus hawaiiensis), raising 19 of them successfully. As a result, the number of these birds increased from 76 to 95, up from the 20 birds in existence in 1994. The ‘alala is considered extinct in the wild.

From the article:

“With the ‘alala population now on a stronger foundation, we are excited about the next phase of the species recovery program, with the goal of reestablishing the species within the Hawaiian forest ecosystem," said Richard Switzer, conservation program manager for the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.

Full article: http://www.kitv.com/news/29212187/detail.html#ixzz1YXDTllXI

New threat closes in on iconic Galapagos wildlife
September 17, 2011

West Nile Virus (WNV) poses a threat to the biosecurity of the Galapagos Islands. Scientists have discovered that a species of mosquitoes on the islands can transmit this virus. WNV usually infects birds, but can also infect mammals and reptiles.  While the virus has not yet reached the Galapagos, recent studies have determined that “the mosquito species Culex quinquefasciatus (also known as the Southern house mosquito) is hitching a ride onto the Galápagos on airliners. Culex species are well-known vectors of WNV elsewhere in the world, so their presence on the Islands has caused concern amongst the scientific community.”

From the article:

Prof Andrew Cunningham from ZSL says: "We now know that mosquitoes capable of carrying West Nile virus have a route onto the Galápagos, and once there, the virus could also spread into the local mosquito population. This means there is potential for large impacts on endemic species. There is no doubt that West Nile virus poses a serious threat to the survival of the Galápagos' iconic wildlife."

Increased research on the presence of WNV on the mainland and control measures to prevent the transport of insects on aircraft and ships is needed.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110916102406.htm

CITATION: Eastwood G, et al. 2011. West Nile Virus vector competency of Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes in the Galapagos Islands. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 85(3):426. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2011.10-0739

1st annual fall CSC snake count
September 17, 2011

The Center for Snake Conservation (CSC) will be holding the 1st Annual Fall Snake Count September 17 – 23, 2011. This coincides with Snake Week, a bi-annual seven-day event that promotes snake conservation. Peak snake movement periods occur in May and September, when volunteer snake observers participate by identifying and counting snakes over one or more days, helping researchers learn more about snake populations.

Full announcement: http://www.snakeconservation.org/snake-week-fall-2011---september-17-23/1stannualfallcscsnakecount

USDA Forest Service waives fees on National Public Lands Day
September 18, 2011

In recognition of National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24, the Forest Service will be waiving fees at many recreation sites. 

From the article:

“Public Lands Day provides a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to get out and enjoy our beautiful forests and grasslands,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “In many parts of the country, late September is the perfect time to view amazing fall colors as you get out and enjoy the woods.”

This year’s theme supports President Obama’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative as well as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside program. AGO helps to raise awareness about the challenges natural resources face today and the benefits public lands offer Americans. Let’s Move Outside promotes regular outdoor activity to help kids maintain a healthy weight, boost immunity and lower stress.

The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land and “maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.”

Learn more about National Public Lands Day

Full article: http://gardennews.biz/?id=7814&keys=FOREST-SERVICE-WAIVES-FEES

Pigeon "milk" contains antioxidants and immune-enhancing proteins
September 18, 2011

Unique in birds is the ability of some species to produce “milk” to feed their young. Pigeons, flamingos and male emperor penguins have this ability, and researchers have been using current technology to study the mechanism and chemistry involved.

From the article:

Lead author, Meagan Gillespie, says, "It is possible that if antioxidant and immune proteins are present in pigeon 'milk', they are directly enhancing the immune system of the developing squab as well as protecting the parental crop tissue". She continues, "This study has provided a snap-shot view of some of the processes occurring when 'lactation' in the pigeon crop is well established. Due to the unusual nature of 'lactation' in the pigeon it would be interesting to investigate the early stages of the differentiation and development of the crop in preparation for 'milk' production to further ascertain gene expression patterns that characterize crop development and 'lactation' in the pigeon." She concludes, "This mechanism is an interesting example of the evolution of a system with analogies to mammalian lactation, as pigeon 'milk' fulfills a similar function to mammalian milk".

This study provides information on a little-known biological phenomenon.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-pigeon-mechanisms-involved.html

CITATION: Gillespie MJ, et al. 2011. Histological and global gene expression analysis of the ‘lactating’ pigeon crop. BMC Genomics. In press.

Amateur botanists discover a genuflecting plant in Brazil
September 20, 2011

A new species of plant, Spigelia genuflexa, has been discovered in Brazil that bends down to deposit seeds on the ground, sometimes even burying them, a process called geocarpy. This is the same process used by the peanut plant, and is an adaptation to ephemeral environments.

From the article:

Amateur botanist Alex Popovkin knew right away that this was something brand new. He's inventoried, photographed and identified over 800 plant species so far on his property in Bahia, Brazil, one of the areas of the world with the highest biodiversity.

"It's taken me 30 years, from my days as a volunteer at the greenhouses of the Botanic Garden of the University of St. Petersburg, Russia, to realize my dream of living in the tropics and studying its plants up close," said Popovkin.

"It is very easy to think we have found and described most plant species of the world already, but this discovery shows that there are so much left out there without name and recognition," said botanist Lena Struwe of Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

The new discovery was a collaborative effort between many different parties.

Full article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/ru-abd092011.php

CITATION: Popovkin A, et al. 2011. Spigelia genuflexa (Loganiaceae), a new geocarpic species from northeastern Bahia, Brazil. PhytoKeys. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.6.1654

Online visitors can watch California condors living at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
September 20, 2011

Starting this Monday, a new webcam at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will give visitors close-up views of a California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) nest. This will allow viewing of condor courtship, egg incubation and hatching. The Zoo’s condor program has been extremely successful, breeding California condors since the 1980s. From a population of only 22 wild condors, “165 have been bred and 80 returned to their habitats.”

View the Condor Cam on the San Diego Zoo Global website.

Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/online-visitors-can-watch-california-condor-cam-at-san-diegos-safari-park/2011/09/20/gIQAZVHLiK_story.html

USFWS proposal to increase critical habitat for Chiracahua leopard frog
September 21, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 183
FWS-R2-ES-2010-0085; MO 922110-0-0009-B4

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the reopening of the public comment period on the March 15, 2011, proposed threatened status for the Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis) and proposed designation of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are proposing to revise the primary constituent elements (PCEs) and designate as critical habitat an additional 331 acres (133 hectares) for the Chiricahua leopard frog in Catron and Sierra Counties, New Mexico. We also announce the availability of a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment of the proposed designation of critical habitat for Chiricahua leopard frog and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule, revisions to the proposed rule, the associated draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment, and the amended required determinations section. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted, as they will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule.

DATES: We will consider comments received on or before October 21, 2011. Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. Any comments that we receive after the closing date may not be considered in the final decision on this action.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following methods:
(1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2010-0085, 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-R2-ES-2010-0085; 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: Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021; by telephone (602/242-0210), or by facsimile (602/242-2513).

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-21/pdf/2011-24045.pdf

Van Rossem's gull-billed tern will not be listed as endangered or threatened by USFWS
September 21, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 183
FWS-R8-ES-2010-0035; MO 92210-0-0008-B2

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list van Rossem's gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica vanrossemi) as endangered or threatened and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing van Rossem's gull-billed tern is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to van Rossem's gull-billed tern or its habitat at any time.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on September 21, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2010-0035. 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, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, California 92011. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning this finding to the above street address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Suite 101, Carlsbad, California 92011; by telephone at 760-431-9440; or by facsimile to 760-431-9624.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-21/pdf/2011-24048.pdf

Federal agencies determine Loggerhead sea turtles to be composed of nine distinct population segments
September 22, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 184
100104003-1068-02

From the announcement:

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: We (NMFS and USFWS; also collectively referred to as the Services) have determined that the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is composed of nine distinct population segments (DPSs) that constitute "species'' that may be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In this final rule, we are listing four DPSs as threatened and five as endangered under the ESA. We will propose to designate critical habitat for the two loggerhead sea turtle DPSs occurring within the United States in a future rulemaking. We encourage interested parties to provide any information related to the identification of critical habitat and essential physical or biological features for this species, as well as economic or other relevant impacts of designation of critical habitat, to assist us with this effort.

DATES: This rule is effective on October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at: National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910. You may submit information related to the identification of critical habitat for the loggerhead sea turtle by either of the following methods:
Mail: NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, Attn: Loggerhead Critical Habitat Information, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256.
Fax: To the attention of NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator at 301-427-2522 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator at 904-731-3045.
Instructions: All information received will be a part of the public record. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the public may be publicly accessible.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Schroeder, NMFS, at 301-427-8402; Sandy MacPherson, USFWS, at 904-731-3336; Marta Nammack, NMFS, at 301-427-8403 or Lorna Patrick, USFWS, at 850-769-0552 ext. 229.

Full announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-22/pdf/2011-23960.pdf

USFWS determines Casey's June beetle to be endangered
September 22, 2011 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 184
FWS-R8-ES-2009-0019; MO 92210-0-0009

From the announcement:

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine endangered status for Casey's June beetle (Dinacoma caseyi) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are also designating approximately 587 acres (237 hectares) of land as critical habitat for the species in Riverside County, California.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The final rule, final economic analysis, and map of critical habitat are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/carlsbad/. Comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing this final rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the 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.

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-2011-09-22/pdf/2011-24047.pdf

A biodegradable urn that will grow a tree in its place
May 2011 By Teodora Zareva

Excerpt from the article:

You don't find many designers working in the funeral business thinking about more creative ways for you to leave this world (and maybe they should be). However, Spanish designer Martin Azua has combined the romantic notion of life after death with an eco solution to the dirty business of the actual, you know, transition.

His Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose and inside it contains the seed of a tree. Once your remains have been placed into the urn, it can be planted and then the seed germinates and begins to grow. You even have the choice to pick the type of plant you would like to become, depending on what kind of planting space you prefer. 

More photos of the urn at Azua's website: http://www.martinazua.com/eng/design-nature/bios-urn/

Full article: http://bigthink.com/ideas/38299

Florida zoos adding ziplines for ‘nature walk in the trees’
September 19, 2011 By Frances Robles

Ziplines, which allow people to glide through a pulley system “up to 65 feet above ground” are becoming a popular attraction in zoos and theme parks.  The Brevard Zoo in Central Florida has recently opened their own zipline tour, named “Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures.”  The tour via zipline takes around three hours, includes a walk on suspended moving logs, and gives visitors closeup views of animals and places in the zoo that are not otherwise accessible.

From the article:

Zoo executive director Keith Winsten says the new attraction is an effort to lure young adults back to the zoo. Once they hit their tweens, Winsten admits that kids tend to roll their eyes at the idea of looking at animals.

“We’re trying to show people that nature is a fun place to be,” Winsten said, taking a moment to point out the alligators viewable from 40 feet up. “It’s a very hot trend. Florida came from behind the trend, and now has five ziplines up and running and more on the way.”

Florida EcoSafari at Forever Florida and Gatorland in Orlando are some of the other Florida attractions also offering the zipline tours. Thanks to Florida’s mild climate, the zipline attractions can operate year-round. [The San Diego Zoo Safari Park also offers a zipline entertainment experience called "Flightline".]

Full article: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/travelsmart/2011/09/19/florida-zoos-adding-ziplines-for-nature-walk-in-the-trees/

St. Louis Zoo launches Institute for Conservation Medicine
September 19, 2011

The Saint Louis Zoo plans to establish an Institute for Conservation Medicine that will “focus its research on diseases known to affect threatened and endangered wildlife, as well as how disease relates to domestic animals and public health.”

From the article:

“Many of these emerging diseases are now common household terms,” says Dr. Sharon Deem, director of the Zoo’s new institute. “Avian flu, West Nile virus, SARS, Ebola and monkeypox are all newsworthy today. Unfortunately, because these diseases may be transmitted from animals to humans, it is possible that wildlife may be seen as the ‘bad guys,’ threatening human health. In reality, wild animals are not the bad guys. Rather, growing human populations are moving into wilderness areas with their domestic animals and also trading illegally in wildlife, which may lead to an increase in infectious diseases.”

The institute will bring together the expertise of a number of different fields and will “study the interrelated nature of diseases in animals and humans in the context of environmental change.”

Full article: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=21100

Damage from Hurricane Irene at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
September 21, 2011 By Adam Rabiner

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Native Flora Garden sustained damage during Hurricane Irene on August 28th.  Now, more than three weeks later, the garden is still closed while cleanup and repairs are being conducted. This year marks the Native Flora Garden’s 100th anniversary, and certain events surrounding the celebration have been cancelled or modified due to the storm damage.

From the article:

The garden lost a grove of four 80-year-old American Persimmon trees that fell into the swampy bog. A Sweet-Bay Magnolia was crushed, a 50-year-old Beech tree snapped its top, a 10-foot-tall Sugar Maple split in half, a Red Oak ended up on Flatbush Ave., and the garden suffered additional collateral damage when a beautiful old wrought iron fence was also destroyed by fallen trees.

While the loss of trees is unfortunate, the result is the opening up of a heavily forested area and the potential to introduce different plant species.

Full article: http://prospectheights.patch.com/articles/creative-destruction-at-the-brooklyn-botanic-garden

SeaWorld performs hands-on therapy to once-stranded pilot whale
September 21, 2011

After a stranded female pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchu) was rescued and moved to SeaWorld Orlando, animal experts are providing physical therapy to treat scoliosis. The scoliosis developed after her rescue, preventing her from swimming normally. The National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that this whale is unable to survive in the wild, and will become part of the SeaWorld Orlando collection.

SeaWorld provides 24/7 animal rescue services, and since the park’s programs began over 45 years ago, they have rescued and cared for more than 18,000 animals.

Full article: http://www.cfnews13.com/article/news/2011/september/316425/SeaWorld-performs-handson-therapy-to-oncestranded-pilot-whale

Nine Grand Cayman blue iguanas born at San Diego Zoo
September 21, 2011 By Tony Perry

The San Diego Zoo has been participating in an international project to save the Grand Cayman blue iguanas (Cyclura lewisi), “one of the world's most endangered lizards.”  Their work in the past had resulted in only three or four hatchlings per year, but this past week, the zoo's Anne and Kenneth Griffin Reptile Conservation Center announced nine blue iguana hatchlings.

From the article:

Jeff Lemm, the zoo's research coordinator for lizards, credits the changes that he made for the younger of the center's two breeding females. She had never had a live hatchling. "I tweaked the nest situation," Lemm said. "She fell for it."

As this spring's breeding season had approached, Lemm was not worried about the male stud-lizards, Big Daddy and Bluey. But Lemm was unsure about a young, unnamed female selected as Bluey's mate. To provide her with motivation to lay eggs after she and Bluey got together, Lemm found a hollowed-out tree stump, filled it with soft, warm dirt and bathed it in warm light.

The female burrowed in and laid a clutch of eggs. Tension mounted as Lemm and others waited weeks for the results. "I saw the eggs and said, 'Please be fertile,' " Lemm said. "And when we got the hatchlings, it was beautiful. We were all very excited." Two of the eggs were fertile, and in the past week, out came two hatchlings.

The zoo’s older female iguana produced seven live hatchlings. In 2002, there were only a few dozen of the iguanas left in the wild, but since the start of the recovery program, over 500 of the lizards have been bred in captivity and released into the wild.
 
Full article: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/21/2417645/nest-efforts-in-a-large-scale.html#ixzz1YuX9sl8I

Study examining effectiveness of green roofs
September 21, 2011

In a study of green roofs, researchers looked at the growing medium, or substrate. The restricted access to water and nutrients, as compared to plants growing on the ground, “significantly affects plants' growth rates and chances of survival.”

From the article:

'You cannot make an exact copy of a ground-based habitat on a roof,' says Dr. Adam Bates, co-author of the research report published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

"Green roofs' limited substrate depth and their different micro-climate will always make them different from the ground. Careful design might make it possible to create habitats of equal wildlife value on a roof, and it is definitely possible to make green-roof habitats that are more valuable than a traditional non-greened roof; but green roofs will always be different."

By comparing the differences in results from planting seeds in beds on the ground and on roofs, researchers noted that “there was a much more marked variation between both green-roof treatments and the frames where substrate was laid over bare earth.” Additionally, they found that by using a deeper substrate on roofs, the number of colonizing plant species was reduced and the plants that grew on the roof closely matched those that the researchers originally planted. The authors of the study caution that people should carefully consider whether the large amount of resources needed to plant a green roof could be better spent on “other, cheaper, wildlife friendly alternatives [that] can offer the same or greater benefits to wildlife.”

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-green-roofs.html

CITATION: Olly LM, et al. 2011. An initial experimental assessment of the influence of substrate depth on floral assemblage for extensive green roofs. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2011.07.005

287 rhinos killed by poachers in South Africa this year, WWF says
September 21, 2011

The World Wildlife Fund reported that poachers killed 287 rhinos in South Africa this year.  The majority of the world’s rhinos live in South Africa, and the number of rhinos killed included 271 white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) and 16 endangered black rhinos (Diceros bicornis).

From the article:

South Africa has arrested more than 165 people in connection with rhino poaching this year, sending some of those convicted to prison for up to 12 years, according to the group. Eleven more poaching suspects are scheduled to go on trial in a South African court next week. They include veterinarians, safari operators and a pilot.

"South African authorities are taking rhino poaching very seriously and are beginning to dismantle the sophisticated criminal gangs that are behind the killings,” Joseph Okori, the fund’s African rhino program manager, said in a statement.

As the demand for rhino horns as medicinal ingredients remains high, poaching is likely to continue.

Full article: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/21/287-rhinos-killed-by-poachers-in-south-africa-this-year-world-wildlife-fund-says/

Melting Arctic ice allows separated population segments of whales to overlap
September 21, 2011 By Daniel Cressey

Researchers have determined that two bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) from two distinct populations have crossed paths, one from “the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population off Alaska and the other from the Baffin Bay-Davis Strait population near eastern Canada.”  Using satellite tags, they tracked the whales swimming in close proximity in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, staying in the same general area for two weeks.

Climate change and melting Arctic ice may create a shorter route for shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific, and may also lead to the interaction of species that have previously been separated. According to the authors, “Some of these exchanges may be harder to detect than bowhead whales, but the ecological impacts could be more significant should the ice-free Arctic become a dispersion corridor between the two oceans.”

Full article: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/09/_satellites_show_whales_wander_1.html

10 easy things you can do at home to protect endangered species
September 22, 2011

The Endangered Species Coalition Staff has created a list of ten things anyone can do to help protect endangered species.

Their list included:

1) Learn about endangered species in your area

2) Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space

3) Make your home wildlife friendly

4) Provide habitat for wildlife by planting native vegetation in your yard

5) Minimize use of herbicides and pesticides

6) Slow down when driving

7) Recycle and buy sustainable products

8) Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species

9) Report any harassment or shooting of threatened and endangered species

10) Protect wildlife habitat

Each suggestion is accompanied by more information and links to additional resources.

Full post: http://www.stopextinction.org/10athome.html

New map reveals Yasuni National Park in Ecuador as the most biodiverse place on Earth
September 22, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

The Yasuni-ITT Initiative, a plan to protect 200,000 hectares in Yasuni National Park in Ecuador from oil drilling and exploration, has spurred the publication of a new map of the park. Yasuni National Park includes “the most biodiverse ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, and maybe even on Earth.”

From the article:

The map shows that eastern Ecuador (the location of Yasuni) and northeastern Peru have the highest number of species in the hemisphere based on data on birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants. To highlight this point, researchers have found more tree species (655 to be exact) in a single hectare in Yasuni than in all of the US and Canada combined. Yasuni also contains the highest biodiversity of reptiles and amphibians in the world with 271 species. But bugs may win the day yet: according to entomologist Terry Erwin, a single hectare of rainforest in Yasuni may contain as many as 100,000 unique insect species. This estimate, if proven true, is the highest per unit area in the world for any taxa, plant or animal.

The plan is supported by a $3.6 billion fund created by international donors. This fund would support “renewable energy projects, as well as social programs, research initiatives, conservation, and reforestation projects.” However, there are some issues with the funding, and if Ecuador does not receive $100 million by December, the Initiative will be canceled and oil drilling will be allowed.
 
Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0922-hance_yasuni_map.html

Sierra Nevada red foxes are more common than once thought
September 22, 2011 By Louis Sahagun

The population of Sierra Nevada red foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) was believed to be almost extinct, with only 20 known animals in the Lassen Peak area. Recently, at least six of these foxes have been found south of Yosemite. As a result, biologists are increasing their study of the species, installing motion activated cameras to collect data. “A comprehensive population assessment may take several years to complete,” according to UC Davis biologist Jocelyn Akins.  Results of this assessment will guide protective wildlife management planning.

Full article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/09/sierra-nevada-red-foxes-more-common-than-thought.html

Zebras benefit grazing cattle
September 22, 2011 By Daniel Strain

Ranchers have long believed that wild grassland herbivores will compete with their domestic animals for food, and have taken measures to keep their herds separate from wildlife.  However, a recent East African study indicates that a mix of wild and domestic animals may be beneficial, especially when zebras are included. The scientists studied populations of cows grazing alongside wild animals, and cows grazing separately, learning that cows in the mixed grazing community gained weight faster. Zebras are able to eat tougher tall grasses, apparently exposing more edible grasses below, which then are available to the cows.

Implications for ranchers in Africa and the United States indicate that allowing wildlife and domestic animals to graze together may be beneficial.

Full article: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/09/want-fatter-cows-bring-in-a-zebr.html?ref=hp CITATION:

CITATION: Odadi WO, Karachi MK, Abdulrazak SA, Young TP. 2011. African wild ungulates compete with or facilitate cattle depending on season. Science 333(6050):1753-1755. doi:10.1126/science.1208468

Fears for koalas as study reveals ‘marked decline’
September 22, 2011

Habitat loss, drought, wildfires, dog attacks and car accidents are among the causes behind a decline in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population, and the Australian government is looking into declaring them a vulnerable species with legal protections.  

From the article:

Thought to number in excess of 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, there are now believed to be as few as 43,515 left in the wild, though their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.”

Groups in Australia's north were more endangered than those in the south, where they were so abundant in some areas food was running scarce, and the dangers varied from region to region, meaning there were "no easy solutions".

Some of the recommendations in a report commissioned by the Australian government include classifying the koala as vulnerable, mapping and monitoring existing populations, performing genetic research, establishing protected areas on government lands, commissioning disease studies, and managing the wild dog population.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-koalas-reveals-decline.html

Penguins can distinguish kin based on scent
September 22, 2011

Research on penguins by the University of Chicago and the Chicago Zoological Society indicate that birds use their sense of smell to recognize relatives and avoid inbreeding. Penguins were used because they live in large colonies composed of thousands of birds yet live in monogamous pairs, meaning that they have to search through many different individuals before they locate their partner. Other studies have shown that sea birds use their sense of smell to locate their “home territory”, but this is the first study that showed they could use smell to find their kin.

From the article:

Researchers took odor samples from glands near the penguins' tails, where an oil that the birds use for preening is secreted. They put the oil on cotton swabs and rubbed the odor inside dog kennels, similar to the enclosures penguins at a zoo use for their nests. They also put the odor on paper coffee filters and placed them under mats inside the kennels.

When the penguins were released to the area containing the kennels, the researchers found that penguins spent more time in the kennels with familiar odors. The penguins were able to distinguish between the odors of birds they spent time with and the odors of unfamiliar penguins.

These findings may help zoos in matching breeding bird pairs, and for helping make zoo habitat more appealing based on scent.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921172834.htm

CITATION: Coffin HR, Watters JV, Mateo JM. 2011. Odor-based recognition of familiar and related conspecifics: a first test conducted on captive Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti). PLoS ONE 6(9):e25002. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025002

Treating diabetes in dogs
September 23, 2011

Dogs as well as humans suffer from diabetes, and the treatment is essentially the same. Monitoring blood glucose levels in dogs determines the amount of insulin required, but this measurement has been difficult to determine accurately. Researchers have learned that a commercially available glucose level monitoring system used for humans can be applied successfully to dogs.

From the article:

Menarini Diagnostics has developed a system for the continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels in human patients. The system, known as GlucoDay, can measure glucose concentrations over a very wide range, which makes it potentially suitable for use in animals. Nadja Affenzeller and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna thus tested it in ten diabetic dogs, all of which were believed to be receiving appropriate insulin treatment. The system was found to be well tolerated and to work well under the test conditions, although one of the dogs lost the apparatus in the course of a fight and the system stopped working before the end of the monitoring period in two other cases.

Despite problems, the study indicates that none of the dogs was receiving ideal treatment.  The GlucoDay system provides more accurate information for determining insulin dosage or type of insulin. As a result of this study, treatment for diabetic pets may be improved to the level currently seen only for human diabetics.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-pets-sweet-diabetes-dogs.html

CITATION: Affenzeller N, Thalhammer JG, Willmann M. 2011. Home-based subcutaneous continuous glucose monitoring in 10 diabetic dogs. Veterinary Record. 2011. 169(206). doi:10.1136/vr.d4315

San Diego State gets federal boost for renewable energy in Imperial Valley
September 23, 2011 By Kyla Calvert

San Diego State University will use a $1.6 million grant to spur job creation and renewable energy research in the Imperial Valley, through the construction of a green energy research and training center.          

From the article:

Imperial Valley Dean David Pearson hopes the money will help transform the region from a poster child for the worst impact of the recession into a hub of the renewable energy revolution. The initial grant will bring in one proof-of-concept project for a private company and support outreach to more potential private partners. It will also fund the construction of a geothermal energy plant simulator for training purposes.

With an average of 345 sunny days per year, the renewable energy produced could be sold to San Diego.

Full article: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/23/san-diego-state-gets-federal-boost-renewable-energ/

Calgary Zoo and Toronto Zoo receive AZA’s 2011 top honors for North American conservation
September 23, 2011 By Amanda Chambers

Recognizing “exceptional efforts toward regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild,” the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) awarded its Top Honors for North American Conservation Award to the Calgary Zoo and the Toronto Zoo.  The award is in recognition of joint work on the Vancouver Island Marmot(Marmota vancouverensis)Recovery Program.

From the article:

The Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Team (VIMRT) was established in 1988 to develop and implement a Recovery Plan for the dwindling species, and in 1996 it was determined that captive breeding and reintroduction was the only solution to prevent extinction. The Toronto Zoo received the first six wild marmots to initiate the captive breeding component and Calgary Zoo and Mountainview Conservation Society soon joined the program. In 2001, the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre on Vancouver Island received the first captive born marmots from the zoo facilities to begin reintroductions to the wild.

In 2003, only 30 Vancouver Island Marmots existed in the wild. Thanks to this program, 375 marmots have been released into the wild, bringing the wild population up to an estimated 350.
 
Full article: http://www.zandavisitor.com/newsarticle-5370-Calgary_Zoo_and_Toronto_Zoo_Receive_AZAs_2011_Top_Honors_for_North_American_Conservation

Project Baseline will provide seeds for future evolutionary biologists
September 23, 2011 By Elizabeth Pennisi

A $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation will support "Project Baseline", in which evolutionary biologists will collect and bank seeds for use and study for as long as 50 years from now. The banked seeds will allow future scientists to compare these seeds with contemporary plants, providing data on the effects of global warming and other environmental impacts. While there are other seed banking projects already underway, such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, and the Millennium Project which is coordinated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, these seeds are being collected in order to provide a safetynet for biodiversity, rather than to be used in future experiments.

From the article:

As they developed the concept for Project Baseline, researchers came up with 34 target species, selecting primarily plants that are well-studied by ecologists and evolutionary biologists, common, and easy to grow, as well as some close relatives of those species. They chose ones with a variety of life history traits, such as flowering time or pollination strategy, and diverse roles in their ecosystems as well. The goal is to gather 50 seeds from 200 representatives of each species from each of 20 broadly distributed locations. At those locations, the researchers will gather seeds for about 50 other plant species to round out the collections with an additional 5 million seeds. They will go to national parks, reserves, and long-term research sites, where the likelihood of the plants still being there 50 years from now is high. “No other collection has done this,” Scheiner says.

Future work needs to be done to ensure continued support of Project Baseline.

Full article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6050/1693.full

Evolutionary tree of life for mammals greatly improved
September 23, 2011

Researchers representing University of California, Riverside and Texas A&M University have released a DNA matrix that includes representatives of 99 percent of mammalian families, ranging from early history of mammalian diversification to that of living mammals.

From the article:

"This is the first time this kind of dataset has been put together for mammals," said Mark Springer, a professor of biology at UC Riverside, who co-led the research project with William Murphy, an associate professor of genetics at Texas A&M. [Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research also contributed to the study.] "Until now, no one has been able to assemble this kind of matrix, based on DNA sequences from many different genes, to examine how the different families of mammals are related to each other. This dataset, with all the sequences we generated, provides a large and reliable foundation -- a springboard -- for biologists to take the next leap in this field of work. We can now progress from phylogeny that has representatives for all the different mammalian families to phylogenies that have representatives for genera and species."

The matrix will be expanded over the next two years to include a majority of living mammalian species.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922141907.htm

CITATION:  Meredith RW, et al. 2011. Impacts of the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution and KPg extinction on mammal diversification. Science. doi:10.1126/science.1211028

Nutrient Network challenges Grime's theory of relationship between species richness and site productivity
September 23, 2011

To answer the question of “why some habitats have many more plant and animal species than others,” a team of scientists sampled 48 sites on five continents. Their finding: "Our study shows no clear relationship between productivity and the number of plant species in small study plots," says Utah State University plant ecologist Peter Adler.

From the article:

"We challenged a prevailing model developed in the early 1970s by British ecologist J. Philip Grime," says Adler, lead author of the paper. "He proposed that the number of species rises then declines with increasing productivity."

So Adler and fellow ecologists formed the Nutrient Network, or "NutNet," an NSF Research Coordination Network dedicated to investigating biodiversity and ecosystem processes in grasslands around the world.

Based at the University of Minnesota (UMN), the network is funded by an NSF grant to network organizers and UMN scientists Elizabeth Borer and Eric Seabloom.

Using networks to coordinate research expands the level of findings beyond that possible in individual ecosystems, and consider other factors that impact biodiversity. This data will aid in predicting the impact of environmental changes.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922180031.htm

CITATION: Adler PB, et al. 2011. Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333(6050):1750-1753. doi:10.1126/science.1204498

Creeping, Crawling and Carnivorous Show at Albuquerque BioPark
September 24, 2011

Many unusual and dangerous amphibians, arthropods, reptiles and plants will be on display at the Halloween season Creeping, Crawling and Carnivorous Show at the Albuquerque, New Mexico, BioPark.  Some of the animals on display include giant walking sticks, tarantulas, scorpions, dart frogs, vipers, and Gila monsters.

From the article:

“Visitors can expect interactive learning stations and take-away projects,” said Tallie Segel, Interim Education Curator. “Drawing and painting with insects, like the cochineal scale insect that has traditionally been used for red dyes, is just one of many activities available during the show.”

For more information, visit www.cabq.gov/biopark or call (505) 768-2000.

Full article: http://www.aza.org/PressRoom/detail.aspx?id=21170

Remembering Nobel peace prize winner and environmental campaigner, Wangari Maathai
September 26, 2011 By Natasha Gilbert

Wangari Maathai, the founder of the "Green Belt Movement", has died at the age of 71 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Green Belt Movement is "Kenya's tree planting initiative...which aims to empower women and improve the quality of their lives through better access to clean water and firewood for cooking, while conserving the environment." More than 30 million trees have been planted through this initiative.

From the article:

Maathai, who was a veterinary scientist based at the University of Nairobi, won the Nobel peace prize in 2004 for her work in supporting democracy, human rights and the environment. She was the first African woman to win the accolade.

Maathai also served in Kenya’s parliament and was appointed assistant minister for environment and natural resources in 2002.

Announcing the award, the Nobel Committee said Maathai was “at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development.”

Full blog post: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/09/nobel_peace_prize_laureate_and.html

Moonlight Masquerade at Desert Botanical Garden
September 26, 2011 By Kellie Hwang

On Friday, September 27, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Ariona, will host its first Moonlight Masquerade to celebrate David Rogers' Big Bugs exhibit, "a collection of 11 giant sculptures of bugs made from fallen or found wood." Guests are encouraged to wear "bug- or butterfly-inspired masks" while they enjoy "the glowing decor, live music, gourmet food and cocktails...." The event will also feature performances by local bands, burlesque and cabaret routines, stilt walkers and contortionists, and acrobats. There will also be a "Do You Dare" station, where visitors "will be invited to snack on gourmet bug treats."

Full article: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/events/articles/2011/09/26/20110926moonlight-masquerade-desert-botanical-garden-big-bugs.html#ixzz1ZNT6zn35

Nest-building habits of southern masked weaver birds indicate that skills may not be innate
September 26, 2011

By studying the nest-building habits of southern masked weaver birds (Ploceus velatus) in Botswana, scientists discovered that "individual birds varied their technique from one nest to the next." Additionally, nest-building habits varied between different individuals, with some building nests "from left to right, and others from right to left".

From the article:

Researchers chose the colourful African bird because they build complex nests, which is potentially a sign of intelligence. More importantly, Weaver birds build many nests – often dozens in a season, allowing the team to monitor differences in nests built by the same bird.

Dr Patrick Walsh of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who took part in the study, said: "If birds built their nests according to a genetic template, you would expect all birds to build their nests the same way each time. However this was not the case. Southern Masked Weaver birds displayed strong variations in their approach, revealing a clear role for experience. Even for birds, practice makes perfect."

The authors of the study say that "their findings may help to explain how birds approach nest-building and whether they have the mental capacity to learn." Their findings contrast with the commonly-held belief that birds are born with the ability to build nests, rather than having to learn the skill.

Full article: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-09-feathered-friends-bird-brained.html

CITATION: Walsh PT, Hansell M, Borello WD, Healy SD. 2011. Individuality in nest building: Do southern masked weaver (Ploceus velatus) males vary in their nest-building behaviour? Behavioural Processes 88(1):1-6.

Following violent crackdown against protestors, Bolivia suspends Amazon road project
September 27, 2011 By Jeremy Hance

A project to construct a 190-mile highway through the Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park in the Bolivian Amazon has been suspended by Bolivian President Evo Morales after a police crackdown on protestors. The project, which had been in the planning stages for decades, was opposed by indigenous tribes and environmental groups, who "contend that the highway would do little for Bolivians, but only benefit Brazil as a route to the Pacific."

From the article:

The police reaction—which included tear gas, rounding up protestors en masse, and allegations of violence—resulted in several officials stepping down in protest of the government's handling. Some indigenous people marched 310 miles (498 kilometers) from the Amazon to La Paz to show solidarity against the road, saying they had not been consulted and the project would destroy vast areas of biodiverse rainforest.

President Morales said on television that he would turn over decision about the road projects to the two states impacted, Cochabamba and Beni. He condemned police action against protestors—made up largely of indigenous people and college students—and stated there would be an investigation into the matter. Still, officials under Morales were stepping down to protest the crackdown.

Officials within the government have all condemed the violence against protestors, although no one has claimed responsibility for "ordering the police to break up the march."

Full article: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0927-hance_bolivia_road.html

USFWS finds American eel may need protection
September 29, 2011

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a petition to list the American eel (Anguilla rostrata) as endangered. The fish, which lives in the waters off the eastern United States, spends most of its life in freshwaters although they spawn and die in the open ocean. Some of the risks which may drive the eels to extinction include "climate-related changes in the ocean" and an invasive parasite from Asia that interferes with the eels' buoyancy and balance.

From the article:

The American eel lives much of its life in freshwater. But it spawns hundreds of miles away from shore in the Sargasso Sea, a seaweed-choked area of the north Atlantic located between the Azores and the West Indies.

When the eggs hatch, it takes years for the larvae to float though the saltwater and reach the freshwater rivers, streams and lakes in the United States -- including the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin -- where they mature and reach lengths of up to three feet.

They remain here for between 10 to 40 years and then make their way back to the Sargasso Sea, where they spawn and then die.

In 2007, the USFWS declined to classify the species as endangered as they found that "while the American eel population was declining in some areas, the overall population was not in danger of extinction."

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/29/us-eels-endangered-idUSTRE78S38820110929