Back to the main page

Archives Of Animal Science Blog

Subscribe To Animal Science Blog RSS Feed  RSS content feed What is RSS feed?


July 11, 2006, 7:11 AM CT

Key Migrant In Yellowstone Ecosystem

Key Migrant In Yellowstone Ecosystem
A mammal that embarks on the longest remaining overland migration in the continental United States could vanish from the ecosystem that includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, as per a research studyby the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and National Park Service. No, it's not the bison, the grizzly bear, or even the wolf, but the pronghorn antelope, which travels more than 400 miles between fawning grounds and wintering areas. Second only to caribou in the Arctic for long distance migration in the Western Hemisphere, this isolated population and its ancient migration route could disappear because of continued development and human disturbance outside the parks as per the study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Biology Letters.

The study says that pronghorn have used the existing migration route in and out of the Yellowstone ecosystem for at least 6,000 years. Animals travel up to 30 miles a day, clambering over 8,500-foot mountain passes, and moving through bottlenecks now barely wider than a football field due to recent residential development. Increased petroleum extraction could further impact the migration route. Six of eight antelope migration corridors in and out of the Yellowstone ecosystem have already been lost.

"It's amazing that this marathon migration persists in a nation of almost 300 million people," said WCS researcher Joel Berger, the study's lead author. "At the same time, the migration is in real trouble, and needs immediate recognition and protection".........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 11, 2006, 6:59 AM CT

Midgets And Giants In The Deep Sea

Midgets And Giants In The Deep Sea This giant deep-sea isopod is an example of an animal that has evolved to a much larger size in deeper water.
How is the deep sea like a desert island? It sounds like a child's riddle, but it's actually a serious scientific question with implications for both terrestrial and marine biology. Biologists have long observed that when animals colonize and evolve on isolated islands, small animals tend to become larger while large animals tend to become smaller. Recent research led by MBARI postdoctoral fellow Craig McClain suggests that a similar trend affects animals as they adapt to life in the deep sea. McClain will present a summary of these findings today at the 11th International Deep-Sea Biology Symposium in Southampton, England. A full article is in press in the peer-reviewed Journal of Biogeography.

Biologists ever since Charles Darwin have noted that when animals colonize an isolated island, after millions of years they may evolve into entirely new species that look very different from the original colonizers. For example, a population of mammoths isolated on the Channel Islands of Southern California developed into a new species that weighed only one tenth as much as their relatives on the mainland. On the other hand, on some Caribbean islands, tiny shrews evolved into 30-centimeter-long (1-foot-long) "monsters." As these examples illustrate, small animals on islands often grow larger, while large animals become smaller.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 9, 2006, 8:09 PM CT

Soniferous Toadfish

Soniferous Toadfish
Sitting in a boat on a still day, the ocean seems gentle, calm and most of all silent. Even the song of a humpback whale, a sound that when produced by an individual off the coast of Newfoundland can be heard by another a couple of thousand miles away in Bermuda, goes unnoticed above the waves. And yes, most marine animals, be they jellyfish, clams or sharks, make no sounds at all.

But there are some fish whose vocal abilities, when heard underwater, rival a number of songbirds, if not in tune at least in volume. Fish that produce sound are called "soniferous", and they encompass a surprisingly large minority of species. In fact there is one family of fish that are collectively known as "Drums", named for the pounding noise they make to attract mates or establish territories.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 9, 2006, 0:20 AM CT

Moose In Massachusetts

Moose In Massachusetts
A number of people are surprised to learn there are moose(Alces alces)living in Massachusetts. Moose have been absent from the state from the early 1700's. As recently as the 1970's a moose sighting was considered a rare sight. Why are moose here now? As early settlers cleared the extensive forests in the state for pastures and farming, moose habitat disappeared and so did the moose. This was a trend through much of New England. Habitat for moose recovered due in part to farmers moving out to the more fertile Midwest or to factories during the Industrial Revolution.

Moose are now reclaiming their former range and moving into areas where they haven't been seen for hundreds of years. Moose populations got a boost in northern New England states from a combination of forest cutting practices and protection from hunting which created ideal moose habitat and allowed for high reproduction and survival rates. Gradually, as the population increased, moose moved southward into their historic range and by the early 1980's this largest member of North America's deer family moved into northern Worcester and Middlesex Counties and began to breed and disperse through central Massachusetts.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink


July 7, 2006, 9:20 PM CT

Corals Switch Skeleton

Corals Switch Skeleton Justin Ries
Leopards may not be able to change their spots, but corals can change their skeletons, building them out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them.

That's the startling conclusion drawn by a Johns Hopkins University marine geologist, writing in the recent issue of the journal Geology.

Postdoctoral fellow Justin Ries and his collaborators say this is the first known case of an animal altering the composition of its skeleton in response to change in its physical environment. The aquatic animal's sensitivity to such changes poses questions about its evolutionary history, as well as the future of the ecologically important coral reefs that it builds, Ries said, particularly at a time when seawater is changing in response to global warming and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A 2005 Ph.D. graduate of Johns Hopkins, Ries collaborated on the research with his dissertation advisors, Steven M. Stanley (now of the University of Hawaii) and Lawrence A. Hardie, professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins.

Reefs are large underwater structures of coral skeletons, made from calcium carbonate secreted by generation after generation of tiny coral polyps over sometimes millions of years of coral growth in the same location. The team showed that corals can switch from using aragonite to another mineral, calcite, in making the calcium carbonate. They make that switch in response to decreases in the ratio of magnesium to calcium in seawater, Ries said. That ratio has changed dramatically over geologic time.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 9:15 PM CT

West African Black Rhino Might Be Extinct

West African Black Rhino Might Be Extinct
While most subspecies of Africa's two rhinos, the black and white rhino, continue on the road to recovery, this is not true for two of Africa's most threatened rhino subspecies: the West African black (Diceros bicornis longipes) and the northern white (Ceratotherium simum cottoni). The West African black rhino is now feared extinct and numbers of the northern white rhino have reached an all time low in the wild. In both cases, poaching for rhino horn is the main cause of their demise.

This is as per new estimates announced by the African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission. An intensive survey earlier this year of the West African black rhino has failed to locate any sign of their continued presence in their last refuges in northern Cameroon.

"As a result this subspecies has been tentatively declared as extinct," says Dr Martin Brooks , AfRSG chairman. "Also the northern white rhino is on the very brink of being lost. Restricted in the wild to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo , recent ground and aerial surveys conducted under the direction of African Parks Foundation and the AfRSG have only found four animals. Efforts to locate further animals continue, but we must now face the possibility that the subspecies may not recover to a viable level," he continued.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 9:06 PM CT

Voluntary Closures Of High-seas Deepwater Trawling

Voluntary Closures Of High-seas Deepwater Trawling
In a global first, four major fishing companies announced recently a voluntary halt to trawling in eleven deep-sea areas of the southern Indian Ocean. This will protect and conserve the bottom of the sea floor, or benthos, associated fish fauna and related biodiversity in one of the largest marine protected area enclosures ever.

"By setting aside an area almost equal to Australia's Great Barrier Reef National Park, these businesses are sending a clear signal that they want to keep fish on people's plates for generations to come," commented Graham Patchell, a scientist with the newly formed Southern Indian Ocean Deepwater Fishers' Association (SIODFA), which represents four companies - Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd (Australia), Bel Ocean II Ltd (Mauritius), Sealord Group (New Zealand) and TransNamibia Fishing Pty Ltd (Namibia), the main trawling operators in this area.

Using the scientific knowledge gathered over a decade of activity in the Indian Ocean and in consultation with staff of the Fisheries Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), SIODFA have delimited 309 000 km2 of ocean floor in eleven separate benthic protected areas where their vessels will no longer fish. The combined zones have an area approximately the size of Norway. To verify compliance with these self-adopted restrictions, the companies will track their vessels' locations and activities via a special satellite monitoring system.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 6:53 PM CT

Stunning Octopod

Stunning Octopod

This stunning octopod, Benthoctopus sp., seemed quite interested in ALVIN's port manipulator arm. Those inside the sub were surprised by the octopod's inquisitive behavior. Image courtesy of Bruce Strickrott, Expedition to the Deep Slope.

Deep is beautiful.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 7:28 AM CT

Big Mission for theTiny Toad

Big Mission for theTiny Toad
The 250 penny-size Kihansi spray toads at the Bronx Zoo's Reptile House are a demanding lot. "For these frogs we have to find the right balance of temperature, light, and humidity," keeper Alyssa Borek says. "With fourteen timed intervals of misting, we go through forty-six gallons of water a day." In a series of terrariums, spigots spray the tiny yellow toads that recline on tree branches, chirping away in an endless froggy chorus.

It wasn't always so hard to care for the spray toads. Until the mid 1990s, they lived in a habitat that waccording tofectly suited to their delicate needs, the Kihansi River Gorge in south-central Tanzania. The river is part of an ecosystem considered to be a global biodiversity hotspot-home to a vibrant array of wildlife and plants. The river's descent through the gorge in a series of spectacular falls created a spray zone wetlands in which species like the Kihansi spray toad thrived. In fact, the toad was so specialized to this ecosystem, it hasn't been found anywhere else on the planet.

When researchers discovered the tiny wonder in 1996, construction of a giant dam above the falls was in full swing. The dam would provide much needed electricity to the capital city, Dar Es Salaam, but its creation also came at the cost of this unique habitat, and the life that depended on it. Within six months, the original flow of the Kihansi River was reduced to 25 percent, and the spray zone wetlands dried out.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source


July 7, 2006, 7:26 AM CT

In War-Torn Congo, Elephants Beat the Odds

In War-Torn Congo, Elephants Beat the Odds
Despite a decade of civil war and rampant poaching, elephants and other large mammals are still hanging on in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park. In this World Heritage Site, a recent wildlife census by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) recorded an increase in several wildlife populations since the last count, in 2003. The results are largely due to the efforts of park guards who patrol the park in search of poachers, at great personal risk.

Virunga is Africa's oldest national park, established in 1925, and once boasted the highest density of large mammals in the world. Close to 4,300 elephants lived there in the 1960s. But the numbers of elephants, hippos, and buffalos declined dramatically since then. Today, ICCN and its partners have made great strides in protecting wildlife, helping to preserve Virunga's status as the most species-rich park in Africa.

As per the census, funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, elephants have increased to 340 from 265 in 2003. Buffalo number approximately 3,800, up from 2,300 three years ago. And the 13,000 Uganda kob (a type of antelope) are almost as numerous as they were in the 1960s.

Efforts to curb poaching have come with a high cost. More than 100 Virunga Park guards have been killed on the job since 1996. Park guards receive only $1 as a monthly salary from the government, eventhough this amount was recently increased to $30 per month with funds from UNESCO. In the near future, additional support will come from the European Union through the Zoological Society of London.........

Posted by: Kelly      Permalink         Source

   

Older Blog Entries   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23