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Cara J

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Everything posted by Cara J

  1. Squeezed by changing ocean conditions that limit their food options and the long-term loss of old forest needed for nesting, marbled murrelets would benefit most from conservation efforts that take both ocean and forest into account, new research by Oregon State University shows. Published in Conservation Letters, the findings are based on two decades of murrelet surveys at nearly 20,000 sites in the Oregon Coast Range and illustrate how the elusive seabird is at risk of its habitat gradually shrinking to the point of local extinctions or worse. Lead author Matt Betts said: “It turns out tha
  2. Changes in climate and habitat on the breeding and non-breeding grounds of migratory birds are both playing an important part in driving their long-term population changes. A new study led by the Department of Biosciences at Durham University, published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, is the first large-scale assessment of how recent changes in both climate and land cover have impacted populations of migrating birds. Global declines in the numbers of individuals of many migratory species are thought to be caused by a combination of climate change and habitat loss on both their br
  3. The endangered Hawaiian duck, or koloa, the only endemic duck remaining on the main Hawaiian Islands, is threatened with genetic extinction due to interbreeding with feral mallards. This has led to the creation of hybrid forms of the koloa. But new research has found that the genetic diversity of the koloa is high, and conservation efforts on the island of Kauai have been successful. The study, a culmination of two decades of research and published in Molecular Ecology, offers hope for existing conservation efforts with the koloa and other endangered birds around the world. Caitlin Wells, a
  4. Scientists who are trying to save species at the brink of extinction are finding help in an unexpected place, highlighted by a new study published in the journal Conservation Genetics. Heather Farrington, curator of zoology for the Cincinnati Museum Centre, is using DNA from specimens collected more than 100 years ago to help understand the evolution and stresses faced by today’s animals. She runs the museum’s new state-of-the-art genetics laboratory, which helps researchers study populations of animals over time. Researchers increasingly are embracing the power of ancient DNA from old museu
  5. The white-tailed sea eagle is known for reacting sensitively to disturbances. However, research into which factors have which effects on the animals and how these impacts influence breeding success has so far only just begun. A research team led by Dr. Oliver Krone from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now measured concentrations of the hormone corticosterone and its metabolic products in white-tailed sea eagles in northern Germany and correlated these values with potential causes of “stress.” They found that the levels of corticosterone in the birds’ urin
  6. The Threatened Species Recovery Hub study, conducted by University of Queensland scientists and published in the journal Conservation Biology, found that half of all native bird species have each lost almost two-thirds of their natural habitat across Victoria, parts of South Australia and New South Wales. Lead researcher, Dr Jeremy Simmonds, said the team looked at both threatened and non-threatened birds, including common species: “While more attention is usually paid to threatened species, common species, like many of our familiar fairy-wrens, pigeons and honeyeaters, are crucially importan
  7. Scientists are puzzling out how to address the declining numbers of northern spotted owls (NSO) in their Pacific Northwest forest habitat. A new study in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Applications explores the reasons why spotted owls are losing a foothold in their habitat, forecasts future habitat conditions and species interactions, and suggests best management practices. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service first listed the species as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in the late 20th century because years of over-logging left the owls’ forest home degrade
  8. A team led by a conservation biologist from the University of Kent has successfully relocated threatened Seychelles paradise flycatchers to a different island to help prevent their extinction. Four females and two males were caught on Denis Island and taken to Curieuse Island, where they joined 11 males and nine females who were moved there from La Digue Island at the end of last year. Four weeks after that release, the first birds had nested, with the first chick recently fledged. The project was led by Jim Groombridge, Professor of Biodiversity Conservation and Head of Kent’s School of Ant
  9. Climate change has pushed migratory birds to take their spring trips a week earlier than they did six decades ago. According to a large-scale analysis of data gathered by 21 bird observatories from northern Europe and Canada on nearly 200 species, birds have advanced the timing of their migration by an average of just over a week since the late 1950s and early 1960s. Short-distance migratory birds have sped up the start of their migrations by 1.5 to two days per decade on average. Long-distance migrants start 0.6 to 1.2 days earlier. “There are clearly some species which have advanced very fas
  10. Parents may want to think twice before allowing their children to let balloons fly off into the atmosphere. When seemingly harmless latex balloons end up in the ocean, according to a new study, they become unusually deadly for seabirds. “They are attractive and they are disproportionately deadly if those balloons are eaten,” said Lauren Roman, the lead author of the study published recently in Nature Scientific Reports. Roman is a postdoctoral researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, an Australian government agency. It’s nothing new that ingesting too muc
  11. Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, passed in December, is now underway. The $867 billion package funds many programs, from producer subsidies to food stamps, including $5 billion for conservation incentives on private lands. Key Farm Bill conservation programs include the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The new bill increased the enrollment cap for CRP, and EQIP will now dedicate 10 percent of funds distributed though the program to wildlife conservation, providing about $200 million a year. Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testifi
  12. The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bipartisan public lands package last week, a week after the Senate did the same. It now goes to the president’s desk to be signed. The Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) contains more than 100 different bills affecting public lands and conservation, including permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. During the last Congress, LWCF expired Sept. 30, after several attempts to pass reauthorization during the last Congress failed. The LWCF allows proceeds from oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters to be used to
  13. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its decisions to list the northern subspecies of scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Scarlet macaws are large neotropical parrots native to Mexico, Central America and South America, with the greatest concentration of their population in the Amazon. Destruction of the birds’ habitat and collection for the pet trade have reduced the scarlet macaw’s range in Mexico and Central America. It is no longer found in most of its former range in those areas. While the scarlet macaw is currently classified a
  14. The purple martin (Progne subis) is in the midst of a long-term decline, and researchers worry that without humans continuing to put out birdhouses for them, their numbers will fall faster. In a study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, researchers found that eastern purple martins (P.s. subis) have very high nest survival in artificial housing, making it an important component in the bird’s conservation. “If people are interested in helping out a species, this is a really easy solution,” said Texas Tech assistant professor Blake Grisham and an author on the study. In the centuries sin
  15. TWS member Jason Luscier focuses on urban wildlife conservation, so when he needed more data on house cats (Felis catus) roaming the streets, he turned local residents into citizen scientists. Luscier developed Cat Tracker, a smartphone app that lets residents report sightings of house cats on the loose. “One of the greatest threats to our native urban wildlife is predation by free-roaming house cats,” said Luscier, an assistant professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. “I have a number of ongoing research projects regarding urban mammals, urban amphibians and urban birds — all of w
  16. On the mountaintops of the Sierra Nevadas, mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli) create food caches to survive the winter, and they rely on their memories to find them. Researchers had already known that in places of higher elevation or with harsher winters, chickadees often rely more on these caches. In previous research, they found that chickadees in these areas had a larger hippocampus, a part of the brain that helps with memory, and they had more neurons in their hippocampus than other chickadees. Recently, biologists found these traits relating to good memory are gained through natural se
  17. On former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s last day in office, he signed a secretarial order calling for the department to do more to prevent wildfire on its lands. Coming in response to an executive order by the president on active forest management, the secretarial order, Reducing Wildfire Risks on Department of the Interior Land Through Active Management, calls for best management practices for wildfire to be included in all of the department’s land and resource management plans. It also requires that the plans use land and vegetation management techniques supported by the best available sci
  18. When researchers looked at the effects of recent extreme drought in the Sierra Nevada, they expected to find the large-scale death of trees would cause bird numbers to decline. Instead, they found many of the species increased— apparently in response to favorable conditions that emerged from the warming climate. An extensive drought struck the region from 2013 to 2016, resulting in the widespread death of pine trees by bark beetles. Researchers from Point Blue Conservation Science wanted to see what effect the death of these trees would have on the birds that depend on them. For many of the sp
  19. Spreading salt on the roads to make winter driving safer may be causing problems for wildlife. In a recent article, scientists reported a large increase of chloride in streams, lakes and rivers over previous decades. A main reason for this increase in chloride is likely from salt applied before and during snowstorms, the authors said, which can impact freshwater organisms and change the ecosystem. For some species, salt can case dehydration. About 4,500 metric tons of salt was used in the 1940s, they found, but today, about 22 million metric tons are used. Some scientists suggest these threats
  20. Averting another government shutdown, Congress passed a $333 billion appropriations and border security package containing language to fund federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year. The bill provides funding for agencies, such as the Interior Department, included in seven appropriations bills. Other agencies had been previously funded. The funding levels agreed upon by Congress are generally an increase over what the president requested for fiscal year 2019, which outlined major cuts for most agencies and programs. It also provides a 1.9 percent pay increase for all federal employee
  21. For decades, black vulture (Coragyps atratus) numbers have been on the rise in the United States. As their populations have grown and their range has expanded, conflicts with humans have grown, too. While famously scavengers, black vultures sometimes predate on livestock, creating conflicts with ranchers. Their predilection for chewing on vinyl seats hasn’t won them fans among convertible owners, either. As complaints about black vultures rise with their population numbers, wildlife managers wondered if the allowable take for these birds could be increased while still meeting requirements unde
  22. Wildlife trade restrictions implemented by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) can take more than two decades to be implemented, a new study found. In the study, researchers looked at how quickly species from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List become protected under CITES. They found over 60 percent of species had to wait up to 19 years for CITES protection. Some species are still waiting to be listed since they were considered 24 years ago, they found. The researchers said this can be troublesome since
  23. In the 25 years since the Northwest Forest Plan was initiated, bird species still are not recovering, researchers found, despite sweeping protections the plan brought to old-growth forests in Washington, Oregon and California. While the plan reduced losses of old trees to logging, they found, losses to wildfire are on the rise. “Ultimately it turned out that this forest is in gradual decline since the plan,” said Oregon State University professor Matt Betts, co-author of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Betts, Ben Phalan, who was a research associate at
  24. States are passing more legislation relating to pollinator conservation than the federal government, researchers found, but they say more laws are needed. In a study published in Environmental Science and Policy, researchers gathered information on all state and federal legislation relating to pollinators passed from 2000 to 2017. At the federal level, they found 31 pollinator-related bills had been proposed in Congress, but only four of them passed. “Here we have a globally recognized crisis and no real response that fits a crisis,” said Damon Hall, an assistant professor in the School of Nat
  25. Throughout rural Illinois, more than 140,000 acres of farmland have been conserved for wildlife. That’s about as much as one-third the acreage of public land in the state. Like similar programs in other states using federal Conservation Reserve Program dollars outlined in the Farm Bill, Illinois’s program compensates farmers for taking some of their fields out of production to aid wildlife. “The program is benefiting a wide variety of species,” said Bryan Reiley, avian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey. But when he looked deeper, he found Illinois’s Conservation Reserve Enhanc
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