Pesticides harmful affects on our yellow friends, the Bees

October 29th, 2012

 

Honeybees in an apiary in Germany. Photo by: Björn Appel.

Bees are one of people favorite insects- appearing in classic movies such as Bee Movies and helping people every day by pollinating plants. But in the past few years’ bee populations have been steadily decreasing and scientists haven’t known why, until now. Scientists now think that the pesticides that we use everyday to grow our foods and keep our gardens growing may be responsible for the death of the bee.

  • Scientists now think that pesticides are causing bee’s to die by making the worker bee confused and unable to properly make honey, as well stopping bees from making queens who are the mothers of bees!
  • Often pesticides are sprayed in ways that makes bees more likely to ingest it into their systems which hurts the bees very badly.
  • One pesticide called Neonicotinoid is especially harmful to bees with experts saying “there is no question that Neonicotinoid puts a huge stress on the survival of honey bees in the environment”-Chensheng (Alex) Lu .
  • Bees are a valuable part of nature, they are the number one pollinator of fruits and flowers, they are also responsible for a lot of the foods you eat everyday!
  • In parts of North America and Europe, people are reporting 90% of bee populations disappearing.
  • In America alone scientists have estimated that bees perform $8-12 billion dollars worth of services to people!

Want to learn more? Read the full story: New study adds to evidence that common pesticides decimating bee colonies

Blue Iguana populations saved for future generations

October 29th, 2012

Blue iguana in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. Photo by: Lhb1239.

In a time when animal species are dying its great to see one being saved. In just a ten-year period the Blue Iguana has risen from only having 10 to 25 iguanas left, to over 400! The Blue Iguana Recovery Team is responsible for this remarkable success and has saved this species from extinction.

  • The blue iguana is recognized by its beautiful turquoise color, it can also live for over sixty years in captivity.  That sure is a long time!
  • They can grow over five feet long and are only found on the Grand Cayman Island (in the Caribbean).
  • The Blue Iguana population has gotten 15 times larger in the past ten years.
  • Before the number of Blue Iguanas was going down due to a loss of their homes, being hit by cars, and being attacked by household animals such as cat and dogs.
  • To help fight this issue the Blue Iguana Recovery Team raised baby Blue Iguanas till they could fend for themselves and released them into protected areas around the island.
  • Right now over 400 adult blue iguanas again roam Grand Cayman, making rare good news in our planet’s extinction crisis!

Want to learn more? Read the full story: Remarkable comeback: blue iguana downgraded to Endangered after determined conservation efforts

Lewa’s Sucess in Rhino Conservation!

October 21st, 2012

So far this year, South Africa has lost 430 rhinos to poachers, more than one animal a day. Rhino poaching, fueled by demand for black-market powdered rhino horn in Vietnam and China, is killing rhinos worldwide. Last year saw the extinction of two rhino subspecies: the Vietnamese rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) and the western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes).

However, there is a place where rhinos still thrive. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya has found itself with a unique, but happy, problem: they have too many black rhinos, which are considered Critically Endangered by the IUNC Red List. The rhino population at Lewa has hit its limit for the 62,000 acre nonprofit protected area, and there are too many rhinos for the space.

“Since 2000, Lewa’s black rhino population growth rate has averaged 10%, higher than the national target of 6%,” the CEO of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Mike Watson, told Mongabay. However, signs like more rhino fights and males trying to knock down the fence of the Conservancy mean that there isn’t enough room.

Currently the reserve has 74 black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) and 56 white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum). To deal with Lewa’s rhino surplus, they now plans to move around 20 rhinos to other protected areas if they can secure the funding.

So, what’s Lewa doing right? Watson points to the high security around Lewa to protect the rhinos from poachers. Says Watson, “If [the rhinos] aren’t seen after four days, we begin an aerial search of the conservancy that doesn’t end until we’ve found them.” Watson also says that involving local communities in conservation efforts, having a close relationship with the Kenyan government, and constantly updating training for rangers are key to the reserve’s anti-poaching successes.

Read more — including a full interview with Lewa’s CEO Mike Watson

Mold’s Slime Helps it Move

October 21st, 2012

The yellow slime mold Physarum polycephalum exploring a petri dish. Slime deposits to the left of the image tell the slime mold where it has previously explored. Photo by: Audrey Dussutour.

How do you move around without a brain? Well, if you’re the brainless slime mold named Physarum polycephalum (fis-ah-rum poly-cef-ah-lum), the answer is simple: slime. A new from the University of Sydney, in Australia found that Physarum polycephalum uses its slime to make sure it doesn’t end up going in circles in search of food.

  • Physarum polycephalum is a shade-loving mold can often be found in logs or in the leaf litter.
  • It eats microbes (microscopic bacteria) for food. The mold doesn’t like light and salt. But since it doesn’t have a brain, like animals, scientists always wondered how it seemed to know where it was going.
  • Scientists say that the mold seems to be able to sense its own slime when it touches it, and therefore can recognize and stay away from areas it has already explored. They think that the mold uses its slime as a sign to say “I’ve already been here! No more food.”
  • The researchers think animals might have evolved from molds like these. They think that the mold’s ability to sense with it has been was the “first step” toward memory, like ours.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: Brainless slime mold uses slimy memory to navigate

Disney goes greener to help save Rainforests

October 21st, 2012

RAN protest against Disney in 2010. Photo: Margery Epstein

Can Mickey Mouse and Nemo change to help save our earth’s rainforests?  Sure they can!  Disney has recently said that it will stop using paper products that came from the destruction of natural rainforests. This new movement has the goal of eliminating paper products that come from irresponsibly harvested wood. Through this Disney hopes to help preserve the world’s rainforests.

  • Disney had been getting paper from Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings (APRIL) and possibly other companies that are responsible for the destruction of vast amounts of pristine Indonesian rainforests.
  • Sumatra, one of the biggest of the Indonesian islands, has lost more than half of its natural forest cover in the last 27 years.
  • Disney’s new campaign will minimize the consumption of paper and minimize damage to rainforests.
  • It will also help to eliminate a market for unjustly harvested wood.
  • Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the entire world, this happens partially because of peoples need for large amounts of paper.
  • “Disney is adding its voice to the growing chorus of companies demonstrating that there’s no need to sacrifice endangered forests in Indonesia or elsewhere for the paper we use every day”. – Rebecca Tarbotton of RAN (Rainforest Action Network)
  • This movement will have a massive impact on the world affecting 25,000 factories worldwide, signaling a beginning to a greener future for Disney.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/1012-disney-paper-policy.html

Jaguar conservation receives boost

October 1st, 2012

Article by Darren Lloyd

An agreement signed between Panthera (Worlds’ leading wild cat conservation organization), the Costa Rican government and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has given Jaguar conservation a huge boost.

  • The near threatened jaguar is the Americas’ biggest cat and is widely regarded as one of the Worlds’ most majestic creatures.
  • Jaguars roam much of Central and South America but are under threat from habitat loss and direct killings relating to jaguar predation of livestock.
  • The agreement; called the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ will benefit jaguar conservation in the following ways;
  • Firstly, all parties will commit to trying to secure protected wild lands acting as jaguar habitat or that which offers a corridor through which jaguars can safely navigate to other areas of habitat across its’ whole range (from Northern Argentina to Mexico!)
  • Secondly, ensuring ranching and jaguar habitat is conservation compatible. New methods will reduce jaguars killing farmers’ livestock (and therefore reduce instances of farmers killing jaguars to protect their livelihoods).
  • In the U.S, the FWS have also proposed to designate almost 850,000 acres of land to critical jaguar habitat, which would mean the land would be protected from any land degrading activity.
  • The agreement comes as great news for the jaguar as well as many other species which will benefit as a result of the protected land.

Want to Learn More?  Read the full story: Jaguar conservation gets a boost in North and Central America

Bolivian national park a biodiversity hotspot

October 1st, 2012

Article by Darren Lloyd

A parrot snake (Leptophis ahaetulla), one of at least 50 species of snake in Madidi National Park. Photo Credit: Mileniusz Spanowicz/WCS.

Located in northwest Bolivia, Madidi National Park covers 19,000 square kilometres and is believed to be the most bio-diverse place in the world.

  • The park contains over 90 species of bat, 50 species of snake, 300 fish and 12,000 plants.
  • Decades of research have also found 1,088 species of birds, amounting to 11 percent of all species worldwide.
  • 200 mammal species including six cats are also found in the park.
  • The park is so high in biodiversity because of the various habitats it contains. A large altitudinal (land height) range means that many different habitats exist and as a result, many different species are there to exploit them.
  • A lot of the park hasn’t even been surveyed yet, such as its cloud and montane forests which usually contain lots of species, so lots of discoveries are yet to be made.

A young harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), considered Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. These massive raptors prey on monkeys. Photo by: Mileniusz Spanowicz/WCS.

The king of the Amazon: a male jaguar (Panthera onca) in Madidi, considered Near Threatened. Photo by: Mileniusz Spanowicz/WCS.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0912-hance-madidi-park-biodiversity.html