15 new species of birds discovered in the Amazon

August 12th, 2013

This year, scientists working in the Amazon recorded an incredible 15 new species of birds.

Scientists have discovered a new species of puffbird in the Brazilian Amazon. This is a collared puffbird (Bucco capensis) in Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.

Scientists have discovered a new species of puffbird in the Brazilian Amazon. This is a collared puffbird (Bucco capensis) in Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by: Jeremy Hance.

  • Birds are one of the most well-known groups of animals on Earth.  Finding new species of bird is extremely rare.
  • The new species found in the Brazilian Amazon forest as well as parts of Peru and Bolivia, include the following:  four wood creepers, five antbirds, three tyrants, one puffbird, one gnatcatcher and one crow species.
  • Unfortunately, four of the new species are believed to be threatened with extinction.
  • Deforestation in this part of the world eliminates important specialized habitats that many of the newly discovered species depend on.
  • Mario Cohn-Haft, a researcher at the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) told Capa Aves, “Even [with the Amazon]  having one of the best known groups of birds, discovering new species ‘under our noses’ draws attention to the wealth of the forest.  The Amazon continues to offer surprises, far beyond what we imagined.”

Want to learn more?  Read the full story: Bird extravaganza: scientists discover 15 new species of birds in the Amazon

Eating bugs could save the planet

August 1st, 2013

A new study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that eating insects could help save the planet.

Caterpillars are the second most commonly eaten insects, accounting for 18 percent of consumption. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

•The report released by the FAO argues that there is a need for humans to reevaluate “what we eat and how we produce it” if the human population is, in fact, going to reach 9 billion by 2050.
•Many of the current forms of agriculture are unsustainable and may not suffice to feed the human population in the future.
•2 billion people across the world include insects in their diets and eat 1,900 different species of insects.
•The practice of eating insects is called “entomophagy.”
•The possibility of mass-producing insects as a food source has not yet been explored. Most people that eat insects either forage for them in the wild or keep a small supply in their home.
•Insects have many of the same nutritional benefits as meat. Although some might consider eating insects unusual, the environmental cost of raising insects would be much lower than the environmental cost of farming cows and pigs.
•Although issues like climate change and overfishing are endangering the future of food, the FAO report predicts that it will be difficult to convince most Westerners to eat caterpillars and beetles.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: Eat insects to mitigate deforestation and climate change.

The fierce fight for the wolverine

August 1st, 2013

One of the fiercest animals in the world, the wolverine, may soon be protected in the United States. Environmentalists have been trying to convince U.S. lawmakers to list the wolverine as Endangered in the U.S. as its frozen habitat is slowly disappearing due to climate change.

Wolverine in the snow. Photo by: Bigstock.

•The wolverine is a part of the weasel family and lives in cold climates, such as those of Russia and Canada.
•Less than 300 wolverines are thought to live in the United States, a number that could decrease if temperatures in the northern U.S. continue to rise.
•Wolverines are exceptionally fierce fighters and hunters.  Although they often scavenge for their food, they can hunt animals as big as caribou and can even defend their kill from a bear.
•Female wolverines depend on snowy dens at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep to nest and raise kits in the early spring.
•Humans are considered to be the wolverine’s top predator.  If lawmakers decide to list the wolverine as endangered, people will no longer be able to trap or hunt the animals.
•Building ski resorts, logging, and developing in wolverine territory will not be prohibited by this change, however.

Want to learn more? Read the full story here: US proposes to list wolverine under the Endangered Species Act