Frogs discovered in elephant dung


From Mongabay.com:

Frogs discovered living in elephant dung

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com

June 10, 2009

Three different species of frogs have been discovered living in the dung of the Asian elephant in southeastern Sri Lanka. The discovery—the first time anyone has recorded frogs living in elephant droppings—has widespread conservation implications both for frogs and Asian elephants, which are in decline.

“I found the frogs fortuitously during a field study about seed dispersal by elephants,” Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, a research fellow from the University of Tokyo, told Monagaby.com. “I thought it was an interesting phenomenon and commented it with some colleagues, experts on elephant and amphibian ecology. None of them had heard about such a thing before. Local people in the study area…seemed also unaware of it.”

This led Campos-Arciez on a hunt. He examined 290 elephant dung piles and found six frog individuals in five dung piles, representing three species: the ornate narrow-mouthed frog Microhyla ornata, another narrow-mouthed species Microhyla rubra, and a frog species in the Sphaerotheca genus. …

As Campos-Arciez alludes to, he found more than just frogs taking refuge in the elephant droppings. Although frogs were the only vertebrates, he also found beetles, ants, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions, crickets, spiders, and termites, “suggesting that a dung pile can become a small ecosystem on its own,” Campos-Arciez writes in the paper announcing his discoveries in Biotropica.

See also here.

Noisy miners in Australian gardens


This video from Australia says about itself:

Interesting co-operative feeding behaviors of the Noisy Miner.

From Emu, publication of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union:

Does the presence of grevilleas and eucalypts in urban gardens influence the distribution and foraging ecology of Noisy Miners? …

Abstract

Noisy Miners have been described as a ‘reverse keystone’ species, aggressively excluding many bird species from an ever-increasing range of human-dominated landscapes. Understanding the factors influencing the distribution of Noisy Miners is therefore an important research priority. To determine whether a relationship exists between the distribution of Noisy Miners and the vegetation composition of suburban gardens, birds were surveyed according to a factorial design defined by the presence or absence of grevilleas and eucalypts.

Contrary to popular expectation, there was no significant association between the abundance of Noisy Miners and the presence of hybrid grevilleas. However, there was a highly significant relationship between the abundance of Noisy Miners and the presence of eucalypts. Analysis of foraging time budgets showed that Noisy Miners consistently spent 25–30% of their foraging time feeding on grevilleas (only in sites in which they were present). Similar amounts of time were spent foraging in eucalypts or in flowering callistemons (when available), and the presence of grevilleas did not result in a reduction in overall commitments to foraging.

Noisy Miners also spent substantial amounts of time foraging on open ground. This study does not support the notion that hybrid grevilleas have played a causal role in the spread of Noisy Miners across many suburban areas of eastern Australia. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that it is the proliferation of lightly-treed open areas that favours the Noisy Miner.

Keywords: Manorina melanocephala.

Emu 109(2) 135–142

Submitted: 26 August 2007 Accepted: 27 February 2009 Published: 10 June 2009

Full text DOI: 10.1071/MU07043

Afghan air raid survivor says get US troops out


From The Nation in the USA:

While Brave New Films Foundation is completing “Civilian Casualties,” Part 4 of their ongoing series Rethink Afghanistan, they have released this short interview with one Afghan victim of America’s so-called “smart power.”

Najibullah, like many other disabled Afghans, had previously lost a finger in the long-running occupation and, in early May 2009, he also lost his home. Thousands of other Afghan citizens have fared even worse.

The Obama administration’s “surge” in Afghanistan is taking shape, with 10,000 marines completing the commencement of their deployment to the volatile province of Helmand over the next several weeks: here.