Colombian amphibian discoveries, good and bad


This video is called Animal Week – Salamanders.

From Wildlife Extra:

Two new species of Salamander discovered in Colombia as deadly fungus detected for first time

Chytridiomycosis detected for the first time in north-east Colombia

February 2013. A team of young researchers from Colombia have recently found two new species of salamander that were discovered during a project supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme and Save Our Species.

The two new salamanders belong to the genus Bolitoglossa, otherwise known as tropical climbing or web-footed salamanders. One of the salamanders (B. leandrae) has been named after an 11-year old girl who became friends with the team whilst they conducted their fieldwork. “Leandra grew fascinated by the world of amphibians,” explains team leader Aldemar Acevedo. “She was eager to learn about our work and became an excellent spokesperson for nature conservation among the community.”

Small salamander

Bolitoglossa leandrae is a relatively small salamander (its body measures roughly 2.5 cm in length, about the size of a 50 pence, 20 cent or US quarter coin) with a narrow head and long, slender tail. Males are dark brown with thin yellow stripes along the length of the body and females are reddish brown.

Bolitoglossa tamaense is slightly longer than B. leandrae (the body of the longest specimen measured approximately 5 cm, or the same as the height of a credit card) and has a broad head and relatively long body and legs. A number of different colourations and patterns were recorded, but the body is generally brown or dark red, and the tail and limbs can be dark brown, red, orange or yellow.

Colombia-Venezuela border

The new findings were made during the first amphibian census to be carried out in Tamá Bi-National Park which straddles the Colombia-Venezuela border. In addition to the two new species, the team recorded three frog species (from the genus Pristimantis) that had not previously been found in Colombia, and eight other species that are new records for north-east Colombia. In total, the team recorded 34 amphibian species, up from just five species previously recorded in the area.

In their journal article, the authors highlight the need for more field and lab-based research to improve our understanding of amphibian diversity, and for more practical conservation projects to take place in the region.

Tamá Bi-National Park

“For decades, the natural landscape of Tamá Bi-National Park was subject to deforestation, agricultural pressures and illegal crop-growing so during our project we began working with local communities and environmental organisations to encourage good land stewardship and the development of adequate conservation plans” said Aldemar. “Local communities have responded to our call and we are starting to see a decrease in deforestation, especially in forest patches inhabited by Bolitoglossa leandrae.”

Chytridiomycosis

It’s not all good news, however, as the team detected chytridiomycosis (a virulent fungus which kills off amphibians) for the first time in north-east Colombia and it was found on 23 of the park’s 34 species. If left unchecked, this could result in population declines and perhaps even local extinctions.

To try and control the rapid spread of the fungus, the team ran several biosafety workshops for rangers and community members. In the future, the team plans to conduct further research to measure the success of their biosafety workshops and they are currently looking for funding to kick-start reforestation programmes in areas of habitat that would be suitable for amphibians.

The finding was published an article in the journal Zootaxa.

British people condemn Iraq war


This video is about the anti Iraq war march – London, February 2003.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Iraq war ‘delivered little but bloodshed’, say Britons in 10-year anniversary poll

Majority of voters across both sexes and all age ranges still back anti-Iraq war protesters of 2003, according to Guardian/ICM poll

Friday 15 February 2013

A demonstrator wears a Tony Blair mask outside the Chilcot Inquiry

Iraq war protests – a demonstrator wears a Tony Blair mask outside the Chilcot inquiry into the conflict, in London, January 2010. Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters

After the anti-war marchers took to London’s streets in February 2003, Tony Blair brushed them aside and suggested history would be his judge. Ten years on, the ink on the first draft of history is dry, and, according to a Guardian/ICM poll, Britons are not reading it in the way Blair would have hoped.

A majority of voters, 55%, agree with suggestions that “the London marchers were right”, because “a war sold on a false prospectus delivered little but bloodshed”. That is almost twice the 28% who believe the marchers were wrong, on the basis that the war’s achievement in “toppling the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein” eventually made the world a better place.

The approximately two-to-one balance of opinion against the Iraq war broadly applies across both sexes and every age range. Every nation and region of the UK also retains a clear anti-war majority, with the judgment in Wales – 65% in favour; 22% against – the most emphatic.

The marchers are also vindicated by opinion up and down the social scale, although the 49%-36% balance of opinion in favour of the marchers among the so-called AB occupational grades is somewhat more balanced than the crushing anti-war majorities among working-class voters.

The parliamentary votes on Iraq in 2003 split the Labour party down the middle, with 139 rebels on the final Commons vote, whereas, despite 15 Conservative dissenters, the great bulk of Tory MPs came together to support the invasion.

Ten years on, there is no partisan slant in the public’s opposition to the war. Conservative supporters believe the marchers were right by a 57%-30% margin, statistically indistinguishable to the 57%-29% support for the marchers found among Labour voters. Supporters of the Liberal Democrats, the only big party in 2003 to offer a united anti-war stance, are only marginally more strongly behind the marchers – they are split 59%-24%. The 54%-33% anti-war majority found among Ukip supporters confirms Blair is judged to have been on the wrong side of history, right across the political spectrum.

The public was sceptical about the Iraq war in advance, and the marchers claimed to speak for the country, but what is often forgotten is that by the eve of hostilities, on 20 March 2003, a more belligerent mood was taking hold.

More than 20 polls were carried out between 18 March and September 2003, and every one found a plurality supporting the war. Subsequently, as the debate turned to missing weapons of mass destruction, abused intelligence and Iraq’s developing civil war that opinion swung firmly against Blair.

It is several years since the last proper poll on the Iraq war, but by 2007, when the last surveys were done, opinion had hardened into the same sort of anti-war majority confirmed by the latest ICM survey. In June 2007, for instance, YouGov found a 55%-30% anti-war majority.

Blair had hoped success in Iraq would consolidate support for the broader agenda of “liberal interventionism“, which he put forward in his Chicago speech at the height of the Balkan crisis in 1999. But after Iraq came to be seen as a mistake, things could easily have gone the other way, with voters fearing further military intervention would reap the same sort of chaos.

A decade on, the poll finds Iraq remains a special case, with Britain split on the wider question of armed intervention.

The survey reminded respondents of other controversial engagements, in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali, but found the 48% who believe “military interventions solve little, create enemies and generally do more harm than good” are only three points ahead of the 45% who believe that “through its armed forces, Britain generally acts as a force for good in the world”.

Conservative voters feel slightly more warmly about the troops than others – 53% of them regard interventions as a force for good – but with 47% of Labour and 45% of Lib Dem voters in agreement, the differences are not especially large. Supporters of Ukip are especially anti-intervention, believing by 56%-32% that it does more harm than good, suggesting they are more Little England than imperialist nostalgics. That introverted mood on the political right is only one political consequence of what voters now judge as Blair’s failure in Iraq.

ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,001 adults aged 18 and over by telephone on 8-10 February 2013. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Ten years ago yesterday, Colin Powell made the Bush administration’s case for going to war against Iraq. Much of what he said about Iraq’s threats to the United States was false. But the media coverage gave the opposite impression, and most of the pundits and journalists who promoted the justifications for the war paid no price for their failures: here.