First eco-aqueduct for Dutch wildlife


This video from the Netherlands is about the start of building the new eco-aqueduct near Rouveen.

Translated from RTV Oost in the Netherlands, 22 October 2014:

The first eco-aqueduct for animals opens in Overijssel today. The crossover is between Rouveen and Zwartsluis and is intended for otters, snakes, frogs and fish.

Animals that use the crossing, first go through a water bridge across the Conrad canal. …

Then the passage goes underneath the Conradweg road. Also land animals can cross under the road through a dry passage.

New toad species discovery on Jersey


This is a Western Common Toad video from France.

From Wildlife Extra:

New toad species identified in the UK

Toads on the island of Jersey have been found to be an entirely different species to toads found in the rest of the UK.

The Western Common Toad (Bufo spinosus) – which is also found in western France, Iberia and North Africa – is more genetically different from the Common Toad than humans are from gorillas or chimpanzees. In the UK they are found only in Jersey, which is the only location in the Channel Islands to have toads.

As a new species, the toads will need a tailored conservation programme in place in order to ensure their future survival in Jersey.

“We always suspected there was something special about the toads of Jersey,” said Dr John Wilkinson, Science Programme Manager at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC). “They grow larger, breed earlier and use different habitats than English toads. Now we know they are a new species, we can ensure efforts for their conservation are directed to their specific needs.”

Conservationists in the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal collaborated in order to correctly identify the toad. Fieldwork was carried out by Wilkinson along with researchers from Jersey Environment Department, and genetic studies were conducted by Dr Jan Arntzen at the Netherlands’ Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and Dr Inigo Martinez-Solano at CIBIO in Portugal.

John Pinel, Jersey’s Principal Ecologist, commented on the discovery: “Conservation of biodiversity in Jersey has always had a high priority; this news will help ensure that toads continue to receive the positive action they deserve.”

Madagascar reptile and amphibian biodiversity, new study


This video is called THE CHAMELEONS OF MADAGASCAR.

From Wildlife Extra:

No single explanation found for Madagascar’s biodiversity

Just how the tiny African island of Madagascar (a country that makes up less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s land surface) developed so many unusual species has puzzled scientists for decades.

But now a new study shows that there is no single explanation for biodiversity in Madagascar. Instead it owes its evolution of more than 700 species of reptiles and amphibians to a variety of circumstances and each group responded differently to environmental fluctuations over time.

The results are important because they suggest that climate change and land use in Madagascar will have varying effects on different species, said co-author Jason Brown of the City College of New York.

“It means that there won’t be a uniform decline of species — some species will do better, and others will do worse. What governs the distribution of, say, a particular group of frogs isn’t the same as what governs the distribution of a particular group of snake. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ model doesn’t exist.”

Located 300 miles off the southeast coast of Africa, the island of Madagascar is a treasure trove of unusual animals, about 90 percent of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Cut off from the African and Indian mainland for more than 80 million years, the animals of Madagascar have evolved into a unique menagerie of creatures, including more than 700 species of reptiles and amphibians — snakes, geckos, iguanas, chameleons, skinks, frogs, turtles and tortoises.

“Not surprisingly, we found that different groups of species have diversified for different reasons,” said Duke University biologist and fellow author Anne Yoder, ” “One of the lessons learned is that when trying to assess the impacts of future climate change on species distribution and survival, we have to deal in specifics rather than generalities, since each group of animals experiences its environment in a way that is unique to its life history and other biological characteristics.”

Understanding how species distributions responded to environmental fluctuations in the past may help scientists predict which groups are most vulnerable to global warming and deforestation in the future, or which factors pose the biggest threat.

Madagascar is of course famous for its lemurs, including the Ring-tailed Lemur. Read a field guide to these charismatic individuals with their striking stripy tails here.

Rare spectacled bear discovery in Ecuador


This video is called BBC Natural World – Spectacled Bears, Shadows of the Forest – Full Documentary.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare Spectacled Bear found in new Ecuador reserve

There have been sightings of Spectacled Bear in Ecuador’s new Antinsanilla Reserve, confirming the animal’s presence in the area.

The reserve was primarily established to protect the rare Andean Condor, which numbers only around 50 in Ecuador today. It is also the habitat of a number of extremely endangered amphibians, making it a vital location for threatened Ecuadorian wildlife.

Antinansilla Reserve spans 6,100 acres, and was created with support from the Rainforest Trust, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, the Andrew Sabin Foundation and other conservation organisations working in collaboration with Ecuadorian Partner Fundación Jocotoco.

A Spectacled Bear was recently sighted in the reserve by park guard Manual Cuichan in September. “This marks the second time Spectacled Bears have been spotted in the reserve this year,” says Jocotoco’s Conservation Director Francisco Sornoza, “And it’s wonderful news since it’s clear that the bears are now using the reserve as a real refuge.”

Although the endangered Spectacled Bear – South America’s only bear species – is versatile and able to survive in cloud forests, alpine areas (known as páramo) and deserts, they are under continual threat from poaching and habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, road construction and other development. If current trends continue, their numbers are expected to decline by more than 30 per cent in the next thirty years.

“One of the iconic mammals of the Andes, the endangered Spectacled Bear has always been relatively rare, and now it is much persecuted almost throughout its range for alleged cattle depredations,” says President of Rainforest Trust, Dr Robert S Ridgley. “I knew that Spectacled Bears used to occur at Antisanilla and I hoped maybe one might wander in,” Ridgely added. “But never did I think that, hardly six months after Antisanilla’s purchase, two bears would have already been sighted on the páramo!”

Rare spadefoot toads discovery


This video is about an European common spadefoot toad digging.

Translated from Dagblad van het Noorden in the Netherlands:

30 September 2014, 18:22

VALTHE / NIJMEGEN – Good news for the endangered European common spadefoot toad.

In the area roughly between Weerdinge and Exloo four new sites have been discovered where the animals live. Richard Struijk of Ravon (Reptile Amphibian and Fish Conservation in the Netherlands) in Nijmegen speaks of spectacular news.

New frog species discovery in Panama


The hololotype specimen, which scientists used as the basis to describe a new species of poison dart frog: Andinobates geminisae. Credit: Cesar Jaramillo, STRI

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Scientists find tiny, poisonous new mystery frog

Mysterious new species of poison dart frog can fit on a fingernail and could be under threat

Andrew Griffin

Sunday 28 September 2014

Scientists have discovered a new species of poison dart frog, small enough to fit on a fingernail but still bearing the toxic poison that gives the frogs their name.

Poison dart frogs — many of which are threatened species — live in Central and South America and secrete poisons that are used by hunters to make blowdarts. They are often brightly coloured, with varied colour patterns that scare off predators.

The new animal, found in Panama, is only 12.7 millimetres long. The frog’s smooth skin and its unique call mark it out as different from any of the other frogs in the region, and researchers are unsure how it came to look like it did.

Other frog’s poisons have been harnessed by hunters for weapons, but it is unlikely that the new discovery’s poison has ever been used in that way, Andrew Crawford, one of the authors of the study, told National Geographic. The new frog’s poison has yet to be analysed.

It has been called Andinobates geminisae, and a specimen was first collected in 2011. Scientists have been working since then to understand whether the animal was a new species, and to sequence its DNA.

Though researchers have seen the frog before, it was unclear whether it was just another variety of a similar species. Little is known about the species, but it appears to care for its young.

Because the animal can only be found in such a small area and so its existence could easily be threatened, scientists have laid out plans for how to protect the frog. That will involve including the frog in a captive breeding programme that helps protect amphibians from diseases and habitat loss.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

See also here.

Mexican cloud forest reserve gets bigger


This video from Mexico says about itself:

Roberto Pedraza, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda

World Land Trust (WLT) partner organisations give an insight into the conservation work they carry out to protect some of the most threatened habitats and wildlife on Earth.

From Wildlife Extra:

Chilean cloud forest reserve extended

A reserve in Sierra Gorda in Chile has been extended by 103 acres thanks to funding from the Buy an Acre fund of World Land Trust (WLT).

I think there is a mistake in the Wildlife Extra text here. The cloud forest reserve is in Mexico, not in Chile.

The purchased area of cloud forest lies on the southern border of the Cerro Prieto-Cerro la Luz, a reserve which is owned and managed by WLT’s conservation partner in Mexico, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG).

The extension will help protect a wide range of species including big cats such as pumas and jaguars, as well as amphibians such as tree frogs.

The purchase also means previous plans to build a road across the property cannot now go ahead, which helps protect the area from loggers.

Roberto Pedraza, GESG’s Technical Officer, explains: “With this new purchase we can completely block that road and without that road the loggers can’t take the timber out from our area.”

Prior to the purchase timber was being extracted and loggers were making roof shingles out of old growth cedars. That activity has now stopped thanks to the presence of GESG rangers.