Ghost shrimps filmed by diver


This video is about ghost shrimps or Caprellidae, a family of amphipod crustaceans.

Here, they are near the bridge across the Oosterschelde estuary, on top of dead man’s fingers, a soft coral species.

Diver Jack Oomen made the video.

Bring flowers, birds, bees back to meadows


This video, by BirdLife in the Netherlands, says about itself (translated):

August 25, 2014

Farmer Bink’s Rich Meadow: ‘Sowing the seeds of love for the birds and the bees‘.

Farmer Bink wants the flowers, bees and birds back into his pasture. Help him! Share this movie and sign the petition here.

One of the bird species which biodiverse meadows in the Netherlands attract are golden plovers in winter.

New snail species discovered in Malaysia, already threatened


This video says about itself:

The Gastropoda or gastropods are a large taxonomic class within the molluscs, a class of animals that are more commonly known as snails and slugs. The class includes snails and slugs of all kinds and all sizes.

From Mongabay.com:

Scientists name new endangered species after the company that will decide its fate

By: Tanya Dimitrova

August 24, 2014

Scientists have discovered a new snail species on a limestone hill near a cement quarry in Malaysia, which as far as they know lives nowhere else in the world. The animal’s shell is only one tenth of an inch in size. “Narrow endemic species are a common occurrence on limestone hills,” Jaap Vermeulen, lead author of the new study, told mongabay.com. “A good biologist can quite easily discover several species of endemic invertebrates on an isolated, unsurveyed hill.”

Although just unearthed, the miniscule snail is already threatened with extinction. It lives on a limestone hill called Kanthan given as a concession to an international company Lafarge. The cement producer quarries the hill for raw materials. As a result, the snail will be included as Critically Endangered in the next update of the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

The scientists who discovered the animal named it Charopa lafargei, after the cement company that will decide its fate.

“I’m not aware of a species threatened with extinction which has been given the name of the company which can determine whether it goes extinct or survives,” said Tony Whitten from Fauna & Flora International.

The new snail is not the only endemic species found on the hill. Kanthan is also home to nine plant species that are on Malaysia’s Red List of Endangered Plants, one Critically Endangered spider (Liphistius kanthan), one gecko (Cyrtodactylus guakanthanensis) and two snails (Opisthostoma trapezium and Sinoennea chrysalis) that are found nowhere else in the world.

Three bug species discovered, new for Texel island


This video is called True Bugs.

Today, warden Erik van der Spek, on Texel island in the Netherlands, writes about bugs.

Recently, biologists discovered three species, new for the island, of this insect group, .

Temnostehus pusillus was found in the Bollekamer nature reserve, in the western dunes.

Rhacognathus punctatus, the heather bug, was discovered in the Horspolder, in the south of Texel.

Cyphostethus tristriatus, juniper shield bug, was found on a juniper shrub in the sand dunes.

This brings the number of Texel bug species to 313; about half of all bug species in the whole Netherlands.

Bugs photos: here.

Sydney spiders bigger than Australian outback spiders


This video from the USA says about itself:

6 June 2011

Get a behind-the-scenes look at this history and creation of this dazzling textile—the only one of its kind in the world—made from the strands of silk from over one million of Madagascar’s golden orb spiders. On view at the Art Institute of Chicago through October 2011.

From Wired magazine:

Cities Are Making Spiders Grow Bigger and Multiply Faster

By Nick Stockton

08.20.14, 2:00 pm

Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.

A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.

The study’s authors collected 222 of the creatures from parks and bushland throughout Sydney, and correlated their sizes to features of the built and natural landscape. …

To measure urbanization, the authors looked primarily at ground cover throughout the city, at several scales, where they collected each spider: Are surfaces mostly paved? Is there a lack of natural vegetation? Lawns as opposed to leaf litter?

“The landscape characteristics most associated with larger size of spiders were hard surfaces (concrete, roads etc) and lack of vegetation,” said Elizabeth Lowe, a Ph.D student studying arachnids at the University of Sydney.

Humped golden orb weavers are a common arachnid along Australia’s east coast. They get their name from their large, bulging thorax, and the gold silk they use to spin their spherical webs. They typically spend their lives in one place, constantly fixing the same web (which can be a meter in diameter). Each web is dominated by a single female, though 4 or 5 much smaller males usually hang around the edges of the web, waiting for an opportunity to mate (only occasionally does the female eat them afterwards).

Paved surfaces and lack of vegetation mean cities are typically warmer than the surrounding countryside. Orb weavers are adapted to warm weather, and tend to grow bigger in hotter temperatures. The correlation between size and urban-ness manifested at every scale. Citywide, larger spiders were found closer to the central business district. And, their immediate surroundings were more likely to be heavily paved and less shady.

More food also leads to bigger spiders, and the scientists believe that human activity attracts a smorgasbord of orb weavers’ favorite prey. Although the study wasn’t designed to determine exactly how the spiders were getting bigger, the researchers speculate that things like street lights, garbage, and fragmented clumps of plant life might attract insects. They also believe that the heat island effect might let urban spiders mate earlier in the year, and might even give them time to hatch multiple broods.

The orb weavers could also be keeping more of what they catch. Because they are such prolific hunters, orb weavers’ webs are usually home to several other species of spiders that steal food. The researchers found that these little kleptos were less common in webs surrounded by pavement and little vegetation.

Lowe says quite a few species of spider are successful in urban areas, and she wouldn’t be surprised if some of these other species were also getting bigger. Despite how terrifying this sounds, she assures me that this is actually a good thing. “They control fly and pest species populations and are food for birds,” she said.

Honey bee reproduction, new research


This video is called Honey Bees – Life Cycle.

From Wildlife Extra:

Researchers discover what causes honeybees to prepare for reproduction

When a colony of honeybees reaches the first stage in its reproductive cycle it builds a special type of comb used for rearing male reproductive bees, called drones. But what triggers that first stage?

A team of experts from the Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University, led by Michael Smith, set out to answer that question, reports the journal Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature.

Reproduction isn’t always a honeybee colony’s top priority. Early in a colony’s development, its primary focus is on survival and growth.

However, when the colony reaches a certain stage, its workers start investing in reproduction. The first step is building cells of drone comb, the special comb made up of large cells in which the drones are reared.

Drones develop from unfertilised eggs. Their sole purpose in a colony is to mate with virgin queens from other colonies, thereby spreading the genes of the colony that produced the successful drones.

Virgin queens in turn need to mate with drones before they can lay fertilised eggs that will become worker bees.

Queens will mate with over a dozen drones during their single nuptial flight, after which they are stocked with sperm for life.

Smith and his team were puzzled about precisely which colony features kick-start this key process of drone comb building.

Is it the number of workers in the colony? Is it the total area of worker comb? Or is it the number of brood in the colony? Or the size of the colony’s honey stores?

The Cornell University researchers found that while every colony built worker comb (non-reproductive comb), not every colony built drone comb (reproductive comb).

They discovered that an increase in the number of workers stimulated them to start constructing drone comb. This was seen whenever colonies contained 4,000 or more worker bees.

The researchers are still left wondering about precisely how an individual worker bee ‘knows’ how many other workers there are in its colony.

They speculate that this might have to do with how crowded individuals feel while working side-by-side in the hive. Further research is currently being conducted to shed more light on this mystery.

“Colonies with more workers built a greater proportion of drone comb, whereas colonies with more comb, more brood, or more honey stores, did not do so,” Smith said. “We estimate that a colony needs approximately 4,000 workers to invest in building drone comb.”

The researchers believe that their findings are also relevant to other social systems in which a group’s members must adjust their behaviour in relationship to the group’s size.

Marine life off Somerset, England, new research


This video is called British Sea Life.

From Wildlife Extra:

Deep sea survey reveals thriving marine life off Somerset coast

An underwater sea survey off the Somerset coast has revealed populations of sea hares, sun starfish and the rare stalked jellyfish.

Commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts the survey is the first in more than 30 years that explores the waters off Porlock Weir.

The dive is part of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas initiative to raise awareness of Somerset’s marine environment through public surveys and events.

Discoveries by the four professional divers and marine ecologists included two different and very diverse sea bed habitats; a boulder reef north of Gore Point and a sand and shell plain in the centre of Porlock Bay in the Bristol Channel.

They recorded rare stalked jellyfish, bunches of cuttlefish and squid eggs, squat lobsters hiding in crevices, many crab and fish species, brittle and sunstar starfish plus many sea hares, which are large and exotic looking marine molluscs.

The stalked jellyfish is a UKBAP Priority Species; a species of principal importance for the purpose of conservation of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

Dominic Flint, marine scientist and leader of the dive team, said: “This survey complements the extensive intertidal, seashore, marine mammal and birdlife records collected by the Somerset Wildlife Trust members, volunteers and staff. This now provides a more complete picture of the fantastically diverse marine environment of the Somerset coast, which has been somewhat underappreciated in the past.

“The wealth of evidence provided by exploratory dive surveys like this, in areas where there is little or no habitat or seabed data, will ensure we have the evidence to secure their conservation and can be included in future discussions over marine protection and conservation measures.”

Nigel Phillips, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s marine ambassador, said: “Our beach survey work has shown that this coast is far richer in wildlife than many would expect despite murky water and fast-moving tidal currents, which made this a very frustrating place to survey.”