Seahorse sounds, new study


This video is called The World of Seahorses.

From the Journal of ZooLogy:

Sounds produced by the longsnout seahorse: a study of their structure and functions

Abstract

Seahorses are known to produce sounds in different behavioural contexts, but information on the sound production in this fish group is scarce. Here we examined the acoustic behaviour of the longsnout seahorse Hippocampus reidi by analysing sound production when fish were introduced to a new environment and during feeding, handling and courtship. We show that males and females produce two distinct sound types: ‘clicks’ (main energy between 50 and 800 Hz) during feeding and courtship, and previously undescribed ‘growls’ (main energy concentrated below 200 Hz).

The latter consists of series of sound pulses uttered in stress situations when the animals were handheld. Growls were accompanied by body vibrations, and may constitute an additional escape mechanism in seahorses, which might startle predators. During reproductive behaviour, clicks were most abundant on the third (last) day of courtship; they were particularly associated with the males’ pouch-pumping behaviour, suggesting synchronization between sound production and courtship behaviour. This is consistent with the biology of Hippocampus species, which are mostly monogamous and form pair bonds. Thus, a courtship call may be used to signal readiness to mate.

Soon, app for recognizing wild birds’ songs?


This video is called Some Brazilian birds and sounds.

From Queen Mary University in London, England:

Birdsongs automatically decoded by computer scientists

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have found a successful way of identifying bird sounds from large audio collections, which could be useful for expert and amateur bird-watchers alike.

Thursday 17 July 2014

 

The analysis used recordings of individual birds and of dawn choruses to identify characteristics of bird sounds. It took advantage of large datasets of sound recordings provided by the British Library Sound Archive, and online sources such as the Dutch archive called Xeno Canto.

Publishing in the journal PeerJ, the authors describe an approach that combines feature-learning – an automatic analysis technique – and a classification algorithm, to create a system that can distinguish between which birds are present in a large dataset.

“Automatic classification of bird sounds is useful when trying to understand how many and what type of birds you might have in one location,” commented lead author Dr Dan Stowell from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science and Centre for Digital Music.

Dr Stowell was recently awarded a prestigious five-year fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop computerised processes to detect multiple bird sounds in large sets of audio recordings.

Birdsong has a lot in common with human language, even though it evolved separately. For example, many songbirds go through similar stages of vocal learning as we do, as they grow up, which makes them interesting to study. From them we can understand more about how human language evolved and social organisation in animal groups,” said Dr Stowell.

He added: “The attraction of fully automatic analysis is that we can create a really large evidence base to address these big questions.”

The classification system created by the authors performed well in a public contest using a set of thousands of recordings with over 500 bird species from Brazil. The system was regarded as the best-performing audio only classifier, and placed second overall out of entries from 10 research groups in the competition.

The researchers hope to drill down into more detail for their next project.

Dr Stowell says: “I’m working on techniques that can transcribe all the bird sounds in an audio scene: not just who is talking, but when, in response to whom, and what relationships are reflected in the sound, for example who is dominating the conversation.”

Want to know more? Read the paper.

Rare great knot in England


This is a great knot video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Extremely rare bird draws a huge crowd in Norfolk

A great knot, a small wader you might normally expect to see in Australia, drew around 400 ardent birdwatchers to the Breydon Water estuary near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk this week.

The species has only been seen three times before in the UK – first in Shetland in 1989, then on Teeside in 1996 and, most recently, at Skippool in Lancashire in 2004.

Most of the latter sightings were so distant, however, that that bird was nicknamed the ‘great dot’.

Great knots breed in the tundra of Siberia and winter on the coasts of southern Asia and Australia, travelling between the two in large flocks. Somewhere on its migration, this bird strayed off course, lost its companions and ended up in East Anglia.

Like other calidrids, such as sandpipers, stints and dunlin, the great knot probes mudflats and beaches with its sensitive bill searching for mollusc prey. This specialised bill contains numerous nerve-endings known as Herbst corpuscles to enable the bird to sense the tiny movements of prey buried in the wet mud.

This particular great knot, oblivious to its legions of admirers behind rows of telescopes, enjoyed the delicacies of Norfolk coastal mud for a few days before moving on.

Beetle and fly quarrel on flower, video


This is a video about a spotted longhorn beetle and a common flesh fly quarreling on a goldenrod flower.

Henk Lammers in Hupsel village in the Netherlands made the video.

Red squirrel eats walnut, video


This is a video about a red squirrel feeding on a walnut.

The video is by keliinfo from the Netherlands.

Hammerhead sharks in danger


This video is called Shark Academy: Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks.

From Wildlife Extra:

US lists four species of hammerhead shark under its Endangered Species Act

The US National Marine Fisheries Service has recently listed four populations of scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini, under the American Endangered Species Act (ESA), because of severe threats posed by human exploitation.

“It’s sobering that we must begin adding shark species to the endangered species list,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians, an American non-profit organisation.

“Our oceans are in serious trouble and this is only the first step toward protecting and restoring the ocean ecosystems that these amazing carnivores call home.”

Shark species worldwide are dwindling in the face of heavy fishing pressures, with animals killed for their meat and fins.

Sharks are also accidentally caught and killed in the course of fishing operations targeting other species. In fact, experts consider fishing to be the greatest threat to the future of all shark species.

Most sharks, including the scalloped hammerhead, maintain oceanic ecosystems as apex carnivores. Ecosystem stability and biodiversity, the preservation of which is the main goal of the ESA, can suffer from the removal of this top predator.

Scalloped hammerheads can be grouped into six distinct populations distinguished by genetics, geography, and behaviour. The new listing rule protects the Central and Southwest Atlantic populations and the Indo-West Pacific populations as Threatened, and the Eastern Atlantic and Eastern Pacific populations as Endangered.

“The listing of the scalloped hammerhead is an important indication that the human exploitation of marine species has taken its toll,” said Michael Harris, Director of the Wildlife Law Program that was launched last year by the American organisation, Friends of Animals, to use environmental laws to protect wildlife and their habitats.

“In fact, nearly half of all marine species worldwide face the threat of extinction as a result of anthropogenic action, including destructive fishing methods, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification.

“It is about time that our government took action to protect hammerheads. Now they should do the same for the many species still awaiting review under the ESA.”

Listing under the ESA has proven to be an effective safety net for imperiled species. Proponents say the law is especially important as a bulwark against the current extinction crisis.

Due to human activities, plants and animals are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have become extinct if they had not been listed under the ESA.

Listing species with a global distribution can protect the species in the United States and help focus resources toward enforcement of international regulation and recovery of the species.

Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year — mostly for the sake of a bowl of soup — but conservationists hope that that the multibillion-dollar trade in shark fins will soon be more endangered than the sharks. Several trends are coming together — including high-profile pledges in China to swear off the traditional soup, to laws banning shark fins from menus, to new international export regulations that are due to take effect in September: here.

Extinct pigeon related to dodo, new research


This video is called Nicobar pigeon display.

From Wildlife Extra:

Liverpool pigeon found to be related to iconic dodo

After 200 years of being somewhat of an enigma, and having unknown provenance, the extinct spotted green pigeon has been found to be related to the iconic but extinct, flightless dodo.

Scientists in Australia analysed tiny DNA fragments extracted from feathers of the only remaining specimen (which is on show in the World Museum in Liverpool) and found it to be related to the nicobar pigeon of Indonesia and distantly related to the dodo of Mauritius.

Clem Fisher from the World Museum said: “We are very pleased that the extinct Spotted Green Pigeon has its correct place in the world of birds finally, after more than 230 years.”

The bird is often referred to as the ‘Liverpool Pigeon’ after the city in which the specimen is kept, but it would have come from either the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia or Oceania.

Leading scientist Dr Tim Heupink, from Griffith University in Australia said: “This study improves our ability to identify novel (new) species from historic remains, and also those that are not novel after all. Ultimately this will help us to measure and understand the extinction of local populations and entire species.”

Golden eagles in southern Scotland


This video from Canada says about itself:

16 August 2011

Birds of prey expert John Campbell teaches his nephew to put an identifying band on a golden eagle chick. Close up and personal views of the nest, its reluctant inhabitant, and the birds’ food sources. Spectacular views of Southern Alberta. The banding is part of a program to protect the species. The band goes on fairly tightly because the birds’ legs don’t grow further in diameter as the bird grows.

From Wildlife Extra:

Golden eagles could return to southern Scotland

Improvements to habitats in the south of Scotland could lead the area to become a stronghold for golden eagles.

A study carried out by the Scottish Natural Heritage showed that the area could potentially support up to 16 pairs, almost four times the present number.

At the moment there are thought to be no more than one or two pairs in Galloway and no more than three in the Scottish Borders.

Prof Des Thompson of SNH, who led the research, told the BBC “We would now like to see on-the-ground, practical work to improve the habitat for golden eagles in the south of Scotland.

“With habitat improvements, we could see connections with the small reintroduced population in Ireland. This would help both groups of eagles and could even help bolster the population in the north of England.”

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “These magnificent birds should be given every opportunity to recover and reoccupy lost range, and must be protected in practice from the effects of human persecution, which remains a significant threat to this species, and in particular to this perilously small and isolated population.”

The total number of golden eagles in Scotland is 440 pairs, with most of the birds found in the Highlands and Islands.

100th young osprey fledges in Loch Garten, Scotland


This video from Scotland is called RSPB Loch Garten Osprey Highlights 2013.

From Wildlife Extra:

Osprey 100 takes off from Loch Garten

The 100th osprey to fledge from Loch Garten Osprey Centre in the Scottish Highlands has taken to the air after days of vigorous flapping to strengthen her flight muscles.

Millicent, the name RSPB staff gave the fledgling, didn’t venture very far for her first flight said Richard Thaxton, RSPB Scotland Osprey Centre Manager.

“She just circled around the nest before alighting in the adjacent dead tree just a matter of metres away. It was huge relief to see both her first take off and first landing completed successfully.”

Millicent’s two siblings, Seasca and Druie are expected to follow suit in the coming days. The young ospreys will spend the next month in or around the nest area until they depart on an annual migration to wintering grounds in Africa.

Ospreys first returned to breed in Scotland 60 years ago following extinction due to egg collectors and other forms of persecution. The first pair to return nested at the nature reserve and the site has been used by ospreys ever since.

Richard said: “It was a magical moment to see Millicent airborne for the first time. It happens every year of course but this time it was particularly special, as she is the 100th chick to fledge from the nest since the birds first returned in the late 1950s.

“It is a magnificent milestone in the huge conservation success story for Scotland. It was a proud moment for all involved in the project, both past & present.”

Keen osprey watchers can keep up to date with all the action in the nest via a live webcam and regular blog updates from Osprey Centre staff.