Rare fungus discovery in the Netherlands


This video is called Fungi: Death Becomes Them – CrashCourse Biology #39.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

A few weeks ago the very rare Neolentinus schaefferi mushroom was discovered in the PWN dunes at Bakkum. In the Netherlands Neolentinus schaefferi so far had been known from six different locations of which now three have disappeared. Ever since a few weeks, Neolentinus schaefferi at Bakkum is basking in the sun on an old polar stump. That mushrooms develop in such a sunny location is amazing.

Rare lichen discovery on Vlieland island


This video says about itself:

Lichen are one of the most undervalued organisms on the face of the planet. Watch this video to find out why.

Warden Anke Bruin from Vlieland island in the Netherlands reports about the discovery of a rare lichen on two sand dune spots in July this year.

It is Cladonia verticillata. This species had never been seen before on the Dutch Wadden Sea islands.

Hoverfly on flower, video


This is a video about a hoverfly on a flower.

Marjo Steffen made this video in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.

Goats better than herbicides, new study


This video is called common reed (Phragmites australis).

From Duke University in the USA:

Goats better than chemicals for curbing invasive marsh grass

18 hours ago

Herbivores, not herbicides, may be the most effective way to combat the spread of one of the most invasive plants now threatening East Coast salt marshes, a new Duke University-led study finds.

Phragmites australis, or the common reed, is a rapid colonizer that has overrun many coastal wetlands from New England to the Southeast. A non-native perennial, it can form dense stands of grass up to 10 feet high that block valuable shoreline views of the water, kill off native grasses, and alter marsh function.

Land managers traditionally have used chemical herbicides to slow phragmites’ spread but with only limited and temporary success.

Now, field experiments by researchers at Duke and six other U.S. and European universities have identified a more sustainable, low-cost alternative: goats.

“We find that allowing controlled grazing by goats or other livestock in severely affected marshes can reduce the stem density of phragmites cover by about half in around three weeks,” said Brian R. Silliman, lead author of the new study and Rachel Carson associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

“The goats are likely to provide an effective, sustainable and much more affordable way of mowing down the invasive grass and helping restore lost ocean views,” he said.

In fenced-in test plots at the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland, Silliman and his colleagues found that a pair of the hungry herbivores could reduce phragmites cover from 94 percent to 21 percent, on average, by the end of the study. Separate trials showed that horses and cows would also readily eat the invasive grass.

In addition to restoring views, the controlled grazing allowed native plant species to re-establish themselves in the test plots over time. The native species diversity index increased five-fold.

“For more than two decades, we’ve declared major chemical and physical warfare on this grass, using all the latest manmade weapons,” Silliman said. “We’ve used helicopters to spray it with herbicides and bulldozers to remove its roots. More often than not, however, it returns.

“In this study, we show that sustainable, low-cost rotational livestock grazing can suppress the unwanted tall grass and favor a more diverse native plant system,” he said.

Silliman said the re-emergence of native marsh plants could happen even faster and be more sustained if managers combine grazing with the selective use of herbicides to eradicate any remaining phragmites and then re-plant native species in its place.

The research findings appear this week in the open-access online journal PeerJ.

“This could be a win-win-win-win situation,” Silliman said. Marshes win because native diversity and function is largely restored. Farmers benefit because they receive payment for providing the livestock and they gain access to free pasture land. Managers win because control costs are reduced. Communities and property owners win because valuable and pleasing water views are brought back.

The approach has been used for nearly 6,000 years in parts of Europe and recently has been successfully tested on small patches of heavily phragmites-invaded marshes in New York, he notes. “Now, it just has to be tested on a larger spatial scale.”

The only drawback, he added, is that “people have to be okay with having goats in their marsh for a few weeks or few months in some years. It seems like a fair trade-off to me.”

Rare moss discovery in Alaska


This video from Alaska is about Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

From the Alaska Dispatch News:

Botanists find rare moss in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Yereth Rosen

September 22, 2014

A rare type of moss never before spotted on U.S. soil has been discovered growing in Alaska’s Wrangell-Elias National Park, scientists reported in a study published in the journal Evansia.

A routine plant survey, part of a National Park Service program intended to create baseline data about the vegetation in three Interior Alaska national parks, turned up a moss of the species Trematodon laetevirens, the scientists report. That species, so obscure there is no common name, has been found in only one other North American site — in Canada’s Yukon Territory — and is also known to grow in Greenland and Scandinavia, according to the scientists.

The moss was found in a boulder field near the upper reaches of Trail Creek, a tributary of the Nabesna River, according to the study.

The discovery was made during a multiyear vegetation survey in which species growing in various study plots were cataloged, said Sarah Stehn, a Denali National Park botanist who was part of the team that found the Trematodon laetevirens.

“We weren’t looking for these guys at all, beyond the fact that we were recording all the bryophyte species that were in our monitoring plots,” said Stehn, the study’s lead author.

Trematodon laetevirens is distinguished by its long bristle, its straight, smooth-necked capsule and its long, narrow leaves, according to the study. Stehn described it as “a small green moss that grows upright in a little tuft.” The team found it growing in rock crevices, she said.

Extinct fungus found again in the Netherlands


This video is called Climate change imperils French truffle production: scientists.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

During the excursion of 15 September by the Mushroom Study Group Drenthe the supposedly extinct Rhizopogon villosulus truffle was discovered. The excursion was in the Holmers, a recent nature area of the ​​Forestry Commission in central Drenthe. Under a Douglas fir at a place with a very thin humus layer the truffles were found by chance while searching for insects.

This species had become extinct in the Netherlands.

Butterflies dying in Fukushima


This video from China is about a pale grass blue butterfly.

From BioMed Central:

Are butterflies still fluttering in Fukushima?

September 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

In this guest blog, Joji M. Otaki discusses the impact feasting on radioactively contaminated leaves has on the surrounding blue butterfly population.

The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 is the second largest nuclear accident, next to Chernobyl, in the history of mankind. Many theoreticians and politicians have claimed, without any field-based or experimental evidence, that there are no harmful biological effects caused by the released artificial radionuclides.

Even worse, some biologists have claimed that there are no biological impacts in the polluted area, based solely on fragmentary data from a short survey or a non-informative experiment (or based on irrelevant data) that have no power to resolve the issue. These claims were often relatively well advertised.

However, this situation has changed in recent years. For example, it has already been reported that some animals, especially butterflies, decreased in number in the polluted areas in Fukushima, based on field surveys conducted by Prof. Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues. We have been working on the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, to evaluate the biological impacts of the accident … . We are sure that this species of butterfly was considerably affected by the accident, based on several field surveys, rearing experiments in our laboratory, external exposure experiments, and internal exposure experiments, some of which have already been published. The internal exposure experiments were performed in the previously published papers by feeding Okinawa larvae (least affected in Japan) leaves contaminated at high levels.

Now in the paper just published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, we tested if leaves contaminated at relatively low (or very low) levels from places where many people live could be harmful to this butterfly from Okinawa. As expected, leaves contaminated at very low levels (e.g., Okinawa, 0.2 Bq/kg; Atami, 2.5 Bq/kg) did not show any significant effect. However, to our surprise, leaves contaminated at relatively low levels, approximately 100 Bq/kg (e.g., Koriyama, 117 Bq/kg), resulted in a mortality rate of more than 50%. This result differs from the previous one which was based on leaves contaminated at relatively high levels (e.g., Fukushima, 7,860 Bq/kg; Iitate-flatland, 10,170 Bq/kg) see). Because the breeding lines used in these two experiments were different, the difference indicates sensitivity variation within this single species.

Indeed, in our experiments, a mortality rate never reached 100%, even in feeding leaves contaminated at extremely high levels. In other words, some are completely fine at least morphologically, but others are heavily ill or dead. Sensitivity to radiation varies very much among individuals.

The ingestional impacts appear to be transgenerational, as the body size (more precisely, the forewing size) of this butterfly decreased in the offspring generation. Moreover, the sensitivity of the offspring generation increased, resulting in very high mortality rates. Interestingly, feeding the offspring larvae non-contaminated leaves resulted in low mortality rates.

Of course, we do not know how much of our experimental results from the pale grass blue butterfly are applicable to humans. However, it is widely believed among modern biologists that insights obtained from one biological system are largely applicable to other systems. This is why biologists study model organisms such as the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Studies on this insect have greatly contributed to our understanding of humans.

To my knowledge, there have been no cases of human health effects of the Fukushima accident reported in scientific literature thus far, although anecdotal evidence has been around. To be sure, human-based studies are slow, descriptive, less conclusive, and more often a target of political pressure, compared with insect studies, but of course human studies are necessary. I believe that at least some studies on human health will appear sooner or later in scientific literature.

‘Remember Fukushima': Thousands rally against nuclear restart in Japan — Common Dreams: here.

Tepco struggling to win approval of fishermen over water-discharge plan — The Asahi Shimbun; The Japan Times: here.