Breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria

Originally posted on North African Birds:

Mouslim, B., Merzoug, S. E., Rassim, K., Bouslama, Z., & Houhamdi, M. (2014). Aspects of the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria. Ostrich 85(2): 185-191.

PDF disponible maintenant sur African Journals online.


The Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio is a common rail that previously was little investigated in North Africa. From 2011 to 2013, its breeding ecology was studied at two natural wetlands in north-east Algeria, namely Garaet Hadj Tahar and Garaet Messaoussa. Numbers of Purple Swamphens at both localities peaked in late April and early May. Egg-laying started in early March, whereas hatching started in late March. Peak egg-laying took place in late March and early April, and peak hatching from mid-April to early May. There were significant differences in the size and weight of eggs between years and localities. The mean clutch size was 2.75…

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Rare mushroom discovery in the Netherlands

Agaricus subfloccosus, photo by Piet Brouwer

Translated from the Dutch mycological society:

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

In the park surrounding Recreatieplas Twiske, close to Oostzaan, there was an extraordinary discovery. During a walk of two members of the mycological society a group of mushrooms was found. The flawless specimens stood out because of their subtle beauty and photos were made. After identification they turned out to be Agaricus subfloccosus, a very rare Red List species that is threatened with extinction.

Why vultures can eat carrion

This video is called Feeding a Vulture – Vultures: Beauty in the Beast – Natural World – BBC Two.

From Wildlife Extra:

A super-gut allows vultures to eat disgusting carcasses

Vultures are able to eat rotting carcasses covered in bacteria that could kill other creatures because their super-digestive tract is able to kill, or tolerate, dangerous bacteria like Clostridia, Fuso- and Anthrax-bacteria without ill-effects, a new study has found.

Co-author Michael Roggenbuck from University of Copenhagen explains: “Our results show there has been strong adaptation in vultures when it comes to dealing with the toxic bacteria they digest. On one hand vultures have developed an extremely tough digestive system, which simply acts to destroy the majority of the dangerous bacteria they ingest.

“On the other hand, vultures also appear to have developed a tolerance towards some of the deadly bacteria — species that would kill other animals actively seem to flourish in the vulture lower intestine.”

The scientists investigated the DNA of bacteria living on the face and gut of 50 turkey and black vultures from the USA and found the facial skin of vultures contained DNA from 528 different types of micro-organisms, whereas DNA from only 76 types of micro-organisms were found in the gut, meaning a staggering 452 have been got rid of along the way.

“Apparently something radical happens to the bacteria ingested during passage through their digestive system,” says fellow co-author Lars Hestbjerg Hansen from Aarhus University in Denmark.

Gary Graves of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History observed: “The avian microbiome is terra incognita but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the relationship between birds and their microbes has been as important in avian evolution as the development of powered flight and song.”

See also here.

Wolf travels 450 miles to Grand Canyon

This video from the USA is called Grand Canyon National Park.

From Wildlife Extra:

Gray wolf travels 450 miles to Grand Canyon

For the first time in 70 years a lone gray wolf has been sighted in Arizona. The female wolf originated from the northern Rocky Mountains and has travelled at least 450 miles to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

“This wolf’s epic journey through at least three western states fits with what scientific studies have shown, namely that wolves could once again roam widely and that the Grand Canyon is one of the best places left for them,” said Michael Robinson from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Gray wolves face an uncertain future. Almost 100 years ago, in 1915, the federal US government conducted began culling wolves in the western United States, and by the early 1920s most of the wolves had been exterminated and the last one was sighted Arizona in the 1940s. The Gray wolf was added to the country’s Endangered List and in the 1990s 66 wolves were brought to the Rocky Mountains.

As a result of this conservation work populations are increasing and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are now, due to the success, are proposing to remove the species from the list. But this has concerned some conservationists as they say without the protection the species could be persecuted again.

“It’s heartening this animal has been confirmed as a wolf. But I am very worried that if wolves are taken off the endangered species list she will be killed and wolf howls from the North Rim’s pine forest will never again echo in the Grand Canyon,” [said] Robinson.

Earlier this month, the Center released a first-of-its-kind analysis identifying 359,000 square miles of additional wolf habitat in the lower 48 states that could significantly boost wolf recovery which include Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon.

“There’s so much more room for wolves in the West if only we extend them a bit more tolerance,” Robinson said. “The Grand Canyon wolf is a prime example of what wolves can do if only we let them.”