Oceanic puffer, first time in the Netherlands


This is a video by a German diver on an oceanic puffer.

Oceanic puffers are a subtropical fish species.

They had never been recorded from the North Sea.

However, this week people from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands discovered one; beached on the south of the island.

27 new animal species discovered in Tanzania


This video says about itself:

The 2008 edition of the Exo Terra expedition headed for the Eastern Arc Mountains and the Southern Highlands of the Republic of Tanzania in East Africa. The main goal of this expedition was to map the amphibian and reptile biodiversity of these regions and to get a better understanding of the species inhabiting these complex ecosystems.

From Wildlife Extra:

27 new species found in Tanzanian forests

A recent study revealed that 27 new vertebrate species have been found in the forests of Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains. Of these, 23 were amphibians and reptiles. Of the total species that were identified in the region, the study found that there are 211 vertebrate species that are found only in the Eastern Arc Mountains, and 203 of them are found in Tanzania alone. These findings, says the study, re-enforce the importance of the Eastern Arc Mountains as one of the top locations on Earth for biological diversity and uniqueness.

“The Eastern Arc Mountains were already known for the unusually high density of endemic species,” explains Neil Burgess, a leading expert on Africa’s biodiversity and vice-chair of the TFCG, “however we lacked comprehensive data from at least six of the 13 mountain blocks.”

The study was conducted by an international team, and included researchers from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and MUSE-Science Museum in Italy, and was financed by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

The Eastern Arc Mountains are an isolated chain of geologically ancient mountains that extend from southern Kenya to south-central Tanzania. According to scientists, the forest has existed on the mountains for more than 30 million years and was once connected to forests in the Congo Basin and West Africa.

Good Galapagos tortoise news


This video says about itself:

Island-hopping in Galápagos: meet the world’s rarest tortoise and the birds of Española Island

10 October 2011

In the second part of his Galápagos island-hopping adventure, Andy Duckworth talks to naturalist guide Robert Naranjo, seeks out sea lions, a friendly hawk, dancing albatrosses and more prancing blue-footed boobies. He also meets Lonesome George, the last surviving Pinta Island tortoise and the rarest creature on the planet

From the BBC:

28 October 2014 Last updated at 19:16 GMT

Giant tortoise makes ‘miraculous’ stable recovery

By Jonathan Webb, Science reporter, BBC News

Where once there were 15, now more than 1,000 giant tortoises lumber around Espanola, one of the Galapagos Islands.

After 40 years’ work reintroducing captive animals, a detailed study of the island’s ecosystem has confirmed it has a stable, breeding population.

Numbers had dwindled drastically by the 1960s, but now the danger of extinction on Espanola appears to have passed.

Galapagos tortoises, of which there are 11 remaining subspecies, weigh up to 250kg and live longer than 100 years.

The study, based on decades of observations of the variety found on Espanola, was published in the journal Plos One.

Slow release

It offers some good news that contrasts with the tale of Lonesome George, the very last of the related subspecies found on Pinta, on the other side of the archipelago. George’s death, at the age of about 100, made international news in 2012.

Lead author Prof James Gibbs told BBC News the finding on Espanola was “one of those rare examples of a true conservation success story, where we’ve rescued something from the brink of extinction and now it’s literally taking care of itself”.

Prof Gibbs, from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY-ESF), said he felt “honoured” to be reporting the obvious success of the reintroduction programme, which the Galapagos Islands National Park Service commenced in 1973.

His team has found that more than half the tortoises released since that time are still alive, and they are breeding well enough for the population to plod onward, unaided.

“It looks like we can step back out of the picture,” Prof Gibbs said.

It is quite a contrast to the 1960s, when just 12 females and 3 males roamed the island.

“They were so rare at that point, they couldn’t find one another. Many of the females had lichens growing on their backs, and fungi, that indicated they hadn’t been mated in a very long time.”

Those animals were taken to an enclosure [on] another island, to concentrate on breeding. Over the subsequent decades, more than 1500 of their captive-raised offspring have been released on Espanola.

Competing for cacti

It wasn’t as simple as putting the tortoises back, however. Their problems began when feral goats were introduced in the 1800s and devoured much of the island’s vegetation, severely disrupting the ecosystem.

“They can literally turn a rich ecosystem into a dustbowl,” Prof Gibbs said.

The goats even learned to feast on very tall cactus plants, whose dropped pads are a key food source for the tortoises in the dry season.

“They would feast on the roots… and chew away at the bark, and eventually that would topple these cacti. And then they had an incredible buffet of maybe 500-1000 years of cactus growth, demolished in a week or two.”

Conservationists set about culling the goats in the 1970s and finally eradicated them in the 1990s.

Their legacy, Prof Gibbs discovered, remains.

Analysis of the island’s plant life and its soil show that it has seen a major shift to bigger, woodier vegetation in the 100 years since the goats started stripping the undergrowth.

These shrubs and trees are a problem both for the tortoises and for their summer food of choice, the cacti.

The trees even get in the way of an endangered albatross that breeds on the island, making it difficult for the big, ungainly birds to take flight.

“Population restoration is one thing but ecological restoration is going to take a lot longer,” Prof Gibbs said.

Dr Rebecca Scott, an ecologist who studies turtles at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, said the results showed how important it is to monitor reintroduction carefully.

“Reintroducing these large, keystone species, in combination with reducing the spread of invasive species, can really help return ecosystems to native state.

“This work highlights the merit of well-managed reintroduction programmes, but also of really monitoring how these animals do.”

Dr Gerardo Garcia, a herpetologist at Chester Zoo, agreed that the situation was complex and the programme had succeeded because of careful, long-term management.

“It’s a long process but it’s quite normal for it to take decades,” he told BBC News.

“Nothing gets released and stable in less than 20 or 30 years.”

See also here.

Shiny underwater animals biology, video


This video says about itself:

Biologist Illuminates Glowing Underwater World

27 October 2014

National Geographic 2014 Emerging Explorer and marine biologist David Gruber studies animals that glow and shine underwater. Using special filters, he captures dazzling sights of marine creatures that use light—through bioluminescence or fluorescence—to interact in dark habitats.

Wild chimpanzees plan their breakfast


This video says about itself:

Backstage in the Wild: Yale Insights into Chimpanzee

20 April 2012

In the Ugandan national park Ngogo, Yale anthropologist David Watts and colleagues at the University of Michigan study the behavior of chimpanzees. Watts, who served as a consultant for newly released Disney nature Chimpanzee, describes his experiences with our with our primate cousins – and the urgent need to protect them in the wild.

From Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Wild chimpanzees plan their breakfast time, type, and location

Significance

How do large-brained primates maintain high rates of energy intake when times are lean? By analyzing early-morning departure times and sleeping nest positioning of female chimpanzees as a function of the ephemerality of next day’s breakfast fruit and its location, we found evidence that wild chimpanzees flexibly plan when and where they will have breakfast after weighing multiple factors, such as the time of day, their egocentric distance to, and the type of food to be eaten. To our knowledge, our findings reveal the first clear example of a future-oriented cognitive mechanism by which hominoids, like great apes, can buffer the effect of seasonal declines in food availability and increased interspecific competition to facilitate first access to nutritious food.

Abstract

Not all tropical fruits are equally desired by rainforest foragers and some fruit trees get depleted more quickly and carry fruit for shorter periods than others. We investigated whether a ripe-fruit specialist, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), arrived earlier at breakfast sites with very ephemeral and highly sought-after fruit, like figs, than sites with less ephemeral fruit that can be more predictably obtained throughout the entire day.

We recorded when and where five adult female chimpanzees spent the night and acquired food for a total of 275 full days during three fruit-scarce periods in a West African tropical rainforest. We found that chimpanzees left their sleeping nests earlier (often before sunrise when the forest is still dark) when breakfasting on very ephemeral fruits, especially when they were farther away. Moreover, the females positioned their sleeping nests more in the direction of the next day’s breakfast sites with ephemeral fruit compared with breakfast sites with other fruit.

By analyzing departure times and nest positioning as a function of fruit type and location, while controlling for more parsimonious explanations, such as temperature, we found evidence that wild chimpanzees flexibly plan their breakfast time, type, and location after weighing multiple disparate pieces of information. Our study reveals a cognitive mechanism by which large-brained primates can buffer the effects of seasonal declines in food availability and increased interspecific competition to facilitate first access to nutritious food. We discuss the implications for theories on hominoid brain-size evolution.

The research was in Ivory Coast.

Red pandas filmed in Myanmar, first time


This video says about itself:

26 October 2014

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) biologists have captured Myanmar’s first ever wild footage of the red panda.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wild Red Pandas filmed in Myanmar for first time

A pair of endangered Red Pandas have been caught on film in Myanmar for the first time.

The team of scientists from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) captured a pair of pandas roaming the high-altitude, mixed bamboo and conifer forests of the Imawbum mountain range, in the country’s far north-east. The Red Pandas can be seen crawling slowly along a rocky landslide, caused by Chinese logging, up to the ruined forest to feed on bamboo leaves.

“When we encountered the two Red Pandas, we felt two emotions at the same time; incredibly happy for the direct sighting and for obtaining this first exciting footage, but terribly saddened seeing the state of their habitat and threats to the species’ survival,” said Saw Soe Aung, FFI’s field biologist who captured the couple on film.

With less than 10,000 mature individuals estimated to be left in the wild, the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. They are endemic to temperate mountain forests of the Eastern Himalayas ranging from Western Nepal to China.

Hunting and wildlife trade, alongside accelerated deforestation caused by illegal logging are the main threats for the species in Myanmar. FFI’s Red Panda Conservation is working to increase awareness amongst local indigenous people for the protection of the species, while supporting the Myanmar Forest Department to designate a new protected area, Imawbum National Park.

“We hope that the National Park designation combined with Myanmar’s recent raw log export ban will encourage the Chinese government to stop loggers venturing into Myanmar,” said Frank Momberg, FFI’s Myanmar programme director.

Find out more about Red Pandas by reading our field guide to the species, which is crammed with Red Panda facts and figures.

Liberian refugee not deported to Ebola today


This video is called Ebola Virus: Film reveals scenes of horror in LiberiaBBC News.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Monday 27 Oct 2014 19:35

The Liberian who today would be deported to Liberia can remain temporarily in the Netherlands. According to his lawyer, the court in Roermond has decided that. The Liberian at that time was already on the way to the airport.

The court in Den Bosch last week ruled that the Ebola epidemic was not a reason to stop deportation, because people can protect themselves against Ebola. …

The lawyer had filed a case in Roermond with different arguments.

Ebola virus family is 16 to 23 million years old: here.

EBOLA FIGHT A LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE “Because of the limited time they can spend in the sick wards in their stifling protective suits, the risks of certain procedures and even the amount of medicines available, health workers [in Liberia] and elsewhere in West Africa ration care, operating under constraints they often find frustrating.” And contact tracing in Liberian slums is near impossible as mass fear of quarantine and treatment hampers any separation of the sick from the healthy. [NYT]

Israel’s Ebola-testing lab too slow to diagnose disease, critics say: here.

Australia has become the first Western country to impose a total entry ban on people from Ebola-stricken West African countries. Medical experts, UN agencies and African government leaders denounced the move as discriminatory and damaging for international efforts to combat the catastrophe: here.