This video says about itself:
Hawk Attacks Balloon in Super Slow Motion – Slo Mo – Earth Unplugged
5 March 2014
This video from Ecuador says about itself:
This is a canopy species found in primary tropical moist lowland and montane tropical forest. A direct development species, its eggs are carried in a pouch on the females back. It is not present in modified habitats. The population status of this canopy species is unknown; this species faces no major threats; it is a widespread species with large areas of suitable habitat remaining. There is some localized habitat loss to selective logging and agricultural activities. It might be susceptible to chytrid infection, but this requires further investigation.
Scientists uncover new species of Andean marsupial frog
By: Jordanna Dulaney
March 05, 2014
The term “marsupial frog” might sound like a hoax, but, believe it or not, it’s real. Recently, herpetologists welcomed a new species, known as Gastrotheca dysprosita and described in the journal Phyllomedusa.
Unlike mammal marsupials, which typically carry their young in pouches on their torsos and are found primarily in Australia, the Gastrotheca genus of frogs, which contains 62 species, is found in the Andes region of South America and sport their pouches on their backs (also called a “dorsal brood pouch”). The female frog’s vascular tissue provides oxygen to the eggs, which she carries for three to four months until they hatch as fully-developed froglets and head off on their own.
This most recently described species owes its classification to William Duellman, of the University of Kansas. While announced in June 2013, the story of this frog’s discovery really began in 1972 when Fred G. Thompson, a malacologist from the University of Florida, collected the first specimen in the Peruvian Amazon. Thompson brought the mystery frog back to the U.S., and gave it to Duellman to identify and catalog.
The plot thickened when, in 1989, another research group both heard and caught another unidentifiable male in the same region. A second call was heard higher up the mountain, but rainy weather made it impossible to find another specimen.
“The jar containing the holotype [original specimen] of this new species has been gathering dust… I have been trying to clean up loose ends during the preparation of a monograph [a detailed study] on marsupial frogs,” Duellman wrote in his article announcing Gastrotheca dysprosita. “Thus, herein I eliminate a loose end by describing a new species.”
For his description, Duellman took meticulous measurements of the two frogs’ bodies, and compared them to known species. In life, the new species has bumpy, bright green skin with stripes of creamish and brown spots down its back and sides. Duellman describes the iris as a “reddish copper” color. The two individuals were found between 3,370 to 3,440 meters (11,000 to 11,300 feet) on the Cerro Barro Negro, a single mountain in Peru.
Little is known about the behavior patterns of Gastrotheca dysprosita since only two frogs have been found up to this point. Under the IUCN’s (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) guidelines, it’s impossible to make a guess at population size because there simply isn’t enough data.
Even the name of the frog is mysterious: dysprosita, from the Greek word dysprositos, literally means “hard to find.” The name would thus be translated as the “hard-to-find marsupial frog.”
“The name reflects the difficulty in finding this elusive frog,” Duellman states in the species description.
Duellman, William E. “An Elusive New Species of Marsupial Frog (Anura: Hemiphractidae: Gastrotheca) from the Andes of Northern Peru.” Phyllomedusa 12.3-11 (2013.
From the Journal of Animal Ecology:
The role of social environment on parental care: offspring benefit more from the presence of female than male helpers
Investment in offspring depends on the costs and benefits to the carer, which can vary with sex and social status. Investment also depends on the effort of others by allowing for compensation (load-lightening), with biparental care studies showing that this depends on the state and type of the other carer. By contrast, studies on cooperative breeders have solely focussed on the effects of group size rather than its composition (i.e. social environment).
Here we propose and provide the first test of the ‘Social Environment’ hypothesis, that is, how the characteristics (here the sex) of other helpers present in the group affect parental care and how this in turn affects offspring fitness in cooperatively breeding red-winged fairy-wrens (Malurus elegans).
Breeders provisioned nestlings at a higher rate than helpers, but there was no sex difference in provisioning rate. Compensation to increasing group size varied little with sex and status, but strongly depended on social environment. All group members reduced their provisioning rates in response to an increasing number of male (load-lightening), but not female helpers (additive care).
As a result, nestlings received more food and grew faster in the presence of female helpers. The increased nestling growth did convey a fitness advantage due to a higher post-fledging survival to adulthood.
Our study provides the first evidence that parental care can depend on social environment. This could be an important overlooked aspect to explain variation in parental care in cooperative breeders in general and in particular the enormous variation between the sexes, which we reveal in a literature overview.
This video is called: In the Galapagos, Mangrove Finches Fight On by Sue Maturin, Forest & Bird.
From the International Community Foundation:
In February 2014, twelve Mangrove Finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) chicks have hatched as part of a captive rearing program was born at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador. This was the first success in the Mangrove Finch “head-start” program, which is designed to rescue the Mangrove Finch, the most threatened bird on the Galapagos Islands due to threats from nest parasites.
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) March 05, 2014
The International Community Foundation is pleased to announce that on 10th February 2014, the first Mangrove Finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) chick ever to hatch as part of a captive rearing program was born at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), the operative arm of the Charles Darwin Foundation in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.
This was the first success in the Mangrove Finch “head-start” program, with eleven chicks having since hatched. This program is being conducted jointly by the San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG), the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD).
This is a great effort that complements previous hard work on research and management with this species that has been carried out since 1997, by the CDF in collaboration with the GNPD.
The Mangrove Finch is the bird most threatened by extinction in the Galapagos Islands. Currently only 60 to 80 individuals are left in existence and the Mangrove Finch is classified as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Its entire population is restricted to a tiny range of less than 30 hectares in two patches of mangrove forest in the west coast of Isabela Island. In the past 5 years individuals from a remnant population at southern Isabela have no longer been found.
Since early February, 21 eggs and three newly hatched chicks were collected from wild nests in the mangrove forest at Playa Tortuga Negra, on Isabela. The eggs and chicks were then transported in an incubator, by helicopter, to the newly created incubation and hand-rearing facility at the CDRS. This is an area adapted as a quarantine facility, which aims to minimize the chance of the nestlings being infected by disease. Once out of the shell, the chick rearing process is a very demanding task, since, among other things, they need to be hand fed fifteen times a day.
Francesca Cunninghame, CDF scientist responsible for the project said: “After three years of planning and despite many challenges, we are thrilled with the achievements in every step of the process: collection of the eggs, incubation and hand rearing in captivity. Each success is a result of the great teamwork with the SDZG and GNPD and represents a milestone for the recovery of the mangrove finch wild population. The reintroduction of the youngsters back into the wild will be our next big challenge.”
Richard Switzer, Associate Director of Animal Applied Ecology from SDZG stated: “The San Diego Zoo team is very excited to collaborate in this critically important project to prevent the extinction of the Mangrove Finch. In our breeding centers in San Diego and Hawaii, USA, we have developed techniques to raise very small insectivorous birds. Being able to share these skills for the conservation of Galapagos’ biodiversity is a wonderful opportunity.”
Among many introduced species, the main threat to the Mangrove Finch is the Philornis downsi fly. This fly lays its eggs in the nests of the finches and subsequently its larvae parasitize nestlings, feeding on their tissue and blood, and causing a high mortality rate. Due to its tiny population, and with very few youngsters that manage to grow into adults, the population is simply disappearing. In addition, because the Mangrove Finch is only found in one small location, the species faces a particular risk from natural disasters such as lava flows, fire, or disease.
The Minister of Environment, Lorena Tapia, emphasized: “It is extremely important the support of various institutions, in this case the Charles Darwin Foundation and the San Diego Zoo, as due to the geographical scale of the problems we face, joint efforts are required for the conservation of a species that is seriously affected.”
The first goal of this collaboration is to implement a “head-start” program to help Mangrove Finch chicks through the major threat of Philornis. The goal is to return the young birds back to Playa Tortuga Negra, where they will be cared for in a purpose-built acclimation aviary, before being released back into the mangrove forest and monitored by the field team.
The Mangrove Finch Project is funded by SOS – Save Our Species, the International Community Foundation (with a grant awarded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Galapagos Conservancy. San Diego Zoo Global provides technical expertise and funding. Several private individuals have also contributed.
Talking about the Galapagos; from the University of Rochester:
First-ever 3D image created of the structure beneath Sierra Negra volcano
The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the most active volcanoes in the world, with more than 50 eruptions in the last 200 years. Yet until recently, scientists knew far more about the history of finches, tortoises, and iguanas than of the volcanoes on which these unusual fauna had evolved.
Now research out of the University of Rochester is providing a better picture of the subterranean plumbing system that feeds the Galápagos volcanoes, as well as a major difference with another Pacific Island chain—the Hawaiian Islands. The findings have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.
From PLOS ONE:
Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp., the Largest Terrestrial Predator from Europe, and a Proposed Terminology of the Maxilla Anatomy in Nonavian Theropods
Christophe Hendrickx, Octávio Mateus
Published: March 05, 2014
The Lourinhã Formation (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of Central West Portugal is well known for its diversified dinosaur fauna similar to that of the Morrison Formation of North America; both areas share dinosaur taxa including the top predator Torvosaurus, reported in Portugal.
The material assigned to the Portuguese T. tanneri, consisting of a right maxilla and an incomplete caudal centrum, was briefly described in the literature and a thorough description of these bones is here given for the first time. A comparison with material referred to Torvosaurus tanneri allows us to highlight some important differences justifying the creation of a distinct Eastern species.
Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp. displays two autapomorphies among Megalosauroidea, a maxilla possessing fewer than eleven teeth and an interdental wall nearly coincidental with the lateral wall of the maxillary body. In addition, it differs from T. tanneri by a reduced number of maxillary teeth, the absence of interdental plates terminating ventrally by broad V-shaped points and falling short relative to the lateral maxillary wall, and the absence of a protuberant ridge on the anterior part of the medial shelf, posterior to the anteromedial process.
T. gurneyi is the largest theropod from the Lourinhã Formation of Portugal and the largest land predator discovered in Europe hitherto. This taxon supports the mechanism of vicariance that occurred in the Iberian Meseta during the Late Jurassic when the proto-Atlantic was already well formed. A fragment of maxilla from the Lourinhã Formation referred to Torvosaurus sp. is ascribed to this new species, and several other bones, including a femur, a tibia and embryonic material all from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian of Portugal, are tentatively assigned to T. gurneyi. A standard terminology and notation of the theropod maxilla is also proposed and a record of the Torvosaurus material from Portugal is given.
From Wildlife Extra:
Young turtles seek warmer climes
March 2014: New study shows where young loggerhead sea turtles disappear to during their ‘lost years’.
Once baby turtles have successfully hatched and made the risky journey to the sea they are rarely seen until they have grown till 40cm, between seven and 12 years later. Yet what happens to them during this period scientists call the ‘lost years’ has remained a mystery until now.
To solve the mystery a team of scientists, led by Katherine Mansfield of the University of Central Florida, attached solar-powered transmitters to 17 turtles collected from nests along the south-east coast of Florida. The team reared the turtles in the laboratory until they were 11-18cm long before releasing them in the Gulf Stream off the Floridian coast.
They were then tracked for between 27 and 220 days as they travelled distances from 200 to more than 4300km. The scientists found that they all headed north and remained within or close to the Gulf Stream and tended to travel in clockwise direction around the circular North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre currents.
Some turtles however did move out of these Gyre currents into the centre; an area called the Sargrasso sea. The team suggest that this could be linked to the seasonal drift of Sargassum, a type of macro-algae that floats in large mats and to take advantage of the habitat they offer, in particular the warmth the mats trap at the water surface close to them.
For young turtles, staying warm is of upmost importance. Warmer temperatures help their skeletons grow quicker, making them increasingly less vulnerable.
Therefore the team suggest that where these young turtles headed could have been closely linked to where they could find warmer habitats to boost their growth so that once they are large enough they can return to the coast much less vulnerable than when they left as hatchlings.
Randall Hyman writes about this video:
Return of the Terns
More about Randall Hyman in Norway: here.
More about Svalbard Arctic tern research: here.
This video says about itself:
13 June 2013
Bird is using shredded palm fronds to weave the nest. Since there are hundreds of these nests in the colony, the palm trees around the hotel are in pretty sorry condition.
The Lekki Bird Club in Nigeria proves committed to bird monitoring and conservation
By nairobi.volunteer, Mon, 24/02/2014 – 09:38
The Lekki Bird Club (LBC) is a volunteer-based bird conservation group focused on increasing the awareness of bird conservation in Lagos, Nigeria and also on the generation of bird data. This is achieved via the involvement of amateurs and volunteers in bird related activities like bird-watching in local birding sites, organization of talks/lectures, and publications in the form of trip reports and newsletters. Membership is drawn from all walks of life, which gives LBC the uniqueness of leveraging on its own diversity to achieve the goal of bird conservation in Lagos.
Since its inception in March 2009, LBC has remained committed to this goal by organising numerous bird-watching expeditions that enable us collect scientific data during our leisure trips and other activities that encourage bird conservation. Our success story has provided a strong platform to replicate LBC in other cities across the country.
Birding Experience and Data Collection
As a bird club situated in Lagos where land development is highest in the country, birding has never felt better. Put differently, despite the obvious implications of environmental squalor around most birding areas in the city (e.g. degraded woodlands, polluted wetlands), we have had the opportunity to observe and collate an impressive checklist of birds as they adapt to our ‘urbanisation’.
Species of global significance including migratory and threatened birds have been recorded during our trips in Lagos. Some of them include Hooded Vulture, Palm-nut Vulture, Whimbrel and the Open-Billed Stork. Others are Collared Pratincole, Common Ringed Plover and Wood Sandpiper, which are listed in the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). Some of the sites where these species have been recorded include the Tarkwa Bay, National Arts Theatre and Nature Reserve of the Lekki Conservation Centre. Other includes Majek Farms and Muritala Mohammed Botanical Garden.
However, the LBC is not just about globally important and threatened species, but also about the common species we see daily that have graced our gardens, nested in our cubbyholes, lurked around our windows and even orchestrated beautiful melodies to our ears. The Common Bulbuls, Woodland Kingfisher, Laughing Dove, Variable Sunbird, Didric Cuckoo, Village Weavers, Pied Crows and the likes, have all collectively maintained the ecosystem with their services and acted as indicators to the state of our immediate environment.
In May 2012, the club hosted members and other prominent nature enthusiasts to its first in the series of lectures. The well attended evening talk, which was hosted in the Chevron Club House, focused on the “Roles of Volunteers in Bird Conservation in Nigeria” and was delivered by Prof. E. U. Ezealor. The evening talk is part of the LBC’s effort to further propagate the club activities and reach a wider audience. The same feat is achieved with the publications.
Publications like trip reports and newsletters are also produced to give us a wide-eye and as much as possible, to delight our readers. Locally, our publications have stirred up nature’s excitement in some of our subscribers and have obliged them to be part of the club. Internationally, it has provided the platform to network with similar bird clubs outside the country and share experiences by featuring our articles in their publications.
In March 2013, LBC and the Nigerian Field Society (NFS) jointly organised a birding competition tagged “Lagos Bird-Watching Challenge” from 2nd to 3rd March, 2013. This was to further stir the interest of bird-watching among members of both clubs.
Partnership and Sustainability
The club has received support in form of birding equipment like binoculars and DSLR camera from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK and Idea Wild, USA. We also only recently received funds from the African Bird Club (ABC) Conservation Fund for a pre-establishment training workshop of Ibadan Bird Club.
Replication in other Nigerian Cities
In line with the objective of increasing the stake of bird conservation in Nigeria, we are at the threshold of establishing another local bird club in Ibadan by the name Ibadan Bird Club (IBC). We are currently organising a 3-day training workshop to hold from 5th to 7th March, 2014 for the prospective core members of IBC. This will focus on developing the capacity of participants to effectively promote the conservation of birds and their habitats in Ibadan. This program will be implemented together with our local partners in Ibadan; Forest Project in International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and department of Wildlife and Ecotourism in University of Ibadan. The replication of another bird club in Finima, Rivers State is also in the pipeline.
Story by Nigerian Conservation Foundation.
World Wetlands Day Celebrations at Marlborough Vlei in Harare, Zimbabwe: here.
There are still more bird nest webcams than the ones about which this blog reported earlier.
This video says about itself:
6 April 2012
Academy researchers explain why Sao Tome and Principe are so special and extreme. Featuring Robert C. Drewes -curator in the department of Herpetology, and Roberta Ayers -Senior Educator at the California Academy of Sciences.
Check out the blog here.
Government of São Tomé e Príncipe unveils conservation plans for saving some of the most threatened birds in Africa
By Nairobi volunteer, Tue, 25/02/2014 – 06:56
The Director of Environment, Mr. Arlindo E Carvalho, on Monday 17 February 2014 launched the São Tomé e Príncipe International Species Action Plans for Critically Endangered bird species in the country. The plans will guide the government and other stakeholders in the conservation of threatened birds of the São Tomé islands. The Plans were developed as part of a BirdLife initiative to ensure protection and conservation of priority forest habitats on São Tomé to reduce the extinction risk of Critically Endangered birds and benefit other globally threatened endemic biodiversity. The Plans focus on three Critically Endangered birds, namely Dwarf Olive Ibis (Bostrychia bocagei), São Tomé Fiscal (Lanius newtoni) and the São Tomé Grosbeak (Neospiza concolor). A separate plan has been developed for the Príncipe Thrush (Turdus xanthorhynchus), another critically endangered bird found in Príncipe, and will be launched in the near future.
The islands of São Tomé e Principe are extraordinary in terms of the richness and uniqueness of the species found there. They are one of Africa’s major centres of wildlife endemism (including 28 endemic bird species and many mammals, reptiles and plants). The forests on the islands have been classified as the second most important for biodiversity conservation in Africa. Sadly, this exceptional biodiversity is under serious threats, mainly in the form of habitat loss and habitat degradation powered by agricultural expansion and intensification (mainly palm oil plantations). Another key threat is increased mortality from hunting for food by humans and predation by introduced species.
Read previous stories about São Tomé and palm oil plantations: