World’s 100 most unique and endangered birds


This video is called Extinct and Critically Endangered Birds: A Repeated History.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Scientists name world’s 100 most unique and endangered birds

‘Little dodo’, flightless parrot and giant ibis among species ranked by evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk

In pictures – top 10 most unique and endangered birds

Jessica Aldred

Thursday 10 April 2014 17.00 BST

The “little dodo”, a flightless parrot and the world’s largest ibis are among the world’s 100 most unique and endangered birds, according to a new study.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University assessed the world’s 9,993 bird species according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and global extinction risk to produce a list of the world’s 100 most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) species.

Topping the list is the rare and striking giant ibis (Thaumatibis gigantea) – the world’s largest ibis weighing in at 4.2kg and reaching more than one metre in height. With only 230 pairs estimated to remain in the wild, it is a critically endangered species. Habitat loss, human disturbance and hunting have reduced its range to an extremely small, declining population concentrated in Cambodia.

At number four on the list is the kakapo (Strigops habroptila), a nocturnal parrot that has evolved to be flightless due to the historic absence of mammalian predators in its New Zealand habitat. Hunting, the introduction of predators, forest clearance and habitat degradation have caused a catastrophic decline in numbers. It is now extinct in its natural range, and survives only on three small, intensively managed islands after being relocated. Dedicated conservation efforts have increased the population to 125 individuals.

At number 34 on the list is the tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris), also known as the “little dodo” and found only on the island of Samoa. With less than 250 adults estimated to survive in the wold, conservationists say urgent action is needed to prevent the species from meeting the same fate as its closest relative, the dodo. Loss of its forest habitat to agriculture and cyclones, hunting and invasive species are the greatest threats to this bird.

Half of the 100 highest ranked Edge bird species are receiving little or no conservation attention, the study warned. Carly Waterman, Edge programme manager at ZSL, said: “We lament the extinction of the dodo, but without action we stand to lose one of its closest relatives, the tooth-billed pigeon or ‘little dodo’, and many other extraordinary birds.

“The release of the Edge birds list enables us to prioritise our conservation efforts in the face of a mounting list of endangered species. These one-of-a-kind birds illustrate the incredible diversity that exists in our natural world.”

Only three of the 100 Edge species are found in Europe. The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), ranked at number 30, is found from the Ukraine, south throughout the Balkans to Greece and Turkey, but is threatened by poisoning, poaching, electrocution and human disturbance. At number 49, the sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) has been found in Armenia, Turkey and Ukraine – and once in Essex – while the slender-billed curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) breeds in Russia and spends the winter in several eastern European countries.

At number 11, the spoonbilled sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) has become a temporary resident of the UK, with a captive breeding population of 25 birds at the WWT Slimbridge reserve in Gloucestershire. Eggs from the birds will eventually be taken back to the Arctic in a bid to rebuild the rapidly declining wild population.

The top 100 Edge birds are found in more than 170 countries. The list includes species from 22 of the 29 living orders of birds, with 18% made up of Passeriformes, more commonly known as perching birds. Twelve of the top 100 species belong to the family Charadriiformes (sandpipers), 11 from the family Accipitridae, which includes eagles, hawks and kites, and eight from the family Columbiformes (doves and pigeons).

Sixty-four per cent of the top 100 species are country endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. India has the highest number of Edge birds with 14 species, while the Philippines has the highest number of endemic Edge birds at nine species.

The study, “Distribution and conservation of global evolutionary distinctness in birds”, published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology, found that species representing the most evolutionary history over the smallest area as well as some of the most threatened distinct species are often found far from places that are species-rich or already on the conservation radar.

Lead author Prof Walter Jetz from Yale University and Imperial College London, said: “By identifying these top 100 species, we can now focus our efforts on targeted conservation action and better monitoring to help ensure that they are still here for future generations to come. As we show, conservation priorities can be adjusted to better conserve the avian tree of life and the many important functions it provides.”

The study was a collaboration between Yale University, Imperial College London, Sheffield University, University College London, Simon Fraser University and the University of Tasmania.

The world’s 100 most unique and endangered birds

Giant Ibis
New Caledonian Owlet-nightjar
California Condor
Kakapo
Kagu
Bengal Florican
Forest Owlet
Philippine Eagle
Christmas Island Frigatebird
Sumatran Ground-cuckoo
Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Northern Bald Ibis
Plains-wanderer
New Zealand Storm-petrel
Hooded Grebe
White-shouldered Ibis
Maleo
Black-hooded Coucal
Madagascar Serpent-eagle
Dwarf Olive Ibis
Rufous Scrub-bird
Noisy Scrub-bird
Junin Grebe
White-collared Kite
Congo Bay-owl
White-eyed River-martin
Red-headed Vulture
Secretarybird
Peruvian Diving-petrel
Egyptian Vulture
St Helena Plover
Australian Painted Snipe
Cuban Kite
Tooth-billed Pigeon
Nahan’s Francolin
Sulu Hornbill
Shoebill
Purple-winged Ground-dove
Asian Crested Ibis
Sangihe Shrike-thrush
Jerdon’s Courser
Lesser Florican
Kokako
Rufous-headed Hornbill
Masked Finfoot
Bahia Tapaculo
Waved Albatross
Stresemann’s Bristlefront
Sociable Lapwing
Eskimo Curlew
Slender-billed Curlew
Bannerman’s Turaco
Ashy Storm-petrel
Siberian Crane
White-throated Storm-petrel
Juan Fernandez Firecrown
Dark-winged Trumpeter
Uluguru Bush-shrike
Polynesian Ground-dove
Sichuan Jay
Mountain Serpent-eagle
Sulu Bleeding-heart
Zapata Rail
Mindoro Bleeding-heart
Kaka
Negros Bleeding-heart
Black Stilt
Makira Moorhen
Great Indian Bustard
Abbott’s Booby
Kittlitz’s Murrelet
Titicaca Grebe
Greater Adjutant
Western Bristlebird
Eastern Bristlebird
Shore Plover
Udzungwa Forest-partridge
Madagascar Fish-eagle
White-bellied Heron
Subdesert Mesite
Long-whiskered Owlet
Philippine Cockatoo
Spix’s Macaw
South Island Wren
Crow Honeyeater
Northern Brown Kiwi
Banded Ground-cuckoo
Flores Hawk-eagle
Tachira Antpitta
Beck’s Petrel
Cebu Flowerpecker
Blue-eyed Ground-dove
Javan Trogon
Pulitzer’s Longbill
Alagoas Antwren
Pernambuco Pygmy-owl
Jamaica Petrel
Grenada Dove
Wood Snipe
Rio de Janeiro Antwren

See also here. And here.

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New frog species discovery in Vietnam


This video says about itself:

Misty Mountains and Moss Frogs: Finding Frogs in Nests

30 July 2013

Jodi Rowley is a biologist at the Australian Museum discovering and documenting the diversity, ecology and conservation status of amphibians in Southeast Asia. Amphibians in the region are both highly threatened and poorly known, and Jodi and her colleagues conduct scientific expeditions to the forested mountains of Vietnam in search of rare, poorly-known and previously unknown species of amphibian. This video focuses on finding frogs in nests (yes that’s right- nests!).

From Wildlife Extra:

New pink and yellow frog discovered

April 2014: Biologist Jodi Rowley, an expert on Southeast Asian amphibians from the Australian Museum Research Institute in Sydney, recently found this striking pink and yellow frog in the remote Mount Ngoc Linh region of Vietnam.

The 5cm long frog lives in forests above 1,800m where the terrain is steep and rocky, and lacking in the standing water that might be expected to sustain frogs, but the research team found they thrived in water-filled hollows in the trees. The males have skin covered in keratin spines, which increase in size during the mating season and are thought to help females to identify males. The species has been named thorny tree frog (Gracixalus lumarius).

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Cambrian prehistoric predator evolution, new research


This video says about itself:

26 March 2014

T[amisiocaris]. borealis, an ancient predator, probably used its spiny appendages to sweep through the water for prey and then bring it into its mouth, as these animations show. Credit: Martin Stein. Read more here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Large ocean predators evolved into gentle giants 520 million years ago

April 2014: Large marine creatures that roamed the Earth’s oceans more than 520 million years ago have been found to filter food from the water in a similar way to today’s blue whales and evolved into a gentle sea giant from a large marine predator that feasted on large prey, say scientists.

Newly discovered fossils from North Greenland showed that these ancient giant marine animals used bizarre facial appendages to trawl for nekton and plankton from the seas.

The North Greenland fossil, called Tamisiocaris, was a member of the iconic anomalocarids group of early marine animals which roamed the Cambrian and later Ordovician oceans. They swam using a set of flaps down either side of the body and probably captured large prey with specialised grasping appendages in the front of the mouth.

The team demonstrates that the Tamisiocaris had evolved into a suspension feeder by modifying its grasping appendages into a filtering apparatus that could be swept like a net through the water trapping small crustaceans and other organisms as tiny as half a millimetre in size.

The research, funded by the Agouron Institute, Carlsberg Foundation and Geocenter Denmark, was led by the University of Bristol and also included researchers at Durham University, the University of Bath and the University of Copenhagen.

As well as shedding light on the evolution of the Tamisiocaris, the researchers said their discovery also showed how productive the Cambrian period was and how vastly different species of anomalocarids evolved at that time. It also provides further clues into the ecosystems that existed hundreds of millions of years ago, they said.

Study lead author Dr Jakob Vinther, a lecturer in macroevolution at the University of Bristol, said: “The fact that large, free-swimming suspension feeders roamed the oceans tells us a lot about the ecosystem.

“Feeding on the smallest particles by filtering them out of the water while actively swimming around requires a lot of energy – and therefore lots of food.”

In order to fully understand how an anomalocarid could have fed, Dr Martin Stein from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, created a 3D computer animation of the feeding appendage to explore the range of movements it could have made.

Dr Stein said: “Tamisiocaris would have been a sweep net feeder, collecting particles in the fine mesh formed when it curled its appendage up against its mouth.

“This is a rare instance when you can actually say something concrete about the feeding ecology of these types of ancient creatures with some confidence.”

The research about this was published here.

April 2014: An international team of researchers from the US, China and the UK have discovered the earliest known cardiovascular system in fossilised remains of an extinct marine shrimp that lived over 520 million years ago. The finding sheds new light on the evolution of the body in the animal kingdom and shows that even the earliest creatures had internal systems that strongly resemble those found in their modern descendants: here.

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First North American bluebird twins discovered


This video is called Eastern Bluebird Singing.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

First Recorded Bluebird Twins Found by NestWatch Volunteer

Last year an Eastern Bluebird laid three normal eggs and one large egg in one of NestWatcher Gerald Clark’s nest boxes. A few weeks later he had five nestlings in the box, and his finding became a scientific paper on the first recorded instance of twins in bluebirds. (The Lab’s Dr. Caren Cooper tackled just how rare an event this is in a blog post for the journal PLOS.) The finding is a direct example of how citizen scientists contribute to scientific discovery each time they participate. Try NestWatch this season!

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New Mexico dinosaurs, new study


This video is called Theropod cladogram.

From PLOS ONE:

Small Theropod Teeth from the Late Cretaceous of the San Juan Basin, Northwestern New Mexico and Their Implications for Understanding Latest Cretaceous Dinosaur Evolution

Thomas E. Williamson, Stephen L. Brusatte

Published: April 07, 2014

Abstract

Studying the evolution and biogeographic distribution of dinosaurs during the latest Cretaceous is critical for better understanding the end-Cretaceous extinction event that killed off all non-avian dinosaurs. Western North America contains among the best records of Late Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates in the world, but is biased against small-bodied dinosaurs.

Isolated teeth are the primary evidence for understanding the diversity and evolution of small-bodied theropod dinosaurs during the Late Cretaceous, but few such specimens have been well documented from outside of the northern Rockies, making it difficult to assess Late Cretaceous dinosaur diversity and biogeographic patterns.

We describe small theropod teeth from the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. These specimens were collected from strata spanning Santonian – Maastrichtian. We grouped isolated theropod teeth into several morphotypes, which we assigned to higher-level theropod clades based on possession of phylogenetic synapomorphies. We then used principal components analysis and discriminant function analyses to gauge whether the San Juan Basin teeth overlap with, or are quantitatively distinct from, similar tooth morphotypes from other geographic areas.

The San Juan Basin contains a diverse record of small theropods. Late Campanian assemblages differ from approximately co-eval assemblages of the northern Rockies in being less diverse with only rare representatives of troodontids and a Dromaeosaurus-like taxon. We also provide evidence that erect and recurved morphs of a Richardoestesia-like taxon represent a single heterodont species.

A late Maastrichtian assemblage is dominated by a distinct troodontid. The differences between northern and southern faunas based on isolated theropod teeth provide evidence for provinciality in the late Campanian and the late Maastrichtian of North America. However, there is no indication that major components of small-bodied theropod diversity were lost during the Maastrichtian in New Mexico. The same pattern [is] seen in northern faunas, which may provide evidence for an abrupt dinosaur extinction.

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Dutch water birds report published


This video is about flamingos and (other) water birds.

Today, Dutch ornithologists have published a report on counting water birds in the Netherlands during July 2011-June 2012.

The maximum number of birds was in January 2012: 5,6 million.

Eighteen species had 100,000 individuals or more in any month. The top three were white-fronted geese, barnacle geese and wigeons.

Usually, kittiwakes are rather rare; but this time, there were 2,350 on the west of Vlieland island, and hundreds elsewhere. There were seventeen, still rarer, Iceland gulls.

In late summer, there were about 82 Caspian terns; roughly the same as in other years.

About 15,000 black terns gathered at sleeping roosts. Less than in other years.

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Kew Gardens threatened by British government


This video is about Kew Gardens in greater London, England.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Job cuts threatened at UK’s Kew Gardens

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) says 125 jobs are at risk at the world-famous Kew Gardens as a result of funding cuts proposed by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

The PCS says the cuts would threaten the world-renowned scientific research carried out at Kew.

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New jellyfish discovery in Dutch Wadden Sea


This video is called Diving with JAGO: jellyfish / Medusae perform their gorgeous dances.

The Dutch Wadden Sea Society reports that a jellyfish species, new for the Netherlands, has been discovered.

Mitrocomella polydiademata was found near the Balgzand.

This rare species does not have a Dutch name, or an English name, yet.

Very little is still known about the way of life of this species, and its relatives, the Medusae jellyfish. So, research will continue.

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Barn swallows and light, help new study


This is a barn swallow video from the USA.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

NestWatchers Needed For New Barn Swallow Study

We live in an incredibly well-lit world. All that wattage in heavily-populated areas creates a halo glow that brightens the night sky. Researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Syracuse University, and Globe at Night are seeking participants for a unique new study. Scientists want to know what impact all that extra night light might have on the circadian rhythms of life using Barn Swallows as their subjects. Barn Swallows have adapted to live near humans and nest almost exclusively on structures such as bridges, homes, and yes, barns. Volunteers can sign up through NestWatch.

“Specifically, we’re hoping to learn if the artificial light has an effect—good or bad—on what we call the ‘pace of life,’” says Cornell Lab of Ornithology researcher Caren Cooper. “It’s been established that creatures that live in areas where daytime is shorter during breeding, such as the tropics, have a lower metabolism and a longer life span. On the flip side, animals that breed where there is more daylight tend to have a faster metabolism and shorter life. Is the pace of life for Barn Swallows increasing if they live in areas where the days seem even longer due to artificial lights?”

“Previous studies have shown that birds living in areas with artificial light at night start singing well before dawn, start eating earlier, eat more during the day, and have more complex social interactions,” says researcher Margaret Voss at Syracuse University. “Expanding those activities takes its toll in energy use. We want to learn how that might play out when it comes to health and survival as the Barn Swallows build nests and raise their chicks.”

If Barn Swallows nest near you, get involved in the Barn Swallow project. Sign up to learn more about how the study is being carried out through NestWatch and Globe at Night.

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