Genetic variability in the Eurasian Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)


Originally posted on North African Birds:

Mori, A., Baldaccini, N. E., Baratti, M., Caccamo, C., Dessì-Fulgheri, F., Grasso, R., Nouira, S., Ouni, R., Pollonara, E., Rodriguez-Godoy, F.,Spena, M.T., Giunchi, D. (2014). A first assessment of genetic variability in the Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus. Ibis 156(3): 687–692. doi:10.1111/ibi.12164

Abstract:

The Eurasian Stone-curlew is a species of conservation concern in Europe. We investigate for the first time the extent of population structure among populations sampled from six geographical areas, representing four subspecies inhabiting the western part of the species’ distribution. Neither mitochondrial nor nuclear markers fully supported current subspecies boundaries. However, both markers support significant differentiation of the Canary Island populations from those sampled from the Mediterranean. Further work is needed to establish the taxonomic status of this potentially distinct Macaronesian taxon. More broadly, further genetic research is required to design and implement an effective conservation plan for this species.

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World Migratory Bird Day celebrated in Uganda


This video is about birds in Uganda.

From BirdLife:

World Migratory Bird day celebrations in Kasese District, Uganda

By Obaka Torto, Tuesday, 10/06/2014 – 15:15

On 10th May 2014 a group of conservation organizations gathered at the Katwe Eco-tourism centre (KATIC) ground in Katwe-Kabatooro town council, Kasese District Uganda to mark the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD). The event was attended by members of local conservation groups, namely, Mabamba Wetland Eco-tourism Association and Lutembe Wetland Users Association as well as government agencies such as the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and Uganda Wildlife Authority. Non Governmental Organsations were represented by Nature Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Society. These groups came together to highlight the contribution of birds and avi-tourism (tourism from birds) to the economic development of Kabatooro town council, Uganda.

The event kicked off with a nature walk to Lake Munyanyange where 78 bird migratory bird species were recorded including the Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minorRuff Philomachus pugnax, Little Stint Calidris minuta, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea and Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus. This was followed by an exercise dubbed “Keep Katwe Clean”. It involved cleaning Katwe-Kabatoro town and the area around Katwe Salt Lake. The exercise was aimed at raising awareness on solid waste management as a means of maintaining the integrity of sites used by migratory birds. Sanitary equipment was distributed to two Katwe community groups and five schools in Katwe-Kabatooro town council. The event was spiced up with songs and poems from Kanyiginya Drama Actors – a local performance group that treats visitors to vibrant music and drama performances at KATIC.

The event was co-organized by Nature Uganda (BirdLife Partner in Uganda), Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Wildlife Society and  KATIC. World Migratory Bird Day was initiated in 2006 and is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. This year’s theme was ‘Destination Flyways: Migratory Birds and Tourism’. For more information see www.worldmigratorybirdday.org

Story by Dianah Nalwanga/Nature Uganda and Olivia Adhiambo/BirdLife International.

New scientific evidence confirms that legal protection of bird species do work. A recent study focusing in Eastern Europe shows that the rate of decline of protected species was approximately halved after the onset of protection. The study[1], published in the leading journal Biological Conservation, was led by scientists from the Czech Republic and the German Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and involved experts from across Europe, including BirdLife: here.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe


French nazis' Islamophobic and anti-Arab graffitti at cemetery

By Sara R Farris in England:

On anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe

Is Europe’s Islamophobia following the path of 19th century anti-Semitism?

5 June 2014 13:22

In 1844, Karl Marx published a short but dense text entitled “On the Jewish Question”. It was a critical review of two essays by the-then famous philosopher Bruno Bauer, who had argued against equal rights for Jews if granted on religious grounds. If Jews wanted to be considered full citizens – Bauer maintained echoing the widespread opinion of the time – Jews would have to abandon their religion and embrace Enlightenment. According to this logic, there was no room for religious demands in a secular society.

As Bauer’s position suggests, anti-Jewish racism in Germany and elsewhere in Europe in the first half of the 19th century, was justified mainly on cultural and religious grounds. Jews were discriminated and regarded with suspicion because they were considered an alien “nation within the nation”. In fact, it was not until the second half of the 19th century and the rise of “social Darwinism” that “racial anti-Semitism“, framed in biological terms, appeared on the political scene and Jews were openly discriminated against on the basis of their alleged genetic inferiority.

The question we might want to ask ourselves today is whether contemporary Europe is confronting a Muslim question similar to the Jewish question 170 years ago. Is European antipathy towards Muslims comparable to that first stage of hatred towards Jews, a hatred that culminated in one of the darkest pages of human history?

In spite of the obvious differences between the two contexts, the success of the far right during the recent elections in several European countries seems to suggest that the answer is a resounding yes. The victory of these parties attests to the incredible gains made by Islamophobic propaganda in the last ten years. In France, the president of the National Front, Marine Le Pen – who obtained one quarter of all votes – has asked school canteens to stop offering Muslim children alternatives to pork. In Britain, the UK Independence Party campaigned against the construction of mosques and became the biggest winner in the elections, with an astonishing 27.5 percent of the vote.

Many of these parties, as well as those who voted for them, do not consider themselves racists. After all, the problem with Muslims – according to the likes of Le Pen – is their alleged backwardness, fanaticism and unwillingness to integrate.

In short, it is the Muslims’ fault. Just like the Jewish question of the 19th century, the contemporary Muslim question is premised upon cultural differences and thus presented as legitimate and politically correct.

Though immigrants in general are singled out as a social and economic threat to European societies and workers, it is Muslims in particular who have come to epitomise the “bad other”. This has been achieved not only through the xenophobic propaganda of the far right. Actually, conservatives and even liberal and left-wing parties have contributed to the fanfare.

On the one hand, conservative leaders such as current UK Prime Minister David Cameron, France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have repeatedly invoked the Christian roots of European countries, while, on the other, a much broader gamut of political forces, including liberals and leftists, have participated in decrying the headscarf as a symbol of backwardness and oppression. The voices nourishing anti-Muslim sentiment across Europe come from all sides of the political map.

Muslims have thus become, at least in many ways, the new Jews. They have become the scapegoats onto whom Europeans are projecting their anxieties about the future. Conservative and far-right politicians constantly intensify and exploit these anxieties in order to enhance neoliberal and nationalist agendas, while most liberal and left-wing parties have imitated the racist right, perhaps hoping it will bring them more votes.

Marx understood this process all too well. He criticised Bauer for claiming that the lack of political emancipation for the Jews was the result of their culture and religion. Marx maintained that religion had nothing to do with the continued discrimination of the Jews. The prejudice against the Jews and their lack of rights, Marx argued, is to be understood in the broader context of the state’s structural inequalities.

The transmutation of the Muslims into the Jews of the 19th century does not mean that a new genocide is imminent, or that the tragedy of the Jewish people in 20th century Europe will be replicated as the tragedy of the Muslim people in the 21st. History does not repeat itself in this way. But history can rhyme. It will only be the redoubled work of anti-racist militants and organisations that can potentially prevent that rhyme.Dr Sara R Farris is an Assistant Professor in Sociology in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

UK schools witchhunted by government to foster anti-Muslim sentiment: here.

Migratory birds and Asian, African and European children


This video says about itself:

9 Jan 2014

Spring Alive has been spreading widely in Africa. Check how great they are doing in Nigeria where many children are enthusiastically engaged in birds oriented actions thanks to the Spring Alive project.

From BirdLife:

Spring Alive 2014 has arrived!

By Rebecca Langer, Thu, 06/03/2014 – 15:14

BirdLife and its Partners in 50 countries are proud to announce the launch of Spring Alive 2014. Now nine years old, Spring Alive brings together children, their teachers and families in Europe, Central Asia and Africa to observe and record the arrivals of five species of migrant birds:  Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Common Swift Apus apus, and European Bee-eater Merops apiaster.

Spring Alive 2013 broke all previous records. During Eurasian and African seasons, a total of over 286,000 observations of migratory birds were recorded on the Spring Alive website, and by the end of the year over 54,000 children, 900 teachers and supervisors and 500 volunteers from 49 countries had joined in a range of Spring Alive activities.

While the program began as a pan-European project to track the northward spread of spring migrants, now it involves many more indoor and outdoor events to engage children, schools and the wider community in the conservation of migratory birds. One example is the new pilot program Spring Twin, which matches schools in Europe and Asia with schools in Africa. Children will exchange letters, emails and diaries, and send one another videos they have shot before publishing them on the Spring Alive YouTube channel.

Spring Alive is coordinated by OTOP (BirdLife in Poland), with national coordinators in each participating country. This year, with the announcement that Azerbaijan will be joining in, at least 50 countries will be taking part.

“2014 is set to be an even bigger year for Spring Alive”, said Karolina Kalinowska, International Spring Alive Manager. “Now that we have accustomed children to recording their observations of the first spring migrants, we want to get them more involved in the conservation of migratory birds.”

Although it is still early in the year, in the southern Mediterranean early signs of spring are already popping up. Unfortunately, the joy of spring and the promise of some of the best birdwatching of the year is overshadowed in Malta by the Government’s intention to again allow spring hunting season, in violation of EU law. This translates into 10,000 hunters being allowed to legally shoot European Turtle-dove and Common Quail returning to Europe to breed. Experience suggests that too many of them will also be illegally targeting protected species, from songbirds to waders, herons and birds of prey: here.

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Good European bats news


This video says about itself:

This stunning slow motion footage shows how bats use echolocation to find water. We know how bats echolocate to hunt insects, but this is the first study to show how they recognise large, flat objects like ponds. Moreover, by testing young bats that had never encountered a pond or river before, the researchers showed that bats seem to have a built-in ability to recognize these important features of their environment. Read the original research paper here.

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP today:

Things are going better again for bats in Europe. Their numbers have increased between 1993 and 2011 by 40 percent, after years of decline. According to a study by the European Environment Agency (EEA), a research group of the European Union.

In the second half of the 20th century the flying mammals suffered much from agricultural intensification, deforestation and destruction of their sleeping roosts, causing entire colonies to be exterminated. Also, many bats succumbed to the toxic dieldrin, a substance for making timber for housing insect free, banned in 2004.

More about this is here. And here. And here.

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Coastal bird count, from Europe to South Africa


This video, in Dutch, is about counting shorebirds in Senegal.

This January, wintering coastal birds are counted, all the way from the Wadden sea in western Europe, to South Africa. People from all (West) European and (West) African countries along these coasts will participate in the counting.

This count will help conservation of these birds, all along their east Atlantic migration flyway.

African coastal birds, photo by Barend van Gemerden

Here is a beautiful photo by Barend van Gemerden. It shows great egrets, western reef herons, curlews and redshanks along a West African coast.

Photos of some of the bird counters are here.

Wader Quest and the Shorebirds of South Africa: here.

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Sheet web spider European spider of the year 2014


Linyphia triangularis, female

The sheet web spider (Linyphia triangularis) will be the European spider of the year 2014.

This species is rather common in northern Europe; less so in the south.