Endangered North American butterfly fights back against climate change

This video is called The Endangered Quino Checkerspot Butterfly.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered butterfly fights back against climate change

April 2014: The endangered Quino Checkerspot butterfly, found in Mexico and California, is defying climate change by adapting both its habitat and diet, a study has revealed.

The butterfly suffered dramatic population collapses during the last century along the southern edge of its range in Baja California as a result of climate change and agricultural and urban development.

But rather than heading toward extinction the butterfly has adapted to the changing climate by shifting to a higher altitude and changing its host plant to a completely new species.

Other species have been seen changing either habitat or diet to cope with a changing climate but the Quino Checkerspot may be amongst the first butterfly species to change both.

Professor Camille Parmesan from Plymouth University, explained:

“Quino today is one of the happy ‘surprises’, having managed to adapt to climate change by shifting its centre of abundance to higher elevation and onto a plant species that was not previously known to be a host.”

See also here. And here. And here.

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Conjoined gray whale twins

From Discovery News:

Conjoined Gray Whales Found in Baja, Calif. Lagoon

Jan 7, 2014 02:50 PM ET // by Io9.com

In what may be the first discovery of its kind, scientists working in Mexico’s Laguna Ojo de Liebre discovered the remains of recently deceased conjoined gray whale calves.

The conjoined twins probably didn’t survive birth and may have been miscarried; the carcass is only about seven feet long, whereas normal calves emerge between 12 to 16 feet. American Cetacean Society researchers Alisa Schulman-Janiger also noted that the twins were underdeveloped.

There’s no sign of the mother and the scientists are curious to learn what happened to her. The twins’ body has been collected for further study.

Conjoined whales have been discovered before, including fin, sei, and minke whales. But this may be the first documented discovery of conjoined gray whales. Conjoined sharks have also been found.

Why are so many gray whales swimming so close to the California coast? Here.

Gray whales are a common sight along the California coast, but now their numbers are spiking to unprecedented levels, and scientists have no idea why. Three hundred sixty-eight whales were spotted off the coast in December, up from just 182 in the same month last year: here.

Rarely Seen [Gray] Whale Courting Ritual Spotted Off SoCal Coast: here.

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White terns’ first nest in Mexico

This video is called Midway Atoll, White Tern, Gygis alba, perching.

From the Wilson Journal of Ornithology in the USA:

Volume 125, Issue 4 (December 2013)

First Breeding Record of the White Tern, Gygis alba, in México

Juan E. Martínez-Gómez 1,3 and Noemí Matías-Ferrer 2

1 Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Red de Interacciones Multitróficas, Apartado Postal 63, Xalapa, Veracruz 91000, México

2 Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 70-153. 04510. México

We report the first breeding record of the White Tern (Gygis alba) in México. We also provide notes on parental behavior of this species on Socorro Island, Revillagigedo Archipelago, México. We observed two adults feeding one nestling during the summer of 2012 at a nest located on the naval base on Socorro Island. The White Tern is considered a vagrant species in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. Although a breeding colony was mistakenly reported earlier, our report positively confirms for the first time the breeding status of this species in México.

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Bird lovers in 2013, thank you video

This video is called Science Nation – Birds, Climate Change, and Citizen Science.

A video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA which used to be on YouTube, used to say about itself:

Thank You for Inspiring a New Generation of Bird Lovers

26 dec 2013

This heartfelt footage filmed at one of our collaborative organizations in the Yucatan‘s Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve reminds us of how people all over the world come together every day to help birds and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Thank you for everything you do to share your passion and inspire more people to take an interest in birds.

Bird Photography in Yucatan: here.

NSA spied on millions of French people, Mexican president, etc.

This video from the USA is called Why is The NSA Spying on U.S. Allies?

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, today:

The U.S. ambassador to France has been summoned [by the French government] because of the spying by the NSA secret service. The French newspaper Le Monde reported earlier today that in France during one month 70.3 million phone calls were intercepted by the NSA.

Le Monde has documents which have been leaked by the U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. The conversations were intercepted in the period between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

France’s Le Monde published a report Monday based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden describing National Security Agency (NSA) spying operations directed against the French population and the French business and political leadership. Between December 2012 and January 2013, according to Le Monde, the NSA collected over 70 million French communications, which were then categorized either as “Drtbox” or “Whitebox”: here.

Fresh Leak on US Spying: NSA Accessed Mexican President‘s Email: here.

NSA spied on 1.8 million phone calls in the Netherlands: here.

The concerted campaign by the British government to silence the Guardian newspaper, due to its publication of the Edward Snowden revelations, is indicative of the move toward dictatorial forms of rule by the ruling elite: here.

Good Mexican dove news

This video from the USA is called Socorro Doves Return to Mexico.

From Wildlife Extra:

Socorro dove returns to Mexico for first time in more than 40 years

Socorro Island is the “Most important single site for endangered bird conservation in North America”

October 2013. For the first time in four decades, the critically endangered Socorro Dove has returned to its native country of Mexico, thanks to a captive breeding program involving 33 organizations in 12 countries.

Extinct in the wild in 1972

The Socorro Dove was endemic to Socorro Island on the Revillagigedo Archipelago, approximately 400 miles southwest of the west Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta. The last record of the species in its natural habitat dates from 1972. Introduced mammals likely drove it to extinction through predation and habitat destruction.

113 doves in captivity

Mexico’s role in the conservation breeding program was ramped up earlier this year when six Socorro Doves were moved from facilities at New Mexico’s Albuquerque BioPark to Africam Safari, located near Mexico City. Today, facilities in Europe, the United States, and now Mexico breed Socorro Doves in their aviaries as part of the globally managed breeding program. Altogether, there are approximately 70 doves in Europe, 37 in the U.S., and six in Mexico.

Dr. Luis Baptista, founder of the Island Endemics Foundation, initiated the Socorro Dove Project in 1987-1988 after corroborating that a viable population existed in human care. The ultimate goal of the project is to return Socorro Doves to Socorro Island. After Baptista’s death in 2000, Juan Martínez-Gómez joined the foundation and crafted a collaborative program with the Mexican Navy. By 2004, a breeding station funded by the Island Endemics Foundation and the Mexican Navy had been built on Socorro Island. However, in 2005, concerns about the potential for spreading avian influenza from Europe prevented the return of the doves to Mexico. In order to move closer to the goal of returning the birds to their home country, Socorro Doves bred by zoos participating in the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s European Endangered Species Program were sent to the Albuquerque BioPark in 2008.

In April 2013, after careful planning with Frank Carlos Camacho, Director of Africam Safari, the conservation breeding program was successfully extended to Mexico. Plans for the reintroduction of Socorro Doves to Socorro Island are underway with the collaboration of SEGOB, SEMAR, and SEMARNAT, along with César Tejeda at Endémicos Insulares, Helen Horblit at the Island Endemics Foundation, Juan Martínez-Gómez at Mexico’s Instituto de Ecología (INECOL), and Patricia Escalante at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Institute of Biology.

“Moving birds to Mexico is an extremely significant step in the Socorro Dove Project,” said Peter Shannon, Curator of Birds at Albuquerque BioPark. “But there is still much work to be done. The generations that follow us will be the ones to finally see Socorro Doves back on the island-flying again in their ancestral home.”

The Albuquerque BioPark played a key role in the international effort to conserve this rare bird. BioPark staff successfully raised 32 chicks since acquiring their first 12 Socorro Doves in 2008. While working with the birds, Shannon and his team have learned and contributed a great deal of knowledge about management of the species. Six partner institutions in North America currently house Socorro Doves and work together to maintain a healthy population. Already two institutions have bred the dove, and two of the birds bred at Smithsonian’s National Zoo were part of the transfer to Mexico.

American Bird Conservancy has been a partner in the effort through the support for disease studies and habitat restoration work on Socorro Island.

Most important single site for endangered bird conservation in North America

“This island is the most important single site for endangered bird conservation in North America with two critically endangered birds: the Townsend’s Shearwater and Socorro Mockingbird; one endangered bird, the Socorro Parakeet; and the ‘extinct in the wild’ Socorro Dove,” said ABC Vice President Mike Parr.

“ABC is committed to helping with the full restoration of the island and its birds through collaboration with a broad partnership of groups including especially Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas. Socorro Island is also the most important Alliance for Zero Extinction site in Mexico from a bird conservation perspective,” added Parr. ABC’s work on Socorro Island is supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the DJ&T Foundation.

A comment on this:

Very encouraging. I was wondering what was being done about the invasive species that caused the local extinction in the first place.

A quick check on the internet reveals that there has been a large effort since 1994 to progressively eradicate invasive species from all the Mexican islands. On Socorro, the invasive species were Merino sheep, cats and house mice. The sheep and cats were the main problem. The sheep removed the vegetation cover over most of the island, removing the habitat for native birds. Happily, the sheep were removed in 2010, but I think the cats and mice are still there.

Posted by: Gundula | 10 Oct 2013 12:16:51

Mexican art exhibition in memory of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda

This video is called Diego Rivera Mural – History of Mexico.

From The Art Newspaper:

Push to restage show that was cancelled due to Chile’s 1973 coup

Organisers hope to bring the works to Santiago to fulfil a Nobel Prize-winning poet’s wishes

By Laurie Rojas

Published online: 27 September 2013

On the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Chilean coup, a museum in Chile and one in Mexico are hoping to organise an exhibition of Mexican art that never opened because of President Salvador Allende’s overthrow.

The exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, included 169 works by the Mexican artists, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. But instead of attending the opening on 13 September 1973—two days after the coup—the show’s curator, Fernando Gamboa, was arranging the safe return of the works and his own escape.

The show was the idea of Pablo Neruda, the poet and Nobel Prize winner, who had become a friend of Rivera and Siqueiros when consul to Mexico during in the 1940s. Neruda died within days of the coup and the text for the exhibition catalogue was possibly the last thing he wrote.

The works came from the Carrillo Gil collection, which was purchased by the Mexican state in 1974 and are now housed in the Museo Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City. The organisers face one major challenge: all those paintings now have the status of Mexican national heritage and only ten will be allowed to leave the country on a single plane. However, Rafael Vargas, a curator at the Museo Arte Carrillo Gil, is determined. He says: “The exhibition must return someday to Chile. Neruda’s wish that the three great muralists are shown in Chile must be fulfilled.”

For more info in Spanish, see the report in the Mexican newspaper El Universal.