Save Tasmania’s rainforests


This video says about itself:

Tasmanian Eucalypt Forest Giants

21 Sep 2011

Paradise at the End of the World – This is an extract, featuring Pepper Bush Adventures’ Craig Williams, from a DVD produced showcasing some of Tasmania’s premier features. Craig takes the film crew in to Tasmania’s north east forests visiting the “White Knights”, the tallest white gum trees in the world at Evercreech Forest Reserve as well as visiting the virgin oldgrowth forest at Tombstone Creek Forest Reserve to view the mountain ash eucalypts, the world’s tallest flowering tree species.

From Rainforest Portal:

Action Alert: Old-Growth Forests in Tasmania‘s World Heritage Area Again Threatened

Only a year ago together Ecological Internet and you participated in successful protests to end industrial clearcut logging in 170,000 hectares of Tasmania, Australia’s old-growth temperate rainforests; as vital intact ecosystems including Butlers Gorge; and the Florentine, Weld and Styx valleys, were added to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Now Australia’s ecologically challenged federal government – led by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who famously stated “climate change is crap” – is reneging on these commitments, in an unprecedented move pushing to remove 74,000 hectares from World Heritage Area protection. We need your help to once again call on the Australian government to honor their international obligations and protect Tasmania’s World Heritage old-growth temperate rainforests from industrial destruction. Tasmanian, Australian, and global ecosystem sustainability depend upon doing so.

By Forests.org, a project of Ecological Internet – February 8, 2014

You can send a message here.

Tasmania has prehistoric roots in North America, scientists show. Minerals in Tasmanian rock formations matching those found in North America’s west suggest ancient connection: here.

Northern and southern light videos


This is a northern light video from the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

This video, Comet and the Northern Lights, is from Tromsø in Norway.

This video is from Oregon in the USA.

This video is from Michigan in the USA.

This video is called Aurora Australis TimelapseTasmania, Australia – May Day 2013.

This video is from Alberta in Canada.

This video says about itself:

12 Nov 2013

Flying on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York when the aurora forecast was high, I balanced my camera on a rucksack and left it snapping away out the window … what an amazing spectacle was to be seen! You can see some of the still pictures that formed this time-lapse here.

Saving Tasmanian devils


This video from Australia is called Tasmanian Devil.

From Wildlife Extra:

Hope for threatened Tasmanian devils with scientific breakthrough

Research paves way for the development of a vaccine for the contagious cancer which is driving Tasmanian devils to the brink of extinction.

March 2013. New research paves the way for the development of a vaccine for the Tasmanian devil, currently on the brink of extinction because of a contagious cancer.

100% mortality

It has been less than two decades since scientists discovered the contagious cancer devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) which causes 100 per cent mortality in the endangered marsupials. The facial cancer, which spreads when the devils bite each other’s faces during fighting, kills its victims in a matter of months. As it has already wiped out the majority of the population with sightings of devils reduced by 85 per cent, scientists are desperate to find out more about the mysterious cancer which somehow manages to evade the devils’ immune system.

Complex problem

Until now, scientists have believed that the tumours were able to avoid detection by the immune system because the Tasmanian devils have very little genetic diversity (preventing the immune system from recognising the tumour as foreign). However, a University of Cambridge led collaboration with the Universities of Tasmania, Sydney and South Denmark has discovered that the explanation is more complex.

On the surface of nearly every mammalian cell are major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. These molecules enable the immune system to determine if a cell is friend or foe, triggering an immune response if the cell is foreign and a potential threat. The new research, published in the journal PNAS, reveals that DFTD cancer cells lack these critical molecules, thereby avoiding detection by the devils’ immune system.

Professor Jim Kaufman, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Pathology, said: “Once it was found that the cancer was escaping from the devils’ immune system, scientists needed to figure out how.”

Cure?

The researchers found that the DFTD cells have lost the expression of MHC molecules, but that the genes that code for these molecules are still intact. This means that these genes could potentially be turned back on. Indeed, the scientists showed that by introducing signalling molecules such as interferon-gamma, a protein which triggers the immune response, the DFTD cells can be forced to express MHC molecules.

Dr Hannah Siddle, lead author of the paper from the University of Cambridge, said: “Developing a vaccine based on our research could tip the balance in the favour of the devil and give them a fighting chance.”

“However, we still face some hurdles. The tumour is evolving over time and any vaccine programme would have to take this into consideration. Also, because of the difficulties of vaccinating a wild population, it may be more efficient to use a vaccine in the context of returning captive devils to the wild.”

Contagious cancer

Although the only other contagious cancer has been found in dogs (canine transmissible venereal cancer), the rapid development of DFTD highlights how quickly they can emerge.

Professor Kaufman added: “Our study has implications beyond the Tasmanian devil. Sooner or later a human strain of contagious cancer will develop, and this work gives us insight into how these diseases emerge and evolve.”

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Information courtesy of Cambridge University.

Good Australian parrot news


This video from Australia is called Critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.

From Wildlife Extra:

Encouraging breeding season for Critically Endangered Orange-bellied parrot

At least 23 fledglings counted in Tasmania

March 2013. According to Mark Holdsworth, Tasmanian Recovery Program Coordinator for the Orange Bellied Parrot, volunteers at Melalueca, where the entire population of Orange-bellied parrots spend the winter, have spotted 4 unbanded juvenile parrots together at the feedtable. With 19 juveniles already banded , this means there are now at least 23 juvenile birds this season and possibly more. Considering there were 14 juveniles last year, this is very encouraging news for the species survival in the wild.

Wild birds breeding

“The other news during the 2012 breeding season was encouraging, with all known adult females participating in breeding at Melaleuca and at least 14 young fledging. The team decided it wasn’t necessary for any more wild birds to be taken into captivity this year as part of the Captive Breeding program.”

Captive breeding

“The successful captive breeding program, based at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, as well as at other facilities in Tasmania, NSW and South Australia, now has more than 200 birds and the team is considering the possibility of a release of captive-bred birds in the near future.”

The Orange-bellied Parrot is a migratory bird, which breeds only in coastal south-west Tasmania and spends the winter in coastal Victoria and South Australia.

The Orange-bellied Parrot National Recovery Team consists of representatives of the Commonwealth, Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian governments, Zoos Victoria, Adelaide Zoo, Birdlife Australia, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and threatened species experts.

To get the latest update, go to the Orange-bellied parrot Facebook page.

Tasmanian tiger extinction, new research


This video says about itself:

Here is a combination of all the footage of the Tasmanian Tiger, now believed to be extinct.

From Wildlife Extra:

Humans alone responsible for extinction of Tasmanian Tiger

February 2013. Humans alone were responsible for the demise of Australia’s iconic extinct native predator, the Tasmanian Tiger or thylacine, according to a new study led by the University of Adelaide.

Using a new population modelling approach, the study contradicts the widespread belief that disease must have been a factor in the thylacine’s extinction.

Government sponsored hunting

The thylacine was a unique marsupial carnivore found throughout most of Tasmania before European settlement in 1803. Between 1886 and 1909, the Tasmanian government encouraged people to hunt thylacines and paid bounties on over 2000 thylacine carcasses. Only a handful of animals were located after the bounty was lifted and the last known thylacine was captured from the wild in 1933.

“Many people, however, believe that bounty hunting alone could not have driven the thylacine extinct and therefore claim that an unknown disease epidemic must have been responsible,” says the project leader, Research Associate Dr Thomas Prowse, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Environment Institute.

“We tested this claim by developing a ‘metamodel’ – a network of linked species models – that evaluated whether the combined impacts of Europeans could have exterminated the thylacine, without any disease.”

The mathematical models used by conservation biologists to simulate the fate of threatened species under different management strategies (called population viability analysis or PVA) traditionally neglect important interactions between species. The researchers designed a new approach to PVA that included species interactions.

“The new model simulated the directs effects of bounty hunting and habitat loss and, importantly, also considered the indirect effects of a reduction in the thylacine’s prey (kangaroos and wallabies) due to human harvesting and competition from millions of introduced sheep,” Dr Prowse says.

Disease not a factor

“We found we could simulate the thylacine extinction, including the observed rapid population crash after 1905, without the need to invoke a mystery disease. We showed that the negative impacts of European settlement were powerful enough that, even without any disease epidemic, the species couldn’t escape extinction.”

The study ‘No need for disease: testing extinction hypotheses for the thylacine using multi-species metamodels‘, which also involved Professors Corey Bradshaw and Barry Brook from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, Professor Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania, and Dr Bob Lacy, Chicago Zoological Society, has been published online in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Is the Tasmanian tiger really extinct? Here.