Colombian migratory bird reserve expands


This video from the USA is called University of Tennessee cerulean warblers study.

From Wildlife Extra:

Cerulean warbler and other rare species to benefit from acquisition of key Colombian habitat

Pauxi Pauxi Reserve extended

January 2013. The Cerulean Warbler, a bird whose population has declined by about 70 percent in the last 40 years, and 25 other neotropical migrating birds are the key beneficiaries of a successful two-year-effort by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Fundación ProAves to purchase and protect key wintering habitat for the birds in Colombia, South America.

9 properties acquired

The conservation effort resulted in the acquisition of nine new properties. Those new properties now make up the western flank of the Pauxi Pauxi Reserve that was established in 2007 by the same partner groups and now totals about 4,470 acres.

The purchased area is located in north central Colombia, approximately 150 miles north of Bogota in an area of lush tropical vegetation. The newly acquired land is part of an imposing, mountainous outcropping called Cerro de la Paz, along the Magdalena River Valley west of the Andes Mountains, an area that has been heavily deforested due to agricultural and urban expansion.

Pauxi Pauxi Reserve

“As migratory birds head south through the degraded river valley, the Pauxi Pauxi Reserve is a forested haven. We are thrilled to expand available habitat for these weary avian travelers,” said David Younkman, Vice President for Conservation at ABC.

“Cerro de la Paz and the Pauxi Pauxi Reserve is one of the best migrant hotspots in Colombia based on our surveys,” said Alonso Quevedo, Executive Director of ProAves. “It is fantastic that our conservation efforts to protect endangered resident species, such as the Helmeted Curassow, can also ensure vital winter habitat for dozens of migratory species.”

The Cerulean Warbler was formerly one of the most abundant breeding warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and elsewhere in the U.S., but is now one of the country’s most imperiled migrant songbirds.

Cerulean Warbler numbers plummet by 70%

Overall, Cerulean Warbler numbers have plummeted by almost 70% since 1966. This elusive bird winters in the Andes and intermountain valleys, and breeds in North America from the Great Lakes region to Georgia, and west from Wisconsin to Louisiana, with particular concentrations in the Appalachians and Central Hardwoods region. Both its breeding and wintering habitat are being lost.

Winter migrants

In addition to providing habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, these properties represent a crucial area of wintering habitat for numerous other wintering migrants such as Tennessee, Black-and-white, Mourning, Canada, Blackburnian, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow and Endangered Helmeted Curassow are also reported from this area in recent years, although confirmation is pending.

The Pauxi Pauxi Reserve also provides another strategic function – it anchors the northern end of the Cerulean Warbler Corridor in Colombia. This area is seeing increased agricultural expansion and ProAves is assisting local farmers in reducing deforestation by promoting shade coffee and cacao, both which benefit migratory birds. ProAves owns and operates small coffee and cacao farms that demonstrate to neighboring farmers ways to enhance wildlife conservation and maximize profits.

Current conservation efforts include reforesting habitat by building a tree nursery. Local residents have been hired to help find seeds, maintain saplings, and will begin planting by mid-2013. To protect the area from logging and unauthorized farming, a guard has been hired, and an existing structure is being renovated to serve as a guardhouse. Two small cacao farms on the property will provide ongoing income to sustain management efforts. Camera traps are being installed to confirm the presence of Helmeted, and possibly Blue-billed, Curassow among other important wildlife. ProAves and American Bird Conservancy have been able to undertake this work, including the new land purchases, with the generous support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Neotropical Migratory Conservation Act program, Southern Wings, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Amos Butler Audubon, the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, Jeff and Connie Woodman, David and Patricia Davidson, Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society, and many other supporters of Colombian bird conservation.

This region faces other threats as well: an enormous hydroelectric dam on the Sogamoso River is underway which will flood a large tract of forest, and the developer is buying land and relocating families upslope. This will bring increased pressure on the reserve’s buffer zone and drive wildlife into the refuge, making the protected habitat even more important.

ABC is a leading U.S. bird conservation organization while Fundación ProAves is a leading bird conservation group in Colombia and an ABC International Partner.

Black-and-white-warbler: here.

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United States new crayfish species discovery


The new crayfish species, image: Carl Williams

From The Sticky Tongue blog:

Researchers discover giant crayfish species right under their noses

Two aquatic biologists have proven that you don’t have to travel to exotic locales to search for unusual new species. They discovered a distinctive species of crayfish in Tennessee and Alabama that is at least twice the size of its competitors. Its closest genetic relative, once thought to be the only species in its genus and discovered in 1884 about 130 miles away in Kentucky, can grow almost as big as a lobster.

The researchers found their first specimen under one of the biggest rocks in the deepest part of a creek that has been a (literal) stomping ground for aquatic biologists for at least half a century. The new species is described in a paper in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

The new crayfish belongs to the genus Barbicambarus, which in addition to being big is very distinctive. Most notably, Barbicambarus have unusual “bearded” antennae; the antennae are covered with a luxurious fringe of tiny, hair-like bristles, called setae, which enhance their sensory function.

“This isn’t a crayfish that someone would have picked up and just said, ‘Oh, it’s another crayfish,’ and put it back,” said University of Illinois aquatic biologist Chris Taylor, the curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and a co-discoverer of the new species with Eastern Kentucky University biological sciences professor Guenter Schuster. “If you were an aquatic biologist and you had seen this thing, because of the size and the setae on the antennae, you would have recognized it as something really, really different and you would have saved it.”

Schuster first learned of the crayfish in 2009 when a colleague forwarded photos from a man who had seen the animal in Shoal Creek, a stream in southern Tennessee that ultimately drains into the Tennessee River. Schuster immediately recognized it as a member of the genus Barbicambarus, and sent the photos to Taylor, his longtime collaborator.

Both men suspected that this was a wayward member of the originally discovered species, Barbicambarus cornutus. B. cornutus had never been seen that far south, but the researchers knew that crayfish have been moved great distances in the bait buckets of itinerant fishermen or by those interested in commercially rearing crayfishes.

“I was leaning to the easiest explanation,” Taylor said.

“Me too,” said Schuster. “That’s been going on for 50 years in the U.S., moving species around, so it would not be a surprise if that was the case.”

The researchers contacted a colleague in Tennessee, who told them that a scientist with the Tennessee Valley Authority, Jeffrey Simmons, had collected a crayfish that looked like the one in the photo – “just a couple of miles from where the original photograph we had gotten was taken,” Schuster said.

That was enough to spur a hastily organized field trip to Shoal Creek.

With two other biologists, Taylor and Schuster scoured the creek for more specimens. After two hours of turning over boulders and kicking up the sediment to flush the crayfish into their seine, the researchers had found nothing out of the ordinary.

“We had worked so hard and long that we were ready to give up and find another site,” Schuster said. “And we saw this big flat boulder underneath a bridge and so we said, ‘OK. Let’s flip this rock, just for the heck of it; this will be our last one.’ And sure enough, that’s where we got the first specimen.” It was a big male, about twice the size of any other crayfish they had seen that day. And it had the characteristic bearded setae.

The researchers found only two specimens that day, a very small haul for nearly three hours of work. The second specimen, a female, was under a large, flat boulder that was too big for one man to lift alone in the current.

In the lab, Schuster quickly realized that the physical characteristics of the new crayfish differed in significant ways from those of B. cornutus. Taylor took tissue samples and compared the specimens’ DNA to that of B. cornutus.

“And the DNA said just what the morphology said: This thing is pretty different,” Taylor said.

And rare. The researchers made several more trips to the area before they were able to collect enough specimens to confirm what they already suspected: The giant crayfish of Shoal Creek was a new species. They named it Barbicambarus simmonsi, in honor of the TVA scientist who had collected the first specimen.

Later trips to the region confirmed that B. simmonsi was also present in the southern reaches of Shoal Creek, just north of where it drains into the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama.

Most people are shocked to learn that there are about 600 species of crayfish in the world, Taylor said, with more than half of those occurring north of Mexico. Alabama and Tennessee are hotspots of crayfish diversity, he said.

The discovery of a new species of crayfish in itself is not unusual, the researchers said. About two new species of crayfish are found every year in the U.S. But the discovery of a large, distinctive new species in a region that had been studied for decades is quite astounding, they said. …

“We looked at museum collections around the country,” Taylor said. “There were no specimens in there masquerading under a different species name. No one had found this thing and called it B. cornutus. This thing had not been seen by scientific eyes until last year.”

The fact that a distinct species was overlooked for so long indicates that studies of species diversity in the U.S. are not getting adequate resources, Schuster said.

“We spend millions of dollars every year on federal grants to send biologists to the Amazon, to Southeast Asia – all over the world looking for and studying the biodiversity of those regions,” Schuster said. “But the irony is that there’s very little money that is actually spent in our own country to do the same thing. And there are still lots of areas right here in the U.S. that need to be explored.”

The paper, “Monotypic No More, a Description of a New Crayfish of the Genus Barbicambarus Hobbs, 1969 (Decapoda: Cambridae) From the Tennessee River Drainage Using Morphology and Molecules,” is available online: www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.2988/10-15.1

Source: University of Illinois

See also here. And here. And here.

Scientists have discovered a new shrimp-like species in a gypsum cave in southeastern New Mexico, only a few dozen miles from the famous caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The species of amphipod was unknown before being discovered about a month ago in the Burton Flats area east of Carlsbad, said Jim Goodbar, the Bureau of Land Management’s senior cave specialist. The agency announced the discovery Tuesday: here.

MADRID, Spain — Researchers at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) have described a new species to science, the third species described to date in the El Cachucho Marine Protected Area. After scientific community acceptance of the isopod Haplomesus longiramus and the amphipod Liropus cachuchoensis, scientists at the ECOMARG research group have published (IEO?) the taxonomic and ecological description of Politolana sanchezi, a small crustacean that inhabits the southern Bay of Biscay: here.