USA: junk science sacrificing mouse to developers unmasked

Preble's meadow jumping mouse

Associated Press reports:

New Study: Tiny Mouse Deserves Protection

May 17th

Associated Press Writer

DENVER – A new study reinforces a tiny rodent’s reputation as the mouse that roared, and that could block millions of dollars in development in Wyoming and Colorado if it hangs on to its endangered status.

For the second time, a study has found the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is distinct from other types of mice and deserves federal protection.

The 3-inch-long mouse has been at the center of a huge controversy in the West because its habitat includes prime undeveloped real estate, and protected status would put limits on what the owners could do with their land.

Eighteen months ago the Interior Department announced it was withdrawing the Preble’s endangered status based on a study that concluded it was actually a more common subspecies of jumping mouse.

Developers cheered the decision, but after a chorus of complaints by other scientists and environmental groups, the decision was delayed and a new study was ordered.

That study, by Tim King of the U.S. Geological Survey, found that the original study, by Rob Roy Ramey of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, was flawed.

Ramey no longer works at the museum and his home number was not known.

The Interior Department, which hired him after he did the Preble study, was unable to provide a contact number for him Wednesday.

The latest report was published May 10 in Animal Conservation, the same magazine that had published Ramey’s conclusion that the Preble’s meadow mouse is the same subspecies as the Bear Lodge meadow mouse, which is not threatened.

For the latest report, eight scientists reviewed Ramey’s study.

They found that instead of showing that the two mice are the same subspecies, the research “offers further support for the classification of Zapus hudsonius preblei (Preble) as a unique subspecies and a distinct evolutionary unit worthy of the protection it is currently afforded.”

“Our examination of the Ramey et al. study both demonstrates its limitations and reveals that their own results support the conclusion that the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is distinct and should remain protected under the Endangered Species Act, said Sacha Vignieri, a biologist who specializes in mammalian population genetics for the Centre for the Study of Evolution at the University of Sussex in Great Britain.

See also here.

Compare the Bush administration’s war on science, like George W’s little brother Jeb, Governor of Florida, using junk science against protection for the Florida panther.

Male mice sing songs of love: here.

Read more, and hear the mice sing: here.

6 thoughts on “USA: junk science sacrificing mouse to developers unmasked

  1. Cell Biology: On Tissue Response to Injury.
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  2. ul 24, 9:24 PM EDT

    N.M. works on rodent recovery plan

    Associated Press Writer
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    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some might think fewer rodents would be a good thing, but scientists are concerned about the dwindling populations of two small fury creatures on New Mexico’s list of endangered mammals.

    The state Department of Game and Fish says recent surveys show the number of New Mexican meadow jumping mice has dropped by at least two-thirds – and possibly as much as 90 percent – throughout the state.

    Surveys also show the Arizona montane vole is found only in a very small region of Catron County and in east-central Arizona.

    “The thing in common between both is the loss of riparian habitat along streams and rivers in the Southwest,” said Jim Stuart, a non-game endangered species mammalogist with the Game and Fish Department. “There’s a combination of factors. Grazing is often jumped on as a reason, but there have also been climate factors involved like the dewatering of streams and rivers and the lowering of groundwater.”

    Stuart pointed to the drought that has had New Mexico in its clutches, saying it – along with human management of the landscape – can lead to fragmented or lost habitat and that any species can be affected, not just the meadow jumping mouse and the vole.

    The Game and Fish Department is hosting a series of public meetings this week in Raton, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and Silver City to let people know about an effort to develop a recovery plan for the two mammals.

    After the meetings, the department will put together a plan and present it to the public for comment and eventually to the state Game Commission for approval. Approval could come next spring, said Leland Pierce, the department’s terrestrial species recovery plan coordinator.

    Scientists consider the two rodents to be indicator species of the health of New Mexico’s riparian areas.

    Pierce said riparian areas are important habitat throughout the state.

    Of the 867 species of vertebrates known to exist in New Mexico, more than half rely to some extent on aquatic, wetland or riparian habitat for survival, according to the department’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.

    The problem is some experts suggest that New Mexico and neighboring Arizona, which also has populations of the New Mexican meadow jumping mouse, have lost an estimated 90 percent of their original riparian ecosystems over the last century.

    In New Mexico, Game and Fish scientists did surveys in the 1980s and found the mouse – with its striking yellowish fur and well-developed hind feet – in the Jemez, Sangre de Cristo and Sacramento mountains.

    When they followed up with another round of surveys in 2005 and 2006, Stuart said, the habitat at many of the original sites had changed and the mouse was gone.

    The mouse and the vole depend on moist meadows along streams and rivers to make their homes, find food and reproduce.

    Stuart said the goal of the recovery plan is to protect and improve remaining habitat as well as encourage better streamside management. He said it’s possible the plan could call for building artificial wetlands and relocating animals.

    The rodents’ existing communities are fragmented with many miles in between, making it harder for them to survive, he said.

    “Some of them are just hanging on,” he said. “These fragmented populations are more vulnerable to being snuffed out the next time a drought comes along.”

    On the Net:

    New Mexico Department of Game and Fish:

    © 2007 The Associated Press.


  3. Dec 7, 6:37 PM EST

    Jumping Mouse Considered for Protection

    Associated Press Writer

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is among a handful of species from the Southwest that is being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

    The agency released a list of the latest candidates Thursday. They include the mouse, a snail and a frog from Arizona, a fish from Tennessee and a variety of buckwheat found in Nevada. The list names 280 plants and animals in all.

    As for the mouse, agency officials in New Mexico say it once was found in about 100 locations from the Jemez Mountains in the north, down through the Rio Grande Valley to the Sacramento Mountains in the south. Now, the mouse can be found in about 10 places.

    “It’s literally on the brink of extinction,” said Nicole Rosmarino, the conservation director of Forest Guardians, a Santa Fe-based environmental group that has been monitoring the mouse.

    Local Fish and Wildlife officials and Rosmarino agree that the biggest threats for the furry rodent are grazing and the loss of habitat. The mouse depends on moist meadows along streams and rivers to make its homes, find food and reproduce.

    Many species in the arid Southwest depend on stream-side habitats, and Rosmarino said: “We’re failing to recognize that we need to protect these arteries of life.”

    The Fish and Wildlife Service said the mouse has a high priority on the list of candidates, but the agency has not determined whether it will propose endangered species status for the animal.

    An animal or plant on the candidate list does not have protections under the Endangered Species Act, but agency officials say it’s the first step in coordinating with land managers to improve the situation.

    Rosmarino said her group plans to push Fish and Wildlife toward giving the rodent endangered species status.

    “Some of the species on the candidate list have been on there for over 25 years,” she said, describing the list as “purgatory status.”

    Rosmarino said bringing the rodent under the safety net of the Endangered Species Act is important since climate change predictions are calling for an extended drought in the Southwest and declining snowpack.

    “That means less dependable water flows and that’s going to harm species that depend on wetter areas, such as the jumping mouse,” she said.

    The mouse is considered endangered by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which has been working on a recovery plan to help the rodent.

    The other species identified as candidates by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual review are a treefrog found the in Huachuca Mountains and adjacent Canelo Hills of Arizona; the San Bernardino springsnail, also found in Arizona; Las Vegas buckwheat in Nevada’s Clark and Lincoln counties; and the laurel dace, a fish found in Tennessee’s Bledsoe and Rhea counties.

    On the Net:

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:



  4. Pingback: George W Bush’s war on science, including space science | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Ex US nuclear weapons site declared wildlife refuge | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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