Biology and conservation, good and bad news

This video says about itself:

24 August 2016

Scientists have discovered these incredible new species of all kinds of creatures.

8. Two New Species of Ant

The two new species were discovered living in New Guinea and have gained quite the attention from fans of the popular tv show Game of Thrones. The new ants were named after the Mother of Dragons’ own two dragons Viserion and Drogon. Scientists went with the names because the ants come equipped with spines that resemble that of the two dragons, though the similarities stop at the name. Scientists initially believed that the spines served as a defensive mechanism but 3D imaging showed that the spines were actually made up of muscle fibers that were all connected to the ant’s large head.

7. A New Species of Spider

This recently discovered species of ray spider was found back in 2014 by an arachnologist who works at the California Academy of Sciences. What’s incredibly fascinating about ray spiders as a whole is that they aren’t classified as filter feeders. According to Charles Griswold who works at the Academy, ray spiders create a web like most regular spiders do but instead they use their web as a sort of net. They pull their web into a cone shape and wait for their next meal to come along. Once in range, the spider launches their net and catches the unfortunate prey.

6. A New Species of Frog

This newly discovered frog acquired its name from a legendary creature that lives in the rainforest called the mapinguari. Dart Frogs are famously known as some of the most venomous creatures on earth, yet, this frog isn’t poisonous at all. Dendropsophus mapinguari is the scientific name and the herpetologist who found it named it this in honor of the region’s culture, This species of frog is colored bright yellow and can be found in the Amazon jungle in Brazil.

5. A New Species of Viper

This new species of viper was believed to be part of the same species as another already identified snake. However, researchers finally figured out that the viper itself was actually a completely separate species. The new Talamancan palm-pitviper can only be found in northern and the central Cordillera de Talamanca, which is the mountain range that lies on the border of Panama and Costa Rica.The snake only grows to be about less than 24 inches and can be identified by its black and bright green color pattern and their fascinating venom with special neurotoxins.

4. A New Species of Sea Slug

This mysterious mass of purple glob was discovered late last month on July 28 when the research crew aboard the E/V Nautilus spotted the creature just off the coast of California. They obtained the aquatic animal by using a suction device on a remote controlled vehicle to capture and further examine it on the ship. Susan Poulton, a spokesperson for the ship, believes that this could be some new species of sea slug as there are no known sea slugs with this color, though further study is required.

3. A New Species of Boa

Finding a new species of snake is considered very rare which is why scientists are quite excited about this find. The snake is a species of boa that was discovered on Conception Island of the Southern Bahamas that is known for being uninhabited. The boa is silver in color and gives off a shine like metal. It’s believed that only around a 1,000 of these creatures are living on the island. It lives off a diet of birds as it dwells in the treetops and there is a strong possibility that this species could become extinct due to the feral cats that hunt it.

2. A New Species of Giant Tortoise

Found on the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador, these giant tortoises might look familiar to the ones that already exist on the [Santa Cruz] island but rest assured this is a whole new species of tortoise. This species was found living on the eastern side of the island. It’s been estimated that there are only around 250 of these tortoises left. With this new discovery now comes the conservation efforts to help conserve the species. The scientific name for this species comes from Don Fausto, a park ranger who worked to help conserve them.

1. A New Species of River Dolphin

The Araguaian boto is a river dolphin that can be located in the middle and lower regions of the Araguaia River from Barra do Garças all the way to the Santa Isabel rapids. It was first discovered back in 2014, but it should be noted that technically the Society for Marine Mammalogy does not recognize this dolphin as a new species due to the examination of only two bodies of this species.

From BirdLife:

6 things you might have missed from the 2016 Red List

By Alex Dale, 14 Dec 2016

Tales of parrots in peril and giraffes in jeopardy dominated the headlines when the 2016 edition of the Red List was published last week.

But while the plight of world-famous species inevitably catches the media’s eye, there are many other interesting and quirky stories that end up falling under the radar. This is an unavoidable consequence of the Red List’s wide remit, with its researchers assessing tens of thousands of animal and plant species every year – from monkeys to mangos and everything in-between.

Below, we round-up some of the important bird-related news that may have passed you by during the initial media frenzy.

1. We now have over 700 new bird species

BirdLife is responsible for assessing the threat status of all bird species on behalf of the IUCN Red List. To perform this duty, we need to know, first and foremost, exactly how many species of birds there are in the world.

To help us better understand avian biodiversity, our science team recently completed a rigorous taxonomic review of all the world’s birds, comparing biometrics, plumage, vocalisations, ecology, behaviour, geographical relationships and genetics, to determine which subspecies were, in fact, fully-fledged species of their own.

The results were eye-opening: it turns out we had grossly underestimated avian biodiversity. Over 1,000 ‘new’ species were recognised over the course of this two-part review, 742 of which were announced as part of this year’s Red List (the rest having already been revealed in 2014).

All 742 of these species are illustrated and described in our upcoming publication, Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World Volume 2.

This 2014 video, in Spanish, is about the Gran Canaria blue chaffinch.

2. Europe’s newest songbird is also its rarest

The new information from the taxonomic review allows us to focus on new conservation priorities. For example, we now know that the Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch Fringilla polatzeki is probably Europe’s rarest passerine.

It was previously lumped with the Tenerife Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea. But while the Tenerife species is comparatively healthy (Near Threatened), that on Gran Canaria has seen its preferred pine habitats decimated by forest fires on the island. Today, as few as 240 individuals remain, and this newly recognised species is Endangered. With the Azores Bullfinch Pyrrhula murina showing evidence of recovering, the Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch likely takes over the mantle of rarest passerine.

This newcomer isn’t Europe’s rarest non-migratory bird, however: that unwanted title remains with Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira, which has a population of fewer than 200 birds, which breed on just six cliff ledges in Madeira.

3. Galapagos has had its first avian extinction

Least vermilion flycatcher

As part of the taxonomic review, our experts also looked at museum specimens of long-gone birds. This led to a situation that perhaps might seem unusual: 13 of the 742 newly-recognised birds are already extinct.

All 13 of these posthumously-recognised species were island endemics who were probably wiped out by invasive species. They include the Marianne White-eye Zosterops semiflavus of the Seychelles, which was wiped out in the 19th Century before the successful measures which have saved a great many of the islands’ other endemic species could be implemented.

Another newly-split species, the glossy red Least Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus dubius, has the dubious honour of becoming the first avian extinction recorded in the Galapagos. Confined to the island of San Cristóbal, it was discovered during Charles Darwin’s voyage in 1835. Since 1960, invasive plants have replaced a large part of the island’s native vegetation, which in turn led to the decline of this insectivore’s favourite bugs. This, combined with avian pox, bot fly and rats, may have been the last straw – the last reliable sighting was recorded in 1987.

4. One bird has now become 12

Pitta evolution

In the most extreme outcome from our taxonomic review, one species, the Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) of South-East Asia, has been split into twelve distinct species. They are (deep breath): Red-bellied/Philippine Pitta (Erythropitta erythrogaster), Talaud Pitta (Erythropitta inspeculata), Sangihe Pitta (Erythropitta caeruleitorques), Siau Pitta (Erythropitta palliceps), Sulawesi Pitta (Erythropitta celebensis), North Moluccan Pitta (Erythropitta rufiventris), South Moluccan Pitta (Erythropitta rubrinucha), Papuan Pitta (Erythropitta macklotii), Louisiaide Pitta (Erythropitta meeki), New Britain Pitta (Erythropitta gazellae), Tabar Pitta (Erythropitta splendida) and New Ireland Pitta (Erythropitta novaehibernicae).

The reasons behind this split are explained by BirdLife’s Nigel Collar in an article published on Motherboard/Vice. A 13th species, Sula Pitta Erythropitta dohertyi, had already earlier been split from P. erythogaster, meaning we now have a baker’s dozen of these striking red birds.

5. Even widespread birds are in trouble

This 2013 video is about a rustic bunting singing in Norway.

It’s easy to assume that widespread birds aren’t at risk, but this simply isn’t always the case, as the concerning case of the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica illustrates. It breeds in damp coniferous forests all across northern Eurasia, from Norway to Japan, and for years this large range has perhaps led conservationists into a false sense of security about the species’ status. However, new data collated from across its range suggest the species has declined by more than a third since the turn of the century. Factors implicated in its collapse include logging and drainage across its breeding range and agricultural intensification and large-scale trapping for food on its wintering grounds. In response to this alarming decline, the species was uplisted from Least Concern to Vulnerable in the 2016 Red List.

6. It wasn’t all bad news for parrots

This video says about itself:

Footage of a Forbes Parakeet [=Chatham Parakeet] foraging for seeds on the forest floor in “Robin Bush” on Mangere Island (Chatham Islands, New Zealand) in March 2013.

The BirdLife article continues:

In Asia and Africa, demand for the cagebird trade has led to many species of parrots and parakeets being trapped and traded into near-extinction in the wild. But on the Chatham Islands, an archipelago located off the east coast of New Zealand, a charming green parakeet is fighting back against extinction.

The Chatham Parakeet Cyanoramphus forbesi was assessed in the Red List as Endangered for nearly two decades, as it found itself threatened not only by habitat loss and invasive predators, but also from the amorous attentions of a rival parrot.

The islands’ Red-crowned Parakeets Cyanoramphus novaezelandia threatened to hybridise the Chatham Parakeets out of existence by interbreeding with them, but careful and continued management of these threats by local conservation groups has seen the species bounce back to the point where it has now been downlisted from Endangered to Vulnerable.

1 thought on “Biology and conservation, good and bad news

  1. Pingback: Costa Rica jungle video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.