Rare aquatic beetles in Wyoming, USA

Hygrotus sp. beetle, photo (c) James

From the University of Wyoming in the USA:

Rare aquatic beetles: Species distribution models guide field surveys

June 4, 2018

Summary: The known range of the narrow-footed Hygrotus diving beetle, which also can fly, is in central Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin and one site in the Wind River Basin. The sites are small, intermittent streams with disconnected pools and contain high concentrations of salt. These streams are in shortgrass prairie ecosystems that receive less than 400 millimeters of precipitation each year.

University of Wyoming researchers are shedding light on a rare aquatic beetle native only to central Wyoming.

Lusha Tronstad, lead invertebrate zoologist with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, a service and research unit housed at UW, says the narrow-footed Hygrotus diving beetle has been petitioned for Endangered Species Act listing three times in the past 11 years by Wild Earth Guardians, an activist group.

“We have no idea how many there are”, Tronstad says of the aquatic beetle she has studied since 2010. “We do know they have been found in 12 locations in central Wyoming and nowhere else in the world.”

Tronstad was lead author of a paper, titled “Using Species Distribution Models to Guide Field Surveys for an Apparently Rare Aquatic Beetle,” that was published June 4 in the online version of the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management and is expected to be in print later this month. The journal publishes manuscripts containing information from original research that contributes to basic wildlife science. Topics include investigations into the biology and ecology of wildlife and their habitats that have direct or indirect implications for wildlife management and conservation.

Kelsey Brown, a graduate student in UW’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, and Mark Andersen, information systems and services coordinator for the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, were co-authors of the paper.

Andersen created species distribution models, using such variables as how much sagebrush cover was available; soil conductivity, or how salty the soil is; air temperatures; and depth of groundwater at the sites.

“We used thesis models to predict suitable habitat for the beetles,” Tronstad says. “Using model results, we surveyed new sites across the state and discovered the beetle at one new location.”

This aquatic beetle was first discovered by Hugh Leech, a beetle expert, in 1964. Leech was driving along old Highway 85 near Midwest, according to Tronstad.

“He stopped and sampled Dugout Creek. Voila. He discovered a new species and published his work in 1966”, Tronstad says.

The known range of the diving beetle, which also can fly, is in central Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin and one site in the Wind River Basin. A site near Kaycee is the newest location where these insects have been discovered. The sites are small, intermittent streams with disconnected pools and contain high concentrations of salt. These streams are in shortgrass prairie ecosystems that receive less than 400 millimeters of precipitation each year, much of which is snow during spring.

Roughly 2.5 millimeters long, they are predators, feeding on mayflies, midges and other types of insects. Males are distinguished by large biceps on their front legs. They hibernate in the winter and reproduce during the summer, says Tronstad, who has conducted annual surveys of eight of the 12 known sites since 2010.

Aquatic beetles were collected in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to estimate the current distribution of the diving beetle in Wyoming, Tronstad says. Three streams — Dugout Creek, Dead Horse Creek and two locations in Cloud Creek — in the Powder River Basin were surveyed in July 2010. Tronstad says the group monitored statewide in 2011 and 2012. The group visited 511 sites and collected invertebrates from 246 sites over two summers.

“I usually walk up and down the streams,” Tronstad says of her summer research routine. “I sometimes find one stream where the beetle is living or a couple of streams.”

And, how do these beetles survive in these streams, which have a high concentration of salt?

“My guess is they can outcompete other invertebrates in these harsh, intermittent streams because they’re very, very salty”, Tronstad surmises. “The salts in the water make it difficult for other invertebrates to survive. Salt dehydrates. We think they have special mechanisms to deal with the salt.”

Models created predicted the diving beetles were more likely to be found in intermittent streams with a gentle gradient; shallow water table; variable precipitation patterns; high soil electrical conductivity; and in the warmest places in Wyoming.

“These streams will dry up into puddles during the summer,” she explains. “If we didn’t have any shallow groundwater in these intermittent streams, there probably wouldn’t be any habitat for them.”

Results suggest that maintaining the hydrologic integrity of prairie streams in Wyoming is vital to the conservation of the diving beetle, the paper says.

“What I will be doing next is looking at these finer variables to find out what is limiting their distribution,” Tronstad says. “I will be collecting information on cattle grazing and oil and gas, and how that might affect the sites.”

Beetlemania: How a supergroup scuttled to world domination. Handsome, hardy and diverse, beetles are supremely successful critters with a lot to teach us – but they’re suffering from our environmental waywardness: here.

A new study by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and colleagues confirms that increasing minimum winter temperatures allow beetles to expand their range but reveals that overcrowding can put the brakes on population growth: here.

Luminiscent coral video

This video says about itself:

Fluorescent Coral Glows in the Depth of the Ocean | BBC Earth

18 May 2018

These corals can absorb ultraviolet light and glow in the dark.

Researchers have identified the biological process of mineralization that occurs in a young coral that shifts from the plankton (swimming) stage to the ‘settled’ stage in which it forms the skeleton from minerals that protect its colony. The discovery is important for understanding the process of coral reef formation and protecting marine creatures from ecological damage associated with global warming, and could impact new biotechnological developments using coral extractions to regenerate and reconstruct human bones: here.

Trump’s ambassador to Germany wants to strengthen European far-right

This 20 March 2019 video from Germany says about itself:

German politicians want to expel US ambassador Grenell | DW News

Diplomatic ties between Germany and America appear to be going from bad to worse. US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is continuing to raise tempers in Berlin. On Tuesday, he accused the German government of “reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness“, calling that a “worrisome signal” to Germany’s NATO allies.

The German government is annoyed at what they see as Grenell’s meddling. Members of the opposition have even demanded that the controversial ambassador be expelled. That’s a near impossibility, but tensions over defense spending between Berlin and America’s ambassador are likely to continue.

U.S. AMBASSADOR WANTS TO ‘EMPOWER’ EUROPE’S CONSERVATIVES Richard Grenell, the U.S. envoy to Germany and a Trump ally, has said he wants to “empower” Europe’s conservatives, despite holding a post that requires him not to interfere in other nations’ internal affairs. [HuffPost]

The 4 June 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

The ambassador to Germany just revealed Trump’s evil plan to empower European fascists

Anyone who thought that President Trump would be content with transforming America into an authoritarian, neo-fascist state will be horrified to learn that he is also attempting to mold the governments of our nominal allies in Europe as well.

That’s the clear message telegraphed in a recent interview with the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, on the right-wing propaganda outlet, Breitbart.

Unlike the majority of Americans who regard the rise of ultra-nationalist … political parties as a dangerous return to the fascist policies of Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco, Grenell “has expressed great excitement over the wave of conservatism in Europe, saying he wants to “empower” leaders of the movement’, according to Breitbart.

“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on.” “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left”, he added.

According to Dutch NOS TV today, Grenell, ex-Fox News employee, expressed support for the right-wing coalition government in Austria, which includes the racist FPÖ party, founded by ex-members of Hitler’s party.

The NOS report says (translated):

Diplomats and certainly ambassadors are supposed to refrain from making political statements. So Berlin is not amused. On Wednesday, Grenell will go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get acquainted, and the statements will certainly come up then, said a spokesperson for the ministry.

Shortly after taking office last month, Grenell caused a stir by exhorting German companies to leave Iran when President Trump unilaterally abrogated the nuclear agreement with that country.

TRUMP TARGETS MERKEL Trump and a network of his ideological allies are behind a push to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel — punishment for the more than 1 million refugees she welcomed into Europe. They “ultimately want to prove that compassion toward immigrants is now political suicide in the West,” our report reveals. [HuffPost]