Galápagos penguins, male, female, new study


This 2014 video says about itself:

Abbi Helfer discusses how the behavior of the Galápagos penguin helps it to manage the equatorial heat.

From the University of Washington in the USA:

To tell the sex of a Galápagos penguin, measure its beak, researchers say

June 28, 2018

Summary: For a Galápagos penguin, beak size is nearly a perfect indicator of whether a bird is male or female, scientists have discovered. Armed with this knowledge, researchers could determine the sex of a bird quickly and accurately in the wild without taking a blood sample — speeding up field studies of this unusual and endangered seabird.

It turns out that to tell the sex of a Galápagos penguin, all you need is a ruler.

In a paper published April 5 in the journal Endangered Species Research, scientists at the University of Washington announced that, for a Galápagos penguin, beak size is nearly a perfect indicator of whether a bird is male or female. Armed with this knowledge, researchers could determine the sex of a bird quickly and accurately in the wild without taking a blood sample — speeding up field studies of this unusual and endangered seabird.

“For Galápagos penguins, we really wanted to understand if there was a simple ‘rule’ we could employ to determine sex — a sign that would be fast and reliable,” said lead author Caroline Cappello, a UW doctoral student in biology.

Galápagos penguins are the only penguins to live in an equatorial region. Like all penguin species and most birds, they lack external genitalia. In addition, male and female Galápagos penguins look similar to one another and both share parenting duties, incubating eggs and rearing the offspring. Males do tend to be slightly larger than females, but the difference is slight. A DNA test is available to determine the sex of a Galápagos penguin, but that requires obtaining a blood sample from each individual — an invasive and time-consuming process.

“We were hoping to find a physical trait to determine sex in Galápagos penguins that would be simple to measure in the field”, said Cappello. “By finding such a sex-specific trait, we could use that in our field studies on whether shifting climactic conditions affect male and female Galápagos penguins differently.”

To search for a physical sign of sex, from 2010 to 2014 senior author and UW biology professor P. Dee Boersma collected body measurements from 61 adult Galápagos penguins in the wild — including head size, flipper length, foot length and a half-dozen measurements of the beak and its surrounding feathers. Boersma also obtained blood samples from each penguin and sent them to Patty Parker, a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, to determine the sex of each adult using the DNA test.

Cappello combined the body-size measurements and DNA test results into a statistical analysis to search for physical characteristics that correlated with the sex of the bird. She found that males had slightly thicker beaks — measured from top to bottom — compared to females. Using beak size alone, Cappello could correctly determine the sex of more than 95 percent of their study penguins. This has been reported for several other penguin species, but Cappello and Boersma are the first to test it by genetic analysis for the Galápagos penguin.

This knowledge will help the UW team study Galápagos penguins in what Boersma has called a “predictably unpredictable” place. Straddling the equator, the Galápagos Islands are perfectly placed to take advantage of an upwelling of Pacific Ocean currents. This upwelling typically brings nutrients that support small-schooling fish to the islands for the penguins and other marine animals to feast upon, said Boersma, who has been studying Galápagos penguins for more than four decades.

But El Niño events can disrupt these currents and collapse the Galápagos food web, leading to starvation. This puts a strain on the penguin population, which numbers between 1,500 and 4,700 individuals. According to Boersma’s research, in particularly lean El Niño years, Galápagos penguins can even stop breeding altogether. Climate change is expected to increase the occurrence of El Niño conditions and extreme weather events.

Other preliminary studies have suggested that male Galápagos penguins are more likely to survive extreme environmental conditions compared to females. Scientists do not know why, and studies of sex-specific survival during El Niño years were hampered because researchers lacked easy ways to determine the sex of individual penguins — that is, until now.

“Now we can start to look at whether climate change will impact male and female Galápagos penguins differently, and what kind of strain this might put on their ability to survive as a species,” said Cappello.

The research was conducted in partnership with the Galápagos National Park and was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Galápagos Conservancy, the Disney Conservation Fund, the National Geographic Society, the Leiden Conservation Foundation, the Detroit Zoological Society, the Sacramento Zoo and the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science at the UW.

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US Murdoch muppet Hannity’s stupid attack on Ocasio-Cortez


This 28 June 2018 video from the USA is called Clueless [Rupert Murdoch Fox News mouthpiece Sean] Hannity Attacks [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez [who just won a New York City primary election by beating a Clintonite corporate Democrat politician] By Citing Her Awesome Policies.

DROP-OFF VOTERS DIDN’T DROP OFF Data on the New York Democratic congressional primary win for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggests she was propelled to victory by the district’s gentrifying neighborhoods. [The Intercept]

LEFT SHOCKER IN BOSTON Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley beat 10-term incumbent Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) to win the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District. Building on progressive momentum sparked by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York this summer, Pressley is likely to become her state’s first black congresswoman. [HuffPost] [Tweet | Share on Facebook]

HANNITY: BLAME DEMS Sean Hannity, the Fox TV entertainer and White House glove puppet, suggested that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was somehow responsible for a shooting at the Capital Gazette earlier in the day. Online, members of the far-right, who bathe daily in the anti-media froth peddled by propagandists such as Hannity, celebrated the deaths of the five journalists gunned down in Annapolis. [HuffPost]

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has canceled events in Alabama and Texas scheduled for this weekend due to a “very serious death threats”.

‘I COULDN’T GIVE A…’ A Capital Gazette reporter responded to Trump’s tweet offering thoughts and prayers for the victims, telling CNN live on air: “I couldn’t give a f**k” about your prayers. Here are details of the five victims who lost their lives. [HuffPost]

TRUMP REFUSES FLAG REQUEST Trump has declined a request from the mayor of Annapolis that he order U.S. flags be flown at half-staff to honor the five newspaper employees shot dead in Maryland last week. [HuffPost]

Hawaiian bird conservation, new study


This video says about itself:

15 March 2018

Many factors are contributing to the decline in Hawaii’s forest bird populations, loss of habitat, climate change.. invasive species, but none more than disease. Avian malaria and avian poxvirus are spread by human introduced mosquitoes. Historically, mosquitoes did not exist on Hawaii and native bird species never developed resistance to mosquito transmitted diseases. Because of this, mosquitoes have devastated many native bird populations.

Join me as I explore what scientists are doing to help reduce mosquito populations, determine avian malaria abundance and determine current and future solutions for malaria such as BTI and wolbachia.

This video also serves as a day in the life of a researcher which explains our research process and shows how we carry out the research in the field.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office:

It’s go time for Hawaiian bird conservation, and luckily there’s a playbook

June 27, 2018

Summary: A new study presents some of the best guidance to date on the priorities and actions that can be taken to help Hawaii’s endemic birds. This article lays out a plan to better guide and empower conservation efforts for Hawaiian birds.

A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications presents some of the best guidance to date on the priorities and actions that can be taken to help Hawaii’s endemic birds. Hawaii’s ecosystems, including its native bird populations, are struggling. Of the 21 species of forest birds left on the islands, almost two thirds (12 species) of are endangered or threatened. The current conservation status of the wildlife and vegetation on the island is almost entirely attributable to humans. The actions needed to stabilize or reverse these trends need stronger support and coordination, however funding and resources are limited. This new paper lays out a plan to better guide and empower conservation efforts for Hawaiian birds.

Eben Paxton of USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center and colleagues synthesized the key points that came out of a collaboration of more than 60 stakeholders in Hawaiian bird conservation. The focus is on actionable research and management approaches that can be employed today. Habitat loss, invasive plants, non-native predators, and introduced diseases were identified as the largest threats to Hawaiian birds. Climate change is projected to exacerbate all threats. Given limited resources, the stakeholders decided on eight main priorities as well as several actions specific to the island of Kauai. In addition to helping Hawaii and its birds directly, the goal of this collaborative report is to make Hawaii a model for other areas of the world, especially islands, that are in need of strong conservation efforts.

Lead author, Eben Paxton comments, “Our challenge in Hawaii is how do we conserve forest birds from multiple threats with just a fraction of the resources needed to fully address all the threats. Our solution was to bring researchers and managers together to share ideas, and as a community, identify priority research and management needs necessary to save these unique species. We believe these priorities will help focus resources where most needed and bring together different organizations to work together for the maximum benefit of the birds.”

“New Technology is being proposed to help stem the tide of extinctions in Hawaiian native birds. Eben Paxton and his co-authors recognize that all the native birds in Hawaii are Conservation Reliant Species and propose utilizing new technologies to assist with the preservation of this unique island avifauna,” adds Charles van Riper III, a ST Research Ecologist and Professor Emeritus, USGS and SNRE, University of Arizona. “This very complete paper also recommends enhancing Citizen Science and captive breeding in the Islands, along with continued monitoring and translocations to unoccupied habitat. The immediate target for this plan are the birds on Kauai — the authors feel that the native avifauna on this island is rapidly approaching extinction, and time will tell how successful this proposed plan is in implementing conservation actions in time to save these unique birds.”

On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it is possible to stand in a lush tropical forest that doesn’t contain a single native plant. The birds that once dispersed native seeds are almost entirely gone too, leaving a brand-new ecological community composed of introduced plants and birds. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers demonstrate that these novel communities are organized in much the same way as native communities worldwide: here.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations, my 12 nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2018?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. Zoologish

2. The life, writings, photography, and spiritual journey of Dithreabhach

3. P.S. It’s Peri

4. from us to you.

5. Dazzled

6. #artcycling

7. Labour Party BAME Newsletter – Highgate Branch, Holborn & St. Pancras

8. kahaniwaale – the art of storytelling

9. Sarajevo, love, sex and hills

10. Amar Gholia

11. FrejaTravels

12. Cavid Abdullayev

Young buzzard’s life saved


This 28 June 2018 video from Drenthe province in the Netherlands is about a young buzzard, now in an artificial nest after falling from its parents’ nest.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Man builds artificial nest to save young buzzard

It is an artificial nest, but it saves a young buzzard in the Drenthe-Friesian Wold national park. Kees van der Klauw has built a nest for the young buzzard that had fallen from its own nest.

Van der Klauw found the young bird on the ground next to the tree where the parents have their eyrie. “Around the tree trunk under the nest I have attached plastic so that pine martens can not pass, branches hang over the nest so that the young buzzard is sheltered from other birds of prey, like the goshawk.”

Natural environment

Van der Klauw has asked advice from bird of prey expert Rob Bijlsma and says that this is an excellent solution. Young animals from the raptor shelter often do not survive because their parents do not teach them to hunt. Now the parents are still there and as soon as the young bird will be able to fly, it will go back to its parents.

That will take another week or three. Until then, Van der Klauw brings dead mice to the temporary nest in the morning and in the evening.

The young bird is between six and eight weeks old. How old exactly is hard to say due to the difficult start in life of the little buzzard. The parents did leave mice for it when it was on the ground, but it could not do anything with them, so maybe the youngster is small for its age. Meanwhile, however, it knows how to handle the mice that Van der Klauw brings.

He has engaged his circle of acquaintances to collect as many mice as possible. “I prefer to take them directly because my wife does not want them in the fridge”, he says to RTV Drenthe. In the coming weeks he will have an appointment with the young buzzard at least twice a day.

Trump’s immigrant children still separated from parents


This video from the USA says about itself:

Meet an Immigration Lawyer Trying to Unite Migrant Families While Battling the Trump Administration

28 June 2018

On Tuesday, Federal Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ruled all children under the age of 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, and all children 5 and older must be reunited with their parents within 30 days. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has claimed he could easily locate any of the children separated from their parents. But immigrant parents and their lawyers tell a different story. We speak to Rochelle Garza, an immigration lawyer based here in Brownsville, Texas, who is now representing immigrant families who have been separated by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

This video from the USA says about itself:

1 April 2018

America’s dysfunctional immigration court system forces many children to appear in court alone. That’s as ridiculous in real life as it would be on a courtroom television show.

Defendants In Diapers? Immigrant [two-year-old] Toddlers Ordered To Appear In Court Alone: here.

Good Belize coral reef news


This 2008 video about Belize is called Second largest Barrier Reef on Earth– Wild Caribbean – BBC Nature.

BELIZE-IMO: A United Nations agency revealed that the barrier reef around Belize — home to some 1,400 species — is no longer in danger. [HuffPost]

See also here.

Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine life, feed hundreds of millions of people and contribute vastly to the global economy. But they are dying in mass bleaching events, as climate change warms our oceans and breaks down vital relationships between corals and energy-providing algae. A new commentary, published in Nature’s Communications Biology, provides hope that a shift in research focus towards coral immunity will support reef conservation and restoration efforts: here.

The health of coral reefs can be impacted as much by the diversity of fish that graze on them as by the amount of fish that do so, according to a new study by scientists at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. In the Science Advances paper, the researchers untangle and unveil the powerful effects that biodiversity has on Caribbean coral reefs: here.