North American animals in winter


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black-Capped Chickadee Calls and Sounds – Fee Bee Call, Chicka Dee Dee Dee Call and a couple of others

An amiable sight to behold at winter backyard feeders, chickadees are a delight to watch as they fly with their happy, bouncy flight back and forth to feeders collecting seeds to eat elsewhere or to hoard away for later feeding. But most delightful of all is hearing their “chicka dee dee dee” call, in the quiet and desolate feeling dead of winter their call stands out and begs to be heard, like a song of promise for bright sunny days to come.

The black-capped chickadee may be the most incredible of all winter survivors. These little birds have evolved an unusual means of saving energy and coping with cold weather—they actually lower their body temperature! Click here to get the story of how a tiny bird is able to keep the elements at bay.

It’s been a cold winter across the US and many of us are struggling to stay warm. Animals have special adaptations to survive the cold. There’s a lot we can learn from Arctic Foxes, Ptarmigans and even Polar Bears. Read on to find out how YOU can stay warm too.

When winter arrives in the Arctic, the Wood Frog responds accordingly. That is, it freezes and becomes, basically, a frog-shaped Popsicle. But when spring arrives, an interesting thing happens: the frog thaws and is soon hopping, croaking, mating—enjoying all the amphibian pleasures life has to offer. How is this possible? Read on to learn more about this deep frozen frog.

Bears have an interesting problem as they hibernate through the winter. Where and when to go to the bathroom? As with many such quandaries, nature has evolved a clever solution to a potentially messy problem. Read onto get the scoop.

Do you know how animals cope with winter’s severe conditions? Test your winter wildlife knowledge by taking the quiz.

Invasive cane toads stopped in Australia


This September 2014 video is called Invasion Of The Deadly Cane Toads – Australia with Simon Reeve – BBC.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

At long last, Australia is able to halt the relentless advance of the cane toad

The toad’s seemingly relentless advance across the Australian landscape has challenged and defeated two generations

Lewis Smith

Sunday 22 February 2015

When farming experts sought a solution 80 years ago to the damage that beetles were doing to Australia’s sugar cane crops, and to profits, they fixed upon a voracious amphibian as the answer. It was a decision they have regretted ever since.

Introducing the cane toad Down Under in 1935 was an ecological disaster. Placed in where food was plentiful and predators had no idea how to avoid its highly toxic skin, the toad thrived while native wildlife paid the price. Quolls (carnivorous marsupials), goannas (monitor lizards), and the fearsome freshwater crocodile could die from eating the toxic toad which can also shoot its venom and blind a predator.

The toad’s seemingly relentless advance across more than a million square kilometres of the Australian landscape has challenged and defeated two generations of scientists, farmers and conservationists. But now they believe they may finally have found its Achilles heel.

Having discovered that in dry weather cane toads need to find a source of water at least once every three days, scientists decided to build small fences around the man-made ponds and troughs for watering livestock. At 60cm, the fences were too high for the toads to jump over or climb, and a cloth covering was dug into the ground to prevent them burrowing underneath.

And researchers found this simple technique worked.

“We smashed ’em!” declared a triumphant Dr Mike Letnic, of the University of New South Wales, after witnessing the bodies of hundreds of cane toads piled in front of the fences. “They died en masse … our control technique massively reduced toad numbers.” Dr Letnic found that some of the dams that the team targeted had supported up to 700 toads.

“Until now, no one had demonstrated an effective control technique,” he said. “You can imagine we were chuffed when one year later, there were still hardly any toads.”

The success, reported in the Journal of Applied Ecology, is a welcome break for Australia’s native predators such as the cat-sized quoll, which had been eradicated in some regions such as the Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory.

See also here. And here. And here.

Dutch otters use wildlife crossings daily


This 17 February 2015 video is about otters, which use wildlife tunnels in Overijssel province daily; and about other animals using the tunnels.

Translated from ARCADIS in the Netherlands today:

ARCADIS has monitored during the past year the operation of sixty fauna crossings in the province of Overijssel. These are small fauna tunnels, walk ledges under bridges and large wildlife viaducts. Using camera traps all animals which last fall made use of the passages were recorded. The images of wildlife crossings along the N334 and the N762 motorways show how otters use the tunnels daily to avoid the dangerous roads. …

The images of last autumn’s monitoring show that some twenty species use the passages. We have seen roe deer, badgers, otters, pine martens and other small mammals and amphibians.

Cave salamander discoveries in Montenegro and Bosnia


This video from Slovenia is called A True Miracle in Postojna CaveProteus anguinus laying eggs in public.

From BirdLife:

Scientific breakthrough reveals evidence of ‘human fish’ locked away in cave system

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 09/02/2015 – 10:35

How do you find physical evidence of a rare species when most of its habitat (the subterranean waters of limestone cave systems in the Balkans) is inaccessible to humans? The ‘human fish’ is the largest cave animal in the world. Despite this, Proteus anguinus – a blind, entirely-aquatic salamander commonly known as the olm, and endemic to the Dinaric Alps – is incredibly difficult to find.

The answer was recently provided by the Society for Cave Biology (SCB; Društvo za jamsko biologijo) in a project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) when they found the first physical evidence of the species in Montenegro using new techniques to sample its DNA.

In this region, activities such as water extraction, river damming and agriculture have increased the stress on Proteus and other aquatic cave animals. Limestone habitats like cave systems can be intricate and complex, having taken millions of years to form by natural processes. One wrong move can wipe out entire species, so urgent measures need to be taken in order to save them.

Nick-named the ‘human fish’ by locals because of its skin colour, Proteus are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in some localities the species is already extinct. However the extent of the decline cannot be estimated without an extensive survey of its distribution – in habitat where access is easy for the human fish, but not so easy for human beings. The purpose of the CEPF project was to solve this problem: to test a scientific method that safely, effectively and accurately determines Proteus presence.

Environmental DNA

SCB, experts in speleological (cave and karst) research, designed a solution based on so-called ‘eDNA’. During the process of skin regeneration, Proteus shed fragments of epidermal cells which are carried away by water. DNA dissolved in water is called environmental DNA (eDNA), and SCB successfully tested and perfected the sensitive and inexpensive technique of identifying Proteus eDNA from samples of water.

After many hours in the field and thousands of water samples, the team have discovered new localities of Proteus in Montenegro and in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This ground-breaking research will give SCB and partners the evidence to appeal and counsel the nature conservation authorities in Montenegro to start all necessary legal actions to protect Proteus in their territories, and to guide the management planning of authorities in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

New frog species discovery in Peru


This video says about itself:

An Array of Frogs Calling in the Peruvian Amazon

4 February 2012

Nine species of frog are seen here. From left to right, and top to bottom: Hypsiboas geographicus, Dendropsophus sarayacuensis, Hypsiboas lanciformis, Hypsiboas punctatus, Scinax chiquitanus, Phyllomedusa palliata, Leptodactylus rhodonotus, Leptodactylus sp., Leptodactylus sp.

All frogs were recorded in the Madre de Dios region of Peru.

From Wildlife Extra:

New yellow frog discovered in Peru

A new water frog species has been discovered on Pacific slopes of the Andes in central Peru, an area scientists had thought was poor in biodiversity.

The name of the new species Telmatobius ventriflavum comes from the Latin for yellow belly (venter and flavus) and refers to the golden yellow and orange coloration on the body.

Water frogs are a subfamily of frogs endemic to the Andes of South America. The populations of several species of Telmatobius have declined dramatically over the past 30 years, and the genus is now thought to be extinct in Ecuador. These declines have been associated with the spread of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis.

“The discovery of a new species in such arid and easily accessible environments shows that much remains to be done to document amphibian diversity in the Andes,” said the lead author Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The study detected the presence of the chytrid fungus, but the impact of chytridiomycosis on the new species is unknown. The authors recommend disease surveillance to prevent outbreaks that might endanger the survival of this endemic species.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

New frog species discovered in Bangladesh


An adult male Euphlyctis kalasgramensis, a newly discovered species of frog that lives in Bangladesh. Credit: M. S. A. Howlader

From Live Science:

Newfound Frog Has Strange Breeding Habits

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer

February 04, 2015 02:02pm ET

A new species of frog has hopped onto the radar of researchers in Bangladesh. The frogs were discovered after the researchers noticed their unusual breeding habits, according to a new study.

Most frogs have a specific mating season, but researchers found that one frog bred all year long, even in the winter, said study lead researcher M. Sajid Ali Howlader, a doctoral student of biosciences at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Howlader learned that the frog was named Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis, and it was discovered by the German naturalist J. G. Schneider in 1799. But a detailed study of the frog’s genetics, shape and size showed that it was actually an entirely different species from E. cyanophlyctis. [Photos: Cute and Colorful Frogs]

The newfound frog’s mitochondrial genes are between 5.5 percent and about 18 percent different from other frog species in the same genus, the researchers found. And its grayish-brown and green back, covered with dark, rounded spots, and white underside also look different from E. cyanophlycti[s], Howlader said.

Female frogs prefer a group of males calling to them rather than a lone male calling by himself, they found. Once the female is ready to mate, she will hop over to the male and make physical contact with him.rAfter observing that the frogs mate all year long, Howlader and his colleagues became experts at describing the amphibian’s mating practices. He named the new 1.5-inch-long (3.8 centimeters) frog Euphlyctis kalasgramensis, after the Bangladesh village of Kalasgram, where he first found the frogs.

Further investigations of E. kalasgramensis showed that it eats different types of worms, small crabs, snails, spiders and insects, especially those that harm local crops, Howlader said. Once chosen, the male doesn’t waste any time. He immediately jumps on the female’s back, clinging to her below the armpits with his forearms, Howlader said. The male uses his hind legs to kick away competing males, and moves with the female to a small, shallow pool of water to spawn.

The researchers found that the frog lives in pools of water that collect in forests and crop fields, which puts it at risk from farming pesticides that pollute water, Howlader said. The frog is also threatened by people who use it as live bait for fishing, and by indigenous people who eat it, he told Live Science.

The study may raise awareness that the frog needs protection, the researchers said.

Frog[s] originated before 265 million years ago,” Howlader said. “The first members of our human family (hominins) evolved about only 6 or 7 million years ago. But the existence of this old member of our world has become threatened by our activities and ignorance.”

The findings were published online today (Feb. 4) in the journal PLOS ONE.