European wild bee species threatened


This video says about itself:

Olivia’s Wild Bees

21 August 2007

A young American biologist studies wild bees on the island of Lesvos, Greece. She explains her work and the bees’ role in nature.

From Wildlife Extra:

One in 10 bee species faces extinction

The first-ever assessment of all European wild bee species shows that 9.2% are threatened with extinction, while 5.2% are considered likely to be threatened in the near future.

A total of 56.7% of the species are classified as Data Deficient, as lack of experts, data and funding has made it impossible to evaluate their extinction risk.

The assessment was published as part of The IUCN European Red List of Bees and the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project, both funded by the European Commission.

It provides – for the first time – information on all 1,965 wild bee species in Europe, including their status, distribution, population trends and threats.

“This assessment is the best understanding we have had so far on wild bees in Europe,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “However, our knowledge about them is incomplete as we are faced with an alarming lack of expertise and resources.

“Bees play an essential role in the pollination of our crops. We must urgently invest in further research in order to provide the best possible recommendations on how to reverse their decline.”

The report shows that 7.7% of the species have declining populations, 12.6% are stable and 0.7% are increasing. Population trends for the remaining 79% of bee species are unknown.

Changing agricultural practices and increased farming intensification have led to large-scale losses and degradation of bee habitats – one of the main threats to their survival.

For instance, intensive silage production – at the expense of hay-cropping – causes losses of herb-rich grasslands and season-long flowering, which constitute important sources of forage for pollinators.

The widespread use of insecticides also harms wild bees and herbicides reduce the availability of flowers on which they depend. The use of fertilisers promotes rank grassland, which is low in flowering plants and legume species – the preferred food resources for many bee species.

Intensive agriculture and farming practices have caused a sharp decline in the surface area of dry steppes, which house the Vulnerable Andrena transitoria bee – a formerly common eastern Mediterranean species that spreads from Sicily to Ukraine and into Central Asia.

Ploughing, mowing or grazing of flowering plants, as well as the use of insecticides have led to a 30% population decline of the species over the last decade, and its extinction in certain countries.

Climate change is another important driver of extinction risk for most species of bees, and particularly bumblebees.

Heavy rainfalls, droughts, heat waves and increased temperatures can alter the habitats that individual species are adapted to and are expected to dramatically reduce the area of its habitat, leading to population decline.

A total of 25.8% of Europe’s bumblebee species are threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.

Urban development and the increased frequency of fires also threaten the survival of wild bee species in Europe, according to the experts.

The report also includes an assessment of the Western Honeybee (Apis mellifera) – the most well-known pollinator. The Western Honeybee has a native distribution through much of Europe but it is uncertain whether it currently occurs as a truly wild, rather than domesticated species.

As the Red List only covers wild – not domesticated – species, it has been assessed as Data Deficient. Further research is needed to distinguish between wild and non-wild colonies, and to better understand the impacts of malnutrition, pesticides and pathogens on honeybee colonies, according to IUCN.

“Public and scientific attention tends to focus on Western Honeybee as the key pollinator, but we must not forget that most of our wild flowers and crops are pollinated by a whole range of different bee species,” says Simon Potts, STEP project Coordinator.

“We need far-reaching actions to help boost both wild and domesticated pollinator populations. Achieving this will bring huge benefits to wildlife, the countryside and food production.”

World’s largest marine reserve around Pitcairn islands


This video says about itself:

Edge of the World: Stunning Pitcairn Islands Revealed

18 March 2015

In 2012 National Geographic‘s Pristine Seas project went on an expedition to the Pitcairn Islands—a legendary and remote archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—and returned with footage of incredible natural wonders underwater and on land. The expedition led to the historic announcement that the British government has created the largest contiguous marine reserve in the world, protecting this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala as he meets with some of Pitcairn’s residents and explores the waters around the islands.

Read more about the announcement and the area around the Pitcairn Islands, one of the most pristine places on Earth: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

The world’s largest marine reserve given green light

The UK government has announced the creation of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve in the southern Pacific Ocean.

The Pitcairn Islands is one of the remotest places in the world, and protecting its 322,000 sq miles (over 834,000 sq km, or roughly three and a half times the area of Britain) of pristine waters will safeguard countless species of marine animals – mammals, seabirds and fish.

The government’s decision was endorsed by two leading organisations working to preserve the world’s oceans, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Geographic Society, both of which joined the local elected body, the Pitcairn Island Council, in 2013, to submit a proposal calling for the creation of a marine reserve to protect these spectacular waters.

“With this designation, the United Kingdom raises the bar for protection of our ocean and sets a new standard for others to follow,” said Jo Royle, Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners that advocates for the establishment of the world’s great marine parks.

“The United Kingdom is the caretaker of more than 6 million sq km of ocean — the fifth-largest marine area of any country. Through this designation, British citizens are playing a vital role in ensuring the health of our seas.

“The Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve will build a refuge of untouched ocean to protect and conserve a wealth of marine life. We celebrate members of Parliament for pressing for this action.”

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Enric Sala, head of the Society’s Pristine Seas project, says: “Our scientific exploration of the area revealed entirely new species as well as an abundance of top predators like sharks. It was like travelling to a new world full of hidden and unknown treasures, a world that will now be preserved for generations to come.”

In a statement, the Pitcairn Isleand Council said: “The people of Pitcairn are extremely excited about designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in our vast and unspoiled waters of the Pitcairn Islands, including Ducie, Oeno, and Henderson Islands. We are proud to have developed and led this effort in partnership with Pew and National Geographic to protect these spectacular waters we call home for generations to come.”

A March 2012 scientific survey of Pitcairn’s marine environment, led by the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in partnership with Pew, revealed a vibrant ecosystem that includes the world’s deepest-known living plant, a species of encrusting coralline algae found 382m (1,253ft) below sea level.

The reserve will also protect one of the two remaining raised coral atolls on the planet as well as 40 Mile Reef, the deepest and most well-developed coral reef known in the world.

In conjunction with the designation, the Bertarelli Foundation announced a five-year commitment to support the monitoring of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve as part of Pew’s Project Eyes on the Seas, using a technology known as the Virtual Watch Room.

With this satellite monitoring system, developed through a collaboration between Pew and the UK-based company Satellite Applications Catapult, government officials will be able to detect illegal fishing activity in real time.

This is the first time any government has combined creation of a marine reserve with the most up-to-date technology for surveillance and enforcement of a protected area.

Good Dutch bee news


This video from England says about itself:

15 December 2014

A lecture given by Jamie Ellis at the 2014 National Honey Show entitled “Biology of the Honey Bee“.

Translated from Wageningen university in the Netherlands:

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Again, Dutch beekeepers have lost last winter on average comparatively few bee colonies: about 10%. This means that winter mortality, measured in early April, now for three years in a row has been around 10% (respectively 13%, 9% and 10% in 2013, 2014 and 2015). This is the outcome of a telephone survey of beekeepers carried out on 2 April by the Dutch Beekeepers Association (NBV) and bee researchers from Wageningen university.

Winter mortality among bee colonies has for years been alarmingly high. There were winters that one out of four colonies did not survives. Fortunately, the most recent winters shows that the mortality rate is lower now.

Dippers and their insect prey, videos


This is a video about a European dipper, feeding on insect prey.

Degeus in the Netherlands made this video.

What insects do dippers eat? Various species, including caddisfly larvae.

This video shows a caddisfly larva with a mussel.

Jos van Zijl from the Netherlands made this video.

Rare butterfly for first time on Texel island


This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

A very rare butterfly, a scarce tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas), was present in the dunes of Klein Valkenisse on March 27, 2015.

You can hear in the background several birds from the area, including chiffchaff, robin, dunnock, blue tit, long-tailed tit, goshawk and great spotted woodpecker.

Warden Erik van der Spek reports that last Saturday, for the first time ever a scarce tortoiseshell butterfly was seen on Texel island: in De Geul nature reserve. Last year, this species invaded the Netherlands for the first time, but had not been seen on Texel then.

How dead animals help living animals


This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

April 5th 2015

Scavengers like raven, red kite and countless insect species are directly dependent on dead animals for their food. Other animals benefit indirectly by eating insects on cadavers. This behavior is often exhibited by thrushes, robins and great tits.

In the video you can see two robins doing this side by side with a buzzard eating the carrion. Also hedgehogs are sometimes observed, it is known that hedgehogs sometimes eat carrion, but as insectivores they are particularly interested in the insects and larvae that live in and on the carcasses.

This video from the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

Squirrel and raven collect hair

April 5th 2015

Some animals use dead animals for collecting nesting material. Birds like blackbird and raven use hair of cadavers for building their nest. To the list of observed species that gather material from cadavers the squirrel can now be added. On a camera trap in Kempen-Broek nature reserve a squirrel was filmed collecting hair of a dead badger and taking them away to make its nest.

More about dead and living animals in the Netherlands is here.

Gray whale spring migration


This video from the USA is called Gray Whale Migration.

From the Everett Herald in Washington sate, USA:

Saturday, April 4, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

Gray whales make their annual return, though a bit late

By Sharon Salyer

Gray whales have been spotted near Whidbey and Camano islands, part of their annual spring layover on their way from Mexico to Alaska. You don’t necessarily have to board a boat to see their heart-shaped spouts and their V-shaped flukes. They can be spotted from shoreline areas in Snohomish County and from spots such as Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island and Ebey’s Landing beach and bluffs on Whidbey Island, according to the Orca Network.

The whales’ return was just a tad off schedule this year, said John Calambokidis, a research biologist for Cascadia Research, an Olympia-based nonprofit which studies marine mammals. “We were just a little nervous that some didn’t show up,” he said. A group of about 10 whales can sometimes stop over in the Whidbey and Camano island areas in mid-February or early March. “The earliest we had one of these whales was the first weekend in March,” he said, with more arriving by mid-March.The core group sometimes is joined by other whales intermittently, he said.

“This is just some sort of in-between pit stop for them,” Calambokidis said. “They’ll often be here for several months. ”The stop is off their migration route, which continues north, he said. The ones that stop have learned that there’s something good to eat here — ghost shrimp. Susan Berta, co-founder of the Orca Network and the Langley Whale Center, said the whales usually remain in the area through May. About six whales have been seen so far, she said. Sightings often are reported in Possession Sound, Saratoga Passage and offshore areas of Island and Snohomish counties, she said.

A bell rings in one of Langley’s parks when whales are spotted. The town hosts an annual Whales Festival, scheduled this year for April 18 and 19. The same group of 10 to 12 whales makes an annual local stop on their migration route from Baja, Mexico, then continues their trek north to the Bering Sea, she said. There’s never been a confirmed sighting of a calf during the time the whales make their local stop, Calambokidis said. They’re predominately males, but three females have been identified in the group. The females “tend to have little more spotty history of showing up here,” he said. “We suspect that may be because in the years they have calves, they don’t make this stop.

”One gray whale seemed to accidentally discover the marine feast of the local ghost shrimp feeding grounds, he said. “He wandered around Puget Sound for a while in the early 1990s before discovering how rich the areas around Island County are for ghost shrimp. “Now he comes back directly to that spot,” Calambokidis said.Cascadia Research plans on doing some study later this month on what proportion of the whales’ total diet while they’re here is ghost shrimp, particularly in the intertidal areas where people harvest the shrimp for bait.The nonprofit is working with the state Department of Natural Resources to investigate how much competition there is between the needs of the gray whales for the shrimp and people’s harvest of the shrimp, he said. Gray whales are thought to live up to 50 years and weigh about 20,000 pounds.