New bat species discovery in Asia


Hypsugo dolichodon. Photo by: Judith L. Eger

From Inspire Wildlife:

New Bat Species Packs A Bite

Emily Stewart, April 26, 2015

A new bat species has been identified in the rainforests of Lao PDR and Vietnam, and it has a set of fangs which would make any dentist quake in their boots. Named the long-toothed pipestrelle (Hypsugo dolichodon) the species is most closely related to the Chinese pipestrelle (Hypsugo pulveratus) although it is much larger in overall size as well as fang length.

But why does the long-toothed pipestrelle sport such impressive dentures?

It is believed the large fangs may be a result of niche segregation, whereby it could grab larger prey or beetles with a harder exoskeleton and thus removing competition from other species for food. In essence, evolution has allowed the long-toothed pipestrelle to create its own ecological niche within its environment.

Despite first being trapped in 1997 by Charles M. Francis, and Antonio Guillén it has taken 17 years to formally identify the bat as more evidence was needed to determine it was a separate species. However genetic analysis has now proven the species was until now unknown to science. This is highly exciting news and can mean a variety of things.

Foremost we cannot ignore the fact that usually when a new species is identified it usually already endangered. To name but a few examples; the bahian mouse-colored tapaculo a small Brazilian songbird discovered in 2014 is under threat from logging, the first new river dolphin to be discovered in a century last year is though to be highly endangered and a tree dwelling porcupine (Coendou speratus)identified in 2013 is also thought to be vulnerable to deforestation.

As is often the answer in these cases, more research is needed into the long-toothed pipestrelle to determine whether conservation action is needed. Although currently one of the areas where a specimen has been caught is currently being destroyed by the construction of a dam along the Xe Kaman River in Lao PDR. Despite the vegetation of this area being obliterated, Tamás Görföl lead author of the paper identifying the new species does not proclaim this to be death knell for the bat.

In an interview with Mongabay, he claims that although the dam threatens the species, they can “presumably survive in other areas of its distribution if we stop the deforestation of the tropical landscapes”. He also adds that they may be a cave dweller so the protection of caves may also be needed. Another factor is that although the species current distribution is only known to be within Vietnam and Lao PDR it is possible it may be more widely distributed, something which the study and genetic analysis of previously collected materials can reveal.

Bats play a huge ecological role in their environment and every discovery of a new species can be exciting as they can reveal more hidden secrets about the world we live in. Hopefully the long-toothed pipestrelle will buck the trend and be a newly discovered species which is not immediately endangered.

For More Information:

GÖRFÖL, TAMÁS, GÁBOR CSORBA, JUDITH L. EGER, NGUYEN TRUONG SON, and CHARLES M. FRANCIS. “Canines make the difference: a new species of Hypsugo (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) from Laos and Vietnam.” Zootaxa 3887, no. 2 (2014): 239-250.

New Bat Species has Fangs you won’t believe

Swimming leeches video from the USA


This video from the Shedd Aquarium in the USA says about itself:

27 April 2015

Shedd researcher Solomon David took this video of aquatic leeches at an agricultural ditch-wetland junction near the Bay of Green Bay. According to him, “I’ve seen many fishes at this site over past years, but never leeches (here or anywhere else) in numbers like this. They were at this site for at least two days.”

Maltese hunting season stopped after wounded kestrel falls among playing children


This 2014 video is about a kestrel couple and their chicks in their nest on a balcony in Poland.

From the Times of Malta:

Monday, April 27, 2015, 13:43

Hunting season closed after shot bird falls into school yard

The hunting season was closed today after a bird which was shot twice crashed bleeding into the yard of St Edward’s College in Cottonera while the children were on their school break this afternoon.

The decision was announced by the prime minister in a tweet. He said what took place today was inexcusable.

“Despite sharp decline in illegalities, today’s hunting incident is inexcusable. I have decided to immediately close down the season,” Dr Muscat said.

The season was supposed to close on Thursday.

The wounded kestrel on the playground in Malta

A teacher, Diana Triganza, who was on supervision at St Edward’s, said the boys, aged between seven and 10 were ‘traumatised’ by what they had seen. Some of them started screaming when the bird fell into the football pitch.

The incident happened at about 12.30. The bird, believed to be a Kestrel, was shot from outside the school grounds.

It was first shot once and hit, and them shot again. Five shots in all were heard.

The police were called and officers from the ALE took away the bird. Officials from the Animal Welfare Department told school teachers that the bird may survive.

HUNTING SEASON CLOSED

In a statement announcing the immediate closure of the spring hunting season, the government pointed out that immediately after the referendum, the prime minister had warned that he would not tolerate abuse.

During the season, the number of abuses fell drastically thanks to strong law enforcement and the collaboration of those involved.

Nonetheless, today’s incident could not be justified. No information about who had carried it out had been received.

Therefore the season was being closed immediately. This, the government said, should be a signal that such abuses would not be tolerated.

Bring back the lynx, British people say


This video says about itself:

24 March 2014

With large tufted ears, a short tail and a trusting look, one could almost believe that lynxes are just big cats. In their hearts, however, they are wild and untamed. They are the tigers of Europe. This is the story of a hard earned friendship.

On the one side is Milos Majda, a quiet, nature loving ranger at the Mala Fatra national park in Slovakia. On the other side are two small lynxes, fresh from the zoo. With Milos’ help, it’s hoped the lynxes will return to the home of their ancestors in the forests of Mala Fatra in the heart of Slovakia. For two years Milos Majda and the biologist and animal filmmaker Tomas Hulik follow the journey of the lynx siblings from their warm nursery inside a cabin into the wilderness.

From Wildlife Extra:

British public vote in favour of lynx reintroduction

The majority of the British public would like to see the lynx back in the British countryside, a survey carried out by the Lynx UK Trust shows.

More than 9,000 people took part in the survey, with 91% supporting a trial reintroduction and 84% believing it should begin within the next 12 months.

Almost seven weeks ago the Lynx UK Trust, a team of international wildlife and conservation experts, announced their hopes to carry out a trial reintroduction of Eurasian lynx to the UK. Wiped out in the UK over 1,300 years ago by fur hunters, lynx have been successfully reintroduced across Europe, and the team hope that reintroduction here will provide a valuable natural control on the UK’s overpopulated deer species, leading to forest regeneration and a boost to the entire ecosystem.

“We’ve been blown away by the level of interest and support from the public.” comments chief scientific advisor to the project, Dr Paul O’Donoghue, “This is by far the biggest survey of its kind ever carried out in the UK, with almost five times the feedback of the original beaver reintroduction survey in Scotland which recorded an 86% approval rating. That led to government approval for the trial reintroduction, so we’re expecting to see a consistent response from Scottish Natural Heritage and hope for similar in England and Wales. The UK public have spoken; people overwhelmingly want these animals to be given the chance to come back and we’ve got an extremely capable team to deliver it.

“Lynx have proven themselves across Europe to be absolutely harmless to humans and of very little threat to livestock, whilst bringing huge benefit to rural economies and the natural ecology, including species like capercaillie which face some serious problems in the UK. It’s wonderful that the general public want to see lynx given the chance to do the same here.”

Encouragingly, over half of the people who filled in the survey were from rural communities, returning a level of support only 5-6% lower than urban communities, showing that this project has considerable support from people who live and work in the UK countryside.

Applications to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage are expected to be completed by summer for sites in Norfolk, Cumbria, Northumberland and Aberdeenshire, with the Trust still evaluating potential release sites in Wales. Up to six lynx would be released at each site and closely monitored via satellite collars over a trial period likely to last for 3-5 years.

Chernobyl, Ukraine wildlife on camera traps


This video shows images from camera traps of wildlife in the zone around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. While on the one hand the nuclear radiation has killed and continues to make sick and to kill slowly many birds and other animals, on the other hand human activities disturbing wildlife have stopped, favouring some wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

Camera traps reveal Chernobyl’s wildlife

Camera traps set up in the Ukrainian side of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone reveal that the area is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, the BBC have reported.

The 42 cameras were installed in the exclusion zone by The Tree Project in November 2014.  In order to get a true picture the cameras are moved to new, randomly selected, locations at approximately 8 week intervals, which will mean by the end of 2015 the cameras will have been positioned at 84 locations.

TREE is one of three consortia funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Environment Agency (EA) and Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM) under the Radioactivity And The Environment (RATE) programme.

“The overall objective of the TREE project is to reduce uncertainty in estimating the risk to humans and wildlife associated with exposure to radioactivity and to reduce unnecessary conservatism in risk calculations,” explains its website.

“This will be achieved through four interlinked science components beginning with improving our understanding of the biogeochemical behaviour of radionuclides in soils through to studying the transgenerational effects of ionising radiation exposure on wildlife. Our studies will combine controlled laboratory experiments with fieldwork; most of which will take place in the Chernobyl Exclusion.”

Four months into the project the team has already captured more than 10,000 images of animals, suggesting the 30km zone, established shortly after the April 1986 disaster when a nuclear reactor exploded, ejecting radioactive material across the surrounding terrain and high into the atmosphere, is thriving in wildlife.

Species captured include Eurasian lynx, raccoon dog, Przewalski’s horse, Eurasian elk and brown bear.

Konik foal born, video


This video is about a konik horse foal being born, on 14 April 2015, in nature reserve Grensmaas in Limburg province in the Netherlands.

Laurent Beckers made this video.

Ants have their own Highway Code, new research


This video is about Formica pratensis ants.

From Wildlife Extra:

Researchers find ants have their own Highway Code in high traffic areas

Researchers in Germany have discovered that ants have a sophisticated code of conduct in high traffic areas and their own rules of the road, according to new research published in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature – Naturwissenschaften.

One of the scientists’ observations is that ants speed up in response to a higher density of traffic on their trails, rather than slowing down as might be expected.

Not surprisingly, when the researchers increased the supply of food by leaving it next to the trail, ants accelerated their speed by 50 per cent. What was unexpected was that this was despite more than double the density of traffic.

When food increases in supply, more forager ants are sent out to carry it back to the nest. With this increase in ant density, the number of encounters between outbound and incoming individuals increases.

Researchers at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany suggest that the encounters provide an opportunity for ants to swap information and to change their behaviour according to conditions.

Rules of ant etiquette were also observed. For example, workers returning to the colony more often moved to the left than to the right to avoid colliding with an oncoming ant.

Rather than segregating strictly into lanes like human traffic, the ants used only a degree of segregation, with inbound ants more frequently using the left side of the trail.

The observations were made of the black-meadow ant, Formica pratensis, a species that lives mainly in open grassland and forages on aphid honeydew as its carbohydrate source.

The colonies studied were situated near favoured foraging sites where the ants protect and cultivate aphid populations. Repeated journeys in these colonies are made more efficient by the use of well-worn trails that can persist for over a decade.

A total of 1,865 individual ants were filmed on a 15cm (6in) section of trail. The video was stopped every 50 frames and the number of ants on each lane was counted. At low and medium densities, ants preferred the central lanes.

Of the total number, 496 ants were also studied for their speed. Encounters between ants included touching antennae or exchanging fluids. The number of encounters increased with density but this did not reduce the traffic flow.

“Even under the highest densities we could achieve, we did not observe any traffic jams,” says Christiane Hönicke, co-author of the study. “The ants increased their pace and were driven off the central lanes of the trail, resulting in a self-organised optimisation of the traffic.”