Crustacean, new for the Netherlands, discovered


This Dutch video is about the marine biology expedition to the Klaverbank in the North Sea in May 2015.

Translated from the Dutch ichthyologists of Stichting ANEMOON:

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

During the Greenpeace campaign to protect the Klaverbank from 2 to 10 May 2015 scuba divers and a member of the volunteer organization the ANEMOON Foundation studied the biodiversity of this unique marine Natura 2000 site. In addition, they discovered a new sea creature for the Dutch fauna: Gnathia dentata, a 3 to 4 millimeters lobster-like crustacean. This discovery and observations of many other sea creatures, rare for the Netherlands, reaffirm the natural value of the Klaverbank. It is time that the Dutch government should establish protected status for this valuable and unique natural area in the Dutch North Sea.

Galapagos tortoises freed on island where they had become extinct


This video is called World’s BIGGEST TORTOISE! The Giant Galapagos Tortoise, 5 fascinating facts.

From daijyworld.com:

207 giant turtles to be released in the Galapagos

Quito (Ecuador), May 23 (IANS): Administrators at Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park said 207 giant turtles will be released next month on the island of Santa Fe, where the native tortoises died out more than 150 years ago.

The turtles to be set loose on June 5 by the park directors and the Galapagos Conservancy group belong to the species Chelonoidis hoodensis, Spanish news agency Efe reported from the South American nation.

Native to the Galapagos island of Espanola, the Chelonoidis [hoodensis] is morphologically and genetically similar to the original Santa Fe turtle.

The aim of the initiative is to establish “a breeding population that fulfills a function in the ecosystem”, park management said.

“Once the turtles are introduced, a key part of this project is to assess changes in the ecosystem resulting from the presence of these chelonians, and to evaluate the interaction between the turtles and the island’s land iguanas, particularly in the use of shared resources like food,” Danny Rueda, Galapagos ecosystems director, said.

The turtles to be released on Santa Fe range in age from four to 10 and have been raised in captivity.

Around 40 of the turtles will be equipped with a GPS device that will relay data on their movements and activities.

Pirates and whalers depleted the population of turtles in the archipalago, leaving only 15 individuals that allowed park management and the Charles Darwin Foundation to start a breeding programme.

The eradication in 1971 of the goats that had been introduced to the islands contributed greatly to the recovery of the ecosystem.

The Galapagos Islands, located about 1,000 km west of the coast of continental Ecuador, were declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978.

An overview of the Rallidae of Algeria with particular reference to the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamp-Hen (Porphyrio porphyrio)


Originally posted on North African Birds:

Samraoui, F., Nedjah, R., Alfarhan, A. H., & Samraoui, B. (in press). An overview of the Rallidae of Algeria with particular reference to the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamp-Hen Porphyrio porphyrio.Wetlands Ecology and Management
doi:10.1007/s11273-014-9404-0

Abstract:

Rallids are good biological models to monitor anthropogenic changes to wetlands. The distribution of the Rallidae was mapped up during a survey of all major wetlands across Algeria and nest site selection, phenology, and breeding parameters of the Purple Swamp-Hen Porphyrio porphyrio were monitored at two distinct sites under contrasting conditions. Data were collected at Boussedra, an unprotected freshwater marsh during the years 2005 and 2008, and at Lake Tonga, a protected freshwater marsh during 2009. The onset of egg-laying was found to occur earlier (mid-February) than was recorded previously (end-March). There was much variation in the egg laying patterns and in the clutch sizes which dropped significantly…

View original 51 more words

Great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, new study


This video from the USA says about itself:

Great Horned Owl Hooting Territorial Evening Call At Sunset

31 December 2012

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) calling for it’s mate on Dixon Branch of White Rock Creek in Dallas, Texas. This particular owl was hooting a territorial call for another owl that can be faintly heard some distance away beginning after the call around the 1:50 mark. The owls call to each other in a duet before finding each other for night hunting and nest building.

Found from the Arctic to the tropical rainforest, from the desert to suburban backyards, the Great Horned Owl is one of the most widespread and common owls in North America. Capable of killing prey larger than themselves, the Great Horned Owl is one of the larger winged predators in the United States.

Often heard but rarely seen the birds are very difficult to photograph since they are nocturnal. This video was shot using Canon Magic Lantern software which allows for extreme low light photography. It was also filmed at a considerable distance giving the owl plenty of space to act naturally. The bird was a couple hundred feet from the camera. It’s important to keep a code of ethics when around large predators such as this. They need a wide berth to not be stressed.

From Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science in the USA:

Landscape Differences around Nests of Great Horned Owls and Red-Tailed Hawks

William Langley

Butler Community College, El Dorado, Kansas

Nesting territories of great-horned owls (Bubo virginianus) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) frequently overlap, with the owls using nests of other raptors. Records of use over a 22-year period in one locality were used to distinguish nesting sites used exclusively by great horned owls, exclusively by red-tailed hawks, and those used by both.

To determine the occurrence of various landscape characteristics within the proximity of a nest structure, I measured the total area of various land use types, total perimeter length, and the size of patches across six different land use types i.e., agriculture, pasture, residential, tree, pond, and roadside within circular plots around nests used by breeding pairs.

The landscape features surrounding nests of great horned owls differed from those surrounding red-tailed hawk nests in total perimeter length and size of patch. These differences are consistent with the fact that great horned owls hunt from perches primarily at night using sensory modalities different than diurnal hunting red-tailed hawks.

Religious violence in Asia


This 2012 video is called ROHINGYA in Arakan, Burma. Al Jazeera Investigates – The Hidden Genocide.

From the International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands:

Religious violence in South(East) Asia: domestic and transnational drivers of intolerance against Muslim minorities

Date & time
15 June 2015, 09:15 – 17:00 hrs

Venue
VU University Amsterdam, Metropolitan Building room Z-009
Buitenveldertselaan 3, Amsterdam

The seminar
The majority Buddhist and Hindu societies of South(East) Asia are not traditionally associated with conflict and intolerance. Yet recent years have seen a surge in international reports of religious tensions and violence by Buddhist and Hindu majorities towards Muslim minorities in the region. India’s political leadership since 2014 has long been associated with repressive practices and episodes of violence against Muslim minorities. In Sri Lanka, Muslims have been an often forgotten minority during the conflict, and a rise in hostilities against them has been reported since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

The government of Myanmar has long repressed the Rohingya minority, but in recent years this hostility has spread to the larger population, with Buddhist monks playing a seemingly significant role in inciting hate speech and violence against Muslims and their perceived supporters. In Southern Thailand, long-standing grievances of the Muslim population have largely remained unaddressed by the central government. In all these cases, religious diversity has been perceived as a source of nationalism and conflict, but also as a starting point for peacebuilding efforts.

While much attention is being paid to transnational networks of radical Islam, anti-Muslim sentiments in the religious and political sphere are also acquiring a transnational character, and international media increasingly report on supposed cross-border alliances between religious extremists from various sides. This seminar will analyse these developments by comparing regional dynamics and local circumstances, and look beyond the simplistic notion of religions that cannot co-exist. Historical patterns and newly emerging trends will be discussed in order to contextualize the rise in hostility towards Muslim minorities in the South(East) Asian region in recent years. What has been the role of governmental and non-governmental forces such as religious leaders and the media in this process? To what extent are these sentiments created by cross-border networking, and how are they linked to specific political transitions or domestic policy imperatives?

Download the programme and abstracts

Attendance is free of charge, lunch and drinks included.

The speakers
Prof. Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh
Dr. Iselin Frydenlund, PRIO/University of Oslo
Dr. Matthew Walton, University of Oxford
Dr. Khin Mar Mar Kyi, University of Oxford
Dr. Alexander Horstmann, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Ward Berenschot, KITLV Leiden

Registration
If you would like to attend the seminar, please register via the form on our website by 10 June.

Contact
For enquiries about the seminar, contact Ms Martina van den Haak, m.c.van.den.haak@iias.nl

New fly species discovery in the Netherlands


Schistosoma truncatum

Waarneming.nl in the Netherlands reports by e-mail that a fly species, new for the Netherlands, was discovered in the sand dunes of Meijendel nature reserve. Schistostoma truncatum was found on 20 April 2015 by Arie Benschop.

Giant tortoises, new research


This video is about giant tortoises and turtles.

From the BBC:

The truth about giant tortoises

They’re big but tortoises used to be much bigger, and while they may be slow on their feet their minds may be surprisingly quick

Henry Nicholls

Reputation: Giant tortoises live on islands. They can be aged by studying growth rings on their shells, which is how we know they are the longest lived vertebrate on record. Charles Darwin found they moved a whole lot faster than he’d imagined.

Reality: Giant tortoises are a recent evolutionary innovation and used to be everywhere, not just on islands. It’s impossible to age them accurately unless you know when they hatched. They are actually pretty slow. Darwin was probably chasing them.

The largest tortoises in the world are to be found on the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and in the Galápagos in the Pacific. But this truth has given rise to the false belief – often found in textbooks – that their large size is a product of island life. It almost certainly isn’t.

This much is evident from a cursory inspection of the fossil record. A typical Galápagos tortoise has a carapace around 100 cm long. If this is the benchmark for “giant”, it is clear that giant tortoises were not restricted to small islands. They were everywhere.

In the southern USA and Central America, for instance, there was a monster of a tortoise known as the southeastern giant tortoise (Hesperotestudo crassiscutata) that only went extinct around 12,000 years ago.

In Queensland, Australia there used to be a beast that goes by the name of Owen’s giant horned ninja turtle (Ninjemys oweni). Before you ask, yes, it was named after the ninja turtles of teenage mutant fame.

Then there was the real mother of all giants, the Siwaliks giant tortoise (Megalochelys atlas), which was tramping around what is now the Punjab in India until a few million years ago. It was around twice the size of a Galápagos tortoise.

In addition, a 1999 genetic analysis of Galápagos tortoises suggests their ancestors were probably pretty large before they left mainland South America several million years ago.

In fact, it’s been argued that being big was a necessary pre-adaption for the successful colonization of remote oceanic islands. If it finds itself in the water, a giant tortoise will bob along tolerably well, its long neck ensuring it doesn’t take on too much water.

If there used to be so many giant tortoises, where are they all now? A recent study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature indicates that giant tortoises have suffered a far higher incidence of extinction than more modestly sized tortoises and turtles.

“These slow moving and non-threatening animals required minimal effort to find,” wrote Anders Rhodin, director of the Chelonian Research Foundation and his colleagues.

Worse, giant tortoises can survive without food or water for long periods. That meant they could be stored – alive – to provide fresh meat many months down the line.

“Tortoises were, essentially, the earliest pre-industrial version of ‘canned food’,” they suggest. Early hominins opened their shells with stone-tool “can-openers”.

It is only because humans came late to the Seychelles and the Galápagos that we can still marvel at these creatures today.

In these isolated spots, giant tortoises have become reptilian representatives, their extreme longevity casting them as a living link to a lost world. But how long do they live, really?

It is often said that you can age a tortoise by counting growth rings on its shell. Unfortunately, this is only reliable for the first year or two and is useless for aging an animal that is fully grown – which for giant tortoises is at the age of around 20.

The only reliable method of aging a tortoise is to record its year of birth. In a few instances where this has been done for giant tortoises, it is clear they can live for 150 years or more.

Giant tortoises are not known for their speed. When in the Galápagos in 1835, Charles Darwin found that they moved faster than he’d imagined.

“One large one, I found by pacing, walked at the rate of 60 yards in 10 minutes, or 360 in the hour,” he wrote in his Zoology Notes. “At this pace, the animal would go four miles [6.4 km] in the day & have a short time to rest.”

More recently, researchers have been using tracking devices to record movements of Galápagos tortoises in more detail. It turns out they are not nearly so lively, most of the time making small movements around a relatively small patch.

“Our tortoises don’t usually move more than absolute max of 2 km per day,” says Stephen Blake, coordinator of the Galápagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme. “Darwin was probably chasing them.”

They might be slow, but they are also probably smarter than most people imagine.

Research on the South American red-footed tortoise (a not-too-distant relative of the giant tortoises in the Galápagos) shows they use landmarks to create cognitive maps of their surroundings. They can also follow the gaze of another tortoise and learn from the behaviour of others. It seems likely that giant tortoises are capable of similar cognitive feats.