Ruby-throated hummingbirds in Canada


This video says about itself:

22 June 2018

Male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) at Point Pelee, Ontario, Canada, May 2018. Filmed with a Nikon CoolPix P900.

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Trump’s war on immigrant children, update


This video from the USA says about itself:

Immigrant Parents Search for Children Snatched by Government at the Border, But Reunification Is Rare

22 June 2018

More [than] 2,300 children have been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border after their parents were charged with illegal entry under the Trump administration’s ongoing “zero tolerance” policy. As concerns grow about poor coordination between Customs and Border Patrol, which takes the children, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which puts them into detention and foster care, The Intercept has a new report on one of the first reunifications.

We speak with journalist Debbie Nathan about a Guatemalan woman whose 5-year-old son was taken from her last month by immigration authorities in Texas after she sought asylum, and has been reunited with him after 38 days in detention. We also speak with Clara Long, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It was a lot of work that took place outside of the government system”, Nathan says. “It was really a wonderful thing, but it was exceptional.”

The American gulag. US Navy planning to build military camps to jail 120,000 immigrants. By Alec Andersen, 23 June 2018. The government is preparing massive military detention camps where immigrants—and ultimately opponents of the government—will be kept in “austere” conditions.

US court documents reveal: Immigrant children tied down, hooded, beaten, stripped and drugged: here.

California wildfires, how birds respond


This 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

Southern California Bird Identification Guide

This is a quick and easy video guide for the most common birds you can find in the chaparral ecosystems of Southern California. Can you identify all of the birds here? Write down your species IDs in the comments!

From Point Blue Conservation Science in the USA:

New research on avian response to wildfires

The varied ways birds respond to fires of mixed severity

June 22, 2018

Summary: New research explores the effects fire has on ecosystems and the wildlife species that inhabit them. Scientists examined the impacts of fires of different severity levels on birds and how that changes as the time since fire increases. Scientists looked across 10 fires after they burned through forests in the Sierra Nevada. A key finding was that wildfire had strong, but varied, effects on the density of many of the bird species that were studied.

As we enter another wildfire season in California, attention will turn to the inevitable fires and efforts to extinguish them. After these fires burn, land managers are tasked with deciding how, where, and when to act to manage these new conditions. It is vital that land managers use the latest science to understand the effects that fire has on the ecosystem and the wildlife species that inhabit them. New research [by] Point Blue Conservation Science explores these effects, looking at impacts of the severity of fire on birds and how that changes as the time since fire increases. Scientists looked across 10 fires up to 15 years after they burned through forests in the northern Sierra Nevada. Key among the findings is the observation that wildfire had a strong effect on the density of many of the bird species that were studied.

However, the severity of the fires affected different bird species differently. Of the 44 species studied, 18 reached their maximum densities after high-severity fire, 10 in moderate-severity, and 16 in areas affected by low-severity fire.

Over the last century humans have reduced the influence of fire across this ecosystem, but as the climate warms and the amount of fuels in these forests increase, the area burning annually and the severity of fires has been increasing. Understanding how species that rely on these forests respond to such fires can help inform management of fires and post-fire environments.

“One of the most important things we found was how varied the response was between areas that burned at different levels of severity as well the time after the fire it took for different species to reach their peak abundance,” said lead author Dr. Paul Taillie who was a field technician on the project with Point Blue and is now a researcher at North Carolina State University. “This reinforces the idea that mixed severity fires are crucial to sustaining a diversity of bird life in Sierra forests and that these burned landscapes are providing important habitat for decades after they burn.”

In addition to comparing the effects of different burn severities and the amount of time since fire, researchers also investigated more complex and nuanced responses of birds to fire than has been investigated in fire-prone western forests. Rather than simply increasing or decreasing consistently across the 15-year post-fire period, many species exhibited more complex patterns, for example increasing rapidly but reaching a plateau and then declining again. Other species’ responses to burn severity varied across the 15 year post-fire period investigated.

The researchers also compared bird populations in post-fire forests to populations in unburned forests. Of the species studied, 30 percent had higher densities in burned forest, with all but one of those in areas of high severity fires. Just 11 percent reached greater densities in unburned forest.

“Our findings really illustrate how dynamic the avian community is after these fires. Many of the species peaked in density during a narrow window of time after fire in a specific burn severity class. We just don’t see this rapid change in the bird community in green forests even after mechanical fuel reductions. It suggests we be cautious in prescribing post-fire management actions that alter the trajectory of these forests,” said researcher Ryan Burnett, Sierra Nevada Director at Point Blue. “We hope this research helps land managers make informed decisions about managing these dynamic post-fire bird habitats.”

Police killings of unarmed black Americans and mental health


This video from the USA says about itself:

22 June 2018

Large crowds of protesters, angry over a deadly police shooting, shut down a major highway near Pittsburgh overnight. The protest halted traffic for hours. It marked the second day of unrest following Tuesday’s shooting of unarmed teen Antwon Rose Jr. Jericka Duncan reports.

“I see mothers bury their sons / I want my mother to never feel that pain”, Antwon Rose Jr. wrote in a haunting poem during his sophomore year of high school. Two years later, he was shot and killed by a police officer as he ran from a car during a traffic stop in East Pittsburgh. Rose, 17, was unarmed and was shot in the back three times: here.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 22 June 2018

Police killings of unarmed black Americans impact on community

Police killings of unarmed black Americans have adverse effects on the mental health of black American adults in the general population, according to a new population-based study.

With police killings of unarmed black Americans widely perceived to be a symptom of structural racism, the findings highlight the role of structural racism as a driver of population health disparities, and support recent calls to treat police killings as a public health issue.

The study was led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University School of Public Health (USA), in collaboration with Harvard University, and is published in The Lancet.

Police kill more than 300 black Americans – at least a quarter of them unarmed – each year in the USA. Black Americans are nearly three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police and nearly five times more likely to be killed by police while unarmed. Beyond the immediate consequences for victims and their families, the population-level impact has so far been unclear.

The quasi-experimental study combines data from the 2013-2015 US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a nationally-representative, telephone-based survey of adults, with data on police killings from the Mapping Police Violence (MPV) database.

By using statistical analysis, the authors estimate the ‘spillover’ effect of police killings of unarmed black Americans on the mental health of other black Americans living in the general population. A total of 103,710 black Americans took part in the BRFSS survey during the three-year study period and rated how many days in the past 30 days they felt their mental health (in terms of stress, depression and problems with emotion) was ‘not good.’

Half of the respondents were women, and half had been to university. 38,993 respondents (49% of the weighted sample) resided in a USA state where at least one police killing of an unarmed black American had occurred in the 90 days prior to the survey.

Each additional police killing of an unarmed black American in the 90 days before the survey was associated with an estimated 0.14 additional days of poor mental health among black Americans who lived in the same state. The greatest effects were seen 30-60 days after the police killing.

Black Americans are exposed to an average of four police killings in their state of residence each year.

Extrapolating their findings to total population of 33 million black American adults, the authors estimate that police killings of unarmed black Americans could contribute 55 million excess poor mental health days per year among black American adults in the USA.

These estimates suggest that the population mental health burden due to police killings is nearly as large as the population mental health burden associated with diabetes among black Americans.

‘Our study demonstrates for the first time that police killings of unarmed black Americans can have corrosive effects on mental health in the black American community’, says co-lead author Atheendar S. Venkataramani, a health economist and general internist at the University of Pennsylvania.

‘While the field has known for quite some time that personal experiences of racism can impact health, establishing a link between structural racism – and events that lead to vicarious experiences of racism – and health has proved to be more difficult.’

Adverse effects on mental health were limited to black Americans, and exposure to police killings of unarmed black Americans was not associated with any changes in self-reported mental health of white Americans. Exposure to police killings of armed black Americans was also not associated with changes in self-reported mental health among black or white Americans.

‘The specificity of our findings is striking’, says co-lead author Jacob Bor, a population health scientist at the Boston University School of Public Health. ‘Any occasion in which police resort to deadly force is a tragedy, but when police use deadly force against an unarmed black American, the tragedy carries with it the weight of historical injustices and current disparities in the use of state violence against black Americans.

‘Many have interpreted these events as a signal that our society does not value black and white lives equally. Our findings show these events also harm the mental health of black Americans.’ The authors suggest that the mental health effects of police killings of unarmed black Americans might be conveyed through several different channels, including heightened perceptions of threat and vulnerability, lack of fairness, lower social status, lower beliefs about one’s own worth, activation of prior traumas, and identification with the deceased. The authors note several limitations that should prompt further research in the field.

First, the BRFSS public-use dataset was limited to state-level identifiers, and there was no information on the extent to which respondents were directly aware of police killings nor whether respondents were aware of police killings in other states. If police killings affected the mental health of black Americans living in other states, then the study findings would be an underestimate of the true effect. Secondly, the measures used in the BRFSS are self-reported.

Thirdly, the study does not focus on other ways in which the criminal justice system disproportionately targets black Americans, and it is likely that other forms of structural racism – such as segregation, mass incarceration, and serial forced displacement – also contribute to poor population mental health.

Finally, the study did not include data on other vulnerable populations, such as Hispanics or Native Americans, nor did it consider the impact of police killings on the mental health of police officers themselves.

Senior author Alexander Tsai, a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said: ‘Therapists and first responders are all too familiar with the potentially devastating effects of vicarious trauma. ‘By highlighting the effect of police killings on the wider community, our study provides evidence on a national scale that racism can be experienced vicariously.

‘Interventions are needed to reduce the prevalence of these killings and to support the mental health of communities affected when they do occur. ‘For example, in the wake of such killings, affected police departments could deploy greater resources to community problem oriented policing, give community stakeholders subpoena powers in investigating officer-involved shootings, and pursue disciplinary actions against involved officers with greater transparency.’

In a linked Comment, Dr Rhea W Boyd, Palo Alto Medical Foundation (USA) wrote: ‘Racism lands, violently, on bodies – not as a function of race but as a function of how humans order society (racial hierarchy), assign power (racial supremacy), and distribute resources (racial inequity).

‘Labelling the attributable mental health outcome a “spillover effect”, the authors adjoin the taxonomy of terms such as “weathering” and “toxic stress” to articulate potential pathophysiological mechanisms for the built harm of racism.

‘This intentional naming of racism is crucial to advancing an anti-racist praxis in medicine and public health… Despite (the) limitations, the findings (of the study) are urgent and instructive. (The authors’) work to acknowledge and address the clinical impact of police killing black Americans sits within a broader clinical imperative to rigorously define and intervene in the relationship between structural racism and clinical outcomes. ‘This evidence should ignite inquiry into the broader health impacts of police violence and advance the challenge to confront racial health inequities as products of racism.’

Wolves in Yellowstone, USA, new study


This video is called [2017] – National Geographic Documentary Wild – Wild Yellowstone She Wolf HD.

From S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University in the USA:

Wolf reintroduction: Yellowstone’s ‘landscape of fear’ not so scary after all

June 22, 2018

After wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s, some scientists thought the large predator reestablished a ‘landscape of fear’ that caused elk,

North American elk should not be confused with still larger moose (Alces alces) to which the name “elk” applies in British English and in reference to populations in Eurasia.

the wolf‘s main prey, to avoid risky places where wolves killed them. This fueled the emerging idea that predators affect prey populations and ecosystems not only by eating prey animals, but by scaring them too. But according to findings from Utah State University ecologists Michel Kohl and Dan MacNulty, Yellowstone’s ‘landscape of fear’ is not as scary as first thought.

“Contrary to popular belief, the wolf is not a round-the-clock threat to elk; it mostly hunts at dawn and dusk, and this allows elk to safely access risky places during nightly lulls in wolf activity”, says Kohl, who completed a doctoral degree at USU in 2018 and is lead author of the paper. “Despite their Hollywood portrayal as nighttime prowlers, wolves tend to hunker down at night because their vision is not optimized for nocturnal hunting.” With colleagues Daniel Stahler, Douglas Smith, and P.J. White of the U.S. National Park Service, Matthew Metz of University of Montana, James Forester of University of Minnesota, Matthew Kauffman of University of Wyoming, and Nathan Varley of University of Alberta, Kohl and MacNulty report their findings in an Early View online article of Ecological Monographs. The article will appear in a future print edition of the Ecological Society of America publication. The team’s research is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

The researchers revisited data from 27 GPS radio-collared elk that had been collected in the early years after the reintroduction, 2001-2004, but never fully analyzed. These collars recorded the location of each elk every 4-6 hours. This was the first time GPS technology had been used to track Yellowstone elk, and no one imagined that elk might sync their habitat use to the wolf’s 24-hour schedule. Little was known about this schedule until researchers first equipped wolves with GPS collars in 2004.

“In the days before GPS, when we tracked wolves by sight and with VHF radio-telemetry, we knew they hunted mainly in the morning and evening, but we didn’t know much about what they did at night” says MacNulty, a veteran Yellowstone wolf researcher and associate professor in USU’s Department of Wildland Resources and the USU Ecology Center. “GPS data showed that wolves were about as inactive in the middle of the night as they were in the middle of the day.”

Kohl used the GPS data to quantify the 24-hour schedule of wolves, and he compared how elk use of risky places — sites where wolves killed elk — differed between periods of high and low wolf activity. “Elk avoided the riskiest places when wolves were most active, but they had no problem using these same places when wolves were least active,” says Kohl. “An elk’s perception of a place as dangerous or safe, its landscape of fear, was highly dynamic with ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’ that alternated across the 24-hr cycle in response to the ups and downs of wolf activity.”

The ability of elk to regularly use risky places during wolf downtimes has implications for understanding the impact of wolves on elk and the ecosystem at large. “Our results can explain why many other studies found no clear-cut effect of wolf predation risk on elk stress levels, body condition, pregnancy, or herbivory”, says MacNulty. “If our results reflect typical elk behavior, then actual killing rather than fear probably drives most, if not all, of the effect of wolves on elk and any cascading effect on the plants that elk eat such as aspen and willow.”

This conclusion runs counter to popular views about the ecological importance of fear in Yellowstone and elsewhere. “Although our study is the first to show how a prey animal uses predator downtime to flatten its landscape of fear, I suspect other examples will emerge as more researchers examine the intersection between prey habitat use and predator activity rhythms”, says Kohl.

Frida Kahlo art exhibition in London


This video from London, England says about itself:

13 June 2018

This is a short video review of the Frida Kahlo : Making Her Self Up exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 16th June to 4th November 2018 bought to you by Visiting London Guide.com.

We give you a sneak preview and illustrate what the exhibition can offer visitors.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 23 June 2018

FRIDA KAHLO

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up
Victoria&Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
16 June – 4 November 2018
Admission £15 (concessions available).

SOLD out to the end of this month, the V&A is presenting an exhibition exploring the life and art of Frida Kahlo (b. 1907), one of the most significant artists and women of the 20th century, and how she fashioned her identity.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is the first exhibition outside of Mexico to display her clothes and intimate possessions, reuniting them with key self-portraits and photographs to offer a fresh perspective on her compelling life story.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907-July 13, 1954) was born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón; she was inspired by the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution and joined the Mexican Communist Party in 1927, where she met her husband the muralist Diego Rivera. She painted many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico, employing a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.

Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy.

Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at her family home in Coyoacán, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), now known and publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum.

She was left disabled by polio as a child, and at the age of eighteen was seriously injured in a traffic accident which caused her pain and medical problems for the rest of her life. Kahlo empowered herself through her art and dress after suffering the devastating near-fatal bus crash which rendered her bed-bound and immobilised for protracted periods of time.

Self-portraiture became the primary focus of her art at this point and she began to paint using a mirror inset into the canopy of her four-poster bed. Kahlo and Rivera were married in 1928, and remained a couple until Kahlo’s death. The relationship was volatile due to both having extramarital affairs; and while they divorced in 1939, they remarried the following year.

The V&A exhibition opens with a section Roots which shows early black and white photos of her and her German father and Mexican mother, and an early self portrait. A section Art and Revolution shows Rivera and his murals and an early oil painting Pancho Villa and Adelita influenced by Cubism and de Chirico and featuring the Mexican revolutionary general.

Here also is a stlll life titled The Bride Who Becomes Frightened When She Sees Life Opened, 1943, featuring melons, a hedgehog and a small bird. Also here is a black and white photo of Kahlo and Rivera at the front of the 1929 May Day parade.

Following this is a short film featuring Kahlo, Rivera, Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia at Coyoacan, with Trotsky giving his address to the Mexican people in 1937 thanking the Mexican government for giving him asylum and denouncing Stalin’s trial. This is the exhibition’s only reference to Trotsky’s stay at Coyoacán where he was murdered in 1940 by Stalinist agent Ramon Mercader.

The V&A proceeds with a section Gringolandia with a Kahlo self-portrait on the Mexico-US border of 1932. There is an impressive surrealist painting depicting Mexican rural vs US manufacturing economies.

Working in close collaboration with Museo Frida Kahlo, the V&A displays more than 200 objects from the Blue House. Kahlo’s personal items including outfits, letters, jewellery, cosmetics, medicines and medical corsets were discovered in 2004, 50 years after being sealed in the Blue House by her husband Diego Rivera. Much more was understood about Kahlo’s accident after the discovery of the objects in the Blue House.

A highlight of the exhibition is the resplandor, a lace headdress worn by the women of the matriarchal society from the Ishmus of Tehuantepec region in Southern Mexico, paired with a self-portrait of Kahlo wearing it.

There are examples of intricately hand painted corsets and prosthetics. Her vividly-coloured cosmetics are striking in the celebrated portraits by photographer Nickolas Muray which show her smiling and wearing many of the distinctive Tehuana garments on display.

Kahlo’s self-portraits are more severe and show a woman with a steely determination. In one dramatic Self Portrait With Monkeys, 1943, Coyoacán, she depicts herself and surrounding monkeys looking rather surprised, if not shocked. As well as a display of her beautiful Mexican folklore-inspired dresses, is a moving Magical realist painting The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Me, Diego, Senor Xolotl, 1949, Coyoacán, where she depicts Rivera as a babe in arms.

Kahlo used her striking appearance as a political statement, crafting her identity to reflect her own mestizo (mixed-race) identity and allegiance to Mexican identity.

Mexico flourished in the 1920s and 1930s as a liberal destination that attracted foreign artists, writers, photographers and documentary film makers, in what became known as the Mexican Renaissance. The V&A also shows photographs of traditions in clothing, architecture and the popular arts taken by Edward Weston and Tina Modotti in the 1920s that made an imprint on the Mexican imagination and its perception abroad.

Snowshoe hares’ camouflage, new study


This 2015 video is called Epic Hunting Chase of the Canadian Lynx and Snowshoe Hare in HD.

From The University of Montana in the USA:

How snowshoe hares evolved to stay seasonally camouflaged

June 21, 2018

Many animals have evolved fur or feather colors to blend in with the environment and hide from predators. But how do animals stay camouflaged when their environment changes with each new season? Researchers at the University of Montana recently discovered that hybridization played an important role in snowshoe hares’ ability to match their environment.

An international scientific team led by UM Associate Professor Jeffrey Good and graduate student Matthew Jones set out to discover how snowshoe hares have evolved to molt to a white coat in areas with prolonged winter snow cover while populations from mild coastal environments of the Pacific Northwest retain brown fur year-round.

“Like other seasonal traits, the autumn molt in snowshoe hares is triggered by changes in day length”m Good said. “But the color of their winter coat is determined by genetic variation that has been shaped by evolution to match the local presence or absence of snow.”

In a new article published in the journal Science, Good’s team discovered that the development of brown or white winter coats in snowshoe hares is controlled by genetic variation at a single pigmentation gene that is activated during the autumn molt.

“This result is exciting because it shows that critical adaptive shifts in seasonal camouflage can evolve through changes in the regulation of a single gene,” Jones said.

The genetic discovery came with a surprising twist.

“When we looked at the same gene in other closely related species”, Jones said, “we found that the brown version of the gene in snowshoe hares was recently acquired from interbreeding with black-tail jackrabbits, another North American species that remains brown in the winter.”

Hybridization between species has played a key role in the development of many domestic plants and animals, and recent research suggests that it is also surprisingly common in nature. In snowshoe hares, hybridization with black-tailed jackrabbits provided critical coat color variation needed to adapt to coastal areas where winter snow is ephemeral or absent. But what does this mean for snowshoe hares going forward?

“Brown winter coats are currently rare across the range of snowshoe hares”, Good said. “If snow cover continues to decrease due to climate change, brown winter coats may become more common in the future and play a critical role in the resilience of this species. These discoveries are helping us understand how organisms adapt to rapidly changing environments.”

UM Professor Scott Mills is a co-author on the paper. For this research, UM partnered with the Universidade do Porto and CIBIO-InBIO in Portugal, North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.