Hippo dung helps dragonflies, fish


This video is called Inside Nature’s Giants- Hippo.

From New Scientist:

Hippo dung is health food for river animals

18:45 15 April 2015 by Jessica Hamzelou

Don’t just flush it away. Just as one person’s trash is another’s treasure, hippo dung seems to be a valuable source of nutrition for the animals’ aquatic neighbours.

By injecting millions of tons of faeces into African waters every year, hippos may be providing a vital link between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Douglas McCauley of the University of California in Santa Barbara and his colleagues compared fish and dragonfly larvae in two river pools in Kenya‘s Laikipia district, one inhabited by hippos and the other hippo-free.

They found components of hippo dung in the tissues of dragonfly larvae that lived alongside the animals year round. During the dry season, fish absorbed faecal nutrients as well, while levels in dragonfly larvae increased.

The team thinks that during the wet season, high rainfall dilutes the hippos’ waste and faster-flowing rivers also wash away dung before animals can access it.

As climate change and development in east Africa continue to affect local rivers, it will be important to consider how the benefits of hippo excrement can be preserved.

Journal reference: Ecosphere, doi.org/3nv

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.”

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.