Anti-Black Lives Matter teargas pollutes river


This 25 August 2020 video about Oregon in the USA says about itself:

Tear gas poisoning river in Portland

Officials fear that tear gas will pollute Portland’s rivers.

During on-going protests across Portland, government officials now fear that the excessive amount of tear gas is polluting the Willamette River.

The tear gas in Portland is applied by local police and by Donald Trump’s ‘stormtroopers’ against demonstrators against racism and against police brutality.

How steelhead trout build their nests


This January 2020 video from Oregon in the USA says about itself:

The Guardian Who Stands Watch For North Umpqua Steelhead

There was a time not long ago when poachers came to Steamboat Creek along the North Umpqua River and dropped sticks of dynamite into pools filled with hundreds of steelhead. Then, a man named Lee Spencer started spending every day there — to watch the fish and keep poachers at bay.

From the GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre in Germany:

Eavesdropping on trout building their nests

Seismic sensors can record signals produced by fish building spawning pits

July 28, 2020

Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) stir up the sediment of the river bed when building their spawning pits, thus influencing the composition of the river bed and the transport of sediment. Until now, this process could only be studied visually, irregularly and with great effort in the natural environment of the fish. Now, researchers led by Michael Dietze of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam have used seismic sensors (geophones) to analyze the trout’s nest-building process in detail. The study was published in the journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

To lay their eggs, trout use their caudal fins to dig pits up to three metres long on each side and ten centimetres deep into the river bed. The aim of the researchers was to locate these spawning pits and to analyze the chronological sequence of the construction process. To this end, the researchers set up a network of seismic stations on a 150-meter section of the Mashel River in the US state of Washington. The geophones embedded in the earth are highly sensitive and detect the slightest vibrations in the ground. Small stones moved by the fish caused short frequency pulses in the range of 20 to 100 hertz and could be distinguished from background frequencies of flowing water, raindrops and even the pulses of passing airplanes. “The same signal arrives at each of the stations slightly delayed. This enabled us to determine where the seismic wave was generated,” says Dietze, first author of the study.

The researchers listened to the construction of four spawning pits for almost four weeks from the end of April to the end of May. The geophones revealed that the trout were mostly busy building their nests within eleven days of the measurement period. The fish preferably started at sunrise and were active until early noon, followed by another period in the early evening. The trout dug in the sediment for between one and twenty minutes, typically at two- to three-minute intervals with 50 to 100 tail strokes. This was followed by a break of about the same length.

“Normally, the nest-building behaviour of the trout was recorded only very irregularly, at most weekly. We can now resolve this to the millisecond. In the future, we want to extend the method to the behaviour of other species, for example animals that dig along the banks and destabilize them,” explains Dietze. The new measurement method might support fish and behavioural biology and provide a more accurate picture of the biotic and abiotic contribution of sediment transport in rivers. “Fish can move as much sediment as a normal spring flood. The biological component can therefore play a very important role,” said Dietze.

Portland, USA demonstrations against police brutality


This 26 July 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Protests against racism and police brutality in the US city of Portland have entered their ninth week.

The demonstrations started in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

But anger has also been growing over President Donald Trump’s decision to send federal agents to the city as local politicians and Democrats in Congress accuse the officers of using excessive force.

Al Jazeera’s Leah Harding reports.

Denver meteorologist fired after comparing federal troops to Nazis.

Caspian terns in Oregon, USA


This 19 July 2015 video says about itself:

One of the Caspian Tern Colonies in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

The Terns share the island with hundreds of Double-Crested Cormorants and lots of Gulls. The adult Terns are bringing fish back to the colony and then the search begins for their young. It is not an easy task and you will see lots of youngsters trying to mooch food, but the adults will only feed their own. In the last scene, a Tern finally finds its juvenile and feeds it. Another adult fails when a Gull steals the fish.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Predation by Caspian terns on young steelhead means fewer return as adults

July 14, 2020

Caspian terns feeding on young fish have a significant impact on runs of steelhead in the Columbia River, research by Oregon State University suggests.

Through detailed analysis of steelhead survival and Caspian tern predation rates, the researchers found that the birds are not only preying on fish that would perish for some other reason, but are adding to the annual death toll by eating steelhead smolts that would have survived without tern pressure.

In scientific terms, the findings indicate that the terns are having an “additive” effect on prey mortality rather than a “compensatory” one.

The study was published in Ecological Applications.

In the Columbia Basin, 13 of 20 populations of anadromous salmon and steelhead are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Caspian terns, a protected migratory bird species native to the region, have been the object of predator management in the Columbia Basin in an effort to protect smolts, especially steelhead smolts, from being eaten before they can swim downstream to the ocean.

The largest breeding colony of Caspian terns in the world was formerly on a small island in the lower Columbia River estuary between Oregon and Washington. It hosted more than 10,000 breeding pairs in 2008, just prior to implementation of nonlethal management to reduce colony size to between 3,125 and 4,375 breeding pairs.

“There has been little research, however, into whether reduced predation actually results in greater overall salmonid survival, either at the smolt stage, where the predation is taking place, or across the lifetime of the fish,” said Oregon State’s Dan Roby, professor emeritus in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Without clear evidence that reduced predation means greater survival to adulthood, management to reduce predator impacts would be a waste of time and resources.”

To tackle the question, Roby and collaborators at Real Time Research, Inc., of Bend and the University of Washington looked at 11 years’ worth of mark-recapture-recovery data for almost 80,000 steelhead trout smolts from the Upper Columbia population that were tagged and released to continue their out-migration to the ocean.

After release, the tagged fish were exposed to predation throughout multiple stretches of river on their journey toward the Pacific. The tag-recovery data made possible estimates of the weekly probability of steelhead survival, mortality from being eaten by birds and death from other causes.

“This approach allowed us to directly measure the connection between smolt survival and tern predation,” Roby said.

Estimates of tern predation on steelhead were substantial for most of the years studied, he said. And increases in tern predation probabilities were connected with statistically significant decreases in steelhead survival for all of the years evaluated and both of the fish life stages studied: smolt out-migration and smolt-to-adult returns.

“Our results provide the first evidence that predation by Caspian terns may have been a super additive source of mortality during the smolt stage and a partially additive source in the smolt-to-adult life stage,” Roby said. “A persistent pattern was clear: For each additional 10 steelhead smolts successfully consumed by Caspian terns, about 14 fewer smolts from each cohort survived out-migration.”

Another pattern: On average, for every 10 steelhead smolts eaten by terns, one fewer individual from each cohort returned to the Columbia Basin as an adult.

“Our model shows that mortality from tern predation was primarily additive and therefore has a credible, significant impact on prey survival,” Roby said. “Predator-prey models need to consider additive effects of predation across life stages to avoid exaggerating potential benefits from management actions aimed at reducing predator populations to enhance prey populations. The primary value of the study is by analyzing the true effects of natural predators on populations of their prey, and thereby assessing the conservation value to prey of managing predators.”

Roby notes that the study by OSU, Real Time Research, and the University of Washington contradicts recently published research by scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Fish Passage Center, who found that steelhead mortality due to tern predation is compensatory.

That paper, in the Journal of Wildlife Management, suggests that “management efforts to reduce the abundance of the [tern] colonies are unlikely to improve the survival or conservation status of steelhead.”

Helping threatened coho salmon, big economic benefits


This 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Coho Salmon Spawning on the Oregon Coast

Returning from the Pacific to Oregon’s Necanicum Estuary, these marvels of nature hung a left at the Neacoxie River, then waited patiently for two months in an unseasonably dry spell for enough water to permit passage up tiny Thompson Creek to fulfill their destiny. Truly beautiful and amazing.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Helping threatened coho salmon could generate hundreds of millions in non-market economic benefits

August 14, 2019

A new study provides evidence that increasing the abundance of a threatened or endangered species can deliver large benefits to the citizens of the Pacific Northwest.

The study, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, finds that a two-thirds increase in the average annual number of returning coho salmon to the Oregon coast would generate up to $518 million per year in non-market economic benefits to residents of the region.

The study comes the same week that the U.S. Department of Interior announced that it will implement a new rule that stipulates that economic impacts for listing a species be considered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“When we think about actions to protect endangered and threatened species, we often focus on the costs,” said David Lewis, an economist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and corresponding author on the study. “The benefits of protecting threatened species are difficult to estimate since they are considered to be non-market and arise from the public’s values for things like the existence of abundant salmon in the wild. This study gives us a way to evaluate the benefits.”

“If an agency is considering a policy or program that would increase the number of salmon by a certain amount, our study translates the benefits for that amount of salmon to a dollar value,” said Steven Dundas, study co-author and economist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station.

“This provides evidence of the economic value Pacific Northwest residents place on protecting threatened and endangered species,” Dundas said. “We can compare it to how much we actually spend on salmon restoration activities, to see if there’s a net benefit to more investment.”

The study, a collaboration between OSU and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, also found that the public attaches a substantial value — up to $277 million a year — to achieving conservation goals sooner rather than later.

“There are sizable benefits to achieving conservation goals quickly,” Lewis said. “That has real implications for conservation programs, showing that there’s significant value to the public in up-front investments.”

Another key study finding: People benefit from Oregon Coast coho salmon conservation even if the fish aren’t declared recovered and removed from listing under the ESA.

“That’s an important concept,” Lewis said. “This indicates that we shouldn’t evaluate ESA activities only by whether a species is recovered or not. It’s not all or nothing.”

For the study, the researchers mailed surveys to 5,000 randomly selected households in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and northern California in the fall of 2017. The surveys included scenarios with levels of attributes associated with improving the abundance of Oregon Coast coho salmon: how many fish come back from the ocean, how quickly they come back and what their conservation status would be under the ESA.

Associated with these scenarios was an annual per-household cost from a combination of additional taxes and higher prices for lumber and agricultural products, ranging from $10 to $350 per year. Survey respondents then chose their preferred conservation scenario or a status quo option with $0 cost.

Twenty-one percent of the surveys were returned. By analyzing the responses, the researchers determined the public’s average household willingness to pay for salmon conservation, which is then multiplied by the number of Pacific Northwest households to get the final benefit numbers.

“The surveys create a situation for someone to make a decision about a public good — as if increases in salmon abundance were something they could choose off the shelf at the grocery store,” Dundas said.

Lewis, Dundas and co-author David Kling are all on the faculty in OSU’s Department of Applied Economics. Co-authors also included Daniel Lew at the Alaska Fisheries Center and Sally Hacker in the Department of Integrative Biology in the College of Science at OSU.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the study through its National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Competitive Research Program.

Studying harbour seals in Oregon, USA


This 1 June 2015 video from the USA is called Harbor seals in Waldport, Oregon.

From PLOS:

Mapping Oregon coast harbor seal movements using wearable devices

July 31, 2019

Wearable devices fitted to harbor seals reveal their movements around the Oregon coast, for a population that has been increasing following the implementation of marine reserves and protection acts. The study publishes July 31, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Sheanna Steingass from Oregon State University, USA, and colleagues.

Approximately 10,000-12,000 harbor seals, Phoca vitulina richardii, make the Oregon coast their home year-round — but there’s little data on these seal populations. The authors of the present study investigated the ranges and habitats of these seals.

Steingass and colleagues fitted external satellite transmitters to 24 adult harbor seals from Alsea Bay and Netarts Bay in Oregon between September 2014 and April 2015. They collected location data every other month (in order to extend battery life) to evaluate and model the seals’ movements, calculating each seal’s home range (the area within which they spent 95 percent of their time) and core area (the smaller area where they were especially likely to stay). They also examined how seals used specific habitat and how frequently the seals spent time in five newly-established Oregon marine reserves.

The authors found the average home range for these seals was approximately 364 km2, though individual seals’ home ranges varied greatly. The average calculated core area for seals encompassed on average 29.41 km2, though this also varied greatly.

Seals spent approximately 50 percent of their time in rivers, estuaries and bays, and were in the water (versus dry land) about 70 percent of the time. While they generally stayed close to the shore, when they did make open ocean trips, these lasted an average of around 22 hours. The seals in this study tended to use the marine reserve areas within their range only rarely, visiting them less than 2 percent of the time — the authors suspect this is due to the reserves’ specific habitats.

As the first major documentation of space use of Oregon coast harbor seals in the last 30 years, this study enables further hypotheses and modelling of harbor seals in a future where marine areas are subject to frequent change.

The authors add: “Satellite tracking reveals at-sea habitat use for the first time for Pacific harbor seals in Oregon. Results from 24 seals demonstrate individual differences in behavior, with some study animals ranging hundreds of miles and few spending time within Oregon’s marine reserves.”

Wild bees, forest fires in Oregon, USA


This 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Mason Bees Micro Documentary

Dave Hunter gets us started in this video about Mason Bees. Famous for using little bits of mud in tubes to store their eggs, Dave tells us about how Mason Bees compare to Honey Bees. He covers both the male and female bee habits, complete with mating.

Dave shows us the cocoon for leaf cutter bees too.

Dave talks about a variety of different sorts of tubes for the Mason Bees to lay their eggs in. Soemtimes reeds, sometimes straw size cardboard tubes. Dave has some experiments going with corrugated cardboard. Mason Bees eat pollen and nectar. And they are pretty picky about what sort of flower is their food source. So they come out just in time for the blooming of their favorite foods, mate, lay eggs and die in a short span of time.

Jen Davis, in Portland, Oregon shares with us how she manages her Mason Bees. She wants to help the Mason Bees reproduce quickly. So she puts out lots of straws for the bees and checks for possible problems. She keeps the cocoons in her refrigerator until the time is right to bring them out.

Dave helps us understand the difference between Honey Bees and Mason Bees. My philosophy is that Honey Bees will efficiently process each flower. While Mason Bees will haphazardly pop from flower to flower without completely “processing” any one flower. The upside of this is that one mason bee will pollinate 100 time more flowers than a honey bee.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Wild bees flock to forested areas affected by severe fire

April 3, 2019

A groundbreaking two-year study in southern Oregon found greater abundance and diversity of wild bees in areas that experienced moderate and severe forest fires compared to areas with low-severity fires.

The study, published today in the journal Ecosphere by researchers in the Oregon State University College of Forestry, is the first to demonstrate that wildfire severity is a strong predictor of bee diversity in mixed-conifer forest.

Bees are the most important among the Earth’s pollinators, which combine for an estimated $100 billion in global economic impact each year. Oregon is home to more than 500 species of native bees.

Animal pollinators enhance the reproduction of nearly 90 percent of the Earth’s flowering plants, including many food crops.

The pollinators are an essential component of insect and plant biodiversity. Bees are the standard bearer because they’re usually present in the greatest numbers and because they’re the only pollinator group that feeds exclusively on nectar and pollen their entire life.

Scientists led by OSU forest wildlife ecologist Jim Rivers in 2016 began trapping bees at 43 sites in forests burned by the 2013 Douglas Complex fire that scorched nearly 50,000 acres north of Grants Pass.

They collected bees with blue-vane traps, which attract the insects by reflecting ultraviolet light, and used satellite imagery to determine fire severity.

“Twenty times more individuals and 11 times more species were captured in areas that experienced high fire severity relative to areas with the lowest fire severity,” said Sara M. Galbraith, a postdoctoral researcher in the College of Forestry. “We detected a large number of bees in recently burned forest patches. The bees represented five families and a large subset of Oregon’s wild bee species.”

At low-severity sites, flames were mostly confined to low-growing vegetation.

“If you weren’t looking for the markers of fire, in the low-severity spots you wouldn’t know that they had burned,” Galbraith said. “The canopy is more closed, and there wasn’t a lot of visible evidence of fire except for blackened areas on the tree trunks.”

In contrast, some of the high-severity sites had a completely open canopy.

“There were many more flowering plants in the understory because the light limitation was gone,” she said. “The flowering plants and another critical habitat component for maintaining bee populations -boring insect exit holes used by cavity-nesting bees — both increased with fire severity.”

And the two most abundant genera among the trapped bees, Bombus (bumblebee species) and Halictus (sweat bee species), each responded positively to high fire severity despite having different foraging ranges.

“This research adds to the evidence that there is high biodiversity in early seral forests — the beginning stages of forest development — and moving forward, the amount and location of this habitat could have an impact on services like pollination in the landscape overall,” she said. “Half of Oregon is forested, yet we know very little about bees in forests, especially managed conifer forests. With this fundamental information, we can begin to understand the best management actions that can promote pollinator populations within managed forests.”

Previous studies primarily just considered, “did it burn or didn’t it burn?'” Galbraith said.

“Our study took into account the mosaic of habitats that you find after fires in many regions of the world,” she said. “We found that burn severity is really useful for predicting where the bee habitat will be after a fire. It makes sense that some organisms would have evolved to do well after severe burning in this fire-adapted landscape.”

The Bureau of Land Management and the College of Forestry supported this research.

Sea anemones, new research


This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

There are many scientific studies that apply traditional approaches to ecological, physiological, and molecular research questions. However, these studies largely test these questions at only a single level of the biological hierarchy (microscopic to macroscopic). The Systems Science in Marine Biology (SSiMBio) group at Oregon State University believes that a broader, systems view is needed in order to make progress as it provides a powerful framework for understanding how the processes occurring at some biological levels lead to predictable outcomes at other levels. Our group is developing the temperate symbiotic sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima as a model system for this systems biology approach. This video encapsulates the meaning and goals of our group by showing many different aspects of this system on many biological levels.

From the Institut Pasteur in France:

The sea anemone, an animal that hides its complexity well

July 9, 2018

Despite its apparent simplicity — a tube-like body topped with tentacles -, the sea anemone is actually a highly complex creature. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with the CNRS, have just discovered over a hundred different cell types in this small marine invertebrate as well as incredible neuronal diversity. This surprising complexity was revealed when the researchers built a real cell atlas of the animal. Their findings, which will add to discussions on how cells have diversified and developed into organs during evolution, have been published in the journal Cell.

The sea anemone Nematostella vectensis provides a perfect model for researchers — apart from its stinging tentacles perhaps. It is a small marine invertebrate that is easy to keep in the laboratory and whose genome is simple enough to study its workings and close enough to that of humans for conclusions to be drawn. “When the sea anemone genome was sequenced in 2007, scientists discovered that it was very similar to the human genome, both in terms of the number of genes (roughly 20,000) and its organization, explains Heather Marlow, a specialist in developmental biology in the (Epi)genomics of Animal Development Unit at the Institut Pasteur and the main author of this study. These similarities make the sea anemone an ideal model for studying the animal genome and understanding interactions existing between genes.” It also has another advantage — its strategic position in the tree of life. The cnidaria branch that anemones belong to separated from the bilateria branch, in other words from most other animals, including humans, over 600 million years ago. “The anemone can therefore also help us to understand the origin and evolution of the multiple cell types making up the bodies and organs of animals, and particularly their nervous systems”, sums up Heather Marlow.

To try and understand a little more about sea anemones — and consequently about the whole animal kingdom -, Heather Marlow’s team decided to examine this cnidarian, cell by cell. Thanks to an innovative technique, the animal’s tiny cells — that measure no more than 1 micron in diameter — were isolated one by one, and their RNA analyzed. As although chromosomal DNA contains all genes, RNA shows those that are active. “The development of genome approaches at single-cell level can be used to accurately list the different cell types and also identify the genes responsible for the function of each of these cells”, explains Heather Marlow. In total, and unexpectedly, over a hundred different cell types were identified, grouped into eight main cell families (muscle, digestive, neuronal, epidermal, etc.). And one of the greatest surprises of this research concerns the nervous system. Close to thirty different types of neurons — peptidergic, glutamatergic or even insulinergic — were identified, revealing a relatively complex nervous and sensory system.

This research should therefore help evolution specialists to establish the common ancestor of cnidaria (anemones) on the one hand and bilateria (humans) on the other. Undoubtedly this ancestor already had some level of cell complexity. In addition, even though the sea anemone appears to be very different from us, it reveals the fundamental rules that today enable its cells, and our own, to perform so many different functions. “The cell is the basic element making up living beings.” By defining how the information coded by the genome determines the identity of each cell, we hope to uncover the mechanisms conserved by all animals that are essential for their development and homeostasis”, concludes Heather Marlow.

Beavers save salmon from climate change


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 March 2013

Presenter Dr. Jimmy Taylor shares information about Oregon‘s state animal – the beaver – and how we benefit from their activity. Taylor is a supervisory research wildlife biologist and field station leader for the National Wildlife Research Center in Corvallis, Oregon. His research project focuses on understanding human-wildlife conflicts and improving management strategies to reduce damage by forest and aquatic mammals, with an emphasis on non-lethal tools and techniques.

North America’s largest rodent, the beaver, was once the most widely distributed mammal but virtually trapped to extinction in the early 1800’s for its pelt. A decline in demand for its fur and proper wildlife management helped beaver to become reestablished in much of their former range. While beaver foraging and building activities can cause flooding, damaging private property; beaver ponds and dams are also good for Oregon’s native fish and other wildlife. Beaver activities can also benefit private landowners by controlling downstream flooding and creating wetlands which improve water quality and facilitate ground water recharge. If managed correctly, conflict with beaver can be minimized.

From PLOS ONE:

Alteration of stream temperature by natural and artificial beaver dams

May 17, 2017

Abstract

Beavers are an integral component of hydrologic, geomorphic, and biotic processes within North American stream systems, and their propensity to build dams alters stream and riparian structure and function[s] to the benefit of many aquatic and terrestrial species.

Recognizing this, beaver relocation efforts and/or application of structures designed to mimic the function of beaver dams are increasingly being utilized as effective and cost-efficient stream and riparian restoration approaches. Despite these verities, the notion that beaver dams negatively impact stream habitat remains common, specifically the assumption that beaver dams increase stream temperatures during summer to the detriment of sensitive biota such as salmonids.

In this study, we tracked beaver dam distributions and monitored water temperature throughout 34 km of stream for an eight-year period between 2007 and 2014. During this time the number of natural beaver dams within the study area increased by an order of magnitude, and an additional 4 km of stream were subject to a restoration manipulation that included installing a high-density of Beaver Dam Analog (BDA) structures designed to mimic the function of natural beaver dams.

Our observations reveal several mechanisms by which beaver dam development may influence stream temperature regimes; including longitudinal buffering of diel summer temperature extrema at the reach scale due to increased surface water storage, and creation of cool—water channel scale temperature refugia through enhanced groundwater—surface water connectivity. Our results suggest that creation of natural and/or artificial beaver dams could be used to mitigate the impact of human induced thermal degradation that may threaten sensitive species.

In this way, beavers save sensitive species like salmon, which cannot live in warm water.

Interviewed by Dutch daily De Volkskrant on this today, Belgian Antwerp University beaver expert Kristijn Swinnen thinks that the European relatives of American beavers may in similar ways benefit European relatives of American salmon and other species threatened by climate change. European beavers came back in the Netherlands only recently after having been exterminated there in the nineteenth century.

Ancient bed bug discovery in Oregon, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 April 2017

Bedbugs have been making lives of other creatures miserable for a long time – scientists report that they have found the earliest known remains of bed bug relatives in a cave in southern Oregon.

From the Entomological Society of America:

Oldest remains of insects from bed bug genus found in Oregon

Specimens from genus Cimex date to nearly 11,000 years ago

April 4, 2017

Summary: A cave in Oregon that is the site of some the oldest preserved evidence of human activity in North America was also once home to not-too-distant cousins of the common bed bug. Archaeologists describe remains found in caves near Paisley, Ore., that represent the oldest specimens of insects from the genus Cimex ever found, ranging between 5,100 and 11,000 years old.

A cave in southern Oregon that is the site of some the oldest preserved evidence of human activity in North America was also once home to not-too-distant cousins of the common bed bug.

In research to be published next week in the Entomological Society of America’s Journal of Medical Entomology, a pair of archaeologists describe remains found in caves near Paisley, Oregon, that represent the oldest specimens of insects from the genus Cimex ever found, ranging between 5,100 and 11,000 years old.

The remains were identified as relatives of the bed bug, Cimex lectularius, but they were “not the bed bug we all know and love from hotel rooms,” says Martin E. Adams of Paleoinsect Research and co-author on the study with Dennis L. Jenkins of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. The species in the Paisley Five Mile Point Caves (Cimex pilosellus, Cimex latipennis, and Cimex antennatus) are all parasites of bats.

Previously, the oldest remains of “cimicids” ever found were just 3,500 years old, found in Egypt in 1999, meaning the remains found at the Paisley Caves are the oldest Cimex specimens by a wide margin, and they raise some interesting questions for researchers about how cimicids have interacted (or not) with humans in the past.

Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus are the two bed bug species that are known to parasitize humans, widely believed to have adapted to that role thousands of years ago when humans shared caves with bats in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The species found in the Oregon caves, however, never made that jump, and Adams says it’s unclear why not.

“Were the cimicid populations too small to establish themselves outside the caves, or were the host populations too small?” Adams says. “Given that Paisley Caves was only a seasonal occupation area for human hunter-gatherers, did the humans move around too much, or were the bugs not able to withstand the environment outside the caves for very long? Or, were there other constraints involved? I’m working on these last few archaeological questions right now.”

The identification of the three Cimex species may also offer some clues to climactic trends during the eras they were dated to, Adams says. Cimex antennatus, for instance, tends to favor the warmer climates of California and Nevada. “The presence of warm-tolerant cimicids in the caves, such as Cimex antennatus, may suggest that climatic conditions at Paisley Caves 5,100 years ago were similar to what Cimex antennatus enjoys today in its current range.”