Ten most beautiful tanager birds, video


This 14 March 2020 video says about itself:

10 Most Beautiful Tanagers (Bird Species) in the World

Among all beautiful birds, tanagers are one of the most colorful and stunning bird families and there is a huge diversity among these innocent yet fascinating creatures. The tanagers are a family of songbirds, scientifically known as Thraupidae that live primarily in South America. There are about 240 species of tanagers currently known worldwide. About 60% of these live in South America, and 30% in the Andes. These little things are considered the most colorful bird species in the world. So here are the top 10 most beautiful tanagers in the world.

South American marsupial evolution


This 4 February 2020 video says about itself:

Throughout the Cenozoic Era — the era we’re in now — marsupials and their metatherian relatives flourished all over South America, filling all kinds of ecological niches and radiating into forms that still thrive on other continents.

Fifteen new South American wasp species discovered


This 2009 video says about itself:

A parasitic wasp has injected her eggs into a caterpillar — and now they’re ready to hatch.

From the University of Turku in Finland:

New parasitoid wasp species discovered in the Amazon — can manipulate host’s behavior

January 14, 2020

A research group from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku studies the diversity of parasitoid insects around the world. Parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera) are one of the most species-rich animal taxa on Earth, but their tropical diversity is still poorly known. In the latest study, the group discovered 15 new, sizeable species that parasitise spiders in the lowland rainforests of the Amazon and the cloud forests of the Andes.

The researchers from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku have studied the diversity of tropical parasitoid insects for almost 20 years already. During their research, they have discovered large numbers of new species from different parts of the world. In the newest study, the research group sampled parasitoid wasps of the genus Acrotaphus, which parasitise spiders. The diversity of the insects was studied in e.g. the tropical Andes and the lowland rainforest areas of the Amazon. The research was conducted in cooperation with the Brazilian INPA (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia) research unit.

Acrotaphus wasps are fascinating because they are very sizeable parasitoids. The largest species can grow multiple centimetres in length and are also very colourful. Previously, only 11 species of the genus were known, so this new research gives significant new information on the diversity of insects in rain forests, tells postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the new study Diego Pádua, who has worked both for the INPA and the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku.

The parasitoid Acrotaphus wasps parasitise on spiders. A female Acrotaphus attacks a spider in its web and temporarily paralyses it with a venomous sting. After this, the wasp lays a single egg on the spider, and a larva hatches from the egg. The larva gradually consumes the spider and eventually pupates.

The Acrotaphus wasps we studied are very interesting as they are able to manipulate the behaviour of the host spider in a complex way. During the time period preceding the host spider’s death, it does not spin a normal web for catching prey. Instead, the parasitoid wasp manipulates it into spinning a special web which protects the developing pupa from predators. Host manipulation is a rare phenomenon in nature, which makes these parasitoid wasps very exciting in terms of their evolution, tells Ilari E. Sääksjärvi, Professor of Biodiversity research from the University of Turku.

The University of Turku and INPA continue to study the diversity of the parasitoid wasps in collaboration in the west Amazon area and in the Andes. On each research trip, the researchers discover many new species with unknown habits.

How centipedes walk and swim


This 2007 video from South America says about itself:

Giant Centipede | National Geographic

This centipede sheds and eats its own “skin”, but is still hungry for more!

From Tohoku University in Japan:

How centipedes navigate through land and water

December 9, 2019

Centipedes not only walk on land but also swim in water.

Researchers at Tohoku University, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, University of Ottawa, and Hokkaido University with the support of the Human Frontier Science Program have, for the first time, decoded the flexible motor control mechanism underlying amphibious locomotion, or the ability to walk on land and to swim in water, in centipedes.

Animals move adaptively in various environments by flexibly coordinating their body and limbs. In particular, amphibious animals, such as salamanders and certain fishes, possess outstanding adaptability: they can move between qualitatively different substrates, i.e., land and water, by flexibly changing their body coordination patterns in real time. The essential mechanisms underlying how amphibious animals coordinate their body and appendages during adaptive locomotion have long been elusive.

To address this problem, researchers led by Professor Akio Ishiguro of the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University, focused on a species of centipede, named Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans. This centipede walks on land by coordinating its many legs, but when put in water, it folds its legs and swims by bending the body trunk similar to an eel. The homogeneous and segmented body structure of the centipede facilitates the visualization of behavioral changes as it crosses between terrestrial and aquatic environments, making it an excellent animal model.

Researchers observed intact and nerve transected animals transitioning between walking and swimming and hypothesized that interactions between the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, the body, and the environment can explain gait transitions. In particular, they hypothesized that walking or swimming signals generated in the brain are sent posteriorly via distributed neural networks belonging to the central nervous system and located along the body; these brain signals, can be overridden by sensory signals felt by the peripheral nervous system of the legs when they touch the ground during walking. The researchers described this multiple-signal mechanism mathematically, and reproduced the behavior of centipedes in different situations through computer simulations.

The researchers hope that this finding provides insights into the essential mechanism underlying adaptive and versatile locomotion of animals. It will also help develop robots that can move on various environments by flexibly changing body coordination patterns.

New snipe species discovery in South America


This 4 August 2018 video says about itself:

South American Snipe or Magellan snipe at Patagonia, Chile

The South American snipe or Magellan snipe is a small, stocky wader. Its taxonomic position is complicated, sometimes treated as a race of common snipe. The Andean population is now considered a distinct species, known as the puna snipe.

By Kathi Borgmann of the Cornell Lab of Onithology in the USA:

Macaulay Library helps researchers identify new species of snipe

4 Dec 2019

Snipe are not just an urban legend; more than 20 snipe species occur throughout the Americas as well as across the Old World. And researchers just discovered that one of those snipe species in South America might be two different species. New research out this month in the journal Ibis suggests that the South American Snipe (currently considered one species with two subspecies) should be split into two species, a magellanica species in Chile and southern Argentina (including the Falklands/Malvinas) and paraguaiae in much of the rest of South America east of the Andes including northwestern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Brazil.

Edward Miller from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada and colleagues examined differences in the calls South American Snipe give while on the ground and the “winnow” sounds they make with their tail feathers during aerial displays. The South American Snipe, Miller and colleagues found, has different vocal and non-vocal sounds across its range. Snipe from Chile and southern Argentina (Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica) have a distinctive stutter sound to their “winnow” displays, whereas the winnow of the Gallinago paraguaiae paraguaiae subspecies is more constant. Breeding season ground calls in the magellanica subspecies are longer and have a higher frequency compared to paraguaiae. …

The proposed split has yet to be formally recognized, but the authors suggest that multiple lines of acoustic evidence support splitting the South American Snipe. Audio recordings in the Macaulay Library and other sound collections are essential pieces for understanding taxonomic differences among species and subspecies. Resources in natural history collections helped make this research possible, but more information is always needed. If you have recordings of snipe in South America, please considering adding them to the archive with an eBird checklist.

Read the paper:

Miller, E. H., J. I. Areta, A. Jaramillo, S. Imberti, and R. Matus (2019). Snipe taxonomy based on vocal and non-vocal sound displays: the South American Snipe is two species.

When I came back from Antarctica, I saw a magellanica snipe in the Argentine part of Tierra del Fuego.

Trump’s border xenophobia threatens wildlife


This April 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

How Trump’s border wall would disrupt nature

The environmental impact of border walls, explained.

Read more about the border wall’s effect on wildlife here.

When we talk about the consequences of the proposed wall at the border of the US and Mexico, we usually think in terms of people. But along the political divide are rich pockets of biodiversity, with dwindling populations of species that rely on the ability to move back and forth across the border.

Under the 2005 REAL ID act, the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have to comply with various environmental laws that might otherwise slow or halt construction in a sensitive area. Laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act — none of those apply to border wall construction.

Several parcels of land, including the National Butterfly Center, a state park, and other areas in the federal wildlife refuge system — are still threatened by wall construction. It could still be years before construction starts in some of these areas — but there’s still a lot we don’t know about the full impact of barriers on biodiversity.

From Washington State University in the USA:

Protected habitats near US borders

December 4, 2019

Summary: The clustering of protected habitats in the Americas near international borders makes many iconic, wide-ranging animals physically dependent on good relations between neighboring countries and wildlife-friendly borders.

Resembling an overgrown house cat with black-tipped ears and a stubby tail, the Canada lynx, a native of North America, teeters on the brink of extinction in the U.S. The few lynx that now roam parts of Washington and the mountainous Northwest survive largely because of a network of protected landscapes that crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

Washington State University environmental researchers believe this transboundary landscape provides not only essential habitat for the wild cats but likely also vital connections with larger lynx populations in Canada.

Wildlife cameras set by WSU researchers recently photographed lynx in the Kettle Mountains of far northeast Washington, close to the Canadian border, and more big cats have been spotted in Glacier National Park near the Montana-Canada line.

Lynx, like their forest-dwelling neighbor the grizzly bear, require many miles of connected, undeveloped terrain to survive. According to new research led by Daniel Thornton, assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment, such terrain occurs most frequently throughout the Americas near international borders.

This clustering of protected habitats, including national parks and conservation areas, makes many iconic, wide-ranging animals — lynx, grizzlies, jaguars, tapirs and scarlet macaws among them — physically dependent on good relations between neighboring countries and wildlife-friendly borders.

“Because protected areas are more common near international boundaries, cooperation across borders will be key to maintaining large, connected, resilient protected areas for biodiversity conservation,” Thornton said. “And because border regions are so important in this regard, anything that negatively impacts transboundary cooperation between countries or the ability of animals to move across borders — such as increased security and border structures — could be very problematic for species conservation.”

Cross-border cooperation needed to mitigate climate change, other threats

In addition to politically charged border security measures, climate change and other large-scale landscape alterations pose serious threats to wildlife and habitat preservation throughout the Americas.

Writing in Ecological Applications, Thornton and his research collaborators at the University of Florida and Trent University in Ontario, Canada, said their study results indicate “efforts to conserve species and mitigate effects of long-term stressors, like climate change, will be most successful when planning includes neighboring countries.”

The scientists examined the distribution, connectivity, and integrity of protected areas near the borders of 23 countries across North, South and Central America. They found clustering of these primary habitat areas extending approximately 78 miles from the borderlines.

Connectivity of protected areas is especially important for animals to be able to adjust to habitat loss and fragmentation or to shift their ranges as climate changes, the researchers said. Maintaining these landscape networks will grow increasingly critical where forest depletion is taking a toll.

For example, a cross-boundary approach to managing protected areas could be especially beneficial in the highly-threatened Dry/Wet Chaco ecoregion bordering Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Rapid deforestation there is dividing habitats, causing negative impacts on numerous species.

Although international conservation efforts are relatively rare in the Americas, transboundary protected areas are expanding globally, leading to more integrated and large-scale conservation projects among neighboring countries, the researchers said. They noted additional benefits from these projects include promoting climate change resilience, sustainable development across borders, cooperative resource management and peace.

Video exposes US Custom and Border Protection’s lies in death of teenage immigrant. By Adam Mclean, 7 December 2019. The gross and criminal negligence shown in the video is not an accident but is in line with the anti-immigrant policy of the Trump administration: here.

TRUMP VACATION PUSHES TAXPAYER GOLF TAB ABOVE $118 MILLION  President Donald Trump has pushed his taxpayer-funded golf tab past $118 million on his 26th visit to Mar-a-Lago, his for-profit resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The new total is the equivalent of 296 years of the $400,000 presidential salary that his supporters often boast that he is not taking. [HuffPost]