Asian fish can walk on land

This 2015 video says about itself:

The Hillstream Loach is not just cool and interesting, its also very popular in the aquarium hobby with many variants available.

Common/Trade Name: Hillstream Loach, Butterfly Loach
Scientific Name: Sewellia lineolata
Family: Balitoridae
Location: Southeast and East Asia
Max. size: 3 inches / 8 – 9 cm
PH range: 6.0 — 7.4
Temperament: Peaceful. Good candidate for a community fish tank
Temperature range: 68 – 75° F
Care level: Well acclimated specimens are quite hardy. Smaller individuals are quite tolerant of each other but will become more territorial as they grow. This fish prefers well-oxygenated water with plenty of hiding spots. They will scavenge dry and frozen foods. They love water movement, so a circulating powerhead is ideal for keeping these fish happy.

From the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the USA:

Key to fish family’s land-walking abilities revealed in study of Asia’s hillstream loaches

August 26, 2020

Summary: A new genetic and morphological study of South Asia’s hillstream loach (Balitoridae) family is shedding new light on the fishes’ unusual land-walking capabilities, including that of the family’s strangest relative — Cryptotora thamicola — a rare, blind cavefish from Thailand with an uncanny ability to walk on land and climb waterfalls using four limbs that move in salamander-like fashion.

In a study published in the Journal of Morphology, a team of researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Florida Museum of Natural History, Louisiana State University and Thailand’s Maejo University have successfully pieced together the ancestral relationships that make up the family tree of hillstream loaches (Balitoridae), detailing for the first time a range of unusual pelvic adaptations across the family that have given some of its members an ability to crawl, or even walk as salamanders do, to navigate terrestrial surfaces.

The team’s DNA-based comparative analysis of the fish family, known to currently encompass more than 100 species native to South and Southeast Asia, is the first of its kind to include Cryptotora thamicola — the only living species of fish known to walk on land in a step pattern similar to tetrapods, or four-limbed vertebrates such as reptiles and amphibians.

The results have revealed that three dominant variations of pelvic anatomy in the family, notably including key variations of a robust pelvic girdle and elongated sacral rib among many loaches, which researchers expect are central in explaining the different degrees of land-walking behavior exhibited by the fishes. The team says that the family’s modified pelvic features enabling terrestrial locomotion, which were found most pronounced in Cryptotora thamicola, may have been adapted to enhance their odds of survival in rivers and other fast-moving water environments that many Balitoridae inhabit today.

“The modified morphology of these Balitoridae, particularly the enlarged sacral rib connecting the pelvic plate to the vertebral column, is a big part of why studying this family is so exciting,” said Callie Crawford, the study’s corresponding author and Ph.D. candidate at NJIT’s Department of Biological Sciences. “These loaches have converged on a structural requirement to support terrestrial walking not seen in other fishes. What we’ve discovered is three anatomical groupings that have major implications for the biomechanics of terrestrial locomotion of these loaches, and the relationships among these fishes suggest that the ability to adapt to fast-flowing rivers may be what was passed on genetically, more than the specific morphology itself.”

“Now that we have revealed a spectrum of pelvic morphologies among these fishes, we can compare the extent of skeletal support with the walking performance in a species,” said Brooke Flammang, the study’s lead principal investigator and assistant professor of biology at NJIT. “This will allow us to measure the mechanical contribution of robust hips to terrestrial locomotion.”

Unlike most living fishes that feature pelvic fins located more anteriorly and attached to the pectoral girdle, balitorids typically boast a skeletal connection between the pelvic plate (basipterygium) and the vertebral column via a modified sacral rib and its distal ligament. These modifications are understood to help generate force against the ground useful for navigating land. The most extreme example emerged in 2016 with the discovery of Cryptotora thamicola in the fast-flowing aquatic conditions of the Tham Maelana and Tham Susa karst cave systems in northern Thailand. NJIT researchers then first identified that the rare species used a robust pelvic girdle attached to its vertebral column to walk and climb waterfalls with a salamander-like gait.

“This trait is likely key to helping these fishes avoid being washed away in the fast-flowing environment that they live in,” said Zach Randall, co-author of the paper and biological scientist at Florida Museum of Natural History. “What’s really cool about this paper is that it shows with high detail that robust pelvic girdles are more common than we thought in the hillstream loach family.”

“The sacral ribs allow forces from the fins pressing against the ground to be transferred to the body so that every time the fin pushes down during a step, the body is pushed up and forward,” explained Flammang. “The increased surface area of the more modified sacral ribs also offers more room for muscle attachment, so fishes such as Cryptotora thamicola can rotate their hips during walking, producing a salamander-like gait.”

River Loach Family Factions

To better understand the evolution of the river loach family, the team conducted a broad sampling of ?CT-scan data taken from 29 representative specimens, analyzing and comparing skeletal structures, muscle morphology as well as sacral rib shape across 14 of the 16 balitorid genera. The team also sampled genomic datasets of 72 loaches across seven families to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships in the Ballitoridae tree of life. “We were able to use a large survey of museum specimens and CT scanning to incorporate data even from specimens that didn’t have tissue or genetic data intact,” noted Randall.

The results showed that the loaches fall into three distinct morphotypes, which are expected to correlate to how well they are able to maneuver on land: species with a long, narrow rib that meets the pelvic plate; species with a thicker, slightly curved rib meeting the pelvic plate; and species with a robust crested rib interlocking with the pelvic plate. Of the species sampled, eleven fell into the third category with advanced land-walking abilities, such as Cryptotora thamicola, displaying the most robust sacral rib connection between the basipterygium and vertebral column.

“Our analysis showed that the morphotypes are not grouped by closely related taxa, but instead appear spread out across the phylogeny. That indicates to us that the extent of the modification of these features is less reflecting shared ancestry and more likely a product of adaptation to the flow regimes of their environments,” explained Crawford. “To better understand how and why these distinct morphotypes developed, we need more knowledge of the habitat of each species, including water flow rates, substrate types and how the rivers and streams change between rainy and dry seasons.”

Crawford and colleagues now aim to further investigate the stability physics and muscular forces at play that allow certain species to push their bodies off their ground as they walk. The team, including a recent Rutgers University graduate, Amani Webber-Schultz, recently completed fieldwork in Thailand earlier this year to collect more balitorid specimens, which they are studying using high-speed videos of the fishes walking.

“This will allow us to study details of their walking kinematics and gain even more insight into how walking performance might change between species with different pelvic morphologies,” said Crawford.

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation’s Understanding the Rules of Life Grant # 1839915 to BE Flammang, P Chakrabarty, and LM Page.

Facebook censorship of Thai critics of monarchy

This 25 August 2020 video says about itself:

Facebook has blocked access within Thailand to a group with a million members. The popular group was named ‘Royalist Marketplace’ and the discussions primarily revolve around criticising the Thai monarchy.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 25 August 2020:

Facebook blocks million-strong anti-monarchy group in Thailand after government threats

FACEBOOK has blocked access within Thailand to a page that was popular among anti-monarchists after the government threatened legal action.

Group admin Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai academic based in Japan, said that the page was established to allow debate about the royal family amid huge anti-government protests in Thailand.

He said that the Royalist Marketplace group “allows Thais to express their views freely about the monarchy, from the political intervention of the monarchy to its intimate ties with the military in consolidating the king’s power.”

Criticism of the royal family is illegal in Thailand. Facebook confirmed that it had restricted access to the group from within the country on Monday, though it can still be accessed from abroad.

The social media giant said it was “compelled to restrict access to content which the Thai government has deemed to be illegal.”

Mr Chachavalpongpun is one of three key dissidents that the Thai government has warned people to stay away from.

The others are also critics of the Thai monarchy: British journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall and history professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who lives in self-imposed exile in France.

Near-daily protests have rocked Thailand for over a month, with some attracting more than 10,000 people.

Led by students and young people, the protest movement has used social media as a platform to organise and co-ordinate action against the militaristic government, which they accuse of being anti-democratic.

Traditional hierarchies are being challenged and the role of the royal family is being discussed in a way that was previously taboo.

“The government tried to shut [protesters] up by using legal tools such as arresting the core leaders and blocking access to my group,” Mr Chachavalpongpun said.

“If the students persist, a harsher measure might be taken — like a crackdown.”

Record 43-year sentence for insulting Thai monarchy sends a chilling message to activists.

Thai students demonstrate against absolute monarchy

This 15 August 2020 video says about itself:

Thai students protest to remove government and reform monarchy

Protesters in Thailand are planning another large rally on Sunday as they continue their push to remove the government and reform the monarchy.

The mainly student-led protests are calling for significant changes to the royal family’s role in society, which is considered a taboo subject in Thailand.

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay reports.

One of the problems with the monarchy in Thailand is that it is a cover for military dictatorship.

Cycad plants help other wildlife

This January 2020 video is called World’s Largest Cycad Collection at Nong Nooch, Thailand.

From the University of Guam:

Cycad plants provide an important ‘ecosystem service’

Loss of cycads from natural habitats may create detrimental ripple effects for other organisms

July 27, 2020

A study published in the June 2020 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Horticulturae shows that cycads, which are in decline and among the world’s most threatened group of plants, provide an important service to their neighboring organisms. The study, completed by researchers from the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam and the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami, found that at least two cycad species share nitrogen and carbon through the soil, thereby creating habitable environments for other organisms.

“The new knowledge from this study shows how loss of cycad plants from natural habitats may create detrimental ripple effects that negatively influence the other organisms that evolved to depend on their ecosystem services,” said Patrick Griffith, executive director of the Montgomery Botanical Center.

Cycad plants host nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria within specialized roots. The tiny microbes willingly share the newly acquired nitrogen with their hosts as their contribution to a symbiosis that benefits both organisms.

Research teams at the University of Guam have long been studying the nutrient relations of Cycas micronesica throughout its endemic range, according to Adrian Ares, associate director of the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center.

“This unique arborescent cycad species is of cultural and ecological importance, and the findings illuminate new knowledge about the ecosystem services that are provided by the plant,” Ares said.

The study focused on the concentrations in soil of three elements that impact the growth and development of living organisms. In soils nearby the cycad plants, nitrogen and carbon increased to concentrations that exceeded those of soils that were distant from the plants. In contrast, phosphorus concentrations were depleted in the soils nearby the cycad plants when compared to the distant soils.

“In addition to the direct contributions of carbon and nitrogen to the bulk soils, the chemical changes imposed by the cycad plants created niche habitats that increased spatial heterogeneity in the native forests,” Ares said, adding that ecosystems with high biodiversity are generally more resistant to damage by threats and more resilient after the negative impacts.

The niche spaces created by the cycad plants provide the soil food web with a microhabitat that differs from the surrounding forest soils. These soils imprinted by the cycad plants benefit the organisms that exploit spaces characterized by greater nitrogen levels relative to phosphorus and greater carbon levels relative to phosphorus. Scientists call these elemental relationships “stoichiometry,” and much has been studied about the importance of these relationships to organismal health and productivity.

The model cycad plants that were employed for the study included two of the cycad species that are native to the United States.

“This study was apropos because the Montgomery Botanical Center is positioned within Zamia integrifolia habitat in Miami, Fla., and the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center is within Cycas micronesica habitat in Mangilao, Guam,” Griffith said.

The Florida species is the only cycad species that is native to the continental United States, and the Guam species is the only Cycas species native to the United States.

“Both research teams were gratified to successfully answer questions that were asked of the botanical denizens that have long resided in the respective local forests,” Griffith said.

Run against dictatorship in Thailand

This 11 January 2020 video says about itself:

Thai protesters hold ‘Run Against Dictatorship

Thousands of anti-government protestors in Thailand gathered in a Bangkok park in the biggest political demonstration in many years. Organisers said 10,000 people registered to join the protest called ‘Run Against Dictatorship’ which saw participants in anti-government T-shirts jog around a short course, just after dawn on Sunday.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

They ran a so-called ‘run against the dictatorship‘, shouted slogans against the army and raised three fingers, referring to the The Hunger Games films in which people are oppressed. …

In 2014, former General Prayut Chan-o-cha came to power via a coup d’etat. He was elected Prime Minister in elections last year, but critics say that those elections were unfair and chaotic. The poor economic situation further contributes to the dissatisfaction in the country.

Groups of people also took to the streets outside the capital for similar running competitions. The reason for the large-scale protest is the possible dissolution of a relatively new progressive political party.

STUDENTS in Thailand rallied in the streets today in the biggest mobilisation of young people the country has seen for decades. Demonstrations kicked off on Saturday after a court ruling earlier in the week dissolved the opposition party, Future Forward, as well as barring its leaders from holding political office for 10 years: here.

New freshwater fish species discovery in Thailand

Both male and female Garra surinbinnani have deeply grooved foreheads, marked with tiny blue spikes known as tubercles. Researchers are unsure what the function of the groove is. G. surinbinnani also has whisker-like barbels for sensing its surroundings. Credit: Zachary Randall/Florida Museum

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

New ‘netherworldly’ freshwater fish named for Thai conservation visionary

December 16, 2019

At first glance, Garra surinbinnani looks like a stout, brown minnow with the face of a boxer who’s gone one too many rounds. But the deep gash in its forehead studded with blue spikes is a natural feature whose function remains a mystery.

Discovered by Florida Museum of Natural History researchers, this freshwater fish makes its home in the fast-flowing, rocky streams of Western Thailand, a region that the species’ namesake, the late conservationist Surin Binnan, devoted himself to protecting.

Lawrence Page, curator of fishes, and his team collected the fish in the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, a pristine but treacherous area they could only access with the help and expertise of Surin and sanctuary rangers. When the team surveyed its catch, G. surinbinnani’s odd physiognomy was cause for conversation.

“In terms of weirdness, this fish is up there,” said Page, lead author of the study describing the species. “The reaction of everyone who saw it was just ‘Why is it so bizarre-looking?'”

A few other Garra species have similarly outlandish foreheads, but G. surinbinnani sports two tiny horns, giving it a “netherworldly appearance,” Page said. The purpose of the facial groove in these species is unknown: Some scientists have suggested it could be used in territorial displays or even for fighting, but in fish, these behaviors are common only in males, and both male and female G. surinbinnani have the modification.

“It could be for burrowing or maybe it’s just bling,” said David Boyd, study co-author and an ichthyology collection technician at the Florida Museum.

Museum researchers were not the first to collect G. surinbinnani, which lives throughout the Mae Klong river basin, but it was previously misidentified as another species, G. fuliginosa. The scientists named the new species in honor of Surin, whose single-minded zeal for conservation left a lasting impression on them.

“I felt inspired when I talked to him, just to see someone who felt so convicted about doing what they believed in,” said Zachary Randall, study co-author and Florida Museum biological scientist. “He had dedicated his life to protecting the forest. Even in regular conversation, his passion came through.”

Surin died of liver cancer in September at age 56.

Walking where tigers tread

Page and his team have been documenting Thailand’s freshwater fishes since 2007, honing in on the Mae Klong drainage over the past five years. The team is working on a book that describes all the fish species in the basin, an understudied region, with photographs of live specimens and distribution maps.

They were eager to take their seine nets into the remote, mountainous Thung Yai sanctuary, the largest protected area in Thailand and a World Heritage Site, but wouldn’t have gotten far without Surin’s assistance. Surin and rangers with Thailand’s Royal Forest Department help maintain the sanctuary and defend it against poachers. The undisturbed habitat is home to some of Thailand’s most charismatic wildlife, including elephants, gibbons, tigers, barking deer and hornbills.

But little to nothing has been known about Thung Yai’s fish — which is how the scientists found themselves perched precariously atop mounds of gear in the back of four-wheel-drive trucks, “clinging on for dear life” as they rollicked over the sanctuary’s unpaved road, Boyd said. Meanwhile Surin hung from the back with one hand as casually as though he were riding shotgun in a Lincoln Town Car.

After nightfall — and many stops to winch their trucks from the mud — the group dismounted to walk the final half-mile to the field station where they would sleep. Along the way, Randall’s headlamp illuminated a fresh tiger print on the path.

“We all looked at each other and decided to walk closer together,” he said.

In addition to tigers, the team had to watch out for gaur, a large, horned bovine considered one of the region’s most dangerous animals.

But after sampling streams for several days, the scientists emerged unmauled and ungored — and with at least five undescribed fish species, including G. surinbinnani, and potentially a new loach genus. Surin shared in their excitement.

“He had such an enthusiasm for what we do, and we appreciated that,” Boyd said. “He implicitly understood the importance of biodiversity. By bringing us in, he knew he would get a return on investment by learning about the fish, and he instilled that in a lot of the rangers.”

The team had heard Surin was terminally ill, but the news was hard to believe in the face of his energy and athleticism.

“We were all looking forward to working with Surin in coming years,” Randall said. “After seeing how healthy he was, we thought he had actually beat the cancer.”

A force of nature

Formerly the prosperous owner of a computer repair business and a property developer, Surin, whose formal name was Amphol Tapanapunnitikul, devoted the last portion of his life to preserving Thailand’s wildlands. He established and directed a non-profit organization, the Foundation of Western Forest Complex Conservation, which planned, constructed and maintained infrastructure projects in Thung Yai to help defend the sanctuary against poaching. The foundation also pioneered many ongoing conservation efforts, such as protecting reservoirs from illegal fishing nets, conducting elephant surveys, reducing human-elephant conflicts and starting Thung Yai’s first tiger research project.

Along with a lifelong love of wildlife, Surin had a predilection for undertaking projects others described as impossible, said David Butler, his close friend and FWFCC co-founder.

Surin, who had established Thailand’s first computer network, designed and built a radio tower system on Thung Yai’s forbidding terrain so rangers could better communicate with one another. He also installed satellite internet and constructed wildlife protection stations — even floating stations — by hand, raising the funds himself.

“He gave and gave and gave,” Butler said. “He probably knew more about Thung Yai than anyone else. He dedicated his life to it, and he wouldn’t let anything get in his way. He was more committed than anyone I knew.”

A self-described junk collector, Butler met Surin in 2002 while shipping Vietnam War-era Army trucks back to the U.S. When Surin refused to accept payment for his assistance with the project, Butler, who had noticed the wildlife photos tacked to Surin’s office walls, offered to donate to his conservation club instead. Surin readily agreed and, in turn, convinced Butler to board a truck loaded with radio and solar equipment bound for a remote ranger station in Thung Yai.

For Butler, the experience was transformative.

“I was overwhelmed by how important it was,” he said. “I saw stuff that no Westerner gets to see. On the way home, I remember being upset at how little was being done to protect it.”

Butler had no previous conservation experience and “barely got through high school,” but joined Surin’s efforts. “We weren’t scientists,” he said. “We were just doing whatever we could to conserve biodiversity.”

He recalled Surin as “the kindest, most thoughtful person. But he also meant business.”

Butler recounted a time when rangers warned Surin that a local poacher planned to kill him. Surin’s response was brash: He walked into the poacher’s house unannounced and dared him to carry out his threat. Completely unnerved, the man abandoned poaching instead.

“He was just a remarkable individual,” Butler said. “The only way I can put it is that he seemed superhuman.”

Butler accompanied the Florida Museum team on its Thung Yai expedition and said the researchers’ deep knowledge of fish was a frequent topic of discussion between him and Surin.

“It was so fun to watch the fish guys,” he said. “Their expertise was off the charts.”

One unique feature of G. surinbinnani, the researchers noted, was that while other fish sheltered behind rocks in Thung Yai’s swift streams, this species openly braved the currents, no matter how strong.

So it was with Surin.

“He was a driving force,” Butler said. “He was completely fearless and could just make anything happen.”

The project was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. CT scans were provided by the NSF-funded oVert project.

Extinct Schomburgk’s deer, really extinct?

This August 2018 video says about itself:

The Schomburgk’s Deer (Rucervus schomburgki) was a member of the family Cervidae.

Native to central Thailand, Schomburgk’s deer was described by Edward Blyth in 1863 and named after Sir Robert H. Schomburgk, who was the British consul in Bangkok from 1857–1864.

It is thought to have gone extinct by 1938, but there is speculation that the deer might still exist.

This graceful deer inhabited swampy plains with long grass, cane, and shrubs in central Thailand, particularly in the Chao Phraya River valley near Bangkok.

This deer avoided dense vegetation. They lived in herds that consisted of a single adult male, a few females, and their young.

The wild population of Schomburgk’s deer is thought to have died because of overhunting in 1932, with the last captive individual being killed in 1938.

The species was listed as extinct in the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

However, some scientists consider this species to be still extant.

In 1991, antlers were discovered in a Chinese medicine shop in Laos. Laurent Chazée, an agronomist with the United Nations, later identified the antlers from a photograph he took as coming from Schomburgk’s deer.

Only one mounted specimen is known to be in existence, which currently resides in Paris’s Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle after living in the zoo there until 1868.

From Northwestern University in the USA:

Rare deer likely lived 50 years beyond declaration of extinction

Fresh antlers from Schomburgk’s deer were photographed in Laos in 1991

September 6, 2019

A rare deer species that lived in central Thailand might have come back from the dead — without the help from sci-fi-like genetic engineering.

Schomburgk’s deer (Rucervus schomburgki) was added to the extinction list in 1938. But new evidence, gleaned from antlers obtained in late 1990 or early 1991, shows that it survived for at least an additional half-century and might still be around today.

The research was published last week (Aug. 30) in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Gary Galbreath, professor of biological sciences at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, was involved in the work.

After the wild population died out from overhunting in 1932, the last known Schomburgk’s deer died in captivity six years later. Or so we thought. A trucker in Laos found a set of antlers, seemingly in fresh condition, in the early 1990s. He then gave the antlers to a shop in the northern Laos province of Phongsali.

In February 1991, United Nations agronomist Laurent Chazée photographed the antlers. Galbreath and his collaborator G.B. Schroering recently analyzed the antlers’ physical condition in those photos. Based on the widely spreading, basket-shaped, hyper-branched structure of the antlers, the team determined the antlers belonged to a Schomburgk’s deer. (Other Asian deer’s antlers do not have the same signature basket shape.)

Galbreath also confirmed that the antlers were fresh when photographed in 1991. The antlers — spotted with dark red to reddish-brown dried blood — had been excised from the deer’s head. The color of the blood and condition of the exposed bone marrow offered clues into the antlers’ age.

“The relative antiquity of the antler specimens can be assessed by the materials, such as dried marrow, still adhering to them,” said Galbreath, an expert in Asian wildlife. “Even the blood was still reddish; it would become black with increased age. In the tropics, the antlers would not continue to look this way even within a matter of months.”

Before they were listed as “extinct,” the deer were well documented in Thailand. Galbreath believes a small population probably also lived in a remote area in central Laos, where they just might still be living today.

Releasing Asian elephants into the wild

This 2 February 2019 video says about itself:

Elephants Released into the Wild | BBC Earth

In Thailand, realising elephants into the wild is one of the highest forms of making merit.

Researchers at the University of Turku found that the presence of a maternal sister was positively and significantly associated with annual female reproduction in a population of working elephants in Myanmar. In addition, an age-specific effect was found: young females were more sensitive to the presence of sisters and even more likely to reproduce when living near a sister: here.

Asian songbirds’ nests and roads, new study

This video shows a white-rumped shama singing.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

Road proximity may boost songbird nest success in tropics

January 29, 2019

In the world’s temperate regions, proximity to roads usually reduces the reproductive success of birds, thanks to predators that gravitate toward habitat edges. However, the factors affecting bird nest success are much less studied in the tropics — so does this pattern hold true? New research published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications shows that interactions between roads, nesting birds, and their predators may unfold differently in Southeast Asia.

Rongrong Angkaew of King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and her colleagues placed 100 next boxes for the cavity-nesting White-rumped Shama in forest interior and 100 near a road at an environmental research station in northeast Thailand. Monitoring nests and radio-tracking 25 fledglings from each site for seven weeks, they found that nest success was 12% higher and post-fledging survival 24% higher at the edge versus the interior — the opposite of the pattern commonly observed in temperate regions.

“There were some special challenges involved in carrying out the field work,” says Angkaew. “When we started setting up the nest boxes in the field, we found a lot of tracks and other signs of poachers and illegal hunting, so we had to avoid some parts of the forest edge in order to reduce human disturbance to our nest boxes, which could have affected nestling and fledgling survival rates.”

Predators caused 94% of nest failures and 100% of fledgling mortality, and locally important predators of small birds, such as green cat snakes, northern pig-tailed macaques and raptors appear to prefer interior forest habitat. Fledglings also preferred to spend time in dense understory habitat, which provides cover from predators and was more available near roads.

Overall, the study’s results suggest that the effects of roads on birds’ reproductive success depend on local predator ecology — the same rules don’t necessarily apply in different biomes. Angkaew and her coauthors hope that more studies like theirs will help identify key nest predators and assess their foraging behaviors in multiple landscapes, in order to determine the best ways to conserve vulnerable bird species in areas affected by human development.