American mule deer migration, new research


This 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

A Deer Migration You Have to See to Believe | National Geographic

Researchers have only recently found the longest large mammal migration in the continental United States: Mule deer migrate 150 miles (241 kilometers) in western Wyoming each year. And it’s no easy task for them—barriers include highways, fences, tough terrain, and bodies of water. In this video by Joe Riis, a National Geographic grantee and regular contributor, see the modern-day obstacles mule deer overcome to make the migratory trek that they likely have been making for generations.

From the University of Wyoming in the USA:

Migrating mule deer don’t need directions, study finds

August 23, 2019

Summary: Mule deer navigate in spring and fall mostly by using their knowledge of past migration routes and seasonal ranges, according to a new study.

How do big-game animals know where to migrate across hundreds of miles of vast Wyoming landscapes year after year?

Among scientists, there are two camps of thought. First is that animals use local cues within their vicinity to determine where to migrate. Animals might move up to areas with greener forage — often termed green-wave surfing — or move down from mountains with deeper snow. The second idea is that animals develop memory of the landscape where they live and then use that information to guide their movements.

Recent research from the University of Wyoming has found that memory explains much of deer behavior during migration: Mule deer navigate in spring and fall mostly by using their knowledge of past migration routes and seasonal ranges.

The study found that the location of past years’ migratory route and summer range had 2-28 times more influence on a deer’s choice of a migration path than environmental factors such as tracking spring green-up, autumn snow depth or topography.

“These animals appear to have a cognitive map of their migration routes and seasonal ranges, which helps them navigate tens to hundreds of miles between seasonal ranges,” says the lead author of the paper, Jerod Merkle, assistant professor and Knobloch Professor in Migration Ecology and Conservation in the Department of Zoology and Physiology at UW.

The findings recently were published in Ecology Letters, a leading journal within the field of ecology. Co-authors of the paper included Hall Sawyer, with Western EcoSystems Technology Inc.; Kevin Monteith and Samantha Dwinnell, with UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources; Matthew Kauffman, with the U.S. Geological Survey Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at UW; and Gary Fralick, with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Scientists had long presumed that migratory behavior was dictated by availability of food resources and other external factors. Where you find resources, you will find species that exploit them, the theory went.

The UW team found it is not that simple. Without the intrinsic factor of landscape memory to guide deer between seasonal ranges, the long-distance corridors of western Wyoming’s Green River Basin, for example — exceeding 300 miles round-trip in some cases — would not exist in their present form.

“It appears that green-wave surfing helps them determine when to move within a kind of ‘map’ in their brain,” Merkle says. “The timing of spring green-up determines when an animal should migrate, but spatial memory determines where to migrate.”

The finding has important conservation implications. Because landscape memory so strongly underlies mule deer migratory behavior, the loss of a migratory population also will destroy the herd’s collective mental map of how to move within a landscape, making it very difficult to restore lost migration routes. Patches of potential habitat likely will go unused.

“This is yet another study that makes clear that animals must learn and remember how to make these incredible journeys,” say Kauffman, who leads the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, where the research was conducted. “This is critical for conservation, because it tells us that, to conserve a migration corridor, we need to conserve the specific animals who have the knowledge necessary to make the journey.”

The study bolsters the findings of a 2018 paper in the journal Science by a UW-led team that found translocated bighorn sheep and moose with no knowledge of the landscape can take anywhere from several decades to a century to learn how to migrate to vacant habitats.

Similarly, strategies such as off-site restoration or mitigation may be unsuccessful if restored habitats are not “discovered” and integrated into the memory of individuals.

The study further makes a case that biologists will not be able to successfully predict migration corridors — or optimally manage populations — based on environmental information or range quality alone. Managers will find it difficult to evaluate potential conservation actions without directly gathering movement data, crucial information that reveals the migration knowledge that animals carry around in their heads.

Moreover, the research shows that migrants can obtain greater forage benefits during spring migration using memory of a vast landscape, compared to migrants that rely simply on foraging cues in their local area.

This suggests that the migratory routes we see today are optimized across generations for green-wave surfing in large landscapes. These learned migration corridors are not readily discoverable by animals if they cannot access the memories established by past generations.

Sandhill crane with babies, video


This January 2019 video, recorded in Wyoming, USA of a sandhill crane with its babies, says about itself:

Thank you for supporting the Cornell Lab [of Ornithology] in 2018, and for caring about birds all year long. Together, we will continue to achieve so much more!

Wildlife of Yellowstone, USA, videos


This 3 August 2018 video from Wyoming in the USA says about itself:

Yellowstone Live: Behind The Scenes | National Geographic

This 3 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

We’re LIVE in West Yellowstone talking to Arthur Middleton, Wildlife Ecologist and National Geographic Explorer, about the elk migration and Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Ask us your questions!

This 4 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Relaxing Yellowstone River LIVE! | Yellowstone Live

Wildlife crossings save pronghorn lives


This 7 April 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Stunning Footage: Epic Animal Migrations in Yellowstone | National Geographic

Some of the world’s most incredible animal migrations take place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Among them are a 120-mile pronghorn migration and nine elk herds with unique migration patterns. While on assignment in Yellowstone, Joe Riis was able to capture the awe-inspiring migrations that few tourists get to see.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society in the USA:

Study of greater Yellowstone pronghorn finds highway crossing structures a conservation success

Pronghorn responses to wildlife road-crossing structures and fencing can inform similar solutions for other migratory wildlife threatened by vehicle collisions

August 15, 2018

A recently published study by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Oregon State University has confirmed that efforts to protect migrating pronghorn by installing wildlife crossing structures over highways have succeeded, in terms of the increased success rate of pronghorn crossings over time.

This work, in combination with data from the Wyoming Department of Transportation that show a 70 percent reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions after installation of crossing structures and fences, provides evidence that wildlife can adapt to using crossing structures meant to keep animals and drivers safe while allowing for continued wildlife migration.

In order to gauge a potential stress reaction by pronghorn to construction and crossing structures, the researchers designed their study to collect behavioral data when the animals approached the road. Past studies have shown that pronghorn react to vehicles similarly as they do to predators. If they react to crossing structures this same way, the crossing structures could actually negatively impact population dynamics by creating unnecessary stress.

The study titled “Highways, crossing structures and risk: Behaviors of Greater Yellowstone pronghorn elucidate efficacy of road mitigation” appears in the most recent edition of the journal Global Ecology and Conservation. The authors are: Renee G. Seidler, formerly with WCS, now the state Transportation Specialist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game; Jon P. Beckmann of WCS; and David S. Green of Oregon State University.

The research is the latest effort in an ongoing project to monitor and protect the last known migration of pronghorn between Grand Teton National Park and the upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming. This wildlife spectacle, known as Path of the Pronghorn, stretches more than 170 miles annually and is one of the longest large mammal migration corridors remaining in North America. WCS researchers have conducted a range of studies to determine how human activities and development pose threats to pronghorn and their movements.

“The take-home message of this latest study is that, while pronghorn became more attentive at the new infrastructure 2-years post construction, they also more readily used the crossing structures over time”, said Renee Seidler, lead author on the study and a Conservation Scientist with WCS at the time of the study. “The fact that pronghorn acclimated to these new structures increases the likelihood that a 6,000-year-old migration will continue, and that the $9.7 million invested in this project was a successful investment to help preserve this unique migration and increase the safety of the traveling public.”

Conducted between 2011 and 2014, the study was designed to determine how the migrating pronghorn were behaving in response to the new construction and to assess the time it took for the animals to adapt to the novel structures on their migratory route. The study also compared pronghorn preferences for underpasses or overpasses. While wildlife crossing structures have been used in other areas to prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions, few studies have focused on potential elevated stress reactions to these projects over time.

After examining data about how pronghorn move through Trapper’s Point Historical Monument — a pinch point in the “Path of the Pronghorn” (the first and only federally designated wildlife migration corridor) — the Wyoming Department of Transportation designed and built eight crossing structures across the road on a 20-kilometer stretch, including two structures at the Monument. Eight-foot-high fences were also installed along the highway to stop pronghorn from crossing on the road.

The data collected by the study authors during the construction phase revealed that pronghorn were wary when encountering the new structures, and preferred crossing the highway without using the structure, in spite of the risk of being hit by vehicles. By the end of the four-year study, all animals used the crossing structures to travel across US Highway 191. Given the choice of an overpass and an underpass, the pronghorn exhibited a clear preference for the overpass. The scientists also noted that, while vigilance behaviours increased over time, higher-level stress behaviors were low and did not increase over time.

Concurrently, pronghorn crossing success rates (a measure of how many times an animal attempted to cross the highway or a structure before they successfully crossed) increased over time, suggesting the animals became more acclimated to the structures within the four-year study.

“This study is helpful for wildlife managers on a number of levels, one of which is to provide a baseline of understanding on how migratory wildlife may respond to modifications of important migratory pathways over time”, added Jon Beckmann, an author on the study and Director of Science for the WCS Rocky Mountain West Program. “The research also can help inform mitigation considerations for migratory land species in other regions across the globe.”

The authors of the study make further recommendations that similar projects should be implemented in phases that minimize impacts to wildlife during construction.

The study was made possible with funding from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Rare aquatic beetles in Wyoming, USA


Hygrotus sp. beetle, photo (c) James

From the University of Wyoming in the USA:

Rare aquatic beetles: Species distribution models guide field surveys

June 4, 2018

Summary: The known range of the narrow-footed Hygrotus diving beetle, which also can fly, is in central Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin and one site in the Wind River Basin. The sites are small, intermittent streams with disconnected pools and contain high concentrations of salt. These streams are in shortgrass prairie ecosystems that receive less than 400 millimeters of precipitation each year.

University of Wyoming researchers are shedding light on a rare aquatic beetle native only to central Wyoming.

Lusha Tronstad, lead invertebrate zoologist with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, a service and research unit housed at UW, says the narrow-footed Hygrotus diving beetle has been petitioned for Endangered Species Act listing three times in the past 11 years by Wild Earth Guardians, an activist group.

“We have no idea how many there are”, Tronstad says of the aquatic beetle she has studied since 2010. “We do know they have been found in 12 locations in central Wyoming and nowhere else in the world.”

Tronstad was lead author of a paper, titled “Using Species Distribution Models to Guide Field Surveys for an Apparently Rare Aquatic Beetle,” that was published June 4 in the online version of the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management and is expected to be in print later this month. The journal publishes manuscripts containing information from original research that contributes to basic wildlife science. Topics include investigations into the biology and ecology of wildlife and their habitats that have direct or indirect implications for wildlife management and conservation.

Kelsey Brown, a graduate student in UW’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, and Mark Andersen, information systems and services coordinator for the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, were co-authors of the paper.

Andersen created species distribution models, using such variables as how much sagebrush cover was available; soil conductivity, or how salty the soil is; air temperatures; and depth of groundwater at the sites.

“We used thesis models to predict suitable habitat for the beetles,” Tronstad says. “Using model results, we surveyed new sites across the state and discovered the beetle at one new location.”

This aquatic beetle was first discovered by Hugh Leech, a beetle expert, in 1964. Leech was driving along old Highway 85 near Midwest, according to Tronstad.

“He stopped and sampled Dugout Creek. Voila. He discovered a new species and published his work in 1966”, Tronstad says.

The known range of the diving beetle, which also can fly, is in central Wyoming, in the Powder River Basin and one site in the Wind River Basin. A site near Kaycee is the newest location where these insects have been discovered. The sites are small, intermittent streams with disconnected pools and contain high concentrations of salt. These streams are in shortgrass prairie ecosystems that receive less than 400 millimeters of precipitation each year, much of which is snow during spring.

Roughly 2.5 millimeters long, they are predators, feeding on mayflies, midges and other types of insects. Males are distinguished by large biceps on their front legs. They hibernate in the winter and reproduce during the summer, says Tronstad, who has conducted annual surveys of eight of the 12 known sites since 2010.

Aquatic beetles were collected in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to estimate the current distribution of the diving beetle in Wyoming, Tronstad says. Three streams — Dugout Creek, Dead Horse Creek and two locations in Cloud Creek — in the Powder River Basin were surveyed in July 2010. Tronstad says the group monitored statewide in 2011 and 2012. The group visited 511 sites and collected invertebrates from 246 sites over two summers.

“I usually walk up and down the streams,” Tronstad says of her summer research routine. “I sometimes find one stream where the beetle is living or a couple of streams.”

And, how do these beetles survive in these streams, which have a high concentration of salt?

“My guess is they can outcompete other invertebrates in these harsh, intermittent streams because they’re very, very salty”, Tronstad surmises. “The salts in the water make it difficult for other invertebrates to survive. Salt dehydrates. We think they have special mechanisms to deal with the salt.”

Models created predicted the diving beetles were more likely to be found in intermittent streams with a gentle gradient; shallow water table; variable precipitation patterns; high soil electrical conductivity; and in the warmest places in Wyoming.

“These streams will dry up into puddles during the summer,” she explains. “If we didn’t have any shallow groundwater in these intermittent streams, there probably wouldn’t be any habitat for them.”

Results suggest that maintaining the hydrologic integrity of prairie streams in Wyoming is vital to the conservation of the diving beetle, the paper says.

“What I will be doing next is looking at these finer variables to find out what is limiting their distribution,” Tronstad says. “I will be collecting information on cattle grazing and oil and gas, and how that might affect the sites.”

Beetlemania: How a supergroup scuttled to world domination. Handsome, hardy and diverse, beetles are supremely successful critters with a lot to teach us – but they’re suffering from our environmental waywardness: here.

A new study by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and colleagues confirms that increasing minimum winter temperatures allow beetles to expand their range but reveals that overcrowding can put the brakes on population growth: here.

Solar eclipse, other space news


This video from Wyoming, USA says about itself:

Watch solar physicists watching the eclipse | Science News

21 August 2017

This time-lapse video shows how a group of solar physicists and engineers studying the sun’s wispy atmosphere kept busy during totality, but also got to take a look at the corona with their own eyes. In the foreground, Paul Bryans and Ben Berkey uncover and cover the telescopes’ lenses, while Steven Tomczyk, Alyssa Boll and Keon Gibson record data and Philip Judge calls out the time.

Read more here.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Crowds gather to witness solar eclipse in Oregon

21 August 2017

Thousands watch in excitement as corona becomes visible: solar eclipse.

SO EVERYONE FREAKED OUT ABOUT THE ECLIPSE From your favorite celebrities to the president, eclipse fever abounded. Check out some of the incredible photos from the event that stopped productivity for a solid few hours across the country. Fox News host Shepard Smith went wild for eclipse coverage, and his colleague Tucker Carlson delivered this gem of a line, saying Trump looking at the eclipse without glasses was “Perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.” [HuffPost]

And if you didn’t watch Bonnie Tyler sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart during the eclipse, you didn’t do the eclipse right.

The Parker Solar Probe was launched early Sunday morning and has begun its three-month journey to get closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft: here.

Mars has nighttime snow storms. Cloud cooling and speedy winds lead to rapid winterlike storms, simulations show. By Ashley Yeager, 11:00am, August 21, 2017.

Bernie Sanders wins Wyoming, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

FULL EVENT!: Bernie Sanders Wyoming VICTORY Speech in New York with Harry Belafonte (4-9-2016)

Bernie Sanders has won the Wyoming caucuses.

The victory is the latest in a series of big state victories for Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is currently campaigning in New York along with every other candidate and will be debating Clinton ahead of that state’s primary next week.

Bernie Sanders Community Conversation in New York with Spike Lee (4-9-16)

Join Bernie Sanders for a Community Conversation in New York.

You are cordially invited to a “Community Conversation with Senator Bernie Sanders” hosted at the Apollo Theater in partnership with the Manhattan Young Democrats, Young Democrats of America Black Caucus, the Urban Male Leadership Academy of BMCC and other local and national organizations.

Sanders on with 56% of the vote in Wyoming.

This video says about itself:

Why Krugman’s Latest Attack on Sanders’ Economic Plans Is Wrong

9 April 2016

Economists Bill Black and Michael Hudson respond to Paul Krugman’s latest New York Times column, “Sanders Over the Edge”.

Triceratops dinosaur skeleton put together again


Unpacking the Triceratops skeleton parts in Naturalis museum, photo by Pauline Broekema/NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Triceratops dinosaur skeletons will be together again

Today, 10:52

It was a unique excavation, in September in the United States. An expedition team of the Leiden Museum Naturalis then excavated in the state of Wyoming a whopping five skeletons of the 66 million year old dinosaur species Triceratops. Today, these bones are for the first time shown at Naturalis in Leiden. This happens when unpacking and cleaning the bones.

The researchers remove the plaster in which the bones are packed. Then the bones are cleaned one by one. Each grain of sand is removed with a dentist’s tools. The bones are prepared and reinforced to end up as complete skeletons in the museum. This precision work will probably take years. The missing parts will eventually be made with a 3D printer.

Little meat

The Triceratops with its two big horns and comb on its head is one of the most famous dinosaurs. “People find the skulls of this species quite often,” said expedition leader and paleontologist Anne Schulp in the NOS Radio 1 news show. “There was little meat on them, and therefore Tyrannosaurus rex left them alone. The rest of the skeleton was eaten by T. rex. So far, there were therefore only two skeletons of Triceratops known which were complete for more than half.”

Bones from this discovery are together five skeletons of both young and older animals. The discovery means very much for research about Triceratops, one of the last dinosaur species.

Chances are that many more bones of Triceratops will be found. In summer, the expedition team will return to dig further into the area in Wyoming.

“Already at school I was called Martijn Dinosaur”

Martijn Guliker of Naturalis can not wait until he will be allowed to work with the dinosaur bones. “It’s a beautiful big dinosaur with three of those beautiful big horns. Two above his eyebrows and one on his nose.”

As of December 19, anyone who will visit the Leiden museum may come and look at the work of the researchers. The museum has furnished a Dinolab, where from the end of 2016 on people will also be able to see the Tyrannosaurus rex. It was found in 2013 by the expedition team. The researchers hope that in 2018 at least one skeleton will be ready. Then T. rex and his main prey will be together again.

Old Triceratops dinosaurs, new discoveries


This is a 9 May 2013 video from Wyoming, USA. Triceratops fossils had already been found there. Since then, even more have been found.

Translated from Vroege Vogels TV in the Netherlands:

Triceratops did not live on its own

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 19:07

The excavation by a Naturalis team of five Triceratops skeletons in one location means that the theory about solitary Triceratops should be reviewed. This is the conclusion of paleontologist Peter Larson of the Black Hills Institute. “This changes everything. We have always believed that Triceratops lived alone and not in herds or families. Until this excavation,” says Larson on Vroege Vogels TV on Tuesday September 8th 19:20. After the excavations, the bones will be brought to Naturalis in Leiden for further research.

Unique discovery

Peter Larson is present at the excavations by Anne Schulp of Naturalis with his expedition team in Wyoming. Here a number of young and adult specimens have been found. That there are so many of them together makes the discovery unique. The bones are very well preserved. This will ensure that the skeletons will be properly mounted. Concerning Triceratops skeletons, so far worldwide only two individuals had been found which were complete for more than half. Only when the entire excavation will be finished, it will be possible to say exactly how complete the skeletons are. Triceratops lived over 66 million years ago and is a herbivorous dinosaur.

Naturalis will bring the skeletons to Leiden for further research. 2018 will see the Triceratops skeletons in the new permanent exhibition which will include the previously found T. rex.

Naturalis paleontologist Martijn Guliker, a participant in the expedition, writes about discovering hundreds of Triceratops bones, in his blog about this excavation.

Why are dinosaurs extinct? You asked Google – here’s the answer, by Brian Switek: here.

Cougars of Wyoming, USA on the Internet


This video is called Mountain lion (Felis concolor).

From Wildlife Extra:

Wild American cougars to become internet stars

Panthera, a wild cat conservation organisation, has launched The Cougar Channel – an interactive website that is uncovering the secret lives of the ‘American lion’ by sharing never-before-seen footage and photographs with the world.

The cougar channel provides an intimate glimpse into the day-to-day encounters, threats and behaviours of the individual cougars monitored through Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project in northwestern Wyoming. Placing cameras in natal dens and on cougar kills, Panthera’s scientists have captured footage of kittens playing and nursing; cougar families feeding, grooming and curiously inspecting Panthera’s cameras; and Panthera’s scientists tracking and collaring cougars to reveal how to better protect the species.

Science Director for Panthera’s Puma and Jaguar Programs, Dr. Mark Elbroch, said: “Our goal is to provide a fascinating and engaging digital experience that will help demystify this elusive and often misunderstood big cat and spark interest in preserving the species.

Cougars play a critical role in the landscapes they occupy, so we are thrilled to give these wild cats the spotlight they deserve. Finally, people can see the natural behaviors and challenges cougars face…and the conservation efforts that are crucial to ensuring their survival.”

Often referred to as mountain lions, panthers, or pumas, cougars have the largest geographic range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile, yet little is known about the species. Today, the cougar is often mischaracterized as a vicious, solitary predator, leading to persecution across its range.

Dr. Howard Quigley, Director of Panthera’s Puma Program and Executive Director of Panthera’s Jaguar Program, shared, “The GPS collars, remote cameras and other research methods we are utilizing aren’t just helping us collect this fascinating footage – they enable us to track cougar movements, identify dens and monitor kittens from an early age. These data are expanding our scientific understanding of the species’ ecology, and ultimately allowing our scientists to better preserve the future of the wild cougar.”

Cougars Are Returning to the Midwest. A team of scientists predicts that the big cat could establish new breeding populations in Arkansas and Missouri in the next 25 years: here.

Santa Monica’s mountain lions are stuck on an island, and fast disappearing: here.