“A lot of the time climate change doesn’t really seem tangible,” said lead author Scott Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “But here are these common little backyard birds we all grew up with, and we’re seeing them moving northward on relatively short time scales.”
The birds moved so fast the scientists had to add an extra study site partway through their project in order to keep up.
In Pennsylvania, where the study was conducted, the hybrid zone is just 21 miles across on average. Hybrid chickadees have lower breeding success and survival than either of the pure species. This keeps the contact zone small and well defined, making it a convenient reference point for scientists aiming to track environmental changes.
“Hybridization is kind of a brick wall between these two species,” said Robert Curry, a professor of biology at Villanova University, who led the field component of the study. “Carolina Chickadees can’t blithely disperse north without running into black-caps and creating hybrids. That makes it possible to keep an eye on the hybrid zone and see exactly how the ranges are shifting.”
The researchers drew on field studies, genetic analyses, and crowdsourced bird sightings. The data was matched with winter temperatures observations, and the scientists also closely studied the birds’ DNA to pinpoint the distribution of the two species.
I like the idea that climate change will create new species through hybrids.
Salmon, unable to swim upstream to spawn, at risk of extinction - species stranded in ocean awaiting water surge for migration.
The lack of rain this winter could eventually be disastrous for thirsty California, but the drought may have already ravaged some of the most storied salmon runs on the West Coast.
The coho salmon of Central California, which swim up the rivers and creeks during the first winter rains, are stranded in the ocean waiting for the surge of water that signals the beginning of their annual migration, but it may never come. All the creeks between the Golden Gate and Monterey Bay are blocked by sand bars because of the lack of rain, making it impossible for the masses of salmon to reach their native streams and create the next generation of coho.
The dire situation prompted the district to release 29 million gallons of valuable drinking water from Kent Lake early this month in an effort to lure the coho into the watershed, which winds 33 miles through the redwood- and oak-studded San Geronimo Valley on the northwest side of Mount Tamalpais. Steelhead trout, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are also waiting offshore at the same streams, but they are more resilient - unlike coho, they can often wait a year to spawn.
A collapse of the fall run of chinook, which is the only viable fishery left in Central California, would put hundreds of commercial fishermen and marine-related businesses out of work.
Winner of black rhino hunting auction states his $350,000 will help save the species. I note this is common practice outside the U.S., and animal reserves and refuges depend on trophy hunting as a major source of funding. The fees hunters pay goes towards breeding, land use/habitat protection, and education programs.
Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, the study also found. That’s 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks.
As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, some conservationists are arguing that they can garner more effective results by working with hunters and taking a hand in regulating the industry.
Sport hunting can be sustainable if carefully managed, said Peter Lindsey, a conservation biologist with the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, who led the recent study.
"Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas," he said.
The more interesting angle, from my point of view, is why conservation efforts to save the black rhino (and many other species) has failed so miserably. In other words, despite the many millions funneled from traditional conservation groups, why is the black rhino still rare? Overall, untold billions have been spent towards conservation efforts and yet dozens of species fall down, extinct, every month. So, for me, I’d like to see a shift in conservation management towards better and more effective practices. This would begin with a bold admission that efforts to date have failed.
About 100,000 bats have fallen from the sky and died during a heatwave in Australia that has left the trees and earth littered with dead creatures.
In scenes likened to “an Alfred Hitchock thought bubble”, a heatwave across the north-east state of Queensland in recent days caused mass deaths of flying foxes from an estimated 25 colonies.
"It’s a horrible, cruel way to die," a conservation worker, Louise Saunders, told The Courier Mail.
"Anything over 43 degrees [Celsius, 109F] and they just fall. We’re just picking up those that are just not coping and are humanely euthanising what we can.”
Health experts have warned residents not to touch the dead creatures amid concerns about the spread of virus or bites and scratches from bats that may still be alive. At least 16 people have been are receiving antiviral treatment after coming into close contact with a bat.
Temps topped 109 degrees in Australia, decimating some bat populations.
I’m VERY skeptical of National Wildlife Federation’s claim that these polar bears dug into the soil to cool down. NWF claims that these particular bears were over heated and needed to cool down their body temperatures. Cute, but I don’t believe it for a second! Here’s the description of these pics from the the NWF’s bleeding-heart blog post:
The heat-stressed polar bears were digging holes in the dirt, trying to stay cool by lying on the permafrost below. The photos were taken by Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. He just returned from the Hudson Bay in Canada, where he and scientists observed the polar bears. His polar bear photos are available for sharing (credit the National Wildlife Federation).
Wrong. This is exactlyhow polar bears sleep. They dig shallow holes to curl up in, hold their backs against the wind, and nap for about 8 hours.
Misleading blog posts like the above contribute to science illiteracy. The NWF should show 1) that these particular bears don’t normally sleep like this. After all, this is how polar bears sleep - explain why are these bears an exception. 2) Show the baseline data that these particular bears were in fact heat stressed. These guys look fat and healthy. 3) Show that these bears actually cooled off after their nap. In the least, show a correlation between heat stress and cooling off vis a vis digging a hole. And 4) show where and how the bears learned this behavior. After all, temperatures do swing in the Arctic. Polar bears are prepared for these normal swings.
I just see polar bears doing their normal sleepy time. And that these photos were taking from a helicopter on a long-lens, which tells me the bears weren’t actually baselined nor studied.
I’ve left a note for the blog post’s author to clarify and will post an update.