Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chart of the day: What Americans do/don’t recycle


From the Pew Research Center:

blog-recycle

World’s largest animals headed to extinction


A richness map of (a) the number of megafaunal species, (b) the number of declining megafauna species, and (c) the number of threatened megafaunal species in their native ranges. Megafauna are defined as terrestrial large carnivores (more than 15 kilograms) and large herbivores (more than 100 kilograms). Threatened includes all species categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. From "    "." Saving the World's Terrestrial Megafauna."

A richness map of (a) the number of megafaunal species, (b) the number of declining megafauna species, and (c) the number of threatened megafaunal species in their native ranges. Megafauna are defined as terrestrial large carnivores (more than 15 kilograms) and large herbivores (more than 100 kilograms). Threatened includes all species categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. From “Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna.”

Driven by fear of predators, the quest for valuable animal parts [many consumed by older men in Asia in search of restoring their erections, ad appetites for exotic foods, Homo sapiens is killing off his fellow large creatures.

And without immediate action, many and perhaps most of some of nature’s most magnificent creature will only survive as stuffed museum specimens.

That action, and the money to fund it, is needed now, declares a global coalition of life scientists.

From the University of California, Los Angeles:

Preventing the extinction of gorillas, rhinoceroses, elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears and the world’s other largest mammals will require bold political action and financial commitments from nations worldwide. In an article in the journal BioScience, 43 wildlife experts write [open access] that without immediate changes, many of the Earth’s most iconic species will be lost.

“The loss of these magnificent animals would be a tremendous tragedy,” said Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and one of the article’s co-authors. “They are all that is left of a once much more diverse megafauna that populated the planet only 12,000 years ago. And more importantly, we have only just begun to understand the important roles they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.”

Among the most serious threats to endangered animals are illegal hunting, deforestation, habitat loss, expansion of livestock and agriculture into wildlife areas, and human population growth, they write.

The scientists, who represent six continents, write that humans have “an abiding moral obligation to protect the Earth’s megafauna,” or large mammals. “We must not go quietly into this impoverished future.”

In addition to their significance to ecosystems, animals such as tigers and elephants attract tourists and their money to parts of the world that have few alternative sources of income, said Van Valkenburgh, who holds the Donald R. Dickey chair in vertebrate biology in the UCLA College.

“This paper is a call for action at all levels, local to global, to halt the rapid decline of the megafauna,” she said.

The paper reports that 59 percent of the largest carnivores and 60 percent of the largest herbivores have been classified as threatened with extinction, and that the situation is especially severe in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where the greatest diversity of extant megafauna live.

William Ripple, the paper’s lead author, a distinguished professor of ecology in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, said the animals’ declines are occurring rapidly.

“The more I look at the trends facing the world’s largest terrestrial mammals, the more concerned I am we could lose these animals just as science is discovering how important they are to ecosystems and to the services they provide to people,” he said.

The scientists call for comprehensive action, including expanding habitats for the animals and changing conservation policy. The paper notes that some conservation initiatives have been successful and that, if measures are taken now, it may still be possible to rescue these animals from extinction.

The article is published in seven languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Malay, Portuguese and Thai.

Mr. Fish: Straight from the Horse’s Ass


From Clowncrack, his blog of hippomanic haruspication:

BLOG Fish

 

Mr. Fish: Thirst


From Clowncrack, his blog of dapatical dehydration:

BLOG Fish 2

Chart of the day II: Scraping the barrel’s bottom


From Gallup:

BLOG Nominees

Mr. Fish: Fireworks


From Clowncrack, his blog of sanguinary sacramentarianism:

BLOG Fish

ZomBees spread, parasite-infected honeybees


An Apocephalis borealis female oviposits on bee. After being infected by the fly parasite, bees abandon their hives to congregate at night near lights, dying after a bout of disoriented, "zombie-like" behavior. Researchers at SF State confirmed this week the first "zombie bee" discovery in the southern United States. Photo credit: Christopher Quock

An Apocephalis borealis female oviposits on bee. After being infected by the fly parasite, bees abandon their hives to congregate at night near lights, dying after a bout of disoriented, “zombie-like” behavior. Researchers at SF State confirmed this week the first “zombie bee” discovery in the southern United States. Photo credit: Christopher Quock

Call them the flying dead, six-legged critters infected by parasites that hijack their bodies and force them perform in ways contrary to their own interests.

It all might be merely amusing, except that the creature in question is essential to the reproduction of so many of the foods that we and other creatures depend on for our very survival.

From San Francisco State University

Parasitized honey bees, or “zombees,” have been found for the first time in the Southern United States, according to researchers at San Francisco State University. The discovery, made in Collinsville, Virginia, was announced this week by ZomBee Watch, a project based at the University.

SF State Professor of Biology John Hafernik and his colleagues first reported parasitized honey bees in 2012 in an article in the journal PLOS ONE. After being infected with a fly parasite, the bees abandon their hives to congregate at night near lights, dying after a bout of disoriented, “zombie-like” behavior. Hafernik and other researchers are tracking the phenomenon with the help of more than 2,000 citizen scientists who report possible parasitized bee sightings to ZomBee Watch.

Early zombee sightings were mostly limited to the U.S. West Coast and South Dakota, but the latest discovery adds to the mounting evidence that the phenomenon is widespread on the East Coast as well. Parasitized bees were found for the first time in New England in 2013, followed by the mid-Atlantic region and upstate New York in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

“The important next steps are to determine how common the phenomenon is in Eastern honey bees, whether it might be spreading and increasing in intensity and how serious it is for the health of honey bee colonies,” Hafernik said.

In order to do that, Hafernik is urging more individuals to join the zombee hunt to help researchers collect more data regarding the spread of zombie bees. He and his team have developed a series of videos to help new hunters get started, and Hafernik says now is the ideal time to get involved.

“We expect that infection rates will rise during the summer and peak in the fall,” he said. “We are already receiving reports of honey bees being hard hit this year in the Hudson Valley of New York. More than ever, we need citizen scientists to join the ZomBee Watch team, to be on the lookout for honey bees acting strangely in their area and report their observations.”

From ZomBee Watch, a constantly updated map keeps track of suspected sightings, along with updates on whether or not suspected cases are confirmed.

From ZomBee Watch, a constantly updated map keeps track of suspected sightings, along with updates on whether or not suspected cases are confirmed.

The Virginia bees were discovered by Collinsville beekeeper Lynn Berry earlier this spring. Berry had noticed bees congregating near his garage lights, but thought nothing of it until a state inspector came to a meeting of the local beekeeping club and told attendees about the zombee phenomenon. Berry collected his samples and sent them to Brian Brown, a phorid fly expert at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who confirmed that one had been infected by the Apocephalis borealis fly, the parasite behind the zombee infestations. The fly infects a honey bee by depositing its eggs into the bee’s abdomen. A few days after the bee dies, fly larvae burst out from between the bee’s head and thorax.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading