Posted on October 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can a recovery plan save rare yellow-legged frogs in California? Photo courtesy Adam Backlin, USGS.
Critical habitat designation and active restoration efforts could bolster populations
FRISCO — After 12 years on the endangered species list, a dwindling population of California frogs will finally get some much-needed attention from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Under a settlement agreement reached last week, the agency will develop a recovery plan for Southern California’s mountain yellow-legged frogs by December 2018
“I’m so glad these severely endangered frogs will finally get a recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center of Biological Diversity attorney and biologists dedicated to protecting rare amphibians and reptiles. “Recovery plans really need to be developed soon after species are protected, because they give us a roadmap of exactly what we need to do to ensure those species won’t go extinct.”
There are only nine known populations of the frogs, all living in isolated headwaters streams where they rely on snowmelt and freshwater springs for habitat. Most of the frogs were wiped out by the introduction of non-native trout, and habitat degradation is another factor in their decline. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: amphibian decline, biodiversity, endangered species, yellow-legged frogs | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Trawl nets grab any and all forms of marine life, laying waste to the ocean floor. The total area bottom trawled is nearly 150 times the area of forest that is clearcut annually around the world.
Credit: Sarah Foster
Focus on large commercial fishing operations misses big part of the picture
FRISCO — Ignoring small-scale fisheries risks irreversible harm to ocean ecosystems, scientists warned this week, calling for on governments to adopt new models for regulating small coastal fishing operations that account for about 90 percent of the world’s fishers — about 100 million strong.
Most of those fishermen depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and many catch fish and other marine animals at unsustainable levels. Governments, conservationists, and researchers around the world must address the enormous threat posed by these unregulated and destructive fisheries, marine scientists wrote in Science. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Environment, oceans, overfishing, sustainable fishing, trawl net fishing | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Invasive species a huge threat to sparse ecosystems, scientists report
Tourists on Dundee Island hike past birds and pinnipeds. bberwyn photo
Tourists hiking on Deception Island. bberwyn photo
FRISCO — The tiny ice-free fringes of Antarctica are especially prone to ecosystem disruption, including invasive species, an Australian science team warned earlier this year after taking a close look at how human use is concentrated in those slivers of dry land.
Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and more and more research facilities are being built in the continent’s tiny ice-free area. Most of the Antarctic wildlife and plants live in the ice-free areas – and this is also where people most visit.
Most tour operators in Antarctica follow strict guidelines set to protect ecosystems, including at least basic decontamination procedures, but those measures might not be enough, especially as global warming makes ice-free zones more susceptible to invasive species. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, Environment, global warming, tourism | Tagged: Antarctica, Antarctica protected areas, Environment, invasive species, Tourism, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Yet another study describes cascading ecological impacts of declining predator populations.
Plant communities change as herbivoves spread
FRISCO — The global decline of large predators is leading to a loss of plant and tree diversity, scientists said after studying ecosystem changes in Africa. Recent research shows more than 75 percent of the world’s large carnivore species are in decline, with 17 of those species occupying less than half of their historical distributions.
The research by University of British Columbia zoologist Adam Ford and his colleagues involved tracking Africal impalas with GPS units to see how they respond to the presence (and absence) of predators, specifically whether the predators scare impala so much that impala will avoid areas where they are likely to be killed. They combined the tracking data with a high-resolution satellite image of tree cover and located carcasses to determine where impala are being killed. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, predator decline, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Cardinals have become more common in the Northeast.
‘Climate change should not be viewed as the sole driver of changes in winter bird communities, but this signal is a pretty strong one for climate change’
FRISCO — Global warming is reshaping backyard bird communities in eastern North America, as once-rare birds are now common in the Northeast.
Cardinals, chipping sparrows and other warm-adapted species have greatly expanded their wintering range in a warmer world, a change that may have untold consequences for North American ecosystems, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife biologists Benjamin Zuckerberg and Karine Princé.
In a new paper published in Global Change Biology, Zuckerberg and Princé analyzed more than two decades of data on 38 species of birds gathered by thousands of citizen scientists through the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch. They found that birds typically found in more southerly regions are gradually pushing north, restructuring the communities of birds that spend their winters in northern latitudes. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, birdwatching, climate change, global warming, Project FeederWatch, wildlifeeder | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 13, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Wolverine habitat in the western U.S.
Groups say federal agency erred by denying Endangered Species Act protection
FRISCO — Wildlife advocates are once again heading to federal court to seek Endangered Species Act protection for rare wolverines, a species deemed as vulnerable to global warming because of its dependence on deep spring snow cover for denning and breeding.
Wolverines live in small numbers mainly in the northern Rocky Mountains. The wide-ranging mammals were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near-extinction during the settlement era, and now face a climate whammy that could melt the big snowbanks they need for reproduction.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed an endangered species listing in 2013 in a rule supported by the agency’s own scientific reports and by independent review panels, but then reversed course in May 2014, asserting that climate models are not accurate enough to pinpoint threats to wolverine habitat. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Conservation biology, endangered species, global warming, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wolverines | 1 Comment »