Posted on March 8, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A Burmese python caught in the Everglades. Photo by USFWS.
Most attacks on humans may be cases of mistaken identity
FRISCO — There’s good news and bad news from the Everglades. Invasive Burmese pythons now number in the tens of thousands and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
The good news is, those pythons apparently don’t pose much of a threat to humans, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service scientists.
The human risk assessment looked at five incidents that involved humans and Burmese pythons over a 10-year period in Everglades National Park. All five incidents involved pythons striking at biologists who were conducting research in flooded wetlands. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, national parks, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Burmese pythons, Everglades National Park, wildlife | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Wolves numbers are slowly increasing in the Southwest.
Hopeful signs for recovery effort, but challenges remain
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Against a backdrop of political and legal battles over the status of wolves, Mexican gray wolf numbers have increased the fourth year in a row, with 83 wolves now living in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona.
That’s up 10 percent from last year and almost 100 percent from four years ago, according to the annual tally from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The number of breeding pairs also increased from three to five. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Mexican gray wolves, wolf recovery | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Jaguar. Image via the Wikimedia Commons.
Nearly 1,200 square miles of territory protected for recovery of native cats
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Nearly 17 years after federal biologists first listed jaguars under the Endangered Species Act, the wild cats may now have a protected area to roam in the wilds of the Southwest.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week designated about 1,200 square miles of rugged desert, mountain and forest lands in southern Arizona and New Mexico as critical habitat for jaguars — but only after a sustained legal push by the Center for Biological Diversity.
The federal wildlife agency initially resisted mapping out protected areas, claiming that the cats are too rare for habitat protection. Wildlife advocates challenged the agency’s position and a federal court rejected the government’s argument, leading to this week’s critical habitat listing notice in the Federal Register. The USFWS is also working on a jaguar recovery plan for the area. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, critical habitat, endangered species, jaguars, Southwest, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Citizen science in the spotlight
Fungi growing in redwood litter at Muir Woods National Monument. bberwyn photo.
Muir Woods. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — California’s Golden Gate National Parks will host BioBlitz 2014 (March 28-29), bringing together 300 scientists and naturalists from around the country, more than 2,000 students, including 1,400 students from the San Francisco Unified School District, school groups from surrounding counties and thousands of Bay Area community members.
Bioblitz participants will comb the parks, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Inventory activities include counting seals, documenting insects, spotting birds, examining aquatic invertebrates and using technology to better understand the varied ecosystems of these unique national parks in an urban area.
“The Golden Gate National Parks are well-loved by the surrounding Bay Area as well as visitors around the world,” said Golden Gate National Recreation Area General Superintendent Frank Dean. “BioBlitz will allow people to explore the parks in a new way, better understand the biodiversity that exists and help document and protect these amazing natural resources,” Dean said. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: BioBlitz 2014, biodiversity, Environment, Golden Gate National Parks, Muir Woods, National Geographic Society, National Park Service | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Monitoring shows populations have returned to pre-spill numbers
Sea otter in kelp. Photo by Benjamin Weitzman, U.S. Geological Survey.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — It took almost quarter of a century, but federal scientists say that sea otters have recovered to pre-spill population numbers in the most heavily oiled areas of Prince William Sound, where the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, spilling tens of millions of gallons of oil.
“Although recovery timelines varied widely among species, our work shows that recovery of species vulnerable to long-term effects of oil spills can take decades,” said lead author of the study, Brenda Ballachey, research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “For sea otters, we began to see signs of recovery in the years leading up to 2009, two decades after the spill, and the most recent results from 2011 to 2013 are consistent with recovery as defined by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.”
Several thousand otters died in the immediate aftermath of the spill, and recovery was slow. Scientists monitoring the area say chronic exposure to oil remnants likely hampered recovery. Other studies documented persistence of oil in the sea otter’s intertidal feeding habitats. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, Exxon Valdez, Oil spill, Prince William Sound, sea otters | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
‘We need to act fast to make sure as much of the world’s living resources survive that change …’
Shifting global temperatures are drive a climate-induced migration.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — An international team of researchers have published new global maps showing how fast and in which direction local climates are shifting, and how those changes could affect global biodiversity.
As climate change unfolds over the next century, plants and animals will need to adapt or shift locations to track their ideal climate.
“The maps show areas where plants and animals may struggle to find a new home in a changing climate and provide crucial information for targeting conservation efforts,” said Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) researcher Dr. Elvira Poloczanska. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, climate change impacts, climate refugees | 4 Comments »
Posted on February 14, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New satellite technology could help biologists getter more accurate estimates of whale populations NOAA photo.
New method could help with marine mammal conservation planning
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After using satellite images to discover new emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica, scientists with the British Antarctic Survey said they’ve also been able to use similar technology to count whales.
Marine mammals are extremely difficult to count on a large scale and traditional methods, such as counting from platforms or land, can be costly and inefficient, so the new method could lead to breakthroughs in estimating populations of whales and other marine mammals. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, conservation, marine mammals, oceans, whales | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 13, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Long-line fishing still seen as key threat
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Efforts to protect leatherback sea turtles urgently require better communication between scientists and fisheries managers, a team of researchers said after analyzing satellite data on sea turtle migration.
The last large populations of the leatherback turtle are at risk because their migratory routes in the Atlantic Ocean clash with the locations of industrial fisheries, according to the study.
The researchers used data from satellite transmitters attached to the turtles to track their movements across the Atlantic Ocean. These movements were then overlapped with information on high pressure fishing areas to identify where the turtles are most susceptible to becoming entangled and where they may drown.
The international study was jointly led by Dr. Matthew Witt, of the University of Exeter and Dr, Sabrina Fossette, of Swansea University, found that urgent international efforts are needed to protect the iconic species. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, leatherback sea turtles, marine conservation, oceans | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 9, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Recovery stakeholders find permanent sources of water to sustain needed late summer and autumn flows
Endangered Colorado River Fish will benefit from permanent sources of water earmarked for a collaborative recovery effort. Click on the image to visit the recovery project website.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Four endangered native fish species in the Upper Colorado River may have a little better chance a long-term survival, as stakeholders in a collaborative recovery program found permanent sources of water needed to protect aquatic habitat for the the fish.
Water previously provided from Williams Fork and Wolford reservoirs to benefit endangered fish recovery has been replaced with permanent sources at a cost of about $25 million. The water will come from Ruedi Reservoir (5,412.5 acre-feet) and from Granby Reservoir (5,412.5 acre-feet). The releases from Granby Reservoir will also benefit flow conditions and water quality upstream of endangered fish habitat. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: biodiversity, Bonytail chub, Colorado Pikeminnow, Colorado River, Colorado River native fish, endangered species, humpback chub, razorback sucker | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 8, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Scientists find flaws in federal plan to take wolves off the Endangered Species List. Photo courtesy USFWS.
USFWS reopens comment period on controversial proposal
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A federal plan to take gray wolves off the endangered species list hit a snag last week, as an independent review panel raised questions about the scientific rationale for the plan.
Specifically, the reviewers questioned whether U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists used the best available science when they developed the delisting proposal. Part of the criticism hinged on the fact that the agency relied heavily on one single report that may have omitted some key information, and included fundamental flaws about the taxonomy and genetic differentiation of wolves. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gray wolves, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife | Leave a comment »