Category: biodiversity

Western governors seek to weaken Endangered Species Act

Suggested changes would lead to extinction of some species

A lynx kitten in Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Staff Report

Governors of western states talk a good game when it comes to natural resources conservation, but when the rubber hits the road, they’ve never really been willing to walk the walk.

At its recent meeting in Montana, the Western Governors Association endorsed a  policy resolution today that, if adopted into law, would substantially weaken the core of the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading “Western governors seek to weaken Endangered Species Act”

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Grizzly delisting to be challenged in court

The federal government is once again allowing politics to trump science it its decision to take grizzly bears off the endangered species list. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Species far from recovered, wildlife advocates say

Staff Report

Once again, the U.S. court system will have the final say over an endangered species decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Conservation groups say they are preparing to sue the agency over its recent decision to take Montana’s grizzly bears off the endangered species list.

Wildlife advocates say the the decision violated the Endangered Species Act because grizzlies have not been recovered across a substantial portion of their historic range, and still face threats from habitat loss, poaching and a dwindling supply of food. The proposal would hand management of the species over to individual states. Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all plan to permit grizzly trophy hunting. Continue reading “Grizzly delisting to be challenged in court”

Is global warming killing bees?

Study finds 15 common bee species suffer as temps rise

A common bumblebee visits a garden in Vienna, Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The urban heat island effect isn’t just bad for people — it’s also harming bees, according to a new study from North Carolina State University.

“We looked at 15 of the most common bee species in southeastern cities and – through fieldwork and labwork – found that increasing temperatures in urban heat islands will have a negative effect on almost all of them,” said associate entomology professor Steve Frank. Continue reading “Is global warming killing bees?”

Pesticides impair honey bee flying abilities

Nonlethal exposure has significant impacts, new study shows

Exposure to nonlethal levels of neonicotinoid pesticides hampers honey bee flight. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The evidence keeps mounting that pesticides are the main driver of honey bee declines. In a new study, scientists with the University of California San Diego showed that a commonly used neonicotinoid pesticide (thiamethoxam) can significantly impair the ability of otherwise healthy honey bees to fly, raising concerns about how pesticides affect their capacity to pollinate and the long-term effects on the health of honey bee colonies.

Previous research has shown that foraging honey bees that ingested neonicotinoid pesticides, crop insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture, were less likely to return to their home nest, leading to a decrease in foragers. Continue reading “Pesticides impair honey bee flying abilities”

More coral bleaching forecast this summer

Relentless ocean heat takes toll on reefs worldwide

Parts of the Northern Hemisphere oceans could once again be hit by coral reef bleaching this summer.
Bleaching caused by global warming is overwhelming many coral reefs. Photo via NOAA.

Staff Report

There’s been little let-up in the global wave of coral bleaching that’s been ongoing in various parts of the world since 2014, according to an update from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program. To date, the bleaching is the most widespread and damaging on record, including mass bleaching in areas where it’s never been seen before — the northern Great Barrier Reed, Kiribati and Jarvis Island.

And more of the same is expected in in the next few months as the Northern Hemisphere moves toward summer. Based on forecasts for the next two to three months, bleaching is likely in the eastern Pacific. Widespread coral bleaching with significant mortality continues in the Samoas (where bleaching of both shallow and deeper corals has now been confirmed) but is expected to dissipate shortly.

After extensive damage to the Great Barrier Reef, ocean temperatures finally cooled of in April, giving a respite to the corals that survived. Similarly, the corals around Florida also got some relief in the past few months. Get the full update at the NOAA coral reef watch page.

 

 

 

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome found in Alabama cave

A colony of southeastern bats, or Myotis austroriparius. As of 2017, the species joins eight other hibernating bat species in North America that are afflicted with the deadly bat fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.(Credit: Pete Pattavina, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)

Inexorable spread of deadly disease continues

Staff Report

The deadly fungal white-nose syndrome has been detected in a new species of bat in the southeastern U.S. for the first time.

Following winter surveys, the bat-killing disease was found in the southeastern Myotis. To date, nice species of hibernating bats have been identified as susceptible to the disease.

The diseased bat was found in Shelby County, Alabama, at Lake Purdy Corkscrew Cave, owned by the Birmingham Water Works and managed by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to cave acquisition, conservation and management. WNS in the southeastern bat was confirmed in the laboratory by the U.S. Geological Survey.

A fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd, causes WNS, which affects many, but not all bat species that come into contact with it. Of those affected, bat populations have declined by more than 90 percent. Continue reading “Bat-killing white-nose syndrome found in Alabama cave”

Can grizzlies survive global warming?

New study shows many bears still rely on dwindling whitebark pine seeds

An adult grizzly bear in the brush. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

The long-term survival of grizzles in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem may depend on whether they’re willing to switch from eating whitebark pine seeds to other types food.

Some of the bears have already started responding to reductions in whitebark trees by consuming more plants and berries, while others are still focused on finding stashes of the nutritious pine nuts, scientists said in a new study based on analyzing the chemical composition of what the grizzlies eat. Continue reading “Can grizzlies survive global warming?”