Category: biodiversity

Feds finalize polar bear conservation plan

Outlook not good as sea ice dwindles

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Can polar bears survive global warming? Photo courtesy Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Staff Report

A federal recovery plan for endangered polar bears won’t halt the threat of climate change, but it could help dwindling populations of the great Arctic predators persist in the small patches of habitat that will remain after global warming melts most of the polar sea ice.

The plan, released Jan. 9, calls for reducing human-bear conflicts, collaboratively managing subsistence harvest, protecting denning habitat, and minimizing the risk of contamination from oil spills. Most of these actions are already underway, in partnership with Alaska Native communities, nonprofit groups, and industry representatives who participated in the plan’s creation. The plan also calls for increased monitoring and research. Continue reading “Feds finalize polar bear conservation plan”

GOP tries to shield anti-wolf bill from legal review

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When will the wolf battles end? Photo by USFWS.

Republicans apparently willing to use authoritarian tools in their war on the environment

By Bob Berwyn

The GOP-dominated Congress is flexing its political muscle with legislation that would override the Endangered Species Act by removing federal protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming, making the animals vulnerable to state-regulated trophy hunting and trapping.

This isn’t the first time anti-environmental lawmakers have tried this, but what is new is that, this time, they’re trying to encroach on the longstanding system of checks and balances by passing a law that would prevent new judicial review. Continue reading “GOP tries to shield anti-wolf bill from legal review”

Wildlife: Jackals spreading into central Europe

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A golden jackal photographed in the Czech Republic. Photo courtesy Klára Pyšková.

Changing climate, shifting species

Staff Report

Climate change and other impacts from human activities are enabling jackals to spread into parts of Europe, scientists said after documenting the first living golden jackal in the Czech Republic. The mammal, native to northern Africa and southern Eurasia, was photographed by motion sensors cameras several times just 40 kilometers from Prague, according to a new study published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

“The habitat, where the golden jackal decided to settle, resembles the landscapes which these animals prefer in their natural distribution area, the Balkans – an open grass-shrubland surrounded by a forest. It is one of the warmest areas in the country, with mild winters.The observed animal was mostly active at dusk and dawn, with majority of the sightings occurring in the morning hours,” said researcher Klára Pyšková, who co-authored the paper with  a group of researchers from Charles University and Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, among them her supervisors Ivan Horáček and David Storch. Continue reading “Wildlife: Jackals spreading into central Europe”

Draft plan for jaguar recovery panned by wildlife advocates

Photo courtesy Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.
Photo courtesy Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Jaguars listed as endangered since 1997

Staff Report

Jaguars making their from Mexico back to the southwestern U.S. apparently won’t be getting much help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency this week released a draft recovery plan that puts the conservation burden on Mexico. The plan’s criteria for recovery and removal of the jaguar from the “endangered” list could be met without any jaguars occupying any of their vast historic range in the United States, according to wildlife watchdogs with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The draft was released just a short time after a second jaguar was documented in the Southwest. Between 2011 and 2015, another jaguar was seen several times around the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Another jaguar called “Macho B” was photographed repeatedly from 1996 until he was killed by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish as a result of a botched capture operation in 2009.

“Jaguars are making their presence known in the southwestern United States so it’s disappointing to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the focus of jaguar recovery solely in Mexico,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “By excluding the best remaining unoccupied jaguar habitat, this plan aims too low to make a difference in saving the jaguar. It’s an extinction plan, not a recovery plan.” Continue reading “Draft plan for jaguar recovery panned by wildlife advocates”

Sunday set: Euro-shrooms

Fantastic fungi

One of the coolest things about mushrooms is that many species are true globalists, which means they grow in many different countries, on many different continents, wherever habitat and moisture are present in the right combination. The fungi in this set were all photographed in the forests of Austria this summer, but all these varieties — either the exact same species or close relatives, — also grow in North America. Check the Summit Voice mushroom archives for more fungi photography, as well as some of the latest stories on mushroom ecology. We’re starting to learn that the delicate relationship between fungi, forests, plants and soil has a huge influence on the global carbon cycle.

Satellite mapping could help avert whale-ship crashes

Naval training exercises off the coast of California could pose a threat to endangered marine mammals.
A new satellite mapping program could help avert collisions between whales and ships . Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘No ship captain or shipping company wants to strike a whale’

Staff Report

Satellite data about whale movements and ocean conditions have helped scientists create monthly whale hotspot maps that could help avert collisions between ships and marine mammals.

Developed by researchers with NOAA Fisheries, Oregon State University and the University of Maryland, the WhaleWhatch program alerts ships where there may be an increased risk of encountering these endangered whales.  NASA helped fund the project, which draws on ocean observations from NASA and NOAA satellites. Continue reading “Satellite mapping could help avert whale-ship crashes”

Australian scientists say parts of Great Barrier Reef survived bleaching

Northern section hammered by warm ocean temperatures

This NASA photo shows southern portion of the reef adjacent to the central Queensland coast
This NASA photo shows a southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef adjacent to the central Queensland coast.

Staff Report

Australian researchers this week released results of their latest Great Barrier Reef surveys, concluding that huge swaths of coral died in the past year under the onslaught of an ocean heatwave that led to widespread coral bleaching.

In the hardest-hit area along a 700-kilometer section of the northern reef, an of 67 percent of shallow-water corals died in the last six to nine months. Farther south, over the vast central and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists were relieved to find a much lower death toll. Continue reading “Australian scientists say parts of Great Barrier Reef survived bleaching”