Losing the fight for biodiversity: An infographic

April 28, 2014

BusinessWorld infographic

BusinessWorld infographic

From BusinessWorld, a publication in India:

Even as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.

Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta

Click Here To Download Infographic

Sources: International Union for Conservation of Nature,
World Wide Fund for Nature, Ministry of Environment and Forests

Graphic: Sajeev Kumarapuram

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-10-2012)
– See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf

This would be a good poster for geography, biology, general science and world history courses. Can your drafting class print this out for you in poster format?

When all of the “coal mine canaries” on Earth die out, how much longer have humans left to live on Earth?

What hope have we, with yahoos like this leading us in Congress?

ven as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta – See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf

ven as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta

Click Here To Download Infographic

 

Sources: International Union for Conservation of Nature,

World Wide Fund for Nature, Ministry of Environment and ForestsGraphic: Sajeev Kumarapuram

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-10-2012)

– See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf

ven as India bats for biodiversity investments at a UN convention of experts from 193 countries, the planet is staring at an imminent crisis that could wipe out life as we know it.Compiled by Yashodhara Dasgupta

Click Here To Download Infographic

 

Sources: International Union for Conservation of Nature,

World Wide Fund for Nature, Ministry of Environment and ForestsGraphic: Sajeev Kumarapuram

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-10-2012)

– See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/business/environment/the-losing-world/570570/page-1.html#sthash.mmSk4DDw.dpuf


Can the Houston toad survive Texas wildfires and droughts?

November 25, 2011

New short from the Texas Parks and Wildlife people:

The smoke may be gone but the Bastrop fires of Labor Day weekend are still a smoldering concern for biologists. They’re keeping tabs on the Houston Toad. And with only an estimated 2,000 left in Texas, this endangered species is facing its next challenge as the drought continues. More on Houston toads at http://www.houstonzoo.org/HoustonToad/

For background, see this earlier reel from TPWS on the fires at Bastrop State Park:


Joy of pollination, according to Louie Schwartzberg

November 21, 2011

It’s a TEDS Talk, of course

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.  Plants do it, too, but often with the help of animals.

Here are some of the most glorious pictures of sex you’ll ever see, filmed by Louie Schwartzberg.  Anyone who has ever tried to take a good photograph should marvel at these shots, and the skill and artistry and luck it took to get them:

What will we do if the bees vanish?

The lowdown:

http://www.ted.com Pollination: it’s vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg [of Moving Art] shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film “Wings of Life,” inspired by the vanishing of one of nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee.


Evidence of evolution: Giraffe’s laryngeal nerve

October 8, 2011

One of my favorite examples of evolution and how we can see it in living things today:  The laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, linking larynx to brain, a few inches away — but because of evolutionary developments, instead dropping from the brain all the way down the neck to the heart, and then back up to the larynx.  In giraffes the nerve can be as much as 15 feet long, to make a connection a few inches away.  Richard Dawkins explains:

All mammals have the nerve, and as a result of our fishy ancestry, in all mammals, the nerve goes down the neck, through a heart blood vessel loop, and back up.  In fish, of course, the distance is shorter — fish have no necks.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula’s Sciblogs site.

Yes, the laryngeal nerve is sometimes called the vagus nerve, because it originates off of the vagus nerve.

Giraffe's laryngeal nerve, easily explained by evolution; paints of picture of an evil, joker designer otherwise.

Giraffe’s laryngeal nerve, easily explained by evolution; paints picture of an evil, joker designer otherwise.


Friday Fox, and Go vote! Defenders of Wildlife photo contest

April 2, 2010

Friday Fox will not be a regular feature — but, Wow! isn’t that a great photo?

Unless you’re the mouse.

Ron Charest photo of a red fox in the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Delaware) - Defenders of Wildlife

Ron Charest photo of a red fox in the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Delaware) - Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife called for entries for the 2010 wildlife and wilderness photography contest.  They got more than 10,000 entries, and they’ve got the top 10.  They want you to vote for the best one.  The photo above is just one of the spectacular nominees.

I predict one of the photos featuring animals will win, but the wild lands photos are great, too.

You may vote for three.  Voting ends Sunday, April 4, 2010.

Go see.  Go vote


Getting a great education that the tests can’t measure

December 11, 2009

As I sit with officials from the Texas Education Agency and the Dallas ISD discussing what goes on in our classrooms, I often reflect that the drive to testing frequently pushes education out of the classroom.

One of my favorite education blogs, the Living Classroom, comes out of a the West Seattle Community School where, many days — perhaps most days — education goes on in wonderful ways.  No test could ever capture the progress made.

Latest example:  This boy made this squid.  He had fun doing it.  He learned a lot.  Look at the excitement.

(Somebody get P. Z. Myers’ attention:  P. Z.!  Look at this squid!)

Asher and his amazing squid, The Living Classroom, West Seattle Community School

Asher and his amazing squid, The Living Classroom, West Seattle Community School

It’s pretty colorful, even for a squid, but I’ll wager the kid now knows more about squids than most Texas ninth grade biology students.  Of course, sewing squids is not among the list of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.  What Asher now knows . . . such learning would have to be smuggled into a Texas classroom.

When education is outlawed, only outlaws will have education.


Let’s go to the zoo . . . kitchen

September 28, 2009

Kate closed down Radula, and moved all her blogging to Adventures of a Free Range Urban Primate.

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to work in the kitchen of a zoo?  Kate has the lowdown.

From Urban Primate:  Just to see the scope of whats stored there, in one hand Allyson is holding meatballs. In the other, whole frozen birds . . . complete with feathers.

From Urban Primate: "Just to see the scope of what's stored there, in one hand Allyson is holding meatballs. In the other, whole frozen birds . . . complete with feathers."

The photos from that post alone would make a good PowerPoint for some biology class, or a discussion of animals in an elementary class.


Poachers kill massive grizzly in Montana

August 24, 2009

Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News reports that Maximus, an 800-pound grizzly bear thought to be Montana’s second largest, was illegally killed recently.

The poacher shot the bear about four weeks ago.  A reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the poacher.

Can you tell a grizzly from a brown bear?  Chart from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Can you tell a grizzly from a brown bear? Chart from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Update, 1-30-2010: The chart linked to above has disappeared in a website redesign.  Below is a crude representation of the chart I made from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife information sheet on grizzlies, here.

How to tell a grizzly from a black (.pdf download)

Grizzly bear/black bear identification chart, adapted from USFWS by Ed Darrell, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

Grizzly bear/black bear identification chart, adapted from USFWS by Ed Darrell, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub


Press release on polar bears the climate change skeptics hope you won’t read

August 2, 2009

Why did the self-proclaimed skeptics work so hard to discredit this meeting before it even occurred?  Why have they ignored this press release?

Take it easy! Calm down, stick to the facts! Polar bear photo by Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Office

“Take it easy! Calm down, stick to the facts!” Polar bear photo by Kathy Crane, NOAA Arctic Research Office

There is no dramatic finding in the release.  After you read it, you’ll probably wonder, too, why climate change skeptics don’t want you to read this press release:

15th meeting of PBSG in Copenhagen, Denmark 2009

PRESS RELEASE

The 15th meeting of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG), hosted by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, was held at the Greenland Representation in Copenhagen Denmark , June 29-July 3, 2009.  The Polar Bear Specialist Group is composed of researchers and managers representing each of the five circumpolar nations that signed the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears of 1973.  Since the late 1960s, the members of PBSG have met every 3 to 5 years under the umbrella of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) to review and exchange information, and make recommendations for research and management of polar bears throughout the Arctic.

The PBSG renewed the conclusion from previous meetings that the greatest challenge to conservation of polar bears is ecological change in the Arctic resulting from climatic warming.  Declines in the extent of the sea ice have accelerated since the last meeting of the group in 2005, with unprecedented sea ice retreats in 2007 and 2008. The PBSG confirmed its earlier conclusion that unabated global warming will ultimately threaten polar bears everywhere.

The PBSG also recognized that threats to polar bears will occur at different rates and times across their range although warming induced habitat degradation and loss are already negatively affecting polar bears in some parts of their range. Subpopulations of polar bears face different combinations of human threats.  The PBSG recommends that jurisdictions take into account the variation in threats facing polar bears.

The PBSG noted polar bears suffer health effects from persistent pollutants.  At the same time, climate change appears to be altering the pathways by which such pollutants enter ecosystems. The PBSG encourages international efforts to evaluate interactions between climate change and pollutants.

The PBSG endorses efforts to develop non-invasive means of population assessment, and continues to encourage jurisdictions to incorporate capture and radio tracking programs into their national monitoring efforts. The members also recognized that aboriginal people are both uniquely positioned to observe wildlife and changes in the environment, and their knowledge is essential for effective management.

The PBSG recognizes that where habitats are stable, polar bears are a renewable resource, and reaffirmed its support of the right of aboriginal groups to harvest polar bears within sustainable limits.  The PBSG noted that the population of polar bears in Baffin Bay, shared between Greenland and Canada, may simultaneously be suffering from significant habitat change and substantial over harvest, while at the same time interpretations by scientists and local hunters disagree regarding population status.  Similarly, the Chukchi Sea polar bear population which is shared by Russia and the United States is likely declining due to illegal harvest in Russia and one of the highest rates of sea ice loss in the Arctic. Consistent with its past efforts to coordinate research and management among jurisdictions, the PBSG recommended that the polar bear populations in Baffin Bay and the Chukchi Sea be reassessed and that harvests be brought into balance with the current sustainable yield.

A variety of management changes have occurred since the PBSG last met in 2005.  The PBSG members were particularly pleased that quotas for the harvest of polar bears in Greenland were implemented in January 2006, and that quota reductions have been implemented in some parts of Greenland.  Also since the last meeting, the government of Nunavut reduced the harvest quota in Western Hudson Bay because of the documented population decline.

The PBSG reevaluated the status of the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears distributed over vast and relatively inaccessible areas of the Arctic. Despite the fact that much new information has been made available since the last meeting, knowledge of some populations is still poor.  Reviewing the latest information available the PBSG concluded that 1 of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, 3 are stable and 8 are declining.  For the remaining 7 subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment of current trend.  The total number of polar bears is still thought to be between 20,000 and 25,000.  However, the mixed quality of information on the different subpopulations means there is much room for error in establishing that range.  That potential for error, given the ongoing and projected changes in habitats and other potential stressors is cause for concern.  Nonetheless, the PBSG is optimistic that humans can mitigate the effects of global warming and other threats to polar bears, and ensure that they remain a part of the Arctic ecosystem in perpetuity.

Dr. Erik Born from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources was elected as the new chairman of the group after Dr. Andrew Derocher from the University of Alberta, who has been serving as chair since 2005.

Well, there is that proclamation of optimism in the penultimate paragraph, that humans can mitigate threats to bears, including global warming.  Is that why they don’t want you to read it?

How are the polar bears?  They are in trouble.  The Polar Bear Specialist Group says we should help them out, that we can do things to save the bears.  Why would the “skeptics” not want us to know that?

Other resources:

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The Case of the Purple Squirrel

December 22, 2008

Little mysteries pose a lot of fun.

How did this come to be?

Pete the purple squirrel - Telegraph.co.uk.com

Pete the purple squirrel - Telegraph.co.uk.com

Pete, as the squirrel has come to be known, shows up most days at Meoncross School in Stubbington, Hants, England (near Portsmouth, in southeast England).

“We don’t think he is a mutant squirrel but he may have had a mishap around the school, [said Dr Mike Edwards, an English teacher at the school.]

“The old building where we have seen him nipping in and out is a bit of a graveyard for computer printers. He may have found some printer toners in there.

“We haven’t seen any purple baby squirrels yet.”

TV wildlife expert Chris Packham believes Pete will moult and lose his purple fur in time for spring.

He said: “I have never seen anything like it before.

“Squirrels will chew anything even if it’s obviously inedible. It is possible he has been chewing on a purple ink cartridge and then groomed that colouring into his fur.

“Alternatively he may have fallen into a bucket containing a weak colour solution that has stained his fur.

“Underneath there’s a normal grey squirrel who has just given himself an unusual hair colour – you would pay a fortune for that in some salons.

What will creationists make of this?

Squirrels come in different colors naturally, too.  The squirrels common throughout the eastern U.S., the eastern grey squirrel,  have a black variant in some parts of Canada and the U.S.  Some of these black squirrels were imported to Washington, D.C., during the Theodore Roosevelt administration.  When we lived in Cheverly, Maryland (1983-1987), we had families of black squirrels spotted among the grey squirrels in our next-door forest.  The two groups rarely mixed, oddly enough.

East of the Russell Senate Office Building there was an albino squirrel for several years, prior to 1985.  One friend said she’d seen at least two at the same time in the same park.  White squirrels show up from time to time, either albinos or mutants.  Naturally, squirrels tend to be either grey or reddish-brown, most of the time.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Current.com.

Resources:


Weird natural dangers: Amorous toads love fish to death

November 8, 2008

From the Scarborough, England, Daily News:

AMOROUS toads have caused the deaths of scores of fish at a lake near Scarborough.

In one incident around 70 carp, worth about £3,000, were lost after male toads tried to mate with them on the Wykeham Estate.

Manager Mike Heelis said the situation became so bad last weekend he had to cancel two club competitions.

The toads clamp themselves on to the carp’s face and push its eyes into the sockets – and, if several reptiles are involved, the carp drowns due to its gills being closed.

Mr Heelis said the fish had encountered the toads after swimming into the lake’s warmer, shallow waters during the recent mild weather.

He said: “The fish are stressed, you can tell, because they are lethargic. We have several thousand fish here and maybe a third of them had the toads attached to them. This is unnatural.”

Unnatural?  I find it hard to work up sympathy for carp, after seeing what destruction they wreak on U.S. waters (carp are exotics in the U.S.)  Unnatural?  You mean, as if the toads choose their species orientation, sexual orientations, etc.?

Nature, unnatural?  There’s a moral there, I’m sure, but neither Don Wildmon nor Rush Limbaugh couldn’t find it with both hands, or all four hands.


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