Biodiversity

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  • The ferocious dragon hunter

    Ohio Birds and Biodiversity
    17 May 2015 | 7:29 pm
    Dragon hunters, even as youngsters, are ferocious Columbus Dispatch NATUREJim McCormacMay 17, 2015The first column I wrote for this newspaper — appearing Aug. 16, 2005 — was about the dragon hunter, our largest species of dragonfly.Hagenius brevistylus, as the dragon hunter is formally known, is a brutish insect. An adult can measure 31/2 inches. Comparatively small eyes cap a beefy, broad-shouldered thorax. Long, powerful, spiny legs seize prey, which the dragonfly plucks from the air.Dragon hunters are extreme aerialists, putting on Ferrari-like bursts of speed and jagging…
  • Fighting trafficking of Cambodia's vulnerable bears

    CBD News Headlines
    20 May 2015 | 5:00 pm
    In their wild habitats in Asia, the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), and the Sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) play an important role in keeping the ecosystem healthy, by doing things such as spreading seeds throughout the forest through their faeces.
  • The Race: More New Species, More New Science

    Island Biodiversity Race
    islandbiodiversityrace
    20 May 2015 | 12:03 pm
    After a reconnaissance by me in 2000, our island expeditions began with the very first in 2001; there were 12 scientists and their students on GG I, and some of us remained in the islands for over two months. Fieldwork, especially in this island paradise goes quickly but the actual science takes time, and it is heartening that this very first expedition (of eight!) is still yielding results. There were two arachnologists (spider specialists) on GG I: Dr. Charles Griswold of the Academy and his graduate student Joel Ledford of the University of California, Berkeley (now Dr. Ledford).  Charles…
  • Consumer choice: Shade-grown coffee and cocoa good for the birds, farmers, ecosystems

    featured news from mongabay.com
    Brittany Stewart
    21 May 2015 | 5:15 pm
    The next time you order that "wake up" cup of Joe or reach for a sweet treat, you may want to consider whether those coffee or cocoa beans were grown in the shade or open sun. Choosing the shade grown variety can offer huge benefits to tropical birds, their ecosystems and farmers says a new study by Cagan Şekercioğlu published in the Journal of Ornithology.
  • Instructional Design Internship

    Biodiversity Heritage Library
    21 May 2015 | 5:30 am
    Ever since eighth grade, I've known that I wanted to be a librarian. Originally my dilemma was choosing between being a teacher or a librarian, but as my understanding of the profession has grown and evolved, I've realized that I didn't have to choose! My early interest in education and information, along with my enthusiasm in learning more about technology and visual design, led me to apply for this opportunity to be an Instructional Design intern at the Smithsonian Libraries.  Throughout this internship I did many things, but most of my time was spent creating and improving…
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    Ohio Birds and Biodiversity

  • The ferocious dragon hunter

    17 May 2015 | 7:29 pm
    Dragon hunters, even as youngsters, are ferocious Columbus Dispatch NATUREJim McCormacMay 17, 2015The first column I wrote for this newspaper — appearing Aug. 16, 2005 — was about the dragon hunter, our largest species of dragonfly.Hagenius brevistylus, as the dragon hunter is formally known, is a brutish insect. An adult can measure 31/2 inches. Comparatively small eyes cap a beefy, broad-shouldered thorax. Long, powerful, spiny legs seize prey, which the dragonfly plucks from the air.Dragon hunters are extreme aerialists, putting on Ferrari-like bursts of speed and jagging…
  • Caterpillar season!

    16 May 2015 | 7:21 pm
     On recent forays, I have been noticing caterpillars everywhere. Most are small early instars - just little tubes that are easily missed. Those that survive will grow dozens of times bigger and more meatier than they are in their earliest instars, or growth stages. The first big seasonal flush of caterpillars coincides with spring leaf out. Many of the early caterpillar species are ones who overwintered in the egg stage; their hatching coincides with the appearance of leaves, which will be their food. In a perfectly orchestrated symphony, our migratory songbirds arrive just as this…
  • Native azaleas attract swarms of pollinators

    15 May 2015 | 8:50 pm
    I had a very interesting field trip today. It involved a "life orchid", among many other interesting finds. More on some of that later, I hope. A brief peregrination into Shawnee State Forest also produced some noteworthy observations, not the least of which was the flowering of pinxter-flower azaleas, Rhododendron periclymenoides. These small shrubs were near peak bloom, their spindly boughs awash with pink flowers. Every bit as nice as the architecturally interesting flowers was the constant parade of pollinators. Here, a pair of spicebush swallowtails, Papilio troilus, battles for primacy…
  • Dragonfly in flight, and the new Canon 7D Mark II

    12 May 2015 | 1:16 pm
    A female Common Green Darner, Anax junius, at rest, showing the bulls-eye mark on top of the frons (nose). This is a large, common, and spectacular species.Last Saturday, while at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area along western Lake Erie, a bunch of us were standing around awaiting the emergence of a Kentucky Warbler that had secreted itself in some shrubs. Growing restless, I focused my attention on some nearby Common Green Darners that were dashing about. Just like many of the birds at Magee, these big dragonflies are highly migratory. Large numbers pass through the western Lake Erie…
  • Magee Marsh warbler madness

    10 May 2015 | 8:26 pm
    A tiny fraction of the thousands of birders that descended upon Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Lucas and Ottawa counties, Ohio, last Friday. Even more people were in the area the next day, which was International Migratory Bird Day. Spring songbird migration is near peak, the Biggest Week in American Birding is in full swing, and there are few better places to be if you are a warbler enthusiast.I was there all day Friday and Saturday, and a good chunk of today as well. In all, I spent about 20 hours on the boardwalk "Bird Trail", mostly working with newer birders and helping them find and…
 
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    Island Biodiversity Race

  • The Race: More New Species, More New Science

    islandbiodiversityrace
    20 May 2015 | 12:03 pm
    After a reconnaissance by me in 2000, our island expeditions began with the very first in 2001; there were 12 scientists and their students on GG I, and some of us remained in the islands for over two months. Fieldwork, especially in this island paradise goes quickly but the actual science takes time, and it is heartening that this very first expedition (of eight!) is still yielding results. There were two arachnologists (spider specialists) on GG I: Dr. Charles Griswold of the Academy and his graduate student Joel Ledford of the University of California, Berkeley (now Dr. Ledford).  Charles…
  • The Race: The Blog Returns with a Science Update

    islandbiodiversityrace
    1 Apr 2015 | 3:49 pm
    “The Race” has been silent for a while; a sabbatical accompanied by computer glitches at both sites (Wildlifedirect.org; calacademy.org) led to it, but this was not meant to signal a pause in our island work by any means! We will be returning to the islands for two more expeditions later this year. During the past nine months or so, some important scientific papers have been published by expedition members; these continue to illustrate the unique nature of the island fauna and flora. Ricka Stoelting (D. Lin phot, GGI) Ricka Stoelting was on the islands for a solid two months…
  • THE RACE: GULF OF GUINEA VIII NEARS COMPLETION

    islandbiodiversityrace
    29 Apr 2014 | 11:55 am
    Our eighth expedition has been a very different one; except for GG V this has been our only all-education mission.  Readers will recall that our biodiversity awareness program began in 2010 when we assessed the curriculum for biology in school across both islands. Then we began annual distribution of educational materials to a cohort of 2,000 third graders in widely separated schools on both islands.  These kids are now in the fifth grade and will move on to different schools next year, so this has been our last meeting with them. Below are a series of images of our activities over the past…
  • The Race: The Amphibians of Sao Tome and Principe, and the Expeditionion

    islandbiodiversityrace
    5 Mar 2014 | 1:59 pm
    The Biodiversity Education team has been hard at work on our product for GG VIII, of April, 2014.  The 2000 students we have been visiting since the 3rd grade are now in the 5th grade and will be moving on next year, so this is our last visit with them.  We have produced a slightly more technical biodiversity booklet (livreto) for each of them. This cohort represents slightly more than 35% of the island studentsin their age group.  NOSSAS PLANTAS  E ANIMAIS ESPECIAIS The Bio-education team in my Lab: Roberta Ayers (senior educator, and translation – on Skype), Velma Schnoll (Project…
  • The Race: Another New Species and Contributions from our Citizen Scientists

    islandbiodiversityrace
    10 Dec 2013 | 4:12 pm
    Colleagues in London, Drs. Simaikis and Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum, have just published a paper on centipedes that includes some very old specimens from São Tomé and Príncipe collected as early as the 1930’s.  Among the material, they discovered a new. presumably endemic species. Meet Otostigmus coltellus (left), from Zootaxa 3734 (2013). For scientific purposes, only the parts of the animal that are important for identification are published; the photo on the right  (RCD phot – GG II) may or may not be an Otostigmus but it would look something like this.  I am told…
 
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    featured news from mongabay.com

  • Consumer choice: Shade-grown coffee and cocoa good for the birds, farmers, ecosystems

    Brittany Stewart
    21 May 2015 | 5:15 pm
    The next time you order that "wake up" cup of Joe or reach for a sweet treat, you may want to consider whether those coffee or cocoa beans were grown in the shade or open sun. Choosing the shade grown variety can offer huge benefits to tropical birds, their ecosystems and farmers says a new study by Cagan Şekercioğlu published in the Journal of Ornithology.
  • Peru eyes the Amazon for one of world’s most powerful dams

    Brittany Stewart
    18 May 2015 | 3:06 pm
    Peru is proposing a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon that, if built, will be one of the most powerful on Earth, do significant harm to the environment, and flood the homes of thousands of people. The proposed mega-dam would be constructed at the Pongo de Manseriche, a spectacular gorge on the free flowing Marañón River, the main source of the Amazon River.
  • What's the current deforestation rate in the Amazon rainforest?

    Rhett Butler
    15 May 2015 | 4:44 pm
    Nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil, making it the biggest component in the region's deforestation rate. Helpfully, Brazil also has the best systems for tracking deforestation, with the government and Imazon, a national civil society organization, releasing updates on a quarterly and monthly basis using MODIS satellite data, respectively. Both the Brazilian government and Imazon release more accurate data on an annual basis using higher resolution Landsat satellite imagery.
  • The triumph of the bison: Europe's biggest animal bounces back a century after vanishing

    Jeremy Hance
    12 May 2015 | 12:03 pm
    On a path flanked by thick woods, I first spied our quarry. When she appeared, far away between the long verticals of bare trees, I could hardly believe she was there. She was a ghost, a specter haunting this winter forest. Her horns were prettily curved, her face slender, her whole 400 kilogram (880 pound) mass framed by the trees.
  • Videos reveal rare birds, wild monkeys, and jaguar family in oil-exploited park

    Jeremy Hance
    11 May 2015 | 1:50 pm
    A compilation of new camera trap videos from Yasuni National Park shows off rarely seen species like the rufuos-vented ground cuckoo and the short-eared dog as well as odd behavior, like sloths licking salt from the ground. The compilation is produced by Diego Mosquera, manager and head of the camera trap program at Tiputini Biodiversity Station.
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    Biodiversity Heritage Library

  • Instructional Design Internship

    21 May 2015 | 5:30 am
    Ever since eighth grade, I've known that I wanted to be a librarian. Originally my dilemma was choosing between being a teacher or a librarian, but as my understanding of the profession has grown and evolved, I've realized that I didn't have to choose! My early interest in education and information, along with my enthusiasm in learning more about technology and visual design, led me to apply for this opportunity to be an Instructional Design intern at the Smithsonian Libraries.  Throughout this internship I did many things, but most of my time was spent creating and improving…
  • Mars Invaders: The Wonderful World of Microfungi

    14 May 2015 | 5:30 am
    In 1897, a monumental work appeared in print for the first time. It was a story of invasion. It was a story of war. It was a story of Martians.The story, of course, was The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells, which first appeared in serialized form in the UK's Pearson's Magazine and the US's Cosmopolitan magazine in 1897. It was later first published in book form by William Heinemann of London in 1898. Written between 1895-97, it is one of the earliest stories centered around conflict between humans and extraterrestrials. An extremely influential work, it has never been out of print.The 1906…
  • The First Comprehensive Description of Reptiles and Amphibians

    7 May 2015 | 5:30 am
    Fig 1: Furcifer verrucosus (Madagascar warty chameleon); Fig 2: Tongue of Chamaeleo senegalensis (Senegal chameleon); Fig 3: dorsal head view of Furcifer bifidus (Two-horned Madagascar chameleon). Duméril, André Marie Constant. Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle complète des reptiles (1834-53). http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/31895806.1834 was a landmark year in the field of herpetology - the study of amphibians and reptiles. It was the year that the first volume of André Marie Constant Duméril's monumental work Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle…
  • Got In-Copyright Content?

    30 Apr 2015 | 5:30 am
    The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s collection of in-copyright titles continues to grow. Besides including, where possible, the in-copyright publications produced by our consortium library partners, we also digitize copyrighted titles by permission from the organizations or authors who generously sign our standard license agreement.Download BHL license agreement formWe are very pleased to announce the recent acquisition of permission from the Bombay Natural History Society, the Entomological Society of British Columbia, the Flemish Entomological Society and the Hungarian Geological…
  • Latest News from BHL

    29 Apr 2015 | 7:15 am
    So you probably know that BHL is a global consortium and that to date we have 23 Members and Affiliates plus 8 global nodes. Explore our Members and Affiliates' contributions to BHL in our latest quarterly report and newsletter. The report is also full of other awesome updates and will provide answers to your pressing questions like "What's Garden Stories anyway?" and "How can I get involved in BHL by providing support or engaging in citizen science activities?". Check it out!Want to stay up to date with all the latest BHL news? Sign up for our newsletter!
 
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    Under The Banyan

  • Snakes and ladders and tantalising figs

    mike shanahan
    29 Apr 2015 | 1:22 pm
    … an extract from the prologue of my book Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future. The figs were big orange beacons that lured me from afar. The snake was lime green and venomous and just centimetres from my face. I met them both near […]
  • A thousand murders, a thousand stories to tell

    mike shanahan
    21 Apr 2015 | 6:58 am
    Bancha Noppawong is a very rare kind of man, simply because we know his name. He hit the headlines in October 2000, in Phuket, Thailand, when he drove a pick-up truck into a motorbike and knocked the two people on it into the road. The passenger, an 18-year old woman, sustained minor injuries to her […]
  • Announcing my book: Ladders to Heaven

    mike shanahan
    5 Mar 2015 | 9:50 am
    I have spent the past ten years writing a book about an extraordinary group of plants that have affected humanity in profound yet little-known ways. I am therefore delighted to announce today that Unbound will publish Ladders to Heaven: How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future. These trees […]
  • The empty forest where 100+ bird species are feared extinct

    mike shanahan
    23 Feb 2015 | 5:51 am
    Yet another forest is falling quiet with the silence of extinction
  • Dying to save the world

    mike shanahan
    10 Jul 2014 | 2:59 am
    Jeannette Kawas was an accountant whose concept of value was broader than any balance sheet. No number could capture for her the natural wealth she saw in the forests, rivers, beaches and mangrove swamps of Punta Sal, near her hometown of Tela in northern Honduras. In the 1980s, cattle ranchers, resort developers and loggers all […]
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    Tales from Toriello

  • The lusty month of May...

    Ian Hicken
    15 May 2015 | 3:10 pm
    It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May...What a start to the month, its been extremely busy with lots of jobs to do in and around the garden. The seedlings are progressing well and we'll soon be planting beans, marrow, cucumber and squash and kohlrabi. The peas, potatoes and beetroot have been in the ground for a few weeks now and are growing with vigour but the tomatoes have just not moved, probably due to the unseasonal cold weather and overcast days. The two new apple trees we planted are doing well and have set fruit so hopefully we will have an extended season of apples from this…
  • Lizard tales...

    Ian Hicken
    3 May 2015 | 5:09 am
    From time to time you come across an unexpected sight that reminds you just how glorious nature really is. Finding lizard eggs and watching tiny, fully independent and perfectly formed young lizards eat through their protective shell was one such moment. Nestled in a pile of unused rubble we stumbled upon a collection of tiny eggs incubating in their damp and warm surroundings. As the tiny lizards emerged they gained warmth from the surrounding rocks and pavements, building up their energy to begin a life living in and around the rocks and rockery here at La Pasera. At this age they are…
  • A few photographs from Aviles

    Ian Hicken
    26 Apr 2015 | 7:18 am
    For Luis' birthday we went to Aviles and the Peñas cape. Here are a few photographs:Peace, harmony and tranquility....
  • Dear Deer...

    Ian Hicken
    20 Apr 2015 | 11:54 pm
    Dear Deer,The other day whilst chatting to friends on Skype I spotted you out of the corner of my eye from the study window about to take a drink from our garden pond. It was lovely to see you in daylight as we normally only ever see you and other members of your herd on the trailcam at night and sometimes in the early morning as the mist is lifting.With your slender frame, bright dark eyes, and your growing antlers you looked very handsome and quite relaxed given the time of day (late afternoon). You took a small drink from the pond but then moved on to the birdbath which you seemed to…
  • They're only cats...

    Ian Hicken
    16 Apr 2015 | 10:30 am
    We've had a difficult few days with Wentworth (Black) and Gawber (Tabby) the cats. About 10 days ago Wentworth came home from his daily wanderings and was obviously sore on his tail and whimpered whenever we went near him. This is a sure sign he had been in a fight with another cat during his nightly adventures. This isn't the first time he has had such problems and we are very used to the process of bite, abscess formation, localised hair loss, abscess bursting, cleaning, scab formation and healing. This time it was a bit different.After three days the abscess grew and grew, hair…
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    ConservationBytes.com

  • Dawn of life

    CJAB
    18 May 2015 | 4:44 am
    I’ve had one of the most mind-blowing weeks of scientific discovery in my career, and it’s not even about a subject from within my field. As some of you might know, I’ve been getting more and more interested in paleo-ecology over the past few years. I’m fascinated by the challenge of reconstructing past communities and […]
  • Statistical explainer: average temperature increases can be deceiving

    CJAB
    11 May 2015 | 3:30 pm
    Over the years I’ve used a simple graphic from the IPCC 2007 Report to explain to people without a strong background in statistics just why average temperature increases can be deceiving. If you’re not well-versed in probability theory (i.e., most people), it’s perhaps understandable why so few of us appear to be up-in-arms about climate […]
  • Twenty tips for writing a research proposal

    CJAB
    3 May 2015 | 11:31 pm
    This post’s title might promise a lot, but it would be disingenuous of me to imply that I could cover all of the essential components of this massive topic in one blog post. Many people (my wife included) have made careers out of teaching people how to write successful grant proposals, so I won’t pretend […]
  • Lomborg: a detailed citation analysis

    CJAB
    23 Apr 2015 | 10:37 pm
    There’s been quite a bit of palaver recently about the invasion of Lomborg’s ‘Consensus’ Centre to the University of Western Australia, including inter alia that there was no competitive process for the award of $4 million of taxpayer money from the Commonwealth Government, that Lomborg is a charlatan with a not-terribly-well-hidden anti-climate change agenda, and that he […]
  • Something rotten from Denmark

    CJAB
    22 Apr 2015 | 5:17 am
    It was just reported in the Guardian that infamous and discredited environmental charlatan, Bjørn Lomborg, who has recently been given the green light to set up shop in Australia after the University of Western Australia‘s Vice-Chancellor, Paul Johnson, extended him an olive branch, and the Abbott-oir government gave him $4 million to do so. Yes, […]
 
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    Conservation

  • The surprising shapes of mountain ranges

    Roberta Kwok
    21 May 2015 | 6:00 am
    Ask someone to draw a mountain range, and chances are they’ll sketch a series of triangles. Mountains shrink the higher you go, people assume, so montane species are particularly vulnerable to climate change. To escape rising temperatures, these animals will be forced upslope into tighter quarters, increasing their risk of extinction. But a new study
  • A new form of chytrid fungus threatens US salamanders

    Jason G. Goldman
    20 May 2015 | 5:00 am
    Nearly a third of our planet’s amphibians are in decline, but most of the attention thus far has been focused on frogs. The usual causes for wildlife decline are certainly to blame – habitat loss, pollution, climate change – but frogs also have to contend with an infectious disease called Chytridiomycosis, which is caused by
  • The monkey-flower has two faces

    Sarah DeWeerdt
    19 May 2015 | 5:00 am
    The picture of invasive species is often painted in broad strokes: plant or animal gets introduced to a new environment, explodes in numbers, causes problems for species that were already there. But look a little closer, as a researcher at the University of Stirling in the UK did, and ecological curiosities may come to light.
  • Hurricanes sent Florida lionfish swimming for the Bahamas

    Jason G. Goldman
    15 May 2015 | 5:00 am
    The venomous Indo-Pacific lionfish is a beauty, but the fearsome predators are turning the marine ecosystems off the Florida coast and in the Caribbean upside down. In their native range, the lionfish’s bite is controlled because it’s got its own predators to worry about. But in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea they swim about,
  • Wind turbines disturb prairie-chicken mating

    Roberta Kwok
    14 May 2015 | 8:14 am
    Greater prairie-chickens have an amusing mating ritual: Males gather in groups, puff out the orange sacs on their necks, perk up feathers on their heads like little horns, and call “whooo-doo-doooh”. To best catch females’ attention, they prefer to conduct their dances on open, grassy hilltops. Unfortunately, those areas also are ideal for wind farms.
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