Male Frog Extracts and Fertilises Eggs From Dead Female
by Ed Yong
For a small Amazonian frog called Rhinella proboscidea, death is no impediment to sex. The males form huge mating balls in which dozens of individuals compete to fertilise a female. These competitions are so intense, and the combined males so heavy, that the poor female sometimes drowns in the struggle.
But for the males, that’s not a deal-breaker. Thiago Izzo from Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research has found that the males can force the eggs from the bodies of the deceased female, and fertilise them. It’s a unique strategy and one that effectively involves sexual reproduction with a dead partner. Izzo calls “functional necrophilia”.
R.proboscidea is a small frog that looks like a dead leaf, right down to its pointed snout, its brown colour and the central white ‘vein’ running down its back. But its camouflage breaks down when it’s time to mate. Hundreds of males gather at breeding sites for just two to three days and when any female shows up, there’s intense competition for her attention. This strategy is called “explosive breeding” and it’s as violent as it sounds. Males wrestle for mating rights, and will try to displace any rivals that have actually found a female. The result is a large mating ball with a female at its bottom. She often drowns…
RARE WILDLIFE CAUGHT ON CAMERA - The Short Eared Dog
This video shows a very rare encounter. The short eared dog (Atelocynus microtis), aka short-eard fox (though it isnt a fox), is one of the least understood mammals on Earth. How many of them are there? Where do they live and how? These are questions that still remain largely unanswered. In a ten year study, researchers from Duke university visited an incredibly remote region of jungle to study the short eared fox (or dog) and only were able to trap five individuals in ten years. Handheld footage of wild individuals is virtually non-existent.
Amazon explorer films shocking wildlife bonanza in threatened forest
Watching a new video by Amazon explorer, Paul Rosolie, one feels transported into a hidden world of stalking jaguars, heavyweight tapirs, and daylight-wandering giant armadillos. This is the Amazon as one imagines it as a child: still full of wild things. In just four weeks at a single colpa (or clay lick where mammals and birds gather) on the lower Las Piedras River, Rosolie and his team captured 30 Amazonian species on video, including seven imperiled species. However, the very spot Rosolie and his team filmed is under threat: the lower Las Piedras River is being infiltrated by loggers, miners, and farmers following the construction of the Trans-Amazon highway…
Over 14,000 lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris), also known as Brazilian tapirs, roam an Amazonian landscape across Bolivia and Peru, according to new research by scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Using remote camera trapping, thousands of distribution records, and interviews, the researchers estimated the abundance of lowland tapirs in the Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape Conservation Program made up of three national parks in Bolivia (Madidi, Pilón Lajas and Apolobamba) and two in Peru (Tambopata and Bahuaja Sonene).
“The Madidi-Tambopata landscape is estimated to hold a population of at least 14,500 lowland tapirs making it one of the most important strongholds for lowland tapir conservation in the continent,” said lead author Robert Wallace. “These results underline the fundamental importance of protected areas for the conservation of larger species of wildlife threatened by hunting and habitat loss.”
This is great news for a species that is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, and remains hugely imperiled by habitat loss, poaching, bushmeat hunting, and competition with livestock…
Possible new species of spider found that builds fake spider decoys
by Bob Yirka
While traveling with a group of researchers in the Amazon rain forest this past September, biologist Phil Torres came upon a type of spider he’d never seen before. Upon closer inspection, it turned out the spider wasn’t a spider at all, but a decoy created by a real spider. He documents the find in a blog post for Rainforest Expeditions.
In consulting with experts in the field, Torres has come to believe that the tiny striped spider is a member of the genus Cyclosa, which are known for adding material to their nests to either attract prey or hide from predators. In this case, it appears the spider has developed a special skill to help it avoid being eating by paper wasps…
Seeing the Amazon in a new light will help to save it
by Joanna Carver
No, this isn’t a candy forest. This is the Peruvian Amazon as seen by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), an instrument-laden aircaft that is mapping tropical ecology in unprecedented detail.
The plane carries the Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System, or AToMS, which uses an imaging spectrometer that engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, helped to build. It detects chemical signals and recognises the signatures of plant species, while a laser-ranging system draws up a 3D model of the landscape below. The CAO can reach every tropical region on the planet and scan 50,000 hectares a day.
“It’s like taking an X-ray of an entire landscape, plant by plant, and each tiny hill,” said Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science. “We can see how just a 1- or 2-foot change in ground elevation can create a new habitat for rainforest species, with measurable effects on the rainforest biomass. AToMS consistently reveals something we didn’t know, and often many things we had never considered.”…
(read more: New Scientist) (Images: Carnegie Airborne Observatory)
Widespread Devastation Found in 2010 Amazon Megadrought
by Eli Kintisch
A megadrought that struck the Amazon in 2010 devastated millions of hectares of the rainforest, new data presented here suggest. The results shed new light on a scientific debate over the effects of such recent climatic events.
Initial data released today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union indicate that as many as one in 25 trees died in areas with the most severe water scarcity. The findings also suggest that previous techniques using satellites to measure drought stress in rainforests may be missing dire impacts of a warming global climate, which many scientists believe will cause more droughts in those critical habitats.
“To say the effects were severe is putting it lightly,” says forest ecologist Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Palo Alto, California, who led the research. Asner runs the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, which scans the forest from a slow-flying plane 2000 meters above the treetops. The $11 million scanner measures the shape and chemical signatures of the forest using lidar and a spectrometer, allowing scientists to identify individual tree species, determine their health, and measure their size and mass precisely—all from the air. The 2010 drought followed a similarly severe one in 2005 and a less intense one in 2007. “The whole system is stressed out and falling apart,” Asner says...
The Amazon river is not the most relaxing of places, but these water repellent balls of fluff brave rapid flowing water in their first few months of life. Watch these cute baby birds as they face the unknown jungle.