Study Finds, Caribbean Reefs Need Parrotfish, Sea Urchins
by Danica Coto
Colorful parrotfish and spindly sea urchins are the key to saving the Caribbean’s coral reefs, which may disappear in two decades if no action is taken, a report by several international organizations said Wednesday.
The report, which analyzed the work of 90 experts over three years, said Caribbean reefs have declined by more than 50 percent since the 1970s. It said that while many experts have blamed climate change for the problem, a drop in the populations of parrotfish and sea urchins is largely responsible.
Parrotfish and sea urchins feed off seaweed, and a drop in their numbers has led to an increase in seaweed, which smothers coral reefs, Jeremy Jackson, lead author of the report, said…
(read more: SF Gate)
photograph by Wilfredo Lee, AP

Study Finds, Caribbean Reefs Need Parrotfish, Sea Urchins

by Danica Coto

Colorful parrotfish and spindly sea urchins are the key to saving the Caribbean’s coral reefs, which may disappear in two decades if no action is taken, a report by several international organizations said Wednesday.

The report, which analyzed the work of 90 experts over three years, said Caribbean reefs have declined by more than 50 percent since the 1970s. It said that while many experts have blamed climate change for the problem, a drop in the populations of parrotfish and sea urchins is largely responsible.

Parrotfish and sea urchins feed off seaweed, and a drop in their numbers has led to an increase in seaweed, which smothers coral reefs, Jeremy Jackson, lead author of the report, said…

(read more: SF Gate)

photograph by Wilfredo Lee, AP

turtleconservancy
turtleconservancy:

While establishing our assurance colonies with Richard Branson on Necker Island, we were amazed by the thriving population of Anegada Island Iguanas (Cyclura pinguis).
In the early 80s, several Iguanas were taken to Necker Island in an attempt to save the species and since then the population has grown to approximately 150-200 individuals. This Critically Endangered species has been able to recover here because it does not have to compete with livestock for food and there are no feral animals to prey on it. 

turtleconservancy:

While establishing our assurance colonies with Richard Branson on Necker Island, we were amazed by the thriving population of Anegada Island Iguanas (Cyclura pinguis).

In the early 80s, several Iguanas were taken to Necker Island in an attempt to save the species and since then the population has grown to approximately 150-200 individuals. This Critically Endangered species has been able to recover here because it does not have to compete with livestock for food and there are no feral animals to prey on it. 

The World’s Most Endangered Frogs:
Macaya Breast-spot Frog (Eleutherodactylus thorectes)
Status: Critically-Endangered
One of the smallest frogs in the world, the Macaya breast-spot frog is only found on the Formon and Macaya peaks in southwestern Haiti. The species is expected to decline by 80 percent over the next ten years as a result of habitat destruction. Slash and burn agriculture and the logging of trees for charcoal are driving this loss of habitat.
(read more: Nature - PBS)
photo by Robin Moore

The World’s Most Endangered Frogs:

Macaya Breast-spot Frog (Eleutherodactylus thorectes)

Status: Critically-Endangered

One of the smallest frogs in the world, the Macaya breast-spot frog is only found on the Formon and Macaya peaks in southwestern Haiti. The species is expected to decline by 80 percent over the next ten years as a result of habitat destruction. Slash and burn agriculture and the logging of trees for charcoal are driving this loss of habitat.

(read more: Nature - PBS)

photo by Robin Moore

Behind the Scenes: First-ever Black-capped Petrel Satellite Tracking

By Rob Ronconi

Locally known as diablotín, which translates loosely to “little devil,” the Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) is one of the world’s most imperiled and least known seabirds. This species was thought to be extinct for most of the 20th century, then was rediscovered in 1963 nesting high up in the mountains of southeastern Haiti.

Since then, various expeditions have found diablotíns nesting among the cliffs, boulders, and pine forests of four sites on the island of Hispaniola.

In early April 2014, in a joint project led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Clemson University, Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic, and American Bird Conservancy, I had the privilege and pleasure to join an expedition to Sierra de Bahoruco National Park in the Dominican Republic…

(read more: American Bird Conservancy)

Photographss by Tazio Taveres and Rob Ronconi

Dog Island in Anguilla is declared rat-free

Anguillan wildlife is already showing signs of recovery after the successful removal of black rats from Dog Island.

Following an intensive five-month programme to eradicate black rats and two years of careful monitoring, Dog Island in Anguilla has officially been declared rat-free. This is the largest Caribbean island to be successfully cleared of non-native rats to protect the island’s threatened wildlife, which is now showing promising signs of recovery.

Covering 207 hectares, Dog Island is an internationally-recognised Important Bird Area, with over 100,000 pairs of nesting seabirds. It also supports lizards found nowhere else on earth and endangered sea turtles, which nest on the island’s white sandy beaches. Until recently, the island was also infested with thousands of invasive black rats, which caused severe damage by suppressing native plants and preying on eggs, chicks, and other animals…

(read more: Fauna & Flora International)

photos: Jenny Daltry/FFI/DIRP

The world’s oceans are a source of wonderment, sustenance, and, at times, peril. None of the Seas encapsulates this dramatic range quite like the Caribbean, with beautiful coral reefs, important fish stocks for more than a dozen nations, and an active yet frighteningly unpredictable seismological profile.

Legendary ocean explorer Bob Ballard led a team of scientists and engineers to the Caribbean last year on an expedition that was part forensic geology, part risk assessment, part unbridled exploration. The resulting documentary – Caribbean’s Deadly Underworld – premieres on May 18th on Nat Geo Wild, offering a dramatic, if somewhat overwrought, look at the team’s frustrations, uncertainties, and discoveries…

libutron
libutron:

Oilbirds - An extreme example of a low light-level lifestyle among flying birds
In all eye types, visual performance is a compromise between the conflicting fundamental capacities of sensitivity and resolution. The balance of these capacities in any one eye is achieved through adaptations of both optical and retinal structures, and is assumed to reflect both the behavior and the ecology of the species.
In birds, flight is considered to be controlled primarily by vision and requires a high degree of spatial resolution. However, a small number of birds are active at naturally low light levels, where high sensitivity is required. The most extreme example of a low-light-level lifestyle among flying birds is provided by the cave-dwelling oilbirds, Steatornis caripensis.
The Oilbird, Steatornis caripensis, the only member of the Steatornithidae family, is a nocturnal frugivorous, endemic to South America. Oilbirds breed and roost in caves, often at sufficient depth that no daylight can penetrate, and this must result in the majority of individuals never experiencing throughout their lifetime (up to 12 years) natural light levels above those of maximum moonlight. Within the caves, oilbirds employ echolocation using audible click vocalizations, which provide low spatial resolution, to avoid in-flight collisions although, due to a low wing loading, flight speeds are low. However, their nocturnal foraging for fruit is thought to be guided primarily by vision, with olfaction playing a secondary role…
(read more)
Photo credit: ©Robert Lewis | Oilbirds at Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.

libutron:

Oilbirds - An extreme example of a low light-level lifestyle among flying birds

In all eye types, visual performance is a compromise between the conflicting fundamental capacities of sensitivity and resolution. The balance of these capacities in any one eye is achieved through adaptations of both optical and retinal structures, and is assumed to reflect both the behavior and the ecology of the species.

In birds, flight is considered to be controlled primarily by vision and requires a high degree of spatial resolution. However, a small number of birds are active at naturally low light levels, where high sensitivity is required. The most extreme example of a low-light-level lifestyle among flying birds is provided by the cave-dwelling oilbirds, Steatornis caripensis.

The OilbirdSteatornis caripensisthe only member of the Steatornithidae family, is a nocturnal frugivorous, endemic to South America. Oilbirds breed and roost in caves, often at sufficient depth that no daylight can penetrate, and this must result in the majority of individuals never experiencing throughout their lifetime (up to 12 years) natural light levels above those of maximum moonlight. Within the caves, oilbirds employ echolocation using audible click vocalizations, which provide low spatial resolution, to avoid in-flight collisions although, due to a low wing loading, flight speeds are low. However, their nocturnal foraging for fruit is thought to be guided primarily by vision, with olfaction playing a secondary role…

(read more)

Photo credit: ©Robert Lewis | Oilbirds at Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago.

libutron
libutron:

Squid School | ©Tony Rath   (South Water Caye, Beilze)
The Caribbean reef squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea (Teuthida - Loliginidae), is tropical species of squid that is limited in range by the distribution of coral reefs, primarily, and grass flats (Thalassia testudinum).
Caribbean reef squids occurs at depths of 0 to 20 m, mostly 3 to 7 m, in schools of 4 to 50 individuals of about equal size that cruise around the reefs or about the reef flats, or grass beds behind the reefs.
Sepioteuthis sepioidea lives in the ocean waters of Flordia and Bermuda through the West Indian islands and from Venezuela to Cozumel along the Caribbean shores of Central America and the northeast of South America.
[Source]

libutron:

Squid School | ©Tony Rath   (South Water Caye, Beilze)

The Caribbean reef squid, Sepioteuthis sepioidea (Teuthida - Loliginidae), is tropical species of squid that is limited in range by the distribution of coral reefs, primarily, and grass flats (Thalassia testudinum).

Caribbean reef squids occurs at depths of 0 to 20 m, mostly 3 to 7 m, in schools of 4 to 50 individuals of about equal size that cruise around the reefs or about the reef flats, or grass beds behind the reefs.

Sepioteuthis sepioidea lives in the ocean waters of Flordia and Bermuda through the West Indian islands and from Venezuela to Cozumel along the Caribbean shores of Central America and the northeast of South America.

[Source]

Climate change likely culprit in coqui frog’s altered calls
via: UCLA
The abundant Puerto Rican coqui frog has experienced changes since the 1980s that are likely due to global warming, biologists report. The call of the male coqui became shorter and higher pitched, and the animal itself has become smaller. The study is the first to show the effect of temperature change on a species of frogs in the tropics over a period of more two decades…
(read more: Science Direct)
photograph by Dante Fenolio

Climate change likely culprit in coqui frog’s altered calls

via: UCLA

The abundant Puerto Rican coqui frog has experienced changes since the 1980s that are likely due to global warming, biologists report. The call of the male coqui became shorter and higher pitched, and the animal itself has become smaller. The study is the first to show the effect of temperature change on a species of frogs in the tropics over a period of more two decades…

(read more: Science Direct)

photograph by Dante Fenolio

Local knowledge sheds light on some of the world’s strangest mammals

by Dominic Rowland

One of the difficulties of studying rare and endangered species is that they are, by definition, hard to find. Scientists attempting to understand their distributions and the threats to their survival can spend hundreds of hours in the field while collecting little data, simply because sightings are so few and far between. To find out more about rare and elusive species, scientists often have to turn to other methods, including using the knowledge of local people.

One team of researchers did just that in 2010 while trying to study two rare, elusive, and wonderfully bizarre small mammals on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola: the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and the Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium). The solenodon is a venomous, long-nosed insectivore reminiscent of a giant shrew, but belonging to its own family. The hutia is a large rodent, shaped like a guinea pig but as at home in trees as a squirrel. Both animals are nocturnal, listed as Endangered, and represent the last two species of a plethora of unique, endemic creatures that once inhabited Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti…

(read more: MongaBay)

photos: Last Survivors and Tiffany Roufs / mongabay.com