The threat of traditional medicine:

China’s boom may mean doom for turtles

by Erin Crandall

For thousands of years turtles have been used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments and diseases. Originally published in the journal Radiata and recently republished HerpDigest David S. Lee and Liao Shi Kun write, “[In Chinese culture] turtles are symbolic of long life, personal wealth, fertility, strength, and happy households.”

Despite a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating a causative link between turtle consumption and medicinal benefits, many people in China believe they provide benefits such as maintaining youthful beauty in women and improving sexual function in men.

Because of these beliefs and their symbolic importance, turtles have been highly sought after for more than 3,000 years. However, in recent years, China’s economy has changed in a way that has become increasingly threatening to the country’s wild turtle populations…

(read more: MongaBay)

photos: Chinese three-striped box turtle (Cuora trifasciata), critically endangered -  by Torsten Blanck; Reeves’ turtle (Mauremys reevesii) by O’Shea et al.

Just as you rely on wild places to rejuvenate and restore you, those places rely on you to keep them in good condition.

Even if you are aware of the basic notion of “pack it in, pack it out,” leaving no trace can often entail some details you might not think of. So that you can be mindful of all they ways you can impact the wild places you visit, here are some tips based on the seven Leave No Trace principles…

dendroica
dendroica:

Once-Common Marine Birds Disappearing from Our Coast (in Washington State)

Bird surveys like this and others done by plane are tracking a significant ecological shift in our region — a major decline in once-abundant marine birds. From white-winged scoters and surf scoters to long-tailed ducks, murres, loons and some seagulls, the number of everyday marine birds here has plummeted dramatically in recent decades.
Scoters are down more than 75 percent from what they were in the late 1970s. Murres have dropped even more. Western grebes have mostly vanished, falling from several hundred thousand birds to about 20,000.
The reasons often vary — from climate change and shoreline development to marine pollution and the rebound of predators such as bald eagles.
But several new studies now also link many dwindling marine bird populations to what they eat — especially herring, anchovies, sand lance and surf smelt, the tiny swimmers often dubbed forage fish…

(read more: The Seattle Times)

dendroica:

Once-Common Marine Birds Disappearing from Our Coast (in Washington State)

Bird surveys like this and others done by plane are tracking a significant ecological shift in our region — a major decline in once-abundant marine birds. From white-winged scoters and surf scoters to long-tailed ducks, murres, loons and some seagulls, the number of everyday marine birds here has plummeted dramatically in recent decades.

Scoters are down more than 75 percent from what they were in the late 1970s. Murres have dropped even more. Western grebes have mostly vanished, falling from several hundred thousand birds to about 20,000.

The reasons often vary — from climate change and shoreline development to marine pollution and the rebound of predators such as bald eagles.

But several new studies now also link many dwindling marine bird populations to what they eat — especially herring, anchovies, sand lance and surf smelt, the tiny swimmers often dubbed forage fish…

(read more: The Seattle Times)

moonstonebeginning
moonstonebeginning:

Bee Watering Station:
A great addition to your garden or back yard 
Bees need water just like we do but often times drown in open water. To make a bee watering station you can either do what is shown in the photo above and fill the bowl of a dog/cat watering jug with stones or you can fill a small dish with marbles and add water to that. That way the bees have something to land on!

moonstonebeginning:

Bee Watering Station:

A great addition to your garden or back yard 

Bees need water just like we do but often times drown in open water. To make a bee watering station you can either do what is shown in the photo above and fill the bowl of a dog/cat watering jug with stones or you can fill a small dish with marbles and add water to that. That way the bees have something to land on!

The Asian leaf turtle, Cyclemys dentata, is a species of turtle found in Southeast Asia. They are quite common in the pet trade, and because of this (as well as other factors), their numbers have decreased in the wild. It is an omnivorous species that will feed upon anything from vegetation, fish, insects, worms and even scavenge on carcasses.photograph by Bruce Rhind 
(via: 1stopbrunei Wildlife)

The Asian leaf turtle, Cyclemys dentata, is a species of turtle found in Southeast Asia. They are quite common in the pet trade, and because of this (as well as other factors), their numbers have decreased in the wild. It is an omnivorous species that will feed upon anything from vegetation, fish, insects, worms and even scavenge on carcasses.

photograph by Bruce Rhind

(via: 1stopbrunei Wildlife)

Zoo Helping Reintroduce Rare California Turtle Species
by Chris Jennewein
The San Diego Zoo is working with state and federal scientists to reintroduce a rare turtle species into a local ecological preserve and monitor their progress via tiny radio transmitters.
Five juvenile western pond turtles were released into the Sycuan Peak Ecological Reserve on Thursday by a team of federal, state and zoo scientists. The turtles are part of a “headstart” program which involves raising hatchlings at the zoo to a large enough size to give them a chance of fending off natural predators.
The turtles are sporting miniature radio transmitters applied with a flexible silicone sealant, which allows the young turtles’ shells to grow and expand, even with the transmitter device attached to it…
(read more: Times of San Diego)
Photograph by Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

Zoo Helping Reintroduce Rare California Turtle Species

by Chris Jennewein

The San Diego Zoo is working with state and federal scientists to reintroduce a rare turtle species into a local ecological preserve and monitor their progress via tiny radio transmitters.

Five juvenile western pond turtles were released into the Sycuan Peak Ecological Reserve on Thursday by a team of federal, state and zoo scientists. The turtles are part of a “headstart” program which involves raising hatchlings at the zoo to a large enough size to give them a chance of fending off natural predators.

The turtles are sporting miniature radio transmitters applied with a flexible silicone sealant, which allows the young turtles’ shells to grow and expand, even with the transmitter device attached to it…

(read more: Times of San Diego)

Photograph by Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

Removing Just a Few Trees Can Lower Tropical Animal Biodiversity
Selective logging can halve the number of species of mammals and amphibians in a forest
by Sarah Zielinski

It’s easy to understand how the clear-cutting of vast tracts of tropical forest might be bad. After all, the loss of all those trees is bound to also take out many of the animals that made that forest their home. So selective logging—in which just at most 20 trees are removed from a single hectare of land (10,000 square meters, about the size of two football fields)—would seem to be a no-brainer improvement.
But a new study published today in Current Biology is adding to evidence that this type of timber removal can still be destructive. Zuzana Burivalova of ETH Zurich and colleagues found that taking out just three or four trees in a hectare of tropical forest can halve the number of mammal species present. Logging six or seven trees can do the same to amphibians…
(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)
photo:This toad, Dendrophryniscus sp., lives in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. (© TIAGO QUEIROZ/dpa/Corbis)

Removing Just a Few Trees Can Lower Tropical Animal Biodiversity

Selective logging can halve the number of species of mammals and amphibians in a forest

by Sarah Zielinski

It’s easy to understand how the clear-cutting of vast tracts of tropical forest might be bad. After all, the loss of all those trees is bound to also take out many of the animals that made that forest their home. So selective logging—in which just at most 20 trees are removed from a single hectare of land (10,000 square meters, about the size of two football fields)—would seem to be a no-brainer improvement.

But a new study published today in Current Biology is adding to evidence that this type of timber removal can still be destructive. Zuzana Burivalova of ETH Zurich and colleagues found that taking out just three or four trees in a hectare of tropical forest can halve the number of mammal species present. Logging six or seven trees can do the same to amphibians…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

photo:This toad, Dendrophryniscus sp., lives in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. (© TIAGO QUEIROZ/dpa/Corbis)

Getting Wildlife (Safely) to the Other Side of the Road

by Jane Kirchner

More and more, mountain lions are tragically being injured or killed on the heavily-trafficked roads outside Los Angeles that cut through their mountain habitat. And as sprawling development consumes significant portions of the remaining green spaces in our country’s largest metropolitan areas, wildlife habitat is becoming increasingly fragmented by roads.

But fortunately, there are ways to help animals safely avoid traffic through the creation of wildlife overpasses or tunnels.  Here are a few of our favorites that are providing safe crossings for wildlife! …

(read more: National Wildlife Federation)

photographs: Parks Canada, Parks Australia, and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Explainer: What are endocrine disruptors?
Some chemicals can mimic hormones, and in doing so wrongly turn on or off important bodily processes
by Janet Raloff
Hormones are like the managers of the body’s organs and other tissues. These chemicals order cells — from your head to your toes — to switch on or off some particular activity. The brain usually coordinates the release of hormones, sending these managers to a particular job site when it’s time for work to begin. But sometimes industrial chemicals and pollutants can mimic these managers. When such imposters enter the body, they can alter when or how an organism develops, what it looks like — even whether it gets some disease.
Toxicologists — the scientists who study the action of poisons — have begun referring to these hormone mimics as endocrine disruptors. That’s because the endocrine system releases hormones. And these chemicals fake out the normal players in this system…
(read more: ScienceNews for Students)
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photo: Scientists raised this species of frog in water tainted with what the U.S. government considers acceptable levels of the weed killer atrazine. Males sometimes underwent a dramatic change — into apparent females. The pollutant had acted on them like a hormone. (by Furryscaly/Flickr)

Explainer: What are endocrine disruptors?

Some chemicals can mimic hormones, and in doing so wrongly turn on or off important bodily processes

by Janet Raloff

Hormones are like the managers of the body’s organs and other tissues. These chemicals order cells — from your head to your toes — to switch on or off some particular activity. The brain usually coordinates the release of hormones, sending these managers to a particular job site when it’s time for work to begin. But sometimes industrial chemicals and pollutants can mimic these managers. When such imposters enter the body, they can alter when or how an organism develops, what it looks like — even whether it gets some disease.

Toxicologists — the scientists who study the action of poisons — have begun referring to these hormone mimics as endocrine disruptors. That’s because the endocrine system releases hormones. And these chemicals fake out the normal players in this system…

(read more: ScienceNews for Students)

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photo: Scientists raised this species of frog in water tainted with what the U.S. government considers acceptable levels of the weed killer atrazine. Males sometimes underwent a dramatic change — into apparent females. The pollutant had acted on them like a hormone. (by Furryscaly/Flickr)

Citizen Scientists Saving Snow Leopards
Nomadic herders work to help an endangered species and conserve Asia’s High Mountains
by Sara Ruggiero
Atop the windy, frozen steppes of Mongolia’s Khar Us Lake National Park, Byambatsooj guides his herd through the rocky canyons of Khovd Aimag’s Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain. An outsider might think he is lost or wandering aimlessly.
But Byambatsooj knows the mountain inside and out: every cliff and spring, where to find each kind of plant, and the locations favored by rare species like argali (the Asiatic bighorn sheep), Siberian ibex, and Altai snowcock, the primary diet of local snow leopards.
This knowledge, combined with his respect for snow leopards—the spotted phantoms of the mountains—makes him the ideal “citizen scientist,” able to put his skills and passion to use protecting the grasslands and mountain both he and the snow leopard call home…
(read more: World Wildlife Fund)

Citizen Scientists Saving Snow Leopards

Nomadic herders work to help an endangered species and conserve Asia’s High Mountains

by Sara Ruggiero

Atop the windy, frozen steppes of Mongolia’s Khar Us Lake National Park, Byambatsooj guides his herd through the rocky canyons of Khovd Aimag’s Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain. An outsider might think he is lost or wandering aimlessly.

But Byambatsooj knows the mountain inside and out: every cliff and spring, where to find each kind of plant, and the locations favored by rare species like argali (the Asiatic bighorn sheep), Siberian ibex, and Altai snowcock, the primary diet of local snow leopards.

This knowledge, combined with his respect for snow leopards—the spotted phantoms of the mountains—makes him the ideal “citizen scientist,” able to put his skills and passion to use protecting the grasslands and mountain both he and the snow leopard call home…

(read more: World Wildlife Fund)

A new study finds a discrepancy in the satellite data

Despite global warming, the fringe of sea ice around Antarctica is expanding slightly, in contrast to the marked decline of sea ice in the Arctic.

Scientists have blamed this curious fact on various forces, from shifting winds to smaller waves, but a new study suggests a more mundane culprit: an error in the way the satellite data have been processed. The miscalculation, the authors say, might be making the sea ice increase appear larger than it is…

Notes from the Deer Wars:

Science and Values in the Eastern Forest

By Matt Miller

One of the biggest threats to the eastern forest also happens to be one of its most charismatic creatures: the white-tailed deer.

Recently, a group of Nature Conservancy scientists and land managers called over-abundant deer a bigger threat to forests than climate change. The white-tailed deer is arguably the most studied wild animal in the world, but this is more than a science issue. You cannot talk about deer without addressing competing human passions, values and traditions.

This is true anywhere the white-tailed deer roams in the United States. It is especially true in Pennsylvania, a place where opinions on deer management have probably ignited more bar fights than politics or religion. I’m at the Conservancy’s Woodbourne Forest Preserve in north-central Pennsylvania to see how science can potentially help solve the deer issue.

I am here to see firsthand how that passion for deer can perhaps be summoned to help the forest rather than harm it…

(read more: The Nature Conservancy)