SCIENCE/AAAS:  VANISHING FAUNA
Science's special section on vanishing fauna addresses the widely accepted issue that human activity is speeding the demise of many animal species through the destruction of wild lands, the consumption of animals as resources or luxuries, and the persecution of species that humans view as threats or competitors—but the socio-economic drivers of this defaunation can be complex.
This special section highlights Earth’s disappearing animals as well as the complications that arise when humans try to conserve them…
Defaunation in the Anthropocene
Reversing defaunation: Restoring species in a changing world
The empty forest
An animal-rich future
Wildlife decline and social conflict…
(Read the papers here)

SCIENCE/AAAS:  VANISHING FAUNA

Science's special section on vanishing fauna addresses the widely accepted issue that human activity is speeding the demise of many animal species through the destruction of wild lands, the consumption of animals as resources or luxuries, and the persecution of species that humans view as threats or competitors—but the socio-economic drivers of this defaunation can be complex.

This special section highlights Earth’s disappearing animals as well as the complications that arise when humans try to conserve them…

  • Defaunation in the Anthropocene
  • Reversing defaunation: Restoring species in a changing world
  • The empty forest
  • An animal-rich future
  • Wildlife decline and social conflict…

(Read the papers here)

In Search of Kenya’s Elusive Wild Dogs

by Elizabeth Pennisi

Most visitors to Africa come for the lions, elephants, and rhinos. But for the tourists who helicoptered into this somewhat remote region of central Kenya last month, wild dogs topped their list. Once so common in Africa that they were shot as vermin, the elusive canines are becoming poster children for conservation: Fewer than 7000 are left in Africa, their native range.

A reporter visiting the center, I love dogs and so jumped at the chance to track some down in advance of the tourists’ arrival. It was a dusty, bumpy ride into the bush, for a fleeting view of animals that aren’t really dogs after all. But along the way, I came to appreciate their incredible story.

They are full of wanderlust, and their packs show camaraderie and coordination to rival the best military unit. Yet they are quite vulnerable, and even though several teams of researchers have dedicated large chunks of their lives following these animals, much about them remains mysterious.

Despite the name, Lycaon pictus is a distant relative of household canines. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can all interbreed but not with wild dogs, which are sometimes called painted wolves because of their colorful and variable coat patterns…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

photos by Stefanie Strebel and Elizabeth Pennisi

One tenth of bird species flying under the conservation radar

by Martin Fowlie

More than 350 newly recognised bird species have been assessed by BirdLife International for the first time on behalf of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Worryingly, more than 25% of these newly recognised birds have been listed as threatened on The IUCN Red List - compared with 13% of all birds - making them urgent priorities for conservation action.

The first of a two-part comprehensive taxonomic review has focussed on non-passerine birds – such as birds of prey, seabirds, waterbirds and owls – and has led to the recognition of 361 new species, that were previously treated as ‘races’ of other forms. The new total of 4,472 non-passerines implies that previous classifications have undersold avian diversity at the species level by more than 10%.

“Put another way, one tenth of the world’s bird species have been flying below the conservation radar”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Head of Science…

(read more: BirdLife International)

photos: Somali Ostrich (Peter Steward); Greater Adjutant Stork (BLI); and Desertas Petrel (Olli Tenovuo)

Reptile Robbery: Why Poachers Are Wiping Out Ontario’s Turtles
International pet collectors have devastated all eight turtle species in the Canadian province.
by John R. Platt
Ontario’s once plentiful turtles are rapidly disappearing as poachers grab the reptiles for sale on the international pet trade market.
Some turtle populations in the province have completely vanished over the past decade. “My turtles are gone,” Jacqueline Litzgus, a spotted turtle researcher, told the The Canadian Press last week.
Most of the turtles end up for sale in pet shops in Asia and Europe, even though international trade in many turtle species is illegal, said Eric Goode, founder and president of the Turtle Conservancy.
“I went to Tokyo in 2002 and did a survey looking for endangered turtles and other reptiles and animals,” he said. “I was shocked. North American turtles were in all the pet stores.”…
(read more: TakePart)
photograph by Kevin Stohlgren

Reptile Robbery: Why Poachers Are Wiping Out Ontario’s Turtles

International pet collectors have devastated all eight turtle species in the Canadian province.

by John R. Platt

Ontario’s once plentiful turtles are rapidly disappearing as poachers grab the reptiles for sale on the international pet trade market.

Some turtle populations in the province have completely vanished over the past decade. “My turtles are gone,” Jacqueline Litzgus, a spotted turtle researcher, told the The Canadian Press last week.

Most of the turtles end up for sale in pet shops in Asia and Europe, even though international trade in many turtle species is illegal, said Eric Goode, founder and president of the Turtle Conservancy.

“I went to Tokyo in 2002 and did a survey looking for endangered turtles and other reptiles and animals,” he said. “I was shocked. North American turtles were in all the pet stores.”…

(read more: TakePart)

photograph by Kevin Stohlgren

The West Indian Manatee
Manatees are large plant-eating slow moving aquatic mammals. Short front flippers help them steer or even crawl through shallow waters and strong paddle-shaped tails propel them.
A distant relative of the elephant they have thick, wrinkled skin that is grey or brown in color. An average adult is about 10 feet long and weighs between 1,500 and 2,200 pounds with a life expectancy of about 50-60 years.
The major threats to manatee survival are human activities: boat-related injuries and deaths, habitat loss or degradation, and in some countries, hunting.
The U.S. Geological Survey works in partnership with other Federal and State agencies and private organizations to study manatee life history, behavior, ecology, and population biology.
For more information on USGS studies on manatees, including the West Indian manatee, check this out:
Manatee Research int he SE United States
Crystal River Manatees
Photo credit: Robert Bonde, USGS
(via: USGS)

The West Indian Manatee

Manatees are large plant-eating slow moving aquatic mammals. Short front flippers help them steer or even crawl through shallow waters and strong paddle-shaped tails propel them.

A distant relative of the elephant they have thick, wrinkled skin that is grey or brown in color. An average adult is about 10 feet long and weighs between 1,500 and 2,200 pounds with a life expectancy of about 50-60 years.

The major threats to manatee survival are human activities: boat-related injuries and deaths, habitat loss or degradation, and in some countries, hunting.

The U.S. Geological Survey works in partnership with other Federal and State agencies and private organizations to study manatee life history, behavior, ecology, and population biology.

For more information on USGS studies on manatees, including the West Indian manatee, check this out:

Manatee Research int he SE United States

Crystal River Manatees

Photo credit: Robert Bonde, USGS

(via: USGS)

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libutron:

Pirre Harlequin frog  (Pirri Range Stubfoot Toad)
Actually the Pirre Harlequin frog is not a frog but a toad of the species Atelopus glyphus (Bufonidae), found in eastern Panama, in the Serranía de Pirre, and Colombia, in the Chocó.
Atelopus glyphus is currently classified as a Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List, since like other species within the genus, their populations are being severely affected the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis that causes chytridiomycosis disease.
Specimen pictured is a juvenile captive-bred as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, an organization based in Panama, which is making significant efforts to establish colonies of the harlequin frogs and develop methods to reduce the impact of chytrid fungus, so that one day the captive amphibians may be reintroduced to their habitat.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Brian Gratwicke | Locality: Panama

libutron:

Pirre Harlequin frog  (Pirri Range Stubfoot Toad)

Actually the Pirre Harlequin frog is not a frog but a toad of the species Atelopus glyphus (Bufonidae), found in eastern Panama, in the Serranía de Pirre, and Colombia, in the Chocó.

Atelopus glyphus is currently classified as a Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List, since like other species within the genus, their populations are being severely affected the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis that causes chytridiomycosis disease.

Specimen pictured is a juvenile captive-bred as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, an organization based in Panama, which is making significant efforts to establish colonies of the harlequin frogs and develop methods to reduce the impact of chytrid fungus, so that one day the captive amphibians may be reintroduced to their habitat.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Brian Gratwicke | Locality: Panama

Cleveland Metropark Zoo Working to Help Threatened Spotted Turtles
by Jean Bonechak
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and a Northeast Ohio park district are working in tandem to ensure the limited spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) population in Ohio doesn’t disappear.
The reptile is on the state’s threatened species list and without intervention might become endangered.
“If we don’t do something about it they may disappear in 10 years,” said Paul Pira, a Geauga Park District biologist.
Though not threatened in other areas of the U.S., the prevalence of spotted turtles in the northeastern states and Canada is extremely limited.
The species, which is naturally slow to mature and reproduce, also is the victim of predators, especially raccoons. A loss of its preferred wetlands habitat coupled with an illegal pet trade adds to the creatures’ scarcity…
(read more: Morning Journal)

Cleveland Metropark Zoo Working to Help Threatened Spotted Turtles

by Jean Bonechak

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and a Northeast Ohio park district are working in tandem to ensure the limited spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) population in Ohio doesn’t disappear.

The reptile is on the state’s threatened species list and without intervention might become endangered.

“If we don’t do something about it they may disappear in 10 years,” said Paul Pira, a Geauga Park District biologist.

Though not threatened in other areas of the U.S., the prevalence of spotted turtles in the northeastern states and Canada is extremely limited.

The species, which is naturally slow to mature and reproduce, also is the victim of predators, especially raccoons. A loss of its preferred wetlands habitat coupled with an illegal pet trade adds to the creatures’ scarcity…

(read more: Morning Journal)

New Mama: First Utah condor chick at Zion National Park
by Brett Prettyman
The birth announcement is official — biologists from federal and state agencies, as well as a nonprofit group, have finally confirmed that a pair of California condors nesting in Zion National Park have produced a chick.
"This is the first documented occurrence of California condors raising a chick in Utah," Eddie Feltes, condor project manager with The Peregrine Fund, said in a release. "This is great news.This pair of condors — and their newly-hatched chick — could be a major step toward California condors re-establishing themselves in southern Utah." …
(read more: The Salt Lake Tribune)

New Mama: First Utah condor chick at Zion National Park

by Brett Prettyman

The birth announcement is official — biologists from federal and state agencies, as well as a nonprofit group, have finally confirmed that a pair of California condors nesting in Zion National Park have produced a chick.

"This is the first documented occurrence of California condors raising a chick in Utah," Eddie Feltes, condor project manager with The Peregrine Fund, said in a release. "This is great news.This pair of condors — and their newly-hatched chick — could be a major step toward California condors re-establishing themselves in southern Utah." …

(read more: The Salt Lake Tribune)

With so many threats to the 250-300 wolverines in the lower 48 states, we must protect them under the ESA.

If you’ve been keeping up with one of the world’s toughest animals, the wolverine, you may know that a big decision is coming their way. In early August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will determine whether or not imperiled wolverines in the lower-48 will be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as “threatened.”

The Service previously found that the wolverine warranted ESA protection in 2010 and proposed to list this species as threatened in February of 2013. However, according to a memo that was leaked to the press last week, the Service’s Regional Director based in Denver has now overruled and rejected the Service’s own Field Office’s recommendation to list wolverines as threatened…

Endangered bats find haven at Coral Gables golf course

by Jenny Staletovich

Giselle Hosein peers into the dark sky above a manicured fairway on the Coral Gables Granada Golf Course, trying hard to see what she can so far only hear: an elusive Florida bonneted bat, among the rarest in the world.

“It took me three or four months before I was actually able to see one,” she said…

(read more: Miami Herald)

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks - CA, USA

Every summer, biological technicians spend weeks in the wilderness studying the mountain yellow legged frog (Rana muscosa). Non-native trout species have reduced frog numbers by 92 percent. Park employees work to remove invasive trout from the alpine lakes to give the frogs a chance at survival.
Every summer, biological technicians spend weeks in the wilderness studying the mountain yellow legged frog (Rana muscosa). Non-native trout species have reduced frog numbers by 92 percent. Park employees work to remove invasive trout from the alpine lakes to give the frogs a chance at survival.