Axolotls

by Richard Bartlett

When I think of the tiger salamander-like axolotl (pronounced ax-oh-lot-ul), Ambystoma mexicanum, my mind drifts back to the 1960s and rather than the genetic oddities of today, it is images of albinos, leucistics, and normals that I first picture. In those days there were few breeders of this salamander, with the primary source being the research colony at Indiana University.

The species is now apparently known primarily (if not exclusively) from the Chalco wetlands region south of Mexico City where the wild examples are now at least marginally protected.

The axolotl is a neotenic (paedomorphic/perennibranchiate) salamander. Simply stated, it is a salamander that rarely metamorphoses (pictured top is a specimen that has metamorphosed), and is capable of attaining sexual maturity while in its larval state. As a larva, the axolotl retains its 3 pairs of bushy gills, has non-protuberant, lidless eyes, and has a noticeable vertebral fin and pronounced caudal fins…

(read more: KingSnake.com)

photos by Richard Bartlett

Red Wolf Recovery at Critical Junction

by Mitch Merry
Online Organizer Endangered Species Coalition

We have reached a critical junction in the recovery of the critically endangered red wolf (Canis rufus). The story of the red wolf is a complicated one, which has likely contributed to its anonymity. Historically distributed across the southeastern United States, the species was extirpated from much of range due to habitat loss and overharvest. Remnant populations then became threatened by hybridization with coyotes, which expanded in range as the red wolf disappeared.

In the 1970s biologists identified only 14 remaining wild red wolves in the species’ last stronghold in a coastal region on the Texas-Louisiana border. Those individuals were transported to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA and the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980.

Just inland from the famed Outer Banks, the five-county Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in eastern North Carolina was selected as the location for the first red wolf reintroduction program. At the time, there were no coyotes present in this area. The first wolves were released in 1987 and the population grew slowly. Soon coyotes rapidly colonized the state and in 1993 the first hybridization event between a red wolf and coyote was documented…

(read more: Endangered Species Coalition)

Head Start For Troubled Turtles:

Baby Blanding’s Turtles raised at Detroit Zoo released in Saginaw County national wildlife refuge

by Lindsay Knake

In an effort to increase the number of rare Blanding’s turtles in Michigan, the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge partnered with the Detroit Zoo five years ago. In that time, they have raised and released 147 Blanding’s turtles into the refuge’s waters.

"If it weren’t for the Detroit Zoo, this wouldn’t be happening," refuge manager, Steve Kahl said. "Who knows how long it’s been since we’ve had 147 new Blanding’s turtles in the refuge?"

Blanding’s turtles are threatened in Michigan and endangered in some states because of the loss of wetland habitat, increase in roads and the rise of the raccoon population that eats the turtles’ eggs, Kahl said…

(read more: Michigan Live)

photos: Tina Shaw/USFWS and Jeff Schrier

Marineland’s Whitney Lab holds sea turtle hospital ‘groundbreaking’ Saturday

by Dinah Voyles Pulver

The University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience hopes to open a new hospital for rehabilitating sea turtles early next year and is inviting the public to a groundbreaking Saturday morning.

The laboratory has worked for more than a year to get the hospital started at Marineland, said Jessica Long, director of development for the lab. Scientists at the center also plan to conduct research on sea turtle diseases, such as the fibropapillomatosis tumors that plague many sea turtles. The laboratory will renovate existing facilities to make way for the sea turtle center…

(read more: Daytona beach News-Journal)

How Much Danger Do Ship Strikes Pose to Blue Whales?
by Jane J. Lee
A new study suggests that blue whale populations are not as vulnerable to ship strikes as previously thought, but experts say, ‘not so fast.’
The eastern North Pacific blue whale population has rebounded since being hammered by commercial whaling, according to a new study. And ship strikes, long feared a major obstacle to the recovery in blue whale numbers, likely aren’t major threats, the authors conclude.
These surprising findings, published Friday in the journal Marine Mammal Science, have gotten a lot of attention in news reports, but experts remain unconvinced.
The study authors used a computer model to estimate the size of the eastern north Pacific blue whale population before commercial whaling decimated their numbers—as well as current abundances and future population trends. They then examined whether the population was more affected by ship strikes or by the environment’s ability to support a certain number of whales…
(read more: National Geographic)
photo by Wolcott Henry, National Geographic Creative

How Much Danger Do Ship Strikes Pose to Blue Whales?

by Jane J. Lee

A new study suggests that blue whale populations are not as vulnerable to ship strikes as previously thought, but experts say, ‘not so fast.’

The eastern North Pacific blue whale population has rebounded since being hammered by commercial whaling, according to a new study. And ship strikes, long feared a major obstacle to the recovery in blue whale numbers, likely aren’t major threats, the authors conclude.

These surprising findings, published Friday in the journal Marine Mammal Science, have gotten a lot of attention in news reports, but experts remain unconvinced.

The study authors used a computer model to estimate the size of the eastern north Pacific blue whale population before commercial whaling decimated their numbers—as well as current abundances and future population trends. They then examined whether the population was more affected by ship strikes or by the environment’s ability to support a certain number of whales…

(read more: National Geographic)

photo by Wolcott Henry, National Geographic Creative

GOOD NEWS for Endangered Birds:

Thirty-two whooping cranes fledged on Wood Buffalo NP

Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP - Canada) officials reported today that 32 whooping crane chicks were observed during this year’s Whooping Crane Fledging Survey. Wood Buffalo personnel took to the skies during August 9-12, 2014 and completed their annual survey.  During the 4 days the team counted 32 fledged young whooping cranes.

WBNP officials reported that a total of 202 whoopers were counted, including the fledgling and nesting pairs.  Fledglings are birds that have reached an age where they can fly. The 32 fledglings were found in 30 family groups: 28 families with one chick and two families with two chicks. In addition to the family groups, the surveyors observed 6 groups of three whooping cranes, 43 groups of two, and 6 individual cranes…

(read more: Friends of Wild Whoopers)

photos: John McKinnon and Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park

usfwspacific

Behind the Flames: Wildfires Can Have Dramatic Impact on Northern Spotted Owls

usfwspacific:

By Karl Halupka
Karl is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife  Service biologist at the Central Washington Field Office in Wenatchee. He started surveying spotted owls in 1981.

This summer’s wildfires in the Pacific Northwest have burned an area larger than Rhode Island, nearly a half million acres.  Wildfires and subsequent flash floods are normal events in the dry forests typical of the eastern Cascades, but their consequences can be tragic.   People can lose everything, including their lives, in these natural events.  Wildlife can lose everything in these events, too.

image

Effects of fire on habitat for spotted owls vary depending on a wildfire’s burn severity. Photo by USFWS

The northern spotted owl is one wildlife species that lives in our dry forests and has a lot to lose from wildfire.  Because this iconic owl is associated with older forests and how we manage them, it is one of the most intensively studied birds in the world.  Research on this owl includes investigations into how they respond to wildfires.  Scientists learn about how wildfires affect spotted owls by tracking owls equipped with small radio transmitters, or relocating owls marked with leg bands by imitating the owl’s calls and getting them to call back.

Wildfires can affect spotted owls directly, by exposing individuals to heat and smoke, or indirectly by changing their habitat.  The severity of direct effects from fires is influenced by an owl’s age and mobility and whether it is nesting.  Young owls that aren’t yet able to fly can’t get away from smoke and heat from fires, sometimes resulting in deaths of young owls during fires. 

Read More

Baby Pygmy Hippo Debuts at Swedish Zoo

Meet Olivia, the rare and endangered baby pygmy hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis) who’s been nicknamed “Michelin Man” because of her adorable rolls of baby fat. Born last month at Parken Zoo in Sweden, Olivia is part of an international breeding program that finds mating partners for these solitary creatures…

(read more: news.com.au)

photographs via: Parken Zoo

Heading to the beach this holiday weekend? 
Watch out for nesting birds and chicks!  Share the beach with birds by observing posted signs and steering clear of areas where birds are gathered. Enjoy watching the birds from a safe distance. Please do not approach or linger near with rare shorebirds like the piping plover or their nests.  Check out this video from The National Audubon Society and learn how you can share the shore with these adorable birds and other wildlife! Photo: Piping plovers on Drakes Island at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. (Kaiti Titherington/USFWS)
(via: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Heading to the beach this holiday weekend?

Watch out for nesting birds and chicks!

Share the beach with birds by observing posted signs and steering clear of areas where birds are gathered. Enjoy watching the birds from a safe distance. Please do not approach or linger near with rare shorebirds like the piping plover or their nests.

Check out this video from The National Audubon Society and learn how you can share the shore with these adorable birds and other wildlife!

Photo: Piping plovers on Drakes Island at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. (Kaiti Titherington/USFWS)

(via: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Zoo releases captive-bred endangered frogs back to wild
by Aldergrove Star staff
In continuing their scientific work and conservation efforts for the endangered Oregon spotted frogs (Rana pretiosa), last week the Greater Vancouver Zoo, BC, Canada, released more frogs back into the wild.
This is the second release of the year. The 127 frogs were bred in a captive environment while studying and marking them before finally releasing them back into their natural wetland environment.
For over a decade, animal care staff from the Greater Vancouver Zoo have worked on this important conservation project. Working alongside the wildlife biologists from the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team, staff have helped with monitoring, research, habitat management and restoration of this endangered species.
The frogs were released into their natural wetland environment near Aldergrove, in an area specifically modified and enhanced to meet the Oregon spotted frogs’ habitat needs…
(read more: Aldergrove Star)

Zoo releases captive-bred endangered frogs back to wild

by Aldergrove Star staff

In continuing their scientific work and conservation efforts for the endangered Oregon spotted frogs (Rana pretiosa), last week the Greater Vancouver Zoo, BC, Canada, released more frogs back into the wild.

This is the second release of the year. The 127 frogs were bred in a captive environment while studying and marking them before finally releasing them back into their natural wetland environment.

For over a decade, animal care staff from the Greater Vancouver Zoo have worked on this important conservation project. Working alongside the wildlife biologists from the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team, staff have helped with monitoring, research, habitat management and restoration of this endangered species.

The frogs were released into their natural wetland environment near Aldergrove, in an area specifically modified and enhanced to meet the Oregon spotted frogs’ habitat needs…

(read more: Aldergrove Star)

The Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) was once common in the Pacific Northwest, but habitat loss and invasive species have caused serious population declines. The Oregon spotted frog will now be protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 
For more information: Washington F&W - Spotted Frog Photo by Teal Waterstrat / USFWS
(via: USFWS_Pacific Region)

The Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) was once common in the Pacific Northwest, but habitat loss and invasive species have caused serious population declines. The Oregon spotted frog will now be protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

For more information: Washington F&W - Spotted Frog

Photo by Teal Waterstrat / USFWS

(via: USFWS_Pacific Region)

libutron

libutron:

The Saiga (Saiga tatarica): on the verge of extinction

Commonly known as Saiga, Mongolian Saiga, and Saiga Antelope, Saiga tatarica (Bovidae) is a very distinctive looking antelope, with a large, proboscis-like nose which hangs down over its mouth.

The Saiga’s nose has a unique internal structure: the bones are greatly developed and convoluted, and the long nostrils contain numerous hairs, glands and mucous tracts. The trunk-like nose of the Saiga is a striking example of an exaggerated trait, assumed to having evolved as a dust filter for inhaled air. In addition, it functions to elongate the vocal tract in harem saiga males for producing low-formant calls that serve as a cue to body size for conspecifics.

Two subspecies are recognized: Saiga tatarica tatarica, and Saiga tatarica mongolica. The nominate subspecies is found in one location in Russia, while the Mongolian subspecies is found only in western Mongolia.

Renowned for its high reproductive potential, the species was thought to be able to withstand even relatively high levels of hunting for its horns - less than 20 years ago, the total saiga population stood at more than one million, and appeared relatively stable. However, intensified poaching pressures during the 1990s, coupled with a breakdown of law enforcement following the collapse of the Soviet Union, caused numbers to plummet to fewer than 50,000 in just one decade – one of the most sudden and dramatic population crashes of a large mammal ever seen.

Currently the Saiga is classified as Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List. 

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

Photo credit: [Top: ©Igor Shpilenok | Locality: unknown] - [Bottom: ©Xavier Bayod Farre | Locality: captive at Kölner Zoo, Humboldtkolonie, Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, 2007]

Sawfish Science in Florida
This just in — NOAA Fisheries Biologists Dr. John Carlson, Dana Bethea, Grace Casselbury and intern Ryan Jones are on their monthly expedition examining the distribution and abundance of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), an ESA endangered species, in Everglades National Park. 
The scientists have recorded some extremely low salinity measurements this expedition and are measuring how the distribution of sawfish changes in response to low salinity. Today they tagged a 3 ft female near Chokoloskee Island. All of this research is designed to help implement recovery objectives in the ESA. 
Photo credit: Ryan Jones 
Check out our video on how we protect them: 
Protecting an Endangered Species:  Smalltooth Sawfish
(via: NOAA Fisheries)

Sawfish Science in Florida

This just in — NOAA Fisheries Biologists Dr. John Carlson, Dana Bethea, Grace Casselbury and intern Ryan Jones are on their monthly expedition examining the distribution and abundance of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), an ESA endangered species, in Everglades National Park.

The scientists have recorded some extremely low salinity measurements this expedition and are measuring how the distribution of sawfish changes in response to low salinity. Today they tagged a 3 ft female near Chokoloskee Island. All of this research is designed to help implement recovery objectives in the ESA.

Photo credit: Ryan Jones

Check out our video on how we protect them:

Protecting an Endangered Species:  Smalltooth Sawfish

(via: NOAA Fisheries)