Shortfin Mako Shark under Threat Animals Oceanography 

Shortfin Mako Shark under Threat

By Kate Stone The shortfin mako shark is the fastest shark in the world. Its top cruising speed has been recorded at 40 kilometers per hour (kph), or 25 mph, with bursts of up to 74 kph, or 46 mph. Because shortfin makos are so fast, collecting accurate data about them has been especially difficult. Fortunately, new real-time satellite tracking technology has enabled researchers to gather much more accurate information about these amazing sharks. Unfortunately, the data is shockingly grim: shortfin mako sharks are being killed in fisheries at a…

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Bats, Cuba Animals Videos 

Shelf Life Video: Into the Island of Bats

The island of Cuba is a key piece of the puzzle for two researchers who are studying bats and trying to understand biodiversity in the Caribbean. Find out why on an expedition with mammalogists J. Angelo Soto-Centeno and Gilberto Silva Taboada, joined by Ana Luz Porzecanski, director of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.   Shelf Life videos are shared by agreement with the American Museum of Natural History. GotScience Magazine kindly reminds you to not touch wild bats. Learn more about bat-human virus transmission. “We have evidence at a…

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Turtles, Steven Spence Animals Biology Environment Photos 

A Tale of Two Turtles: Part 1

By Steven Spence It began simply enough, visiting the zoo with my niece and her parents. They have a great love of animals. We figured, what better place to spend time together? While we were there I noticed a turtle with a green mohawk and photographed it through the glass of the tank. When I shared the photo on social media, people started asking questions, which led me to wonder why this picture had such an effect. As I researched, I realized understanding this question was perhaps a key to…

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Artist's impression of sabertooth cats hunting mammoths (Mauricio Anton). Animals Environment Paleontology 

Large Hunters Dominated the Pleistocene

For years, evolutionary biologists have wondered about the ecosystems of the Pleistocene epoch. How did so many species of huge, hungry herbivores, such as mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths, not wipe out the plant life? Observations of modern elephants suggest that large concentrations of those animals could have essentially destroyed the environment, but they didn’t. Now, life scientists believe that the ecosystem was kept in balance by predatory carnivores that kept the population of large herbivores in check. Scientists have found fossil evidence of intense, violent attacks by packs…

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Butterflies: A worn butterfly enjoys refreshment in a garden. tentative identification: Meadow Brown; German Ochsenauge; Latin Maniola jurtina Animals Environment 

Unexpected Biodiversity in Iberian Butterflies

By Steven Spence Winged Flowers A fallen blossom returning to the bough, I thought – But no, a butterfly. (Arakida Moritake, Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology) [落花枝にかへると見れば胡蝶哉 守武 落花枝にかへると見れば胡ちょかな 守武] Good News On Biodiversity This week we have encouraging data to share with you about butterflies in Europe. Biodiversity is a major concern in Europe and elsewhere. However, a recently released study of butterflies in Spain and Portugal suggests biodiversity may have been significantly underestimated. The study conducted by the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (IBE) shows that 28% of butterfly…

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Ladybird on lavender Animals Biology Environment 

Ladybirds and Other Natural Pesticides

By Steven Spence Sheep and Wolves in your Garden Sheep and wolves in your garden? It’s more likely than you may think. Aphids (leaf lice) are pests, which are tended by shepherd ants, and ladybirds are voracious wolves that will quickly thin the herds. Do Pests = Pesticide Use? Just because pests are on the loose in the garden, it doesn’t mean you need to resort to chemical warfare with commercial pesticides, the use of which should be avoided on any plants you might eat. We know that the use…

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Isabela surfacing to breathe in the waters of Chile's Gulf of Corcovado (Courtesy of Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete/Blue Whale Center) Animals Oceanography 

Where Do Blue Whales Go to Breed?

By Kate S. The blue whale is the largest animal on Earth, yet the breeding grounds of this elusive creature have remained a mystery…until now. Scientists studying blue whales in the waters of Chile through DNA profiling and photo-identification may have solved the mystery of where these huge animals go to breed, according to a recent study by the Chile’s Blue Whale Center/Universidad Austral de Chile, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The researchers have been tracking a female blue whale they call…

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The habitat of this brown lemur in Madagascar is likely to shrink by half before the end of the century due to climate change, finds a Duke University study. (David Haring, Duke Lemur Center) Animals Environment 

Lemurs: Where Will They Go?

By Kate Stone Anticipated climate changes are likely to leave a lot of Madagascar’s lemurs looking for new places to live. The results of a new study from Duke University show where lemurs may seek refuge and food as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change across the 225,000-square-mile island over the next 65 years. Average temperatures throughout the island of Madagascar will rise by as much as 2.6 degrees by the year 2050. Rainfall patterns will probably be altered as well. Anecdotal evidence suggests climate changes are already being felt.…

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Citizen science creates conservationists Citizen Science Environment 

Citizen Science Inspires Conservation Efforts

By Kate Stone Citizens who get involved in science become more environmentally aware and willing to participate in advocacy than previously thought, according to a new study. Researchers at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment have reported that citizen science projects can lead to broader public support for conservation efforts. The study included a survey of 115 people who had recently participated in citizen science projects in India with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Centre for Wildlife Studies. The research indicates that, in addition to gaining environmental skills…

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