Conservation News for week of June 22, 2018
This week Chris was joined with Jim Weinpress from the Seneca Park Zoo. If you have not yet listened to his interview please do. It can be found HERE
Amazon’s Critical Role in Combating Climate Change
A recent article in Nature highlights a very concerning trend in the Amazon rainforest’s ability in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Scientists reported a decline in tree productivity and survival rate over the last ~ 20 years. This is data outside of the already 750,000 sqkm (289,000 sq mile) of the Amazon that has been lost to agriculture since 1978. In this study, researchers looked at individual plots of preserved rain forest and concluded due to climate change and the incredible increase of carbon in the atmosphere that trees are growing bigger, faster, often resulting in their deaths earlier. Furthermore, productivity of new growth has leveled off. In summary, they report the Amazon has lost ~ 30% of its ability to sequester carbon from our atmosphere over the study period and is declining.
Mass Extinction of Primates
A team of international primate experts warn that nearly two thirds of all primate species may go extinct by the year 2100. The team highlights four countries that house over two thirds of the world’s primates: Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo. Both in Indonesia and Madagascar, over 90% of all primates living here are in population decline. More worrying, Brazil is predicted to lose almost 80% of its natural habitat over the same time period, with predictions for Indonesia at 70%, Madagascar 60% and the DRC 30%. All due mainly to agriculture production, highlighting palm oil and sugarcane. The team argues that unless a global effort is launched to combat the decline, to include individual consumers, many of these species will be lost forever.
Manatees on a Treadmill
Researchers out of Florida are using an underwater treadmill to evaluate manatee metabolism. Two manatees held under human care are participating in experiments to evaluate their normal body functions. The manatees are harnessed with heart rate monitors and are trained to breath in a special hood that captures their exhaled gases. Understanding the basic physiology of manatees will go a long way in evaluating conservation strategies in protecting these special mammals.
Aquarium staff participating in dolphin research
Scientists and staff from the South Carolina Aquarium are evaluating the health wild bottlenose dolphins. Studying these animals are giving researchers a good idea on our current ocean health. Sadly, their results are shedding a lite on the many pollutants that exist in our oceans. Specifically, they report that 90% of the dolphins evaluated had high levels of contaminants, specifically PFCs and PCBs in their blubber. Not only are these and other contaminants passed on to their offspring through their milk, it is believed these can have drastic affects on dolphin health and reproduction. We all need to do our part to protect our oceans.
Scientists discover world’s first known manta ray nursery
Researchers out of UC San Diego and Scripts Institute have announced the discovery of a manata ray nursery. These ocean dwelling animal’s wingspans can stretch almost 21 feet (6.5 meters) yet many young or juveniles are rarely observed. The recent discovery, roughly 50 miles south of Galveston, Texas will give scientists a greater understanding to these creature’s life cycles and work with conservation experts to protect these areas.
Five new species of snail eating snakes discovered
In Ecuador, scientists have discovered five new species of snakes that specialize in eating snails. In even more incredible news, the same group rather than submitting their own names to honor their discovery, have instead auctioned off the naming rights to use that money to preserve these animals.