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Posts Tagged "australia"

Compound Eye

An Australian Insect Sampler

brentidae2f

The wayward continent of Australia is famous for the strange and relictual creatures that have evolved in near-complete isolation. The insects are no exception. I spent December travelling the great southern continent, and of the 3,000 exposures I took during the month here are a few of my favorites:

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Extinction Countdown

Poisoning Dingoes Has Domino Effect on Australia’s Biodiversity

dingo

Australia has a long history of poisoning its dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), which have an unfair reputation of preying on sheep and other livestock. But according to a new study, killing the country’s native canines may have had unintended consequences, dramatically impacting the biodiversity in regions where dingo populations have been reduced or removed. The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sea Lion Whisker Patterns Could Be Key to Conservation

sea lion whiskers

This month marks the beginning of the breeding season for endangered Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) as well as a great opportunity for citizen scientists to help conserve this rare species. A new project called the Whisker Patrol is asking for help with a possible new method for tracking and identifying individual sea lions. As [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Parasites that Cause Chagas Disease in Humans May Also Be Killing Tiny Australian Marsupials

woylies

Why are the woylies all dying? Since 2001 the populations of these tiny Australian marsupials have mysteriously crashed by as much as 90 percent. The species, which had already been driven to near-extinction in the early 20th century, had been on the path to recovery after successful conservation efforts protected them from foxes and other [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Dig This: Decline of Australian Digging Mammals Impacts Entire Ecosystems

bandicoot

How much soil would a bandicoot dig if a bandicoot could dig soil? Quite a lot, it turns out. The southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) weighs just 1.4 kilograms, but over the course of a year this tiny digging marsupial can excavate more than 3.9 metric tons of soil as it builds its nests and [...]

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Extinction Countdown

After 100 Years, Has the Elusive Night Parrot Finally Been Discovered?

night parrot

An Australian man who calls himself “the wild detective” claims to have rediscovered a bird species that has never been photographed alive. Has the long-lost night parrot at last been found? Among Australian scientists and bird-lovers, the elusive night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) has been something of a Holy Grail. The small, ground-dwelling parrots all but [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Chlamydia Is Killing Koalas—Will Genetics Find a Cure?

koala

Why do some koalas die from chlamydia and an AIDS-like retrovirus whereas others manage to avoid contracting the sexually transmitted diseases? The answer, it seems, may be in the genes. Scientists in Australia announced last week that they have sequenced the koala interferon gamma (IFN-g) gene, a discovery that they call the “holy grail” for [...]

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Extinction Countdown

3,000 Feral Cats Killed to Protect Rare Australian Bilbies

greater bilby

Australia has a feral cat problem. Cats and other invasive predators have driven dozens of the country’s native bird, reptile and small mammal species into extinction, and continue to threaten several others. So many feral felines roam the country that the government often traps, shoots or poisons the animals in order to control populations. Most [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Logging Could Doom Tiny Australian Possum to Extinction, but One Zoo Offers Hope

leadbeater's possum

Scientists and conservationists this week said they will petition the Australian government to change the status of the Leadbeater’s possum from “endangered” to “critically endangered,” a designation shared by only four other Australian mammals. The tiny marsupial (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) is one of two faunal emblems of Australia’s State of Victoria, but it has suffered badly [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Cane Toads, Blue Whales, Red Wolves and Other Updates from the Brink

northern spotted owl

People often ask me, “How can you write about endangered species all the time? Isn’t it depressing?” Sure, it can be, but not as depressing as the sheer number of stories that I don’t get to write about. So let’s catch up on some of the stories that should have made headlines this month. First [...]

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Extinction Countdown

New Lizard Discovered in Australia and Threatened by Incoming Housing Development

coastal skink

A tiny new lizard species has been discovered in Western Australia, and just in time: its only known habitat is already being destroyed. The six-centimeter-long coastal plains skink (Ctenotus ora) lives in the sand dunes of the Swan Coastal Plain, which starts about 70 kilometers south of Perth. According to the researchers from Australian National [...]

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Observations

A Proposal to Introduce Elephants to Australia: Really?

elephants

Why not bring elephants to Australia? That’s the proposal made by biologist David Bowman of the University of Tasmania in a comment published February 2 in Nature. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) The pachyderms could help to polish off gamba grass, introduced from Africa to Australia in the 1930s as fodder for [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Mimic Octopus Makes Home on Great Barrier Reef

mimic octopus australia great barrier reef

Of all the amazing octopus species out there, the mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus, is perhaps the most bewildering. While most known octopuses are able to change color and shape for camouflage, mimic octopuses can also impersonate other animals to deter would-be predators. They can contort their bodies and long, striped arms to look—and swim—like other [...]

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Running Ponies

Meet Australia’s Easter Bunny: the Long-Eared Greater Bilby

greater-bilby-featured

Easter in Australia is pretty much the same as Easter elsewhere in the world. We do Easter egg hunts and put sad-looking yellow chickens with loose eyespots on display in straw nests and eat nothing but chocolate for three days straight. But there’s a war going on, and the Easter Bunny is at the centre [...]

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Running Ponies

Move Over, Snotty: Australian Jellyfish Crambione Cookii Filmed for the First Time

crambione-cookii-featured

It’s jellyfish mania in Australia right now, thanks to our snotastic new friend, whose discovery on a Tasmanian beach was announced just last week. While Captain Vom waits patiently for his new official name, we’ve got time to welcome another Australian jellyfish species into the spotlight, and this one’s been waiting more than a century [...]

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