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Posts Tagged "biodiversity"

The Artful Amoeba

In Honor of Linnaeus, a Rogue’s Gallery of New Species

Penicillium_vanorenjei_colonies_Cobus_M_Visagie_200

Today is the birthday of one of my science heroes: Carl Linnaeus. Born on May 23, 1707, the Swede turned natural history from a hobby into a science with his masterful systemization and documentation of what had until then been haphazard classification of plants, animals and fungi. In honor of Linnaeus, the International Institute for [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Snails that Fly, or, the Potato Chips of the Ocean

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On land, snails and slugs — the Gastropods — are confined to terrestrial prison, but in the ocean, they are free to shed their shells and fly. These are the sea angels, the sea butterflies, and the sea elephants — and probably quite a few more I’m not aware of. For instance, this slinky and [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

The Surprising Subject of the First Book of Photographs

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In these hyperlinked days, one might reasonably guess that the subject of the first book of photographs may have been along the lines of the True Purpose of the Internet (ask someone who’s seen “Avenue Q” if you don’t know). Or if not that, perhaps cityscapes, or naval vessels, or still lifes, or battlefields. But [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

The Odd Allure of Rock Snot

UPDATE: After being accidentally closed all launch day, comments are now open! Please feel free to introduce yourself, suggest an organism or topic for a post, or say hi below. I would love to meet you. In early November 2005, about a year after I joined the staff of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle as a cub [...]

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Compound Eye

A Short Safari In A Small Oak Tree

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Imagine a safari in your neighborhood. Instead of a few days hauling luggage through international airports, though, picture a leisurely five minute stroll from the front door. Local nature holds fantastic mini wildlife. For those willing to trade global for local, and large for small, there is plenty to see. I am speaking of ant lions [...]

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Compound Eye

International Rock-Flipping Day

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As I am sure you are aware, September 9th is International Rock-Flipping Day. What’s that? You don’t know about Rock Flipping Day? Well, no matter. It’s the day when we find a rock, carefully turn it over, and photograph the organisms we find living underneath it. Rock-flipping day is a simple biodiversity exercise designed to [...]

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Culturing Science

A Museum Chapel for Microscopic Biodiversity

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Animals with backbones (vertebrates) make up only 4% of the species on our planet. Yet when you walk into a natural history museum, they’re all you see. The dinosaur skeletons stretching across a ballroom? Vertebrates. Dioramas starring posed buffalo, lions, or zebra? Vertebrates. The endless cases of delicate stuffed birds? You guessed it: vertebrates. “It’s [...]

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Culturing Science

The Best Way to Procrastinate in the Zooniverse

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Get off of Facebook. Next time you feel the urge to procrastinate, help scientists identify animals instead.

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Culturing Science

The conservation school of hard-knocks, or how I chose hope over futility

Hardly four years ago, I started my first job in science. After an 8-hour drive up the east coast, my brother escorted me into a small, single-floored building facing a woody patch above a salt marsh, the headquarters of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. My heart swelled with anticipation: Here I was, finally living the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Poisoning Dingoes Has Domino Effect on Australia’s Biodiversity

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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

What Happens When Forest Elephants Are Wiped Out in an Ecosystem?

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As go the elephants, so go the trees. That’s the message of a new study published in the May 2013 issue of Forest Ecology and Management that found more than a dozen elephant-dependent tree species suffered catastrophic population declines in new plant growths after forest elephants were nearly extirpated from their ecosystems. The fruit-bearing trees [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Farming Rats and Bees Could Solve Bushmeat Crisis in Africa, Experts Say

Bees in a Kenyan top bar, a type of man-made beehive used for beekeeping in Africa

The rising and often illegal trade in bushmeat—wild-caught animals, often threatened species such as primates, birds and elephants—threatens African biodiversity and could drive numerous species into extinction. Finding replacements for that trade could solve the need for both income and subsistence in many African communities. The answer, according to experts speaking at a meeting held [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Humans are more at risk from diseases as biodiversity disappears

People often ask me, "Why should I care if a species goes extinct? It’s not essential to my daily life, is it?" Well, according to new research published December 2 in Nature, the answer is yes—healthy biodiversity is essential to human health. As species disappear, infectious diseases rise in humans and throughout the animal kingdom, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Extinction crisis revealed: One fifth of the world’s mammals, birds and amphibians are threatened

One fifth of the world’s vertebrates are threatened with extinction. That’s the word from the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity this week in Nagoya, Japan, where a team of 174 scientists presented an assessment of the world’s at-risk vertebrate species. According to the study, published in the October 28 [...]

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Guest Blog

Apple, meet Orange

Why are we approaching biodiversity conservation from such different points of view? We are currently rounding out the year 2010, proclaimed by the U.N. as the "International Year of Biodiversity."  While the recognition of the importance of nature is extremely valuable, I’m left at a loss as to what a "year of biodiversity" really means. [...]

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Observations

My Morning Cup of Coffee Kills Monkeys

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My coffee habit is killing the black-handed spider monkey, a cute New World simian (my favorite kind) that thrives in the canopy of Central American forests with tall trees. That’s pretty much the opposite of the kinds of forests that still exist where the spider monkey lives, because for decades we’ve been cutting down those [...]

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Observations

We’ve Got Trouble! All in Agreement Say… Uh Oh

Rhino closeup

If you turn on the news, you’re likely to be inundated with depressing pictures: Oceans are rising, species are dying, pollution is spreading. But how bad do most scientists think it really is? Are these doom-and-gloom projections the real deal, or just the lamentations of a few pessimists? Sadly, at least for conservation biology, the [...]

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Observations

Copycat catfish evade competition

catfish that mimics other species avoid predators

In the animal kingdom it pays to look more dangerous and less tasty. It also helps if harmful species resemble one another so that predators might "learn" more easily to avoid both. A new example of this form of mimicry has been discovered among catfish that live in the Amazonian basin, where a school of [...]

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Observations

Bugs and plants and mice (oh my) join hundreds of new creatures discovered in New Guinea

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In the rugged, remote reaches of Papua New Guinea live a multitude of strange species that scientists are just starting to catalogue. A recent initiative, the results of which were announced October 5, reports some 26 potentially new animal species, nine previously undescribed plants and some 200 likely new bug species. In two months of [...]

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Plugged In

The Cold Rush: An Effort to Protect the Arctic from Oil Spills During Rapid Development

On May 15th, the U.S. was given an assignment to create a contingency plan for oil and gas spills in the Arctic. Seven other Arctic Council nations – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden – have to do the same. The need for such a strategy first surfaced due to the Macondo blowout [...]

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Plugged In

What’s in a name? “UN Sustainable Development Conference”

After 10 years of zooming around the world to cover the ozone, climate, and biodiversity negotiations, I realize the outcome of Rio+20 (and meetings of the like) has been staring me in my face. It became clear when Rio+20 concluded with much applause, but little else in terms of solid outcomes. Yes, there’s a lukewarm [...]

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Plugged In

An Ailing Planet’s Path to Rio+20

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Our planet’s health is ailing. That’s the message in short from the 2012 Living Planet Report. Its content is sobering. We are devouring 50 percent more resources than the Earth produces annually. Species populations have plummeted by 30 percent in the last 40 years. Freshwater scarcity abounds, and CO2 levels are soaring. Yet, the report’s co-authors [...]

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