This Week in Biodiversity News – March 16th

 

Ecologists in England and Scotland, in collaboration with ecologist Christopher Sutherland and Joseph Drake at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, report on a new tool for identifying an “entire community of mammals”, including elusive and endangered species that are otherwise difficult to monitor, by collecting DNA from river water. 

The white stork is returning to the wild in the south of England for the first time in several hundred years. Hunting and loss of habitat are the main factors that have led to their near extinction. After a successful breeding programme in Oxfordshire they are returning to West Sussex. 

Projects to reduce grass cutting and increase the diversity of plants and wildlife along Britain’s roads are having dramatic results for local ecology, seeing the return of butterflies and invertebrates in large numbers. 

 In Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, a complex experiment is working to rebuild the park’s fauna, first by reintroducing herbivores; and, more recently, by establishing a healthy population of carnivores on an ecosystem that has learned to live without them.

7 Female Nature & Science Writers to Read for International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day we have put together a selection of incredible nature and science writing books from some brilliant female writers. 

Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World

by Alice Roberts

In Tamed, Dr. Alice Roberts uncovers the amazing deep history of ten familiar species with incredible wild pasts: dogs, apples and wheat; cattle; potatoes and chickens; rice, maize, and horses – and, finally, humans. Alice Roberts not only reveals how becoming part of our world changed these animals and plants but shows how they became our allies, essential to the survival and success of our own species – and to our future.                                                            

Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Tracking

by Rachel Love Nuwer

In Poached, science journalist Rachel Nuwer takes us on a harrowing journey to the frontlines of the illegal wildlife trade, exploring the forces currently driving demand for animals and their parts – such as the widespread abuses of Chinese medicine and the links with drug trafficking and international crime cartels – and introduces us to the individuals battling to save them: the scientists and activists who believe it is not too late to stop the impending extinctions.

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells

by Helen Scales

Helen Scales tells the story of the seashell, showing how these simple objects have been sculpted by fundamental rules of mathematics and evolution, how they gave us colour, gems, food and money, and how they are prompting new medicines and teaching scientists how our brains work. Seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to heal the rift between ourselves and the undersea world. 

H is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald 

Destined to be a classic of nature writing, H is for Hawk is a record of a spiritual journey – an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. At the same time, it’s a kaleidoscopic biography of the brilliant and troubled novelist T. H. White, best known for The Once and Future King. It’s a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.

 

Field Guide to the Ladybirds of Britain and Ireland

by Helen E Roy

Professor Helen Roy’s research focuses on the effects of environmental change on insect populations and communities. This illustrated field guide covers all 47 species of ladybird occurring in Britain and Ireland in a handy and easy-to-use format. Twenty-six species are colourful and conspicuous and easily recognised as ladybirds; the remaining species are more challenging, but the clear illustrations and up-to-date text in Field Guide to the Ladybirds of Britain and Ireland will help to break down the identification barriers.

 

A Crack in Creation: The New Power to Control Evolution 

by Jennifer Doudna

CRISPR is a breakthrough discovery in genetic modification that is causing a revolution. It is an invention that allows us to rewrite the genetic code that shapes and controls all living beings with astonishing accuracy and ease. Jennifer Doudna is the co-inventor of this technology and a scientist of worldwide renown. Writing with fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, here she provides the definitive account of her discovery, explaining how this wondrous invention works and what it is capable of.

 

Bats: An Illustrated Guide to All Species

by Marianne Taylor

Marianne Taylor has written prolifically on the natural world. This lavishly illustrated handbook offers in-depth profiles of 300 megabats and microbats and detailed summaries of all the species identified to date. An endlessly fascinating guide with an introduction exploring their natural history and unique adaptations to life on the wing. Bats includes close-up images of these animals’ delicate, intricate and sometimes grotesque forms and faces, each shaped by evolution to meet the demands of an extraordinarily specialized life.

This Week in Biodiversity News – 3rd March

 

Images of wild western lowland gorillas in central mainland Equatorial Guinea have been captured by camera traps for the first time in over a decade. The exciting discovery made by conservationists at the Bristol Zoological Society (BZS) and the University of West England, confirms the continued existence of gorillas despite heavy hunting pressure.

An exciting new campaign has been launched this week, to gather images of native oysters by the Native Oyster Network – a collaboration between international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and the University of Portsmouth, to help preserve the UK’s native oyster populations. Find out how to get involved here

The UN chief urges for a “more caring” relationship with nature as part of World Wildlife Day 2020, an important global event that takes place every year on the 3rd of March, to celebrate and raise awareness about wild animals and plants. Find out more on the World Wildlife Day website

The Taita Hills of South Eastern Kenya is an important bird and biodiversity area and is named after one of the rarest birds in the world: the Taita Apalis, Taita White-eye, and Taita thrush. Severe habitat loss in the area has made this bird species endangered. Read here about BirdLife Africa’s initiative to protect the Taita and other bird species, by working with local communities in the area. 

Researches at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have just discovered a unique non-oxygen breathing animal. The parasitic, tiny relative of the jellyfish that dwells in salmon tissue, breaks away from the assumption that aerobic respiration is ubiquitous in animals. This discovery bears enormous significance for evolutionary research.