Biodiversity News

Pine martens released into the Forest of Dean

The Pine marten was once a common animal in British woodlands, but they were driven to near extinction by habitat loss and hunting.  Pine martens belong to the same family as otters and weasels, and have experienced such a dramatic decline that they are now Britain’s second-rarest carnivore after the Scottish wildcat. Recently, a major milestone for recovery of the species has been reached; 18 individuals have been released into the Forest of Dean.
Between August and September this year, these individuals were trans located from healthy populations in Scotland, to Gloucestershire. Their reintroduction may be vital to preventing complete extinction in England, as well as benefiting the entire forest ecosystem.

Burrowing birds create islands of rich plant life in deserts

Tiny patches of rich plant life can be found dotting the deserts of Peru, and burrowing birds may be responsible. Mounds of sand shoveled out by nest-digging burrowing owls and miner birds encourage more seedlings and exclusive plant varieties to grow compared to the undisturbed ground surrounding. Deserts are very hard places for seeds to germinate, not just for lack of moisture but for the crusty, cyanobacteria-covered soil that is commonly found. This crust is a problem for seeds because seeds stranded on top of the soil are exposed to the harsh conditions and the crust forms a barrier for water to reach the seeds below. Burrowing birds break through this tough barrier to build their nests, providing an area of sand and soil that water can pass through, allowing seeds to germinate.

After a 50-year conservation effort, songbird flies off U.S. endangered species list

For as long as there has been an Endangered Species act, the Kirtland’s warbler has required protection- until this year. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the US announced on October 8th that it is removing the Kirtland’s warbler off the endangered species list after active management over the past 50 years. FWS cited the work done by Michigan state and federal agencies to boost breeding habitats and combat brood parasitism. Although, they are no longer classified as endangered, the Endangered Species Act notes that they remain a ‘conservation-reliant species’ in order to maintain their success in the future.

The deeper those octopuses live, the wartier their skin

Deep beneath the surface of the north Pacific ocean lives the warty Pacific octopus, a rather cute, pink and warty creature that wanders the seafloor. Scientists have been studying how the appearance of this octopuses changes with depth and have made some interesting discoveries. Using a manned submersible vehicle, ALVIN, researchers from the Field Museum, Chicago, took 50 specimens from depths ranging from 3,660 to 9,000 feet below the surface of the Northeast Pacific, along with other donated specimens. Despite the octopuses looking very different to one another it was discovered, through DNA analysis that they were all warty pacific octopuses.

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