1 Tahrcountry Musings

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The first experimental evidence that noise alone can affect a wild vertebrate's early-life telomere length.

Traffic noise exposure affects telomere length in nestling house sparrows.
Biology letters, September 2015, Volume: 11 Issue: 9

This paper appeared couple of months back. I read it only yesterday. Researchers Alizée Meillère, François Brischoux, Cécile Ribout and Frédéric Angelier have shown that noise alone can affect a wild vertebrate's early-life telomere length


.Lot of evidences has come up recently to show that high noise levels can have major impacts on wildlife. Most of the research has been on adult animals, but there is nothing much on the effects of noise pollution on developing organisms in the research sphere. Here the researchers experimentally manipulated the acoustic environment of free-living house sparrows (Passer domesticus) breeding in nest boxes. Disturbance on nestlings’ telomere length and fledging success were put to test. Telomeres (the protective ends of chromosomes) are a predictor of longevity.  Nestlings reared under traffic noise exposure exhibited reduced telomere lengths. Based on their findings the researchers assert that noise alone can affect a wild vertebrate's early-life telomere length and it may entail important costs for developing organisms.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Use barley and improve your blood sugar levels, reduce appetite.

Here is good news for people prone to diabetes. A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that barley can rapidly improve people's health by reducing blood sugar levels and the risk for diabetes. The special mixture of dietary fibres found in barley does the trick.  Barley stimulates the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones. Participants' metabolism improved for up to 14 hours after the intake. Anne Nilsson, Associate Professor at the Food for Health Science Centre of University of Lind, headed the research. Details of the research appear in the latest issue of British Journal of Nutrition.



Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A global assessment of the social and conservation outcomes of protected areas

J. A. Oldekop, G. Holmes, W. E. Harris and K. L. Evans conducted a global meta-analysis on 165 PAs using data from 171 published studies to assess how PAs affect the well-being of local people, the factors associated with these impacts, and most important  the relationship between PAs’ conservation and socioeconomic outcomes. The researchers found that protected areas associated with positive socioeconomic outcomes were more likely to report positive conservation outcomes. PAs which adopted a management strategy which empowered local people, reduced economic inequalities, and maintained cultural and livelihood benefits prospered more when compared to areas where strict measures were implemented to exclude anthropogenic influences to achieve biological conservation objectives. The researchers affirm that conservation and development objectives can be synergistic and highlight management strategies that increase the probability of maximizing both conservation performance and development outcomes of PAs.

Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 1, pages 133–141, February 2016

Monday, February 08, 2016

Conservation action can be effective even when a population has lost 90% of its individuals

It was with great fascination that I read this paper titled "  Overcoming extinction - Understanding process of recovery in Tibetan Antelope". The paper appeared in the journal Ecosphere in the September 2015 edition. The paper points towards the potential for reversal of the process even in a population plunging towards extinction .The authors affirm that even when the population has entered extinction vortex there is hope.
The paper was authored by C. Leclerc , C. Bellard, G.M Luque and and F.Courchamp. Ecosphere Volume 6, Issue 9 September 2015
Pages 1- 14



Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World



Here is wonderful book written by German forest ranger Peter Wohlleben that is sure to captivate you. According to Peter Wohlleben like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow. Peter explores the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities. He adds "They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the 'Wood Wide Web' – and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots."

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Greystone Books 
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1771642483

ISBN-13: 978-1771642484

Friday, February 05, 2016

Female marine turtles are outnumbering male turtles

The sex ratio of marine turtles is getting skewed. Female marine turtles are outnumbering male turtles. The phenomenon is attributed to global warming. The sex ratio of marine turtle hatchlings are influenced by ambient temperature. Warmer temperature produces more number of female hatchlings. The information is a direct outcome of research by University of Florida researchers. The study was headed by Asst: Professor Mariana Fuentes.

In Northern Brazil 94% female bias was noticed by researchers. In Southern Brazil 47% o male was hatchlings were observed. This is essential to sustain the population. Even though the researchers concentrated on Brazil the result is applicable to other areas also because all turtles have temperature determined sex determination.


The details appear in the latest issue of Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Monday, January 25, 2016

A green view from the classroom can improve students’ performance

Latest research from the University Of Illinois Department Of Landscape Architecture has indicated that students perform better on tests if they are in a classroom with a view of a green landscape. They also recovered better from stress. Students' capacity to pay attention increased 13 percent if they had a green view outside their classroom window.

The researchers suggest “planners can identify sites for new schools that already have trees and other vegetation, or they can plant many trees on the site; architects can locate classroom, cafeteria and hallway windows so they look onto green spaces; and school schedules can allow short breaks to restore students' attention and help them recover from stressful tasks.”


The findings are being published in the April 2016 issue of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge – Top slot for Indian IT firm

The Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge is an initiative of USAID, in partnership with National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution and TRAFFIC. They have announced the winners of its competition for designing new, innovative solutions to the most intractable issues in the fight against wildlife trafficking.

Indian IT firm Binomial Solutions Private Limited (India) has found the top slot for its innovative “e-Eye ® (Electronic Eye): Real-time Anti-Poaching, Surveillance & Wildlife Tracking System.” Congrats. Give a big hand to them, guys.

The other winners are
Bosque Antiguo (Mexico): “High Throughput STRs and Sequence Genotyping as Forensic Tools for Species Protection”.
For the Fishes (U.S.): “Tank Watch--The Good Fish/Bad Fish Tool for Saltwater Aquariums.”
Jennifer Jacquet (U.S.): “Enforcement Gaps Interface.”
Kalev Hannes Leetaru (U.S.): “A Real-time Global Platform for Mapping, Forecasting, and Network Assessment of Wildlife Crime.”
Mars Omega Partnership Ltd (U.K.):“The JIGZAW Information Collaboration Project.”
National Whistleblowers Center (U.S.): “Secured Internet Wildlife Crime Reporting System.”
New England Aquarium (U.S.): “Live Digital Invoices for Real Time Data Analytics to Enhance Detection of Illegal Wildlife Trade.”
Paso Pacifico (U.S.): “The Trade of Endangered Sea Turtle Eggs: Detecting and Monitoring Regional Transit Routes.” 
Planet Indonesia (U.S.): “Enhancing Bird Market Monitoring in Indonesia through Smartphone Technology.”
University of Leicester (U.K.): “Universal Species Identification in the field by Rapid and Affordable Nanopore DNA Sequencing.”
University of Pretoria (South Africa): Internationalization of RhODIS® and eRhODIS®
University of Technology Sydney (Australia): “Rapid Chemical Odor Profiling for Frontline Identification of Illegal Wildlife Products.”
University of Washington (U.S.): High Throughput Methods for Locating Source Populations in the Illegal Wildlife Trade.”
Yayasan Inisiasi Alam Rehabilitasi Indonesia (Indonesia): “Conservation of threatened Indonesian Slow Lorises Using DNA-based Forensic Methods to Tackle Trade.”
Zoological Society of London (U.K.): “Instant Detect- Exposing the Movement of Poachers in Real Time.”

USAID will award USD10, 000 to each winner and provide technical support to help them fine tune their solutions to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife. Winners are eligible to compete for a Grand Prize of up to USD500, 000.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Road ecology and small animals

Road ecology is a comparatively new stream,but tremendous advances have been made recently. The  main problem is that road ecologists bestow lot of attention to the travails of big animals while the needs of the small animals gets short shrift. It is against this background that I read a good book detailing the needs of the small animals. The book titled 'Roads and Ecological Infrastructure' is authored by Kimberly M.Andrews, Priya Nanjappa and SethP.D.Riley and published by Johns Hopkins University in association with Wildlife Society
 This is the first book to focus on reducing conflict between Roads and small animals.. Challenges involved from a transportation and ecological point of view are put under scanner and discussed extensively.The goal is realistic problem solving.. I recommend the book unreservedly to practising and budding road ecologists.

I have been traveling for the past two weeks and just managed to finish it .The due date for return is tomorrow. Today I am going to fade into areas without net connectivity for a couple of days. For the past two weeks I have been using my phone for all communication. Couple of typos have crept in while typing. Sorry about this guys. Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A good paper on local community tolerance for endangered carnivores

I just read a good paper on local community tolerance for endangered carnivores. The paper authored by Chloe Inskip,Neil Carter, Shawn Riley, Thomas Roberts and Duglas Macmillan examines the tolerance for Tigers in Bangladesh. The paper appears in the latest issue of journal Plos One.
 Fostering community participation is a core component in present day Conservation strategies.. The researchers used stated preference approach for measuring tolerance, based on the "Wildlife Stakeholder acceptance capacity' concept. The results indicate that beliefs about tigers and perceived current population trend are predictors of tolerance. Positive beliefs about tigers and the belief that tiger population is currently not increasing are both associated with greater tolerance towards the species. Contrary to common belefs negatice experience about tigers do not directly affect tolerance.;instead their effect is mediated by villagers beliefs about tigers and risk perceptions concerning human-tiger conflict incidents.. The findings stress the urgent need to explore and understand the socio-psychological factors that encourage tolerance towards endangered species.

I thank Vidya Athreya for sending me the paper.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Europe's migration dilemma is threatening wildlife

Yesterday I talked to some of my contacts in Europe. The guys are a worried lot after the migration crisis hit Europe. Every other day we hear about human suffering related to migration in Europe, but very little attention is paid to the suffering of wildlife that the migration engenders.
The hastily built anti-refugee fences along national borders is bringing in animal casualties. It is curtailing animal movements..Some of the animals involved are highly endangered. For small endangered species like lynx every individual is important.The crisis is deep and needs immediate attention. The guys jokingly said what is needed is a cross border Schengen for the animals. I hope the efforts of conservationists in Europe would bear fruits. All the best guys

A better conservation drone

Keeyen Pam from Conservation Drones Asia team has tweaked his drone for better performance.. It can now fly 100 KM, approximately 3 hours. That is a big boost for conservation biologists and managers.The basic equipment remains the sturdy Skywalker air frame. The major breakthrough comes in the form of new Lithium ion battery pack. Large mapping is now possible with a single flight. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Planning a genetic rescue ? Take a cue from this

Dr Richard Frankham after extensive studies has found that genetic rescue benefits persist to at least the F3 generation. A meta - analysis was carefully done by him to arrive at the conclusion.

 Many species with inbred populations facing high risk of extinction stand a reversal in fortune with outcrossing. Doubts have been voiced whether the benefits persist across generations. Dr Frankham found that outcrossing was beneficial inF1, F2 and F3 generations.

 Read the details in the journal Biological Conservation,March 2016,Vol195:33-36