1 Tahrcountry Musings: 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hi Guys,
                Due to paucity of time and other imponderables, I am not in a position to blog regularly. I have started a WhatsApp group called Wilderness unplugged to post wildlife news. This allows me to post on the go. If you are interested in joining the group send me a request.
Have a great day

Monday, August 22, 2016

No updates for some more time

Hi guys,
             Due to personal constraints I am not in a position to post regular updates.  Hope to see you soon. Have a great time.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Taking a break

Hi Guys,
              I am taking a break for 15 days. There wont't be any updates during this period

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Adult female ungulates: The importance getting to know about lambing habitat: Parturition, nursery, and predation sites.

Desert bighorn sheep lambing habitat: Parturition, nursery, and predation sites
Rebekah C. Karsch,James W. Cain,Eric M. Rominger and Elise J. Goldstein
The Journal of Wildlife Management,Volume 80Issue 6pages 1069–1080August 2016

Fitness of female ungulates is determined by neonate survival and lifetime reproductive success. Therefore, adult female ungulates should adopt behaviors and habitat selection patterns that enhance survival of neonates during parturition and lactation. Parturition site location may play an important role in neonatal mortality of desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) when lambs are especially vulnerable to predation, but parturition sites are rarely documented for this species. The objectives of the researchers were to assess environmental characteristics at desert bighorn parturition, lamb nursery, and predation sites and to assess differences in habitat characteristics between parturition sites and nursery group sites, and predation sites and nursery group sites. They used vaginal implant transmitters (VITs) to identify parturition sites and capture neonates. We then compared elevation, slope, terrain ruggedness, and visibility at parturition, nursery, and lamb predation sites with paired random sites and compared characteristics of parturition sites and lamb predation sites to those of nursery sites. When compared to random sites, odds of a site being a parturition site were highest at intermediate slopes and decreased with increasing female visibility. Odds of a site being a predation site increased with decreasing visibility. When compared to nursery group sites, odds of a site being a parturition site had a quadratic relationship with elevation and slope, with odds being highest at intermediate elevations and intermediate slopes. When the researchers compared predation sites to nursery sites, odds of a site being a predation were highest at low elevation areas with high visibility and high elevation areas with low visibility likely because of differences in hunting strategies of coyote (Canis latrans) and puma (Puma concolor). Parturition sites were lower in elevation and slope than nursery sites. The researchers signs off stating that understanding selection of parturition sites by adult females and how habitat characteristics at these sites differ from those at predation and nursery sites can provide insight into strategies employed by female desert bighorn sheep and other species during and after parturition to promote neonate survival. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Getting to know how the spatial configuration of residential development affects the foraging behavior and prey habits of top predators

Spatial characteristics of residential development shift large carnivore prey habits
Justine A. Smith,Yiwei Wan and Christopher C. Wilmers
The Journal of Wildlife ManagementVolume 80Issue 6pages 1040–1048August 2016

Understanding how anthropogenic development affects food webs is essential to implementing sustainable growth measures, but we have very little knowledge about how the spatial configuration of residential development affects the foraging behavior and prey habits of top predators. The researchers examined the influence of the spatial characteristics of residential development on prey composition in the puma (Puma concolor). They located the prey remains of kills from 32 pumas fitted with global positioning system (GPS) satellite collars to determine the housing characteristics most influencing prey size and species composition. They examined how differences in housing density, proximity, and clustering influenced puma prey size and diversity. They found that at both local (150 m) and regional (1 km) spatial scales surrounding puma kill sites, housing density (but not the clustering of housing) was the greatest contributor to puma consumption of small prey,which primarily comprised human commensals or pets. The species-specific relationships between housing density and prey occupancy and detection rates assessed using camera traps were not always similar to those between housing density and proportions of diet, suggesting that pumas may exercise some diet selectivity. The influence of development on puma diet may affect puma disease risk, energetics, and demographics because of altered species interactions and prey-specific profiles of energetic gain and cost. The researchers say their results can help guide future land-use planners seeking to minimize the impacts of development on wild species interactions and community dynamics.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Want protection from malaria? Here is an unlikely recipe. Sleep with a chicken next to your bed

A study by Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Addis Ababa University, reported in the open access Malaria Journal, has shown that malaria-transmitting mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species such as chickens, using their sense of smell. The scientists say odours emitted by species such as chickens could provide protection for humans at risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases.

To find out which species the mosquitoes prefer, the research team collected data on the population of human and domestic animals in three Ethiopian villages. They also collected blood-fed mosquitoes to test for the source of the blood that the mosquitoes had fed on. People living in the areas in which the research was conducted share their living quarters with their livestock. The researchers found that while Anopheles arabiensis strongly prefers human over animal blood when seeking hosts indoors, it randomly feeds on cattle, goats and sheep when outdoors, but avoids chickens in both settings, despite their relatively high abundance.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Scientists urge replacement of animals in antibody production

The global antibody industry is worth 80 billion dollars and relies heavily on animals to produce the antibodies that are used to detect the vast range of molecules indicative of state of health, safety or the environment.Scientists from the Universities of Nottingham, Toronto, Utrecht and Lund in Sweden say millions of animals are still being authorised for routine scientific procedures when there is a tried and tested alternative. They add that the use of animals in consumer society is effectively 'hidden' and products assumed to be 'animal-friendly' are mere ruse. Animal friendly antibody production technique using bacteriophage viruses instead of live animals is being overlooked.
The scientists are proposing a seven point EU led action plan by the wider scientific community and biotechnology industry.
• The replacement of animal immunisation methods for antibody production, including the import of antibodies and antibody-containing products unless it can be demonstrated on a case-by-case basis that Animal Friendly affinity reagents (AFAs) cannot be applied.
• An expert working group should be established to set up a roadmap for moving away from animal immunisation-based techniques for antibody production, in light of the scientific feasibility and commercial availability of AFAs.
• Implementation programmes should be set up to facilitate the transfer of establishments to the new technology. These should include centres of excellence for training in AFA-based technologies to ensure that antibody producers are fully supported.
• Measures should be taken to ensure that animal-derived antibodies manufactured outside the EU adhere to European standards to avoid ethics dumping in regions where animal welfare is less well regulated.
• The European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) should extend its field of activities with its international collaborative partners to include the production of AFAs and their subsequent use.
• EU and national agencies who are committed to the 3Rs and who execute EU regulations at an operational level for the commercial production of cosmetics, medicines, household products, and food or to safeguard our health or the environment should reinforce this action and no longer permit the import or use of animal-derived antibodies and antibody-containing products aimed to monitor, detect, diagnose, or extract targets of interest.
• Subsequent reports from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes should include data on the use of animals for antibody production as an independent category.

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Trends in Biotechnology. Read it HERE

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Urban pigeons might come in handy to detect lead and other toxic compounds in cities

 A new study of pigeons by Fayme Cai and Rebecca Calisi in New York City shows that levels of lead in the birds track with neighborhoods where children show high levels of lead exposure. In their study the researchers used feral pigeon (Columba livia) as a lead bioindicator in New York City. They collected blood lead level records from 825 visibly ill or abnormally behaving pigeons from various NYC neighborhoods between 2010 and 2015. They found that blood lead levels were significantly higher during the summer, an effect reported in children. Even miniscule amounts of lead are extremely detrimental to child health. 
The researchers provide support for the use of the feral pigeon as a bioindicator of environmental lead contamination for the first time in the U.S. and for the first time anywhere in association with rates of elevated blood lead levels in children. They say this information has the potential to enable measures to assess, strategize, and potentially circumvent the negative impacts of lead and other environmental contaminants on human and wildlife communities. The research provide a powerful example of how monitoring pigeon biology may help us to better understand the location and prevalence of lead, with the aim of providing greater awareness and devising prevention measures.

Details appear in the latest edition of journal Chemosphere

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Using an incentive-based strategy as a complement to command-and-control, community- and norm-based strategies may help achieve greater conservation effectiveness

Effects of payments for ecosystem services on wildlife habitat recovery
Mao-Ning Tuanmu,Andrés Viña,Wu Yang,Xiaodong ChenAshton M. Shortridge and Jianguo Liu
Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 4, pages 827–835, August 2016

Serous debates on policies that might simultaneously promote sustainable management of protected areas and improve the living conditions of local people have been going on round the world. This has been engendered by conflicts between local people's livelihoods and conservation that has stymied many well intended conservation measures. The authors of this paper say, few empirical assessments of the effectiveness of government-sponsored payments-for-ecosystem-services (PES) schemes have been conducted, and even fewer assessments have directly measured their effects on ecosystem services. Here the researchers conducted an empirical and spatially explicit assessment of the conservation effectiveness of one of the world's largest PES programs through the use of a long-term empirical data set, a satellite-based habitat model, and spatial autoregressive analyses on direct measures of change in an ecosystem service (i.e., the provision of wildlife species habitat). Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) habitat improved in Wolong Nature Reserve of China after the implementation of the Natural Forest Conservation Program. The improvement was more pronounced in areas monitored by local residents than those monitored by the local government, but only when a higher payment was provided. The results suggest that the effectiveness of a PES program depends on who receives the payment and on whether the payment provides sufficient incentives. As engagement of local residents has not been incorporated in many conservation strategies elsewhere in China or around the world, the results also suggest that using an incentive-based strategy as a complement to command-and-control, community- and norm-based strategies may help achieve greater conservation effectiveness and provide a potential solution for the park versus people conflict.

Friday, July 15, 2016

American black bears may be able to recognize from photographs things they know in real life

 Many animals show what is called “picture-object recognition”, in which they respond to pictures and their corresponding real-life objects in similar ways .A study which involved a black bear (Ursus americanus),   called Migwan and a computer screen has come up with the finding that American black bears may be able to recognize things they know in real life, such as pieces of food or humans, when looking at a photograph of the same thing. The study was led by Zoe Johnson-Ulrich and Jennifer Vonk of Oakland University in the US.
Migwan was first presented with two sets of objects new to her. Her ability to recognize these later, when presented with photographs including the items she had learned, was then assessed. In a reverse task, she was also trained on the photographs of two different sets of objects and tested on the transfer to real objects. Migwan was able to recognize, on a photograph, the visual features of objects or natural stimuli she already knew. It is an ability that bears share with hens, rhesus monkeys, pigeons, tortoises and horses.
Johnson-Ulrich and Vonk however caution that the ability of bears to recognize features of real objects within 2D-images does not necessarily mean they understand the representational nature of photographs. It is also still uncertain how well bears are able to recognize tangible objects which they first saw on a photograph before being introduced to the real thing. Further research using other bears is therefore needed to verify if the animals can transfer information from pictures to objects, too.

Details appear in the latest edition of journal Animal Cognition.

The above post is prepared from materials provided by Springer. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The role of behavioral ecology in improving wildlife conservation and management

A systematic survey of the integration of animal behavior into conservation
Oded Berger-Tal,Daniel T. Blumstein,Scott Carroll,Robert N. Fisher,Sarah L. Mesnick,Megan A. Owen,David Saltz,Colleen Cassady St. Claire and Ronald R. Swaisgood
Conservation Biology,Volume 30, Issue 4, pages 744–753, August 2016

The role of behavioral ecology in improving wildlife conservation and management has been the subject of lot of discussions in recent years. Here the researchers sought to answer 2 foundational questions about the current use of behavioral knowledge in conservation: To what extent is behavioral knowledge used in wildlife conservation and management, and how does the use of animal behavior differ among conservation fields in both frequency and types of use? They searched the literature for intersections between key fields of animal behavior and conservation and created a systematic heat map (i.e., graphical representation of data where values are represented as colors) to visualize relative efforts. Some behaviors, such as dispersal and foraging, were commonly considered (mean [SE] of 1147.38 [353.11] and 439.44 [108.85] papers per cell, respectively). In contrast, other behaviors, such as learning, social, and anti-predatory behaviors were rarely considered (mean [SE] of 33.88 [7.62], 44.81 [10.65], and 22.69 [6.37] papers per cell, respectively). In many cases, awareness of the importance of behavior did not translate into applicable management tools. Their results challenge previous suggestions that there is little association between the fields of behavioral ecology and conservation and reveals tremendous variation in the use of different behaviors in conservation. They recommend that researchers focus on examining underutilized intersections of behavior and conservation themes for which preliminary work shows a potential for improving conservation and management, translating behavioral theory into applicable and testable predictions, and creating systematic reviews to summarize the behavioral evidence within the behavior-conservation intersections for which many studies exist.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Latest Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) analysis

Latest Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) analysis, prepared by TRAFFIC on behalf of Parties to CITES is now available

ETIS is a comprehensive information system to track illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products. It shares the same objectives as those set out for MIKE in Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. CoP16), with the difference that its aim is to record and analyse levels and trends in illegal trade, rather than the illegal killing of elephants. The central component of ETIS is a database on seizures of elephant specimens that have occurred anywhere in the world since 1989. The seizure database is supported by a series of subsidiary database components that assess law enforcement effort and efficiency, rates of reporting, domestic ivory markets and background economic variables. These database components are time-based and country-specific and are used to mitigate factors that cause bias in the data and might otherwise distort the analytical results. The subsidiary database components also assist in interpreting and understanding the results of the ETIS analyses. Since its inception, ETIS has been managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of the CITES Parties and is currently housed at the TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa office in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Read the report HERE

Friday, July 08, 2016

‘Coexistence with wildlife'

As the population of human being burgeons most species of large carnivores and large herbivores depend on being able to occupy human-dominated landscapes for survival. This invariably leads to conflicts between humans and wildlife. Researchers  Neil Carter, assistant professor in the Human-Environment Systems Research Center in the College of Innovation and Design at Boise State, and John Linnell, a senior research scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, say, there is a need to develop a more nuanced and realistic understanding of what this state looks like. They have recently published a paper titled “Co-Adaptation Is Key to Coexisting with Large Carnivores” in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.  The paper is based on real life situations in North America, Europe and Asia on species such as wolves, tigers, leopards, lynx and bears. 
The researchers note that large carnivores need larger ranges than many protected areas afford. This means that carnivores often come in contact with human populations that are sometimes less than welcoming. They suggest that mutual adaptations is the key to success, implying that not only do wild animals have to behaviourally adapt to the presence of humans, but humans also have to adapt their behavior to the presence of wild animals.
Studies conducted by the authors and their colleagues have shown that many species of large carnivores show an incredible ability to occupy heavily modified human-dominated landscapes. Many human societies also show a wide range of adaptations to the proximity of large carnivores. This includes changes to the way they keep livestock and the adoption of cultural or religious practices to "negotiate" their relationship with their wild neighbours. However, in many areas these adaptations have been lost, either due to a temporary absence of large carnivores or in the face of changing social-economic situations. The result is often severe conflicts of both an economic and social nature.The necessity of adaptation by both humans and the carnivores is a key first step towards transforming conflict to coexistence. Conservation efforts that fail to focus on both halves of the equation are doomed to fail.
A factor for success has to do with realising that a state of coexistence does not involve an idealized absence of conflict. Rather than trying to eliminate all risk, which can mean eliminating a species, the authors explore ways to keep risks below tolerable levels. That involves understanding what factors influence tolerance. While some communities may not tolerate any risks from carnivores, others may tolerate high risks because they attribute carnivores with ecological and cultural benefits that exceed those risks. In many communities, the priorities of various stakeholder groups are still sometimes at odds, and there is a reduced trust in authorities. Interventions such as new policies must take into account local concerns, the authors say, such as the adoption of novel decision-making strategies that give voice to varying viewpoints.
The researchers believe that the challenges are surmountable through the help of community leaders, conservation organizations, and state or federal agencies. Insights from studies on coexistence "can help reconcile debates about carnivore conservation in shared landscapes and advance broader discourses in conservation," they wrote, "such as those related to rewilding, novel ecosystems, and land-sharing vs. land-sparing."
"In many ways large carnivores represent the ultimate test for human willingness to make space for wildlife on a shared planet. If it is possible to find ways to coexist with these species, it should be possible to coexist with any species", says John Linnell, co-author on the study.

A major chunk of the post is reprinted from materials provided by Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

Thursday, July 07, 2016

To crack the meaning of monkey calls linguists team up with primatologists

Linguists teaming up with primatologists have brought the general methods of contemporary linguistics to bear on monkey morphology (pertaining to the structure of calls), syntax (how the calls are put together into sequences), and semantics (what calls and call sequences mean), building on several earlier studies conducted within primatology.
The research was headed by DR Philip Schlenker a senior researcher at Institut Jean-Nicod within France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University, associating with Emmanuel Chemla, a research scientist at France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and Klaus Zuberbühler, a professor at Switzerland's University of Neuchâtel, appears 

Philippe Schlenker, says “We can now study the form and meaning of monkey calls using methods from theoretical titi monkeys’ linguistics. Using this approach, we can compare one monkey species to another and see, for instance, that some of their calls have been preserved over three million years."

Details appear in the latest issues of journals Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, Lingua and Theoretical Linguistics

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Snow leopards may be more common than previously thought

Snow leopard (Panthera uncia), is the world’s, most mysterious and the least studied big cat. New studies are now breaking fresh ground bringing encouraging results about their numbers. New estimates focused on areas described as 'Snow Leopard Conservation Units,' covering only 44 percent of the snow leopard's extensive range (which extends over roughly 3 million km2 or 1,158,306 square miles) suggests that there may be between 4,678 and 8,745 snow leopards just in these units. Previous estimates were only between 3,920 and 7,500. Satellite telemetry and camera traps gave an impetus to the new studies.
Despite the good news about the numbers of snow leopard, the species still faces multiple pressures. They are still regularly poached for their beautiful fur and killed in retaliation for taking herder's livestock.

Details appear in Snow Leopards, published by Elsevier Press and edited by Dr. Tom McCarthy and Dr. David Mallon. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Frigate birds: Airborne for months at a time

A telemetric study of the trajectory and flight strategy of frigate birds(Fregata minor), led by Henri Weimerskirch of the Centre d'études biologiques de Chizé (CNRS/Université de La Rochelle) in partnership with colleagues based in La Réunion, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany has revealed that they can remain airborne for over two months. This happens during their transoceanic migrations. Frigate birds make their transoceanic flights between Africa and Indonesia. The birds have extraordinary ability to glide and climb in updrafts without beating its wings. They track the edge of the doldrums to take advantage of favorable winds and strong convection.Locally, they use a roller-coaster flight, relying on thermals and wind to soar within a 50- to 600-meter altitude band under cumulus clouds and then glide over kilometers at low energy costs. To deal with the local scarcity of clouds and gain longer gliding distances, birds regularly soar inside cumulus clouds to use their strong updraft, and they can reach altitudes of 4000 meters, where freezing conditions occur.

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Science.

Monday, July 04, 2016

New tarantula species named after Gabriel García Márquez

A new tarantula genus and species, formally called Kankuamo marquezi, has been discovered in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. The genus’ name honors an indigenous people from the Caribbean coast region, while its species' name pays tribute to Nobel laureate and renowned Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. An international research team, led by Carlos Perafán, University of the Republic, Uruguay, made the discovery.
Here are the conclusions of the researchers
Kankuamo gen. n. fits the diagnostic characters of Theraphosinae, but also shows a very divergent palpal bulb morphology and the presence of a new abdominal urticating setae type. These setae are unique, and here are proposed to be the only contact released urticating setae yet known within the Theraphosinae, although this release mechanism was previously well known only for Aviculariinae. Also, the supernumerary keels on the male palpal bulb clearly distinguish it from all known theraphosid species. Kankuamo gen. n. was resolved as the sister group of Metriopelma on our preferred phylogeny of Theraphosinae.

Details of the research appears in the open access journal ZooKeys

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting

I just finished reading this delightful book by Thomas D. Seeley.  Thomas Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, vividly describes the history and science of wild bees. Seeley weaves a beautiful pattern of informative discussions of the biology of wild honey bees with delightful historical anecdotes, personal insights, and beautiful photos. The icing on the cake is quotes of historical accounts by Henry David Thoreau in the book. It is depiction of scientific natural history at its very best.
Simon Ings in his review in New Scientist writes “"Anyone deeply interested in natural history will ignore this mad little volume at their peril."
Edward O. Wilson writes “Following the Wild Bees is scientific natural history at its very best: original, authentic, and exciting. It is at the same time science, science history, adventure, sport, and treasure hunting."

Thomas D. Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University. He is the author of Honeybee Democracy and Honeybee Ecology (both Princeton) and The Wisdom of the Hive. He lives in Ithaca, New York

Following the Wild Bees:The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting
Thomas D. Seeley
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Hardcover | 2016 | $22.95 | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780691170268
184 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 50 color illus.
eBook | ISBN: 9781400880331

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Photovoltaic cells inspired by flowers

Scientists of KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and ZSW (Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg) have increased the efficiency of solar cells by replicating the structure of rose petals. They reproduced the epidermal cells of rose petals that have particularly good antireflection properties and integrated the transparent replicas into an organic solar cell. This has resulted in broad absorption spectrum and a high incidence angle tolerance. These properties are particularly pronounced in rose petals. In order to exactly replicate the structure of these epidermal cells over a larger area, the scientists transferred it to a mold made of polydimethylsiloxane, a silicon-based polymer, pressed the resulting negative structure into optical glue which was finally left to cure under UV light. The scientists then integrated the transparent replica of the rose petal epidermis into an organic solar cell.

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Advanced Optical Materials 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

More systematic use of genome-wide DNA for the detection of cryptic species needed

Scientists from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have made a discovery that could throw out of kilter the significance of traditional criteria used for species classification.
The scientists were able to uncover an unusual case of cryptic speciation in the Streak-eared Bulbul [Pycnonotus blanfordi], a bird widespread throughout South-east Asian countries. Cryptic speciation produces closely related sister species that are very similar in appearance It is only genetic and/or bioacoustics inquiries that reveal species-level differences. Traditionally, the bird identification depended on shape and plumage color to classify bird species. Vocalizations have also been recently added.
After careful examination, two described subspecies of Streak-eared Bulbul [Pycnonotus blanfordi] resident in Myanmar [P. b. blanfordi] and Thailand/Indochina [P. b. conradi]  the scientists discovered that they exhibit deep genome-wide differentiation indicating they are two separate species. They identified a surprising genetic divergence dating back as far as the early Pleistocene. The researchers advocate more systematic use of genome-wide DNA for the detection of cryptic species.

Details appear in the latest issue of journal, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Good bacteria: The key to coral reef survival

 Dr. Tracy Ainsworth from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University who led a comprehensive research on coral reefs says good bacteria could be the key to keeping coral healthy.
DR Tracy adds "Healthy corals interact with complex communities of beneficial microbes or 'good bacteria’. It is very likely that these microorganisms play a pivotal role in the capacity of coral to recover from bouts of bleaching caused by rising temperatures."
Says co-author Dr. Ruth Gates from Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai'"Facilitating coral survival and promoting coral recovery are growing areas of research for coral reef scientists. To do this we need to explore and understand the bacteria that help keep corals and coral reefs healthy. We know that lasting changes to the community of beneficial bacteria affects important aspects of the function of host organisms such as humans or corals, including their ability to withstand further stress. Corals rely on good bacteria but crucially we don't yet understand these microbes well enough to know how they influence coral survival."

Details have been published in the latest issue of journal Science.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Turning most commonly used synthetic plastic in to fuel

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC) in China have devised a way to turn millions of tons of plastic garbage into liquid fuel.
The researchers figured out how to break down the strong bonds of polyethylene, the most common commercially available form of plastic. Current approaches are cumbersome. They include using caustic chemicals known as radicals or heating the material to more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit to break down the chemical bonds of the polymers.
The researchers degraded plastics in a milder and more efficient manner through a process known as cross-alkane metathesis. The icing on the cake is that substances needed for the new method are byproducts of oil refining.

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Science Advances.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

First recorded extinction of a mammal in the world thought to due to human-induced climate change.

Research led by Ian Gynther from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, in partnership with the University of Queensland has come to the conclusion that human-caused climate change appears to have driven Australia’s Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal species Bramble Cay Melomys (Melomys rubicola) in to oblivion.  Bramble Cay melomys is only found on Bramble Cay, a small (4-6 ha) vegetated coral cay in the far northeast of the Torres Strait. Bramble Cay is a small vegetated sand cay surrounded by a relatively small coral reef and is comparatively isolated from other reefs in the Torres Strait. Bramble Cay melomys is a nocturnal rodent that shelters mostly in burrows and under logs and debris. There is no published information of life history of this species. It had the most isolated and restricted range of any Australian mammal.
The survey team laid 150 traps on the island for six nights. They could not find a single individual. The researchers concluded the “root cause” of the extinction was sea-level rise. As a result of rising seas, the island was inundated on multiple occasions, killing the animals and also destroying their habitat. 97% of the habitat was lost in just 10 years. Vegetation cover declined from 2.2ha in 2004 to just 0.065ha in 2014. Natural causes were compounded by the impacts from anthropogenic climate change-driven sea-level rise. Around the Torres Strait, sea level appears to have risen at almost twice the global average rate between 1993 and 2014. The researchers say melomys was driven to extinction due “solely (or primarily) to anthropogenic climate change”.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2016). Melomys rubicola in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

World Wildlife Crime Report

I just read the world wildlife crime report prepared by UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), with data provided by partner organizations under the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), including the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).
One of the main messages the new report aims to convey is that wildlife and forest crime is not limited to certain countries or regions, but is a truly global phenomenon. The report represents the first global assessment of its kind. Through in-depth analysis of trade sectors, markets and representative case studies, the World Wildlife Crime Report sheds light on seven specific areas which best illustrate the scale of wildlife and forest crime: seafood; pets, zoos and breeding; food, medicine and tonics; art, décor and jewellery; cosmetics and perfume; fashion; and furniture. The report looks to provide an insight into the crime and the great lengths to which traffickers go to exploit loopholes in the international controls. By doing so, several significant gaps in this area are highlighted, including informational, legislative and operational factors which, if addressed, could dramatically reduce the negative impact trafficking is having on wildlife.
UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, says "The desperate plight of iconic species at the hands of poachers has deservedly captured the world's attention and none too soon. Animals like the tiger, feared and revered throughout human history, are now hanging on by a thread, their dwindling numbers spread across a range of states that are struggling to protect them. African elephants and rhinos are under constant pressure. But the threat of wildlife crime does not stop with these majestic animals. One of the critical messages to emerge from this research is that wildlife and forest crime is not limited to certain countries or regions. It is not a trade involving exotic goods from foreign lands being shipped to faraway markets".
This is what CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon says "This comprehensive global report is rooted in the best data and case studies available, is backed by in-depth analysis, and demonstrates a heightened sense of rigor in the way in which we report on wildlife crime. Future reports will benefit from more and better data, with CITES Parties to submit annual illegal trade reports starting in 2017. Hundreds of additional species of animals and plants, including 250 tree species, are being considered for global protection under CITES at its 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties - to be held in Johannesburg later this year. The World Wildlife Crime Report shows the extensive involvement of transnational organized criminal groups in these highly destructive crimes and the pervasive impact of corruption, demonstrating that combating wildlife crime warrants even greater attention and resources at all levels. We sincerely thank the Executive Director and staff of UNODC for leading this tremendous effort, together with our other ICCWC partners, INTERPOL, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization"

Read the full report HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The significant role played by grandmas in Asian elephant groups

Mirkka Lahdenperä, Khyne U. Mar and Virpi Lummaa, researchers from University of Turku in Finland have come to the conclusion that to ensure the survival of the calves and breeding success for their daughters, the grandmothers plays a significant role in Asian elephants.
Asian elephants have a lifespan of up to 80 years and live in highly social family groups containing many generations of females and their calves.   During the last few generations, the number of Asian elephants has dropped by half and only 38,500-52,500 elephants currently remain in the wild.   The research group studied the unique records maintained for a century on Asian elephants used in timber extraction in Myanmar.
Dr. Mirkka Lahdenperä, the lead author of the study has this to say We found that calves of young elephant mothers under 20 years of age had eight times lower mortality risk if the grandmother resided in the same location compared to calves whose grandmother was not present,"
Resident grandmothers also decreased their daughters' inter-birth intervals by one year. This has the effect of having more grandcalves. Grandmothers with own recent calves were as beneficial to their daughter's calves as grandmothers who had already stopped reproducing.
Professor Virpi Lummaa adds "Grandmothers may be particularly important for the reproductive success of their inexperienced adult daughters. Older daughters, on the other hand, would have already gained enough experience in calf rearing to succeed without the help of their mother," 
Calf mortality is very high in zoos, as up to 50% of the calves die during their first years. In addition, problems with reproduction are common.
Professor Lummaa suggests "Experienced grandmothers might be in a pivotal role in increasing the survival prospects of calves as well as female birth rates in zoos. Conservationists and captive population managers could potentially boost the elephant population by simply starting to keep the grandmothers with their offspring, similarly as would be the case in the wild in elephant families," 

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Scientific Reports

Friday, June 10, 2016

Stunning aerial view of the rarely seen Bryde's whale captured by drone

This magnificent view of the rarely seen Bryde's whale was captured by a team of researchers from the Auckland University of Technology. A female and her calf are seen swimming off the coast of New Zealand, feeding on krill, plankton and small fish. 
Bryde's whales are critically endangered in New Zealand and are listed as "data deficient" by the IUCN. Bryde’s whale is named after Johan Bryde, who helped construct the first South African whaling factory in the early 1900s.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The words pristine-landscape is a misnomer now

Oxford researchers say Pristine' landscapes simply do not exist anywhere in the world today. An exhaustive review of archaeological data by them from the last 30 years provides details of how the world's landscapes have been shaped by repeated human activity over many thousands of years. The researchers identify four major phases when humans shaped the world around them with broad effects on natural ecosystems: global human expansion during the Late Pleistocene; the Neolithic spread of agriculture; the era of humans colonising islands; and the emergence of early urbanised societies and trade.
The researchers draw on new datasets using ancient DNA, stable isotopes, and microfossils, as well as the application of new statistical and computational methods to arrive at their conclusions. They affirm that we need to be more pragmatic in our conservation efforts rather than aiming for impossible 'natural' states.
Lead author Dr Nicole Boivin, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, and Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, says: 'Archaeological evidence is critical to identifying and understanding the deep history of human effects. If we want to improve our understanding of how we manage our environment and conserve species today, maybe we have to shift our perspective, by thinking more about how we safeguard clean air and fresh water for future generations and rather less about returning planet Earth to its original condition.'

Details appear in the latest issue of journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The ultimate water collection toolkit of a moss

Researchers Zhao Pan, William G. Pitt, Yuanming Zhang, Nan Wu, Ye Tao and Tadd T. Truscott from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Utah State University have discovered that moss Syntrichia caninervis has the ultimate water collection toolkit. The moss uses its leaves in ingeneous ways to collect moisture. 
The researchers show that the unique multiscale structures of the hair of moss are equipped to collect and transport water in four modes: nucleation of water droplets and films on the leaf hair from humid atmospheres; collection of fog droplets on leaf hairs; collection of splash water from raindrops; and transportation of the acquired water to the leaf itself. Fluid nucleation is accomplished in nanostructures, whereas fog droplets are gathered in areas where a high density of small barbs are present and then quickly transported to the leaf at the base of the hair. Their observations reveal nature's optimization of water collection by coupling relevant multiscale physical plant structures with multiscale sources of water.
The key to the plant's success is its small leaf hair point, or awn. These 0.5-2 mm-long hair-like structures at the tip of each leaf function like a Swiss Army knife in their ability to collect water from a variety of size scales. Whether the plant gets buckets of rain or only the occasional passing fog, the awn of S. caninervis can exploit any available water resource using four specialized tools.
Each awn is covered in nano- and micro-scale grooves where water vapor will readily condense. The grooves are just the right size and shape to condense water molecules directly from moist air and to catch microscopic fog droplets. At a larger scale, each awn also features elongated barbs that serve as collection depots where condensed or collected water forms small droplets. When large enough, the droplets move along the length of the awn toward the leaf -- sometimes at impressive speeds.
This process of water collection, droplet formation, and rapid transportation to the leaf is a critical function of the awns required to keep this moss alive. S. caninervis is unique because its leaf surfaces must be wet for photosynthesis to occur, and its root-like structures (rhizoids) do not collect water from the soil.
The researchers add "There are several exciting angles to this research. For example, there are processes in industry where we need to extract moisture from a humid environment. It might be possible to create a man-made version of the nano- and micro-scale grooves we see in the awns and use that in a manufacturing setting."
Another attraction is the plant's remarkable anti-splash properties. For several years researchers have been exploring methods to reduce splashing in multiple settings, including the common urinal. The concept is no trivial topic for the Splash Lab team. They've demonstrated that urinal splash-back is a legitimate concern when it comes to public hygiene and facility maintenance costs. The way clusters of S. caninervis harness water droplets inspired a newly designed urinal splash pad being developed by Truscott's Team.

Details of the research appears in the latest issue of journal Nature Plants

Monday, June 06, 2016

Nature apps - The potential is not fully exploited

Nature apps have the power to harness cloud computing, social networking, and crowdsourcing. I believe we have not fully leveraged the potential of Nature apps for conservation. Jepson and Ladle, the authors of the paper Nature apps: Waiting for the revolution say they have the potential to transform how humans interact with nature, cause a step change in the quantity and resolution of biodiversity data, democratize access to environmental knowledge, and reinvigorate ways of enjoying nature.  They conducted an automated search of the Google Play Store using 96 nature-related terms. This returned data on 36304 apps, of which 6301 were nature-themed. They found that few of these fully exploit the full range of capabilities inherent in the technology and/or have successfully captured the public imagination. The researchers emphasize that such breakthroughs will only be achieved by increasing the frequency and quality of collaboration between environmental scientists, information engineers, computer scientists, and interested public. My own experience with the Nilgiri tahr app that I developed, fully subscribe to the views of the researchers.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Avian scavenger crisis - The urgent need to look in to the trophic cascades, and loss of critical ecosystem functions

The avian scavenger crisis: Looming extinctions, trophic cascades, and loss of critical ecosystem functions
Evan R. Buechley and Çağan H. Şekercioğlu
Biological Conservation
Volume 198, June 2016, Pages 220–228

Vultures are the most threatened group of birds, many of the species on the precipice of extinction.  Of the 22 vulture species, nine are critically endangered, three are endangered, four are near threatened, and six are least concern. Diet specialization and taxonomy are leading extinction risk predictors. Dietary toxins are main threat for 59% of all avian scavengers, 88% of vultures. Vulture declines is  expected to cause trophic cascades and disease outbreaks. Currently, 73% of vulture species are extinction-prone (near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and extinct) and 77% have declining populations. Against this backdrop only 13% of avian facultative scavenger species are extinction-prone and 70% have stable or increasing populations. As vultures decline, populations of many facultative scavengers are growing. This causes trophic cascades from increased predation, competition, and invasion. Vultures' highly specialized digestive systems efficiently eradicate diseases when consuming carrion, whereas facultative scavengers are more susceptible to contract and transmit diseases among themselves and to humans. The researchers urge immediate action, particularly by regulating lethal dietary toxins, to prevent the extinction of vultures and loss of respective ecosystem services.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Owls are at disadvantage in an increasingly noisy world

Latest research by Boise state university has come to the conclusion that external noise can impact hunting abilities of owls. This is the first research on the impact of sound on owls. Owls experienced 8 percent drop in hunting success per decibel increase in noise. The authors suggest that noise can be mitigated and this will make ecosystems more resilient. As resource extraction expands in to otherwise quiet areas associated noise has the potential to degrade habitat for acoustically specialised animals.

Details of the research appear in the latest issue of journal Biological Conservation.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Understanding factors that promote or limit the occurrence of tigers in working landscapes

Conserving tigers in working landscapes
Pranav Chanchani,Barry R. Noon,Larissa L. Bailey and  Rekha A. Warrier
Conservation Biology,Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 649–660, June 2016

Here is a good paper that deals with the complexities of conserving tigers in working landscapes. This is an abstract of the paper. Usually I make changes when posting. Here I have retained the words of the authors as far as possible to maintain what the authors intend.

Tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation efforts in Asia are focused on protected areas embedded in human-dominated landscapes. A system of protected areas is an effective conservation strategy for many endangered species if the network is large enough to support stable metapopulations. The long-term conservation of tigers requires that the species be able to meet some of its life-history needs beyond the boundaries of small protected areas and within the working landscape, including multiple-use forests with logging and high human use. However, understanding of factors that promote or limit the occurrence of tigers in working landscapes is incomplete. The researchrs assessed the relative influence of protection status, prey occurrence, extent of grasslands, intensity of human use, and patch connectivity on tiger occurrence in the 5400 km2 Central Terai Landscape of India, adjacent to Nepal. Two observer teams independently surveyed 1009 km of forest trails and water courses distributed across 60 166-km2 cells. In each cell, the teams recorded detection of tiger signs along evenly spaced trail segments. The researchers used occupancy models that permitted multiscale analysis of spatially correlated data to estimate cell-scale occupancy and segment-scale habitat use by tigers as a function of management and environmental covariates. Prey availability and habitat quality, rather than protected-area designation, influenced tiger occupancy. Tiger occupancy was low in some protected areas in India that were connected to extensive areas of tiger habitat in Nepal, which brings into question the efficacy of current protection and management strategies in both India and Nepal. At a finer spatial scale, tiger habitat use was high in trail segments associated with abundant prey and large grasslands, but it declined as human and livestock use increased. The researchers speculate that riparian grasslands may provide tigers with critical refugia from human activity in the daytime and thereby promote tiger occurrence in some multiple-use forests. Restrictions on human-use in high-quality tiger habitat in multiple-use forests may complement existing protected areas and collectively promote the persistence of tiger populations in working landscapes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A drone that plants trees

Have a look at this drone that plants trees

In grassland areas prescribed grassland burning is a must to maintain ecosystem says Kansas State University researchers

Kansas State University researchers advise an increase in prescribed grassland burning to maintain ecosystem. They have found a three-year absence of fire is the tipping point for the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and advise an increase in burning.  The study applied 40 years of data collected at Konza Prairie Biological Station, a tallgrass prairie jointly owned by Kansas State University and The Nature Conservancy and satellite fire maps of the Flint Hills from 2000 to 2010.
Managed by the university's Division of Biology, Konza Prairie has more than 50 sections of land called watersheds -- because they are partitioned based on water flow -- that are burned at varying frequencies -- from annually to every 20 years -- since the land was donated in 1971. The areas of the station with one- and two-year fire intervals have minimal large shrubs compared to a nearby watershed that is burned at three-and-a-half-year intervals and that has lost 40 percent of its area to shrub expansion.
"In this area, if we completely exclude fire, the landscape can go from tallgrass prairie to a cedar forest in as little as 30-40 years," said John Briggs, director of Konza Prairie and one of the authors of the study. "Once it gets to that point, we are not confident that fire alone is going to bring that back."
Briggs added “There is always a conflict to burning," "Most people think that the remaining tallgrass prairie should be a fenced-off preserve. They think that it will take care of itself, but this system is fire derived and historically fire maintained. Aside from the sustainable and ecological aspects, it is critical to people's livelihoods and necessary to ranching communities."

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Rangeland Ecology and Management

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cracking the mystery of bird egg colour

The vibrant colors of many birds’ eggs, particularly those that are blue to blue-green have eluded evolutionary functional explanation. It was with great fascination that I read this paper titled Shedding Light on Bird Egg Color: Pigment as Parasol and the Dark Car Effect authored by David C. Lahti and Daniel R, which appeared in The American Naturalist.
Researchers David C. Lahti and Daniel R. Ardia propose that egg pigmentation mediates a trade-off between two routes by which solar radiation can harm bird embryos: transmittance through the eggshell and overheating through absorbance. They  quantitatively tested four components of this hypothesis on variably colored eggs of the village weaverbird (Ploceus cucullatus) in a controlled light environment: (1) damaging ultraviolet radiation can transmit through bird eggshells, (2) infrared radiation at natural intensities can heat the interior of eggs, (3) more intense egg coloration decreases light transmittance (“pigment as parasol”), and (4) more intense egg coloration increases absorbance of light by the eggshell and heats the egg interior (“dark car effect”).  Results support all of these predictions. 

The scientists conclude that  in sunlit nesting environments, less pigmentation will increase the detrimental effect of transmittance, but more pigmentation will increase the detrimental effect of absorbance. The optimal pigmentation level for a bird egg in a given light environment, all other things being equal, will depend on the balance between light transmittance and absorbance in relation to embryo fitness.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sharks of the same species can have different personalities- An interesting study

A new study by E. E. Byrnes and C. Brown has come out with the finding that Sharks have individual personalities.

The authors write “The study examined interindividual personality differences between Port Jackson sharks Heterodontus portusjacksoni, utilizing a standard boldness assay. The correlation between differences in individual boldness and stress reactivity was also examined, exploring indications of individual coping styles. Heterodontus portusjacksoni demonstrated highly repeatable individual differences in boldness and stress reactivity. Individual boldness scores were highly repeatable across four trials such that individuals that were the fastest to emerge in the first trial were also the fastest to emerge in subsequent trials. Additionally, individuals that were the most reactive to a handling stressor in the first trial were also the most reactive in a second trial. The strong link between boldness and stress response commonly found in teleosts was also evident in this study, providing evidence of proactive-reactive coping styles in H. portusjacksoni. These results demonstrate the presence of individual personality differences in sharks for the first time. Understanding how personality influences variation in elasmobranch behaviour such as prey choice, habitat use and activity levels is critical to better managing these top predators which play important ecological roles in marine ecosystems.”

Details appear in the latest issue of journal Journal of Fish Biology 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Are you a young blue solution provider? Here is a golden opportunity to promote the projects of young people

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Marine Young Professionals Task Force have partnered with the Blue Solutions project, Mission Blue, #OceanOptimism and TerraMar on a new initiative to highlight and promote the projects of young people working for marine conservation around the world.
The competition partners invite youth and young professionals actively working on innovative and creative marine conservation initiatives from around the world to take part in this competition.
 Are you a young blue solution provider?
Do you have an innovative and creative approach or process that successfully address marine conservation issues that you are implementing with your own organization and you are not older than 35 years? Then become a young professional blue solution provider by submitting this form by 31st May. 
Emerging blue solutions need to:
  • Come from a young marine conservationist not older than 35 years
  • Be innovative and creative, having solved a tricky challenge in a new,  “out-of-the-box” manner
  • Respond to challenges to sustainable development and human wellbeing in the marine and coastal realm and contribute to maintaining or improving the status/health of biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Be effective and have been implemented with a demonstrated positive impact and,
  • Have the potential for replication or upscaling in other geographic, social or sectorial contexts.
All solutions submitted will be reviewed by a judging panel, consisting of experts of all ages from a broad range of organizations and regions active in the sustainable management and conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems. This panel will review your solution regarding aspects of innovation, creativity, scalability and impact, and select winners focusing on a balance between age, gender and regional representation.
 What is an emerging blue solution?
Blue solutions are specific, applied examples of successful processes or approaches that address challenges related to the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of marine and coastal biodiversity with a demonstrated impact.
What are the benefits & prizes?
Winners’ solutions will be showcased through high-profile international marine platforms including the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i. Additionally, a series of prizes and benefits are available.
High-profile international exposure – The contestants have the opportunity for their work to be showcased on and promoted through high-profile international marine platforms, social media channels and networks including the “Solutions Explorer” platform, IUCN WCPA Marine, #OceanOptimism, Mission Blue, TerraMar and CoalitionWild.
Showcased at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress – Winning entries will be showcased on a poster at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i.
Networking – Submitting your solution into the competition will link you up with a growing network of marine and coastal practitioners and decision-makers who are part of the Blue Solutions network.
Sharing – Bring in your experiences and innovations as a young professional in the field of marine and coastal biodiversity management and conservation, and allow others to learn from, and build on your successes, thus accelerating action towards healthier oceans and coasts.
Self-learning – In the process of documenting your solution, you are able to identify and highlight the innovative aspects of your work.
Prizes – All contestant winners will be presented with a series of prizes. More to be announced at a later date!
How to enter the challenge?
Complete the application form available on IUCNs official MPA Blog or follow the direct link to the application form here and then keep your fingers crossed that your solution will be selected!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Best practice for minimizing drone disturbance to wildlife in biological field research

 Researchers Jarrod C. Hodgson and Lian Pin Koh writing in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 23 say that steps should be taken to ensure that UAV operations are not causing undue stress to animals.
Hodgson and Koh offer the following recommendations:
  1. In cases where the evidence is lacking, UAV users should consult with appropriate experts and proceed with an abundance of caution. The researchers also say that further study on the impact of UAVs is needed.
  2. UAV users should seek approval when appropriate and explain the anticipated benefit of using UAV technology in their situation.
  3. Suitably trained UAV operators should comply with all relevant civil aviation rules, which may include restrictions on flying beyond visual line of sight, above a defined altitude, at night, and near people or in the vicinity of important infrastructure and prohibited areas.
  4. UAVs should be chosen or adapted to minimize disruption, for example, by disguising UAVs as other non-threatening animals.
  5. UAVs should be launched and recovered from a distance, and a reasonable distance from animals should be maintained at all times during UAV flights.
  6. Behavioral and physiological stress responses should be measured whenever possible, and UAV flights should be aborted if excessive disturbance is found.
  7. UAV specifications and flight practices should be detailed accurately and shared in full in published studies, along with any animal responses, accidents, or incidents.

The researchers signs off saying “Promoting the awareness, development and uptake of a code of best practice in the use of UAVs will improve their suitability as a low impact ecological survey tool. We consider this code to be a first and guiding step in the development of species-specific protocols that mitigate or alleviate potential UAV disturbance to wildlife.”

Monday, May 23, 2016

A suggestion to use perceptions as evidence in conservation practice

Using perceptions as evidence to improve conservation and environmental management
Nathan James Bennett
Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 582–592, June 2016

The researcher start off saying that as part of a broader move toward adaptive management and evidence-based conservation, the conservation community is increasingly focusing on the monitoring and evaluation of management, governance, ecological, and social considerations .Evidence is any information that can be used to come to a conclusion and support a judgement or, in this case, to make decisions that will improve conservation policies, actions, and outcomes. Perceptions are one type of information that is often dismissed as anecdotal by those arguing for evidence-based conservation.

 In this paper the researcher points out the contributions of research on perceptions of conservation to improve adaptive and evidence-based conservation. The researcher goes on to add that studies of the perceptions of local people can provide important insights into observations, understandings and interpretations of the social impacts, and ecological outcomes of conservation; the legitimacy of conservation governance; and the social acceptability of environmental management. The researcher goes on to add that perceptions of these factors contribute to positive or negative local evaluations of conservation initiatives. He says it is positive perceptions, not just objective scientific evidence of effectiveness that ultimately ensure the support of local constituents thus enabling the long-term success of conservation. The researcher signs off saying research on perceptions can inform courses of action to improve conservation and governance at scales ranging from individual initiatives to national and international policies. Better incorporation of evidence from across the social and natural sciences and integration of a plurality of methods into monitoring and evaluation will provide a more complete picture on which to base conservation decisions and environmental management.

Friday, May 20, 2016

IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 – A Gentle Reminder

Early-bird registration ends May 31st 

11 days left to take advantage of early bird offers.

Register by May 31st to take advantage of reduced rates 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Organized by the Ministry of Interior with the cooperation of Frederick University and the Caprinae Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of IUCN
AUGUST 28 - SEPTEMBER 1, 2016, Nicosia, Cyprus

Message from Dr. Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis
1. Participation fee is free for all the scientists or students who are going to submit an abstract for an oral or poster presentation until the 31st of June 2016, according to the instructions in the web site: www.mountainungulates.gov.cy
 2.  The manager of the Nicosia City Centre Hotel informed us that after the 31st of June the hotel is closing for renovations.
The new venue hotel is Cleopatra, situated in the most central location in the city Centre of Nicosia and 6 minutes’ walk from the old part of the city. Cleopatra is within walking distance of the main business, nightlife venues, cafes and shopping centers, government offices, museums, ancient churches, medieval building and galleries, with superb accommodations and great service in a relaxing environment. http://www.mountainungulates.gov.cy/moa/symposium/symposium.nsf/enfsi05_en/enfsi05_en?OpenDocument
 Dr. Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis
Environment Officer
Ministry of the Interior, Nicosia Cyprus
On behalf of the Organizing and the Scientific Committee