What we’re reading: March 20, 2015

Hunting as a Driver of Selection in Red Deer
Male red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus)who survived hunting season were found to have strong fine-scale habitat shifts to areas with more cover (less horizontal line sight). By tracking deer that were ultimately either hunted or survived hunting season, Lone et al. were able to see exactly what strategies surviving individuals used to avoid predation. Although these deer suffered foraging costs, they did survive, offering insight on the implications of artificial selection by humans on behavioral traits and personalities in game species.

Poisoning Endangered Species
This study investigated changes in the concentration of mercury (Hg) in the feathers of the endangered ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea). The researchers used museum and contemporary samples to estimate mercury bio-accumulation and observed a 45-fold increase in concentration from 1877 to 2007. Mercury emissions are a bioproduct of several human industries including coal combustion at power plants, metal and cement production, and more. A recent paper estimated global ocean mercury has tripled, which would explain high bioaccumulation in near-shore food webs.

Changing Chinese Attitudes about Ivory is Key for Elephant Protection
With unrelenting poaching on elephant populations continuing and international pressure, China is finally taking steps to combat illegal ivory. This summer, Hong Kong will have destroyed 30 tons of illegal ivory, one of the largest stockpiles destroyed ever. Chinese kids remain hopeful and creative in combating the illegal ivory trade, and elephant  conservationists hope a new Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt movie will change  deeply rooted Chinese attitudes and culture.

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