What We’re Reading- June 16, 2017

Ectotherms and Climate Change Ectotherms regulate their body temperature using external heat sources; for example, turtles bask in the sun or on hot rocks to warm up, then retreat to the shade when they become over heated.  Increasing temperatures due to climate change are expected to have physiological effects on animals and plants.  Heat shock…

What We’re Reading- May 26, 2017

Protect Krill to Protect Whales We previously wrote about the importance of krill (marine invertebrates) for supporting oceanic ecosystems.  This paper (sub) compared the movement of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangiliae) to tonnage of krill harvested around the West Antarctic peninsula.  The authors found a correlation between spatial areas where the whales spent the most time and…

What We’re Reading- May 19, 2017

Genetic Diversity of Snow Leopards Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are endemic to the Altai, Himalaya, and Tibetan uplifts and adapted to high-altitude environments.  They are currently listed as an endangered species by IUCN.  This new paper investigated genetic diversity of snow leopards across their range.  They found that the cats have low genetic diversity in…

What We’re Reading- April 28, 2017

Next-Generation Microsatellites What if conservation’s favorite marker (the microsatellite) could be sequenced and genotyped from next-generation data?  This paper (sub) is the latest showing that possibility and specifically introduces a genotyping and phasing tool: HipSTR.  Microsatellites have propelled much of conservation genetics and users are familiar with data analysis and interpretation of results.  As next-generation…

What We’re Reading- April 7, 2017

Detecting Disease from Skin Swabs Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is a fungal disease causing amphibian die offs around the world (we wrote about it here).  Given its wide distribution both on hosts and geographically, there’s no surprise that there is genomic variation.  Scientists are interested in this variation to understand virulence, host specificity, and patterns of…

What We’re Reading- March 17, 2017

An Endangered Generalist?  Soon after germination orchids must be colonized by fungi whose hyphae both enter orchid cells and create an extensive mycorrhizal network in the soil, thereby transferring nutrients to the plant.  Orchids may be mycorrhizal generalists able to associate with many different fungal species, or specialists only able to associate with one or a…

What We’re Reading- Feb 17, 2017

Endangered Populations Growing in Size But Still at Risk The Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) is a near threatened bird species that once inhabited forests throughout New Zealand, but is now constricted to near shore islands devoid of introduced predators.  Each of the eight islands the birds now inhabit was founded by a different number…

What We’re Reading- Feb 10, 2017

Buzzing Around the Bombus Phylogeny We previously discussed how phylogenetic trees can be useful tools for making conservation decisions, so this paper applying these ideas to the European bumblebee (Bombus) was right up our alley! In this analysis, 58 of the 68 species of bumblebees were categorized based on their IUCN Red List status, then analyzed…

What We’re Reading- Feb 3, 2017

Finding management solutions for species that are threatened in their home ranges but introduced pests elsewhere Wildlife conservation and invasive species management are rarely straightforward. In some cases, a species that is an introduced pest in one place may be threatened in its native range. This creates a dilemma for managers: control them or conserve them? In this paper,…

What We’re Reading- Jan 27, 2017

When Following the Leader is Bad for Your Health (Like You Die) Many species make collective group decisions, including how to move across the landscape in search of food, water, shelter, or during long-distance migrations.  However, not all habitat is equal with some areas being higher risk than others, especially in areas where there is a…

What We’re Reading- Jan 13, 2017

Ash Trees Under Attack European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) face dieback across their range due to a fungal pathogen (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus).  Currently, there is no effective treatment for trees with the fungus, including managed removal of trees to prevent spread of the disease.  However, natural variation in resistance to the pathogen is known and could be…

What We’re Reading- Jan 6, 2017

Pangolin Trade Network All species of pangolins are endangered throughout their range, due in large part to poaching for their meat and scales.  Using media reports, a team of researchers identified approximately 65,800 individuals were harvested and seized between 2008-2016 although the level of harvest not detected remains unknown.  Notably, only 117 individuals were reported poached in the…