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 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…

Is Krill the New Palm Oil?

For Earth Day 2016, I wrote about how growth of palm oil plantations has removed habitat for many tropical species, and that plantations are expanding globally as demand for cheap oil increases.  But if demand for these cheap oils does not decrease, what other sources are available?  Some consider krill oil a potential replacement or…

What We’re Reading: Jan 8, 2016

The Price of African Wildlife We hear a lot about the per kilogram cost of poached rhino horn and elephant ivory but less about the costs of legal trophy hunting. This Bloomberg Business article discusses both the prices ranchers and hunters will pay for buffalo and antelope. Unsurprisingly, males with large horns fetch a lot…

Let’s not forget the scaly, slimy and spineless on Threatened Species Day

September 7th marks the anniversary of a spectacular failure in Australian wildlife conservation. On this day in 1936, the last known thylacine, the largest marsupial carnivore and the only member of the family Thylacinidae, died in captivity in a Hobart zoo. Today, this day is recognised (I cannot bring myself to write “celebrated”) as Threatened…

What We’re Reading: April 17, 2015

Conservation Leadership Leaders have a number of common behaviors that have been studied from a management perspective. This opinion piece (open) discusses key themes for being a conservation leader. First, share a grand vision of desired conservation outcomes with staff; when staff buy-in to a vision, they will work towards the conservation goals of the…

An Australia Day post on Australian wildlife conservation

Today, 26th January, is Australia Day. This is Australia’s national holiday, marking the arrival on this day in 1788 of the British First Fleet at Port Jackson in New South Wales. Of course one might wonder whether the anniversary of the proclamation of British sovereignty over eastern Australia is an appropriate date to celebrate Australian unity and…

What we’re reading: Nov 21, 2014

Captive Breeding and Mate Choice Captive breeding is one conservation strategy both for species preservation but also for potential release of individuals into the wild for increasing population size and/or genetic diversity. This paper examined the breeding patterns of mice which were captively bred for three generations before being released with wild mice. The authors…

What we’re reading: Oct 17, 2014

Plants in a Prickle? Not When Carnivores are Near. Herbivores’ risk-avoidance behavior from predators and plants’ anti-herbivore defenses appear to interact to determine the distribution of trees in African savannas. Thorny trees were found to be abundant in low-risk areas for herbivores while poorly defended trees were more abundant in high-risk areas. Therefore, plants can…

What we’re reading- July 4, 2014

Two salamander species, one habitat, vastly different population structure Salamanders with similar ecological characteristics have different genetic structure in the same landscape. Highlights that similar species might respond differently to habitat change because of small life history differences. Watch out NYC rats, there’s a new predator in town! First time a fisher (Martes pennanti) is…

What we’re reading- Feb 28, 2014

Female cowbirds have more accurate spatial memory Brown-headed cowbirds are brood parasites that lay their eggs in the nests of other species so other species will care for the cowbird chicks. Sex specific differences in spatial cognition may have evolved to help females return to nests when time to lay eggs. CLOCK1 and climate change…

What we’re reading- Jan 31, 2014

Human-mediated change in population structure of ragweed This article (subscription) characterizes the genetic structure of contemporary and historical (from herbarium samples) ragweed. They find that population structure has changed in response to human influence on the landscape. Penguin chick survival This article (OA) estimates Magellanic penguin chick survival over 27 years. They observed that storm…