The threat to species from climate change should provoke shame in our hearts

GR:  More about Australian wildlife decline due to climate change.

Climate change from unprecedented carbon emissions not only threaten the habitats of our unique animals and birds, but also challenges the very ability of them to survive.’ Photograph: Steve Bloom Images / Alamy

“While Australia bakes through another hot, angry summer, its precious wildlife is increasingly under threat, not just from the extreme weather of fires and floods but by the growing reality of a changing climate.

“It is getting hotter. Day by day, month by month, year by year – 2016 is confirmed as the hottest year on record globally, closely following the leads of 2015 and 2014 – and with summer in full swing in Australia we turn our minds and our national concerns to bushfires, ever more intense, and to extreme weather events, flash flooding, cyclonic winds, unexpected parching and flooding of our wide brown land.

“And it is not just the Australian people who are feeling these stresses first hand, but some of the most unique wildlife to be found anywhere in the world.

“For those who have had the privilege of watching a platypus swim, of holding a koala, of watching kangaroos bound across seemingly endless plateaus – you should be well aware that these special creatures face a very uncertain future. Climate change from unprecedented carbon emissions not only threaten the habitats of our unique animals and birds, but also challenges the very ability of them to survive.” –Tim Flannery (Continue reading:  The threat to species from climate change should provoke shame in our hearts | Tim Flannery | Opinion | The Guardian).

Koalas are Fading Away

GR:  I would add that not only are habitat losses causing greater short-term harm than climate change, so are invasive species. However, climate change is roaring up behind and will soon be causing greater harm than all other factors.

“In 2016 koalas were sighted for the first time in decades at Mount Kembla, Wollongong and in Kosciuszko national park in New South Wales. Although these sightings are a source of hope, it’s important we don’t get lulled into a false sense of security about the extent to which nature, including koalas, is threatened in Australia. We have serious work to do to protect our unique plants and animals.


Photo by Erik Veland

“Most environment news these days focuses on climate change. In many ways this isn’t surprising. Climate change threatens to alter our entire environment as rainfall patterns change, temperatures rise and extremes become more common. Many species are already finding their habitats shrinking – just look at polar bears and the rapidly vanishing Arctic sea ice.

“Yet amid this climate emergency “mere” species extinctions have largely been pushed out of mind. Of course the issues are intertwined as climate change can cause extinctions: in July the Bramble Cay melomys (a rodent) was reported as the first animal to have been made extinct primarily due to climate change. In its case, its single-island habitat had been repeatedly inundated by rising sea levels destroying the native vegetation and ultimately the species itself. And of course climate change threatens to exacerbate and amplify other threats to species like bushfires and heatwaves.

“But human destruction of habitat is, at least in the short term, a much greater threat to species than climate change . . . ” –Kevin Evans (Continue reading:  Koalas are at the centre of a perfect storm. The species is slipping away | Kevin Evans | Opinion | The Guardian.)

Ring-Tailed Lemur Populations Have Crashed by 95 Percent

GR: Sad times if you care for wildlife. The researchers explain that Ring-Tailed Lemurs declined to this point with no outcry because no one was watching. Around the world at this crucial time for wildlife, there are too few scientists monitoring populations. “The two most prolific Lemur researchers, Alison Jolly and Robert Sussman, have died and we are the only descendants with active research in Madagascar,” said researcher Tara A. Clarke of the organization Lemur Love.

Credit: Eric Kilby Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Madagascar’s beloved ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) have all but disappeared from many of the island nation’s forests. According to two worrying new studies, the species’ population has fallen to between 2,000 and 2,400 animals—a shocking 95 percent decrease since the year 2000.

“To put that number in context, there are now fewer ring-tailed lemurs living in the wild than there are living in zoos around the world.

“Factors driving the decline include rapid habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal pet trade, according to a paper published last month in the journal Primate Conservation and a second paper published today in Folia Primatologica.

“The situation is so bad that many ring-tailed lemur sub-populations now contain fewer than 30 individuals. In addition, the animals have completely disappeared from at least 15 sites they once called home.

“The now-empty forests are “very sad, quiet and dusty,” says Marni LaFleur, lead author of the second paper and a co-director of the conservation organization Lemur Love. “There was a thick layer of crunchy leaf litter on the ground, and dust on top. Some trees were heavy with ripe and rotten fruits. Without birds or mammals to consume them, the untouched fruits just rot in and around the trees. Normal aspects of a forest, which as a biologist I have a fairly keen eye for—footprints, scat, bite marks, sleeping spots, calls—are absent.” John R. Platt

(Continue reading: Ring-Tailed Lemur Populations Have Crashed by 95 Percent – Scientific American Blog Network.)

Africa: Mauritania to Benefit From U.S.$21 Million IFAD Grant to Boost Food Security, Nutrition and Reduce Rural Poverty

GR:  The U.S. should grant an equal amount of money for family planning with the goal to cut population and food requirements. Anyone can see that continuing to prop up a human population with food needs exceeding local production is bound to fail in time. Moreover, the excessive human population is killing and eating large animals and destroying wildlife habitat.

Why is the U. S. supporting the population? Simple; Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore and other minerals. Iron accounts for almost 50% of total exports, but we’ve found oil, and gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. Despite rising exports and prospects for more, pollution, habitat deterioration, poverty, slavery, and other human abuses occur throughout the country. Not surprising, the income gap is enormous and growing.

Rome — “A total of 285,600 farmers, particularly women and young people in six regions in southern Mauritania will benefit from a financial agreement signed today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Mauritania to improve their incomes, nutrition and food security.

“The agreement for the Inclusive Value Chain Development Project (PRODEFI) was signed in Rome by Michel Mordasini, Vice-President of IFAD and Mariem Aouffa, Ambassador of Mauritania to Italy and Permanent Representative to Rome-based United Nations agencies.

“The total cost of the project is US$45.2 million of which IFAD is providing a US$21 million grant including $6 million grant from the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) Trust Fund.

“It is co-financed by the national private sector ($2 million), the Government of Mauritania ($5 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($2.2 million). The remaining $15 million will be covered by other financing sources or by the next IFAD financing cycle for Mauritania (2019-2021).” –All Africa (Continue:  Mauritania to Benefit From U.S.$21 Million IFAD Grant to Boost Food Security, Nutrition and Reduce Rural Poverty –

Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss

GR:  Human population growth, conversion of land to farms and cities, and rising temperatures are driving most species toward extinction. Naturalists are observing sinking populations around the world. As more populations reach zero, extinctions accelerate and will be roaring along by century end. They will not slow until only the most adaptable (weed) species remain. The progress of wildlife loss will eventually begin to cause human population decline. Whether or not our species escapes extinction in the centuries ahead, depends on rapid reversal of population growth and elimination of fossil fuel use. Such turns of events seem unlikely as the enormous wealth of the fossil-fuel companies and the owners of our industry and distribution systems have enthralled our leaders. So call or write your congressmen today. Let them know you will support them if they turn away from wealth and accept their responsibility to lead.

A family of willow warblers at a summer nest site in Scotland. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Climate change has already led to the vanishing of some bird species in parts of England, where intensively farmed land gives them no room to adapt to warming temperatures. The revelation, in a new scientific study, contradicts previous suggestions that birds are tracking global warming by shifting their ranges.

Meadow pipit have disappeared from sites in the south of England. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“The research found that birds that prefer cooler climes, such as meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers, have disappeared from sites in south-east England and East Anglia, where intensive crop growing is common.

Meadow pipits, willow tits and willow warblers have disappeared from sites in East Anglia due to crop farming. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“Birds are facing a double-edged sword from climate change and declines in habitat quality,” said Tom Oliver, at the University of Reading, who led the new study. “In England, birds really look like they are struggling to cope with climate change. They are already being hit with long-term reductions in habitat quality and, for the cold-associated birds, those losses are being further exacerbated by climate change.” (Continue reading: Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss | Environment | The Guardian)

Maps Reveal How Global Consumption Hurts Wildlife

Map shows species-threat hot spots linked to consumption in the United States. The scale bars indicate the total of all the fractions of threats to land or marine species caused by the U.S.Map by Moran and Kanemoto, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2016)

“In a world driven by a globalized economy, the biggest threat to an endangered species is often fueled by consumer demand thousands of miles away. And this makes protection of wildlife and biodiversity an even more daunting task.

“Now scientists have traced these economic pressures back to their origins and mapped the spots where major consuming countries are threatening biodiversity around the world. The researchers hope the work can help exporting and importing countries work together on conservation efforts, many of which are still focused on local issues.

“Conservation measures must consider not just the point of impact, but also the consumer demand that ultimately drives resource use,” write Daniel Moran of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Keiichiro Kanemoto of Shinshu University in Japan, in a paper published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution.” –Betsy Mason (continue:  Maps Reveal How Global Consumption Hurts Wildlife”).

Traffic noise reduces birds’ response to alarm calls — ScienceDaily

GR:  The sounds of human voices and machines interfere with wildlife feeding, mating, and response to danger. Just another of the many ways that we are destroying the wildlife and biodiversity of the Earth.

“A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications shows that traffic noise makes birds less responsive to alarm calls that would otherwise alert them to dangers such as predators.

“Megan Gall and Jacob Damsky of New York’s Vassar College tested how traffic noise affected the reactions of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice to titmouse alarm calls, which warn birds that a predator is nearby. Using speakers set up near feeding platforms baited with bird seed, they recorded the birds’ responses to three different recordings — alarm calls alone, traffic noise alone, and a combination of the two. The traffic noise didn’t deter the birds from feeding, but five times as many birds approached speakers when the researchers played alarm calls on their own compared with when traffic sounds were added.

“There has been lots of work on how anthropogenic noise affects vocal production, but much less on the response of animals to signals in the presence of noise,” says Gall. “Additionally, a lot of this work focuses on song, but we were interested in how noise might affect responses to an anti-predator vocalization. These vocalizations are evoked by the presence of a predator and so are closely linked in time with a particular stimulus.”

“The study’s results suggest that traffic noise can reduce birds’ ability to hear an alarm call, potentially increasing their vulnerability to predators. “Gall and Damsky’s experiment helps us understand how human-caused noise can interfere with the transfer of information among animals in social groups,” according Florida Atlantic University’s Rindy Anderson, an expert in vocal communication in birds who was not involved with the study. “It’s interesting that the birds’ foraging behavior was not affected under any of the playback conditions, which suggests that the behavioral effects were due to the call playbacks being masked by noise, rather than the noise being simply aversive.”–Science Daily (Continue reading:  Traffic noise reduces birds’ response to alarm calls

2016: Another fatal year for elephants

GR:  With great sorrow, we watch as poachers eliminate elephants from the Earth.

HAMBURG, Germany, Dec. 22, 2016 — Elephants continued to be slaughtered for their ivory this year. More than 18 tons of illegal ivory, plus 949 elephant tusks and more than 3,000 pieces were reportedly seized in 2016, with at least 15 large seizures in excess of 500 kilograms. Most large shipments were intercepted in Vietnam, although huge amounts were also found in Malaysia, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Spain, Austria and Germany.

“It is a sad fact that practically no day goes by without dozens of elephants being killed by poachers and every single week this year enforcers discovered illegal ivory somewhere in the world,” said Rikkert Reijnen, Director of the Wildlife Trade Program for International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “And this is just the tip of the iceberg as only a small fraction of the illegal ivory on the market is being intercepted.” –International Fund for Animals (Continue Reading:  2016: Another fatal year for elephants)

Making a Difference for California Sea Otters – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

GR:  Each bit we contribute is worthwhile.“After tragedy struck this past summer, Defenders is doing all we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again

“This summer, Mr. Enchilada – a beloved sea otter that was frequently sighted by tourists — was fatally struck while crossing Moss Landing Road in Monterey, California. We chronicled this devastating loss and our efforts to ensure that other otters avoid this fate in our blog. We’ve been working hard to make sure sea otters don’t suffer more losses like Mr. Enchilada’s, and we wanted to share an update with you!

“Sea otters have used culverts, or tunnels, under Moss Landing Road to move between Moss Landing Harbor and Moro Cojo Slough when they are foraging for food. Floodgate covers on the culverts under the road open and shut between these two places. When the floodgate covers are closed, sea otters must get out of the water and cross Moss Landing Road to move between these two areas. Unfortunately, this road is busy and it is difficult to spot sea otters crossing the road.

How Sea Otters Survive at Moss Landing© Gena Bentall

“After Mr. Enchilada died, Defenders of Wildlife started working with Monterey County, government wildlife managers and local groups to create solutions for the safety of beloved sea otters. We’re happy to report that we have made a lot of progress.”

Source: Making a Difference for California Sea Otters – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

At the nexus of climate change and invasive species – Summit County Citizens Voice

GR:  Until recently, naturalists said that invasive species introduced intentionally and accidentally by humans were the second most deadly force destroying nature. Construction of roads and towns was first. Most scientists are now saying that global warming will soon be number two. This article explains part of the reason.

“U.S. Geological Survey scientists have completed one of the first experimental studies to explore links between climate change and invasive species, specifically how brook trout and brown trout interact with rising stream temperatures. They found that non-native browns limit the ability of brook trout to use warmer water temperatures, By contrast, removing browns allowed brook trouts’ reach into warmer waters.

“Brookies are freshwater fish native to eastern North America and threatened by climate change because of their requirement for cold stream temperatures. Brown trout are native to Europe and have been introduced all around North America.

“We know streams are warming due to climate change and non-native species are becoming increasingly abundant in many places,” said Nathaniel Hitt, U. S. Geological Survey research fish biologist. “Our research indicates that reducing Brown Trout numbers can benefit native Brook Trout where the species co-occur,” Hitt said. Brown trout management could help brookies be more resilient to anticipated effects of climate change, he added.

Source: At the nexus of climate change and invasive species – Summit County Citizens Voice