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.)

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”).

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

GR:  This CNN Photo/Video/Data essay has high-quality images and interviews.  Recommended.

“Frogs, coral, elephants — all are on the brink. Three quarters of species could disappear. Why is this happening? CNN explores an unprecedented global crisis.” –CNN (Continue:  The extinction crisis is far worse than you think)

Mainstreaming Biodiversity: A Real Solution to the Devastation of Nature?

GR:  This article describes the biodiversity catastrophe that is unfolding, and it discusses the preventive strategies of the international Convention on Biological Diversity. The article has little positive to say about the probable success of the current strategy.  Again:  The strenuous efforts our leaders make to line their pockets deafens them to shouts of impending disaster.

“4 December marks the start of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP). While not as well-known as the climate COPs, this conference responds to a complex crisis that is both as threatening and urgent as the climate crisis. Globally, biodiversity is being depleted at an alarming rate. Animals are being wiped out as much as 100 times faster than their natural extinction rate. The last time the world experienced such a rate of decline was 65 million years ago, with the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

“Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Biodiversity is being contaminated with genetically modified species, while at the same time, invasive species are taking over in many parts of the world.

“In short, we have already destroyed more than the equilibrium of our natural environment can bear. We find ourselves on the threshold of a species and ecosystems destruction that is already being called the sixth global biodiversity mega-extinction. This is no small matter.”We have to exist within ecological and planetary boundaries. We need to inform democratic bodies so they fully understand the issue and ensure they can and do make decisions free from corporate influence.”

“In 1992 the Convention on Biological Diversity was born to tackle this biodiversity depletion crisis. Since then, plans and targets have come and gone, yet no real progress has been made. On the contrary, the situation has become progressively worse year on year.

“The latest idea to avert this trend is to “mainstream” biodiversity into other sectors and bodies. This means that biodiversity should become a cross-cutting element in all sectors, governmental and intergovernmental agencies. Achieving this is important, as so far, decisions adopted in the CBD are simply not a priority when national governments and business outline economic and development plans. Economic growth continues to be the main objective. However, every percentage increase of economic growth depletes natural areas further. Today few places remain unaltered by humankind.

“There is certainly no point in developing environmental regulations and policies if countries continue to operate as they currently do. So we need to ask, will mainstreaming have any real impact? How will it be implemented, and are there any potentially detrimental effects?” –Nele Marien. (Continue:  Mainstreaming Biodiversity: A Real Solution to the Devastation of Nature?)

Living Planet Report 2016

GR:  The Living Planet Index, which measures abundance levels of 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species, continues to show a downward trend. On average, monitored species declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.  The report ties the decline to humans and human population growth.  Authors of the report struggle to find optimism to share, but they do not directly deal with population. Unless we begin to cut our population, the continuing loss of wildlife is inevitable.

“The Living Planet Report documents the state of the planet—including biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources—and what it means for humans and wildlife. Published by WWF every two years, the report brings together a variety of research to provide a comprehensive view of the health of the earth.

“What’s the status of some animal populations?

“Populations of vertebrate animals—such as mammals, birds, and fish—have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. And we’re seeing the largest drop in freshwater species: on average, there’s been a whopping 81% decline in that time period.

“- 38 % The terrestrial LPI shows that populations have declined by thirty-eight percent overall between 1970 and 2012.

“- 81 % The freshwater LPI shows that on average the abundance of populations monitored in the freshwater system has declined by eighty-one percent between 1970 and 2012.

“- 36 % The marine LPI shows a thirty-six percent overall decline between 1970 and 2012.

“This loss of wildlife is startling, and people are at risk, too. Without action, the Earth will become much less hospitable for all of us. We must consider our impact on nature as we make development, economic, business, and lifestyle choices. A shared understanding of the link between humanity and nature is essential to making profound changes that will allow all life to thrive for generations to come.” — Living Planet Report 2016 | Pages | WWF

Wildlife Service kills

GR:  This interactive map shows counts of bears, bobcats, mountain lions, and wolves killed by the U. S. government’s Wildlife Service.  The legend is on the “Layers” drop-down menu.  Since more than a third of all U. S. mammals have disappeared over the past 50 years, and since more than half of the 400 mammal species in the U.S. are at risk of eventual extinction, it would seem that our wildlife management agency should choose nonlethal techniques.  They can’t however, because a mostly uninformed public does not want to pay the extra cost.  This same ignorance keeps us driving our polluting automobiles and powering our homes with coal and oil; it keeps Monsanto’s poisonous pesticides falling on our food and the food of our wildlife, and it keeps American-made bombs falling in other parts of the world.  Of course, the ignorance would quickly fade were it not for the greed-motivated deceptions of our “leaders.”

Source: Wildlife Service kills

The Bugs (arthropods) Among Us

Arthropod (Bug) Show Coming next Saturday!

Bugs are small, but their importance on Earth is immense.  Most live their lives unaware of our existence; here’s your chance to become aware of theirs.

2016ARTHROFlyerI’m doing the ants, I know very little about ants, but . . . well . . . I’m doing the ants.  Come anyway.  We’ll capture some ants, study their form, and return them to their home. You’ll get some free ant trading cards, and my esteemed colleague, Sandy Geiger, will give you all those tidbits of ant lore you need.  Hope to see you there.

Garry

Scientists warn of ecological recession as biodiversity declines

GR.–Population growth, land use, and resource harvests are destroying the Earth’s natural systems.  The study described below reviewed thousands of research reports and concluded that we might have already taken so much from nature that collapse of natural ecological systems–vegetation, soils, animal webs–is inevitable without human intervention.  In other words, it’s inevitable.

Species loss has pushed ecosystems past a danger threshold across more than half of the terrestrial world

Climate News Network.–“Over the decades, in both laboratory experiments and in real-world observations, naturalists have confirmed that as the diversity of living things in a forest or a field or grassland is reduced, so is the ecosystem’s resilience − its capacity to go on supporting life and turning sunlight, air and water into green growth to nourish all other creatures.

“And the greatest changes have happened in the last century or so as human numbers, and human economic exploitation, have soared.

“It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit,” said Andy Purvis, life sciences research leader at the Natural History Museum in London, and leader of the PREDICTS team.

“Decision-makers worry a lot about economic recessions, but an ecological recession could have even worse consequences – and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we are at risk of that happening. Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing ecological roulette.”  Continue reading:  Scientists warn of ecological recession as biodiversity declines | Climate Home – climate change news

Legal Tools & Links For the Conservation of Nature

Lists of Conservation Links

Traci Bingham for PETA. Is it cannibalism to eat any sentient creature?

GR.–Is it cannibalism to eat any sentient animal?  (Photo: Traci Bingham for PETA)

I once thought I could build a complete list all the important nature-conservation organizations.  There are too many, and yet . . . there aren’t enough.  Despite many solid conservation efforts, wild plants and animals continue disappearing at an increasing rate.  The 423 links are a mix of international, national, local, and species-dedicated organizations.  The emphasis varies from pure wildlife focus to complete human bias.  Most of the links take you direct to the organization websites, but some take you first to the organization’s Wikipedia page.  I did not include links to social media though I recognize that many organizations conduct much of their communications there.  Click here for a look at the list.

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