Friday, December 1, 2017

Dr. James Wetterer's  PCB 2174 Honors Behavioral Ecology  class took students  on a field trip to learn about minature horses used as therapy horses. One of the students in the class, allowed us to visit her family home and stables.

Here are a few images. They also have many other horses, and a goat! I am determined to find a way to get a goat for the library as a therapy animal! Afterall, there is such a thing as library cats, so why not library goats!!

Here are a few more links to read up on the subject of mini therapy horses:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Combating disease with killer mosquitoes


 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy/SPL
The lab-grown mosquitoes developed by MosquitoMate seek to eliminate the disease-carrying Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus, shown here). [Excerpted from 10.1038/nature.2017.22959]

In attempts to fight the Asian tiger mosquito, an invasive species that spreads diseases like zika, the Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of Wolbachia pipientis, a bacterium that can infect and eliminate this species of mosquito. A biotech company [Mosquito Mate] will raise male mosquitoes, infected with the bacterium and release them in 20 states. The infected males will mate with the female Asian Tiger species. The females will lay eggs that will not hatch, eventually killing of the species.

“The EPA decision excludes much of the southeastern United States, which is home to dense populations of mosquitoes and a long mosquito season, because MosquitoMate did not conduct field trials there” [Waltz, 2017].

To read more about this experiment and trial release of mosquitoes, follow the links below.

EPA:  EPA Grants Extension of Experimental Use Permit for ‘Wolbachia Mosquito’

Grist: The U.S. plans to use killer mosquitoes to fight disease

I have included links to descriptions of the various viruses that are carried by the Asian tiger mosquito.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What is lurking in flood waters following a natural disaster?

                                                       Image credit: LM Otero/Associated Press

The recent Hurricanes [in Florida, Puerto Rico, Houston and other areas] brought many unseen hazards to people affected by flood waters. These waters mix with everything on and under the ground. Industrial solvents and chemicals, animal waste, sewage and pesticides get washed into the flood waters; not to mention sharp objects and unexpected wildlife [snakes, alligators, ants, and rats—to name a few](Brodin, E., 2017).

For those that must wade through and interact in these waters there is potential for spread of diseases and infection. Some of those can be very serious. A few of these potential hazards include leptospirosis, ecoli and vibrio.

Below is a short list of a few resources on the topic. Click on the links to learn more about the dangers lingering in flood waters around the world.

Internet Resources

Brodin, E., 2017. Scientists warn that floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey still pose a lingering threat — here’s what to watch out for. Business insider. Online. Available at: [Accessed on 11/1/2017]

Kaplan, S. & Healy, J., 2017. Houston’s Floodwaters Are Tainted, Testing Shows. New York Times, Online. Available at: [Accessed on 11/1/2017].

World Health Organization, 2012. Leptospirosis. Online. Available at: [Accessed on 11/1/2017].

Peer reviewed Journal articles:

Ko AI et al., 1999.  Urban epidemic of severe leptospirosis in Brazil. Lancet. Sep 4 354 820 825 
PubMed abstract (Free)  Web of Science

Socolovschi, C., et. al, 2011. Strikes, flooding, rats, and leptospirosis in Marseille, France. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 15 (2011) e710-e715.

Ayral, F., et. al., 2015. Distribution of Leptospira interrogans by Multispacer Sequence Typing in Urban Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus): A Survey in France in 2011-2013. PLos One. [Accessed on 11/2/2017].

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The importance of wolves on ecosystem health

While on twitter, I ran across a video short on wolves in Yellowstone National Park. This lead to more research on the importance of large predators related to ecosystem health and balance. 
I thought I would share some of those resources here.

Here is a brief summary on the topic [excerpted from one of the articles listed below].

The extirpation of wolves (Canis lupus) from Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1920s and their reintroduction in 1995 provided the opportunity to examine the cascading effects of carnivore-herbivore interactions on woody browse species, as well as ecological responses involving riparian functions, beaver (Castor canadensis) populations, and general food webs. Our results indicate that predation risk may have profound effects on the structure of ecosystems and is an important constituent of native biodiversity [Ripple and Beschta, 2004, p.755].

Below is the citation for this summary, along with a few other resources for you to explore.

Licht, Daniel S., et al. "Using small populations of wolves for ecosystem restoration and stewardship." BioScience, vol. 60, no. 2, 2010, p. 147+.  Accessed 26 Oct. 2017.

Peterson, Rolf O., et al. "Looking to the past for the future: using wolves to restore ecosystems (response to Belant, Mech, and Trimble)." BioScience, vol. 60, no. 7, 2010, p. 486+.  Accessed 26 Oct. 2017.

Ripple, William J., and Robert L. Beschta. "Wolves and the ecology of fear: can predation risk structure ecosystems?" BioScience, vol. 54, no. 8, 2004, p. 755+.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Taras Oceanographic hosts a series of science lectures at Jupiter High School

The Meet the Scientist Lecture Series is in its 14th season. Hosted by Taras Oceanographic Foundation  at Jupiter High School, Jupiter, FL 33458. Below is the upcoming calendar. Click on the image to enalrge, or visit their website from the link above.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Possible antrax outbreak in Namibia kills hippos

Hippo deaths in Namibia

The Daily mail is reporting that 109 hippos have died in the Bwabwata National Park since Sunday last week. The cause of death is suspected to be a natural outbreak of anthrax. Outbreaks are not uncommon and can occur when rivers are running low. The hippo population before the outbreak was thought to be 1,300. Hippopotamus are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red list. Veterinarians are still working to confirm the cause of death [anthrax].

To read the full report and read more about what Anthrax is, you can follow the Link to the full article on Daily Mail here

The Center for Disease Control also has a page explaining anthrax, which you can access here.

The CDC web page also had this graph of the Anthrax life cycle: