Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rhythm is gonna get you

A recent article published in Current Biology (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.035), shows that Northern elephant seals have the ability to memorize the rhythm and timbre of other seals. The ability to perceive rhythmic sound is thought to be rare in mammals other than humans. The documented cases are a result of behavioral training.

Mathevon, et. al., 2017,  state that “In the northern elephant seal Mirounga angustirostris, the calls of mature males comprise a rhythmic series of pulses, with the call of each individual characterized by its tempo and timbre; these individual vocal signatures are stable over years and across contexts”. Their research shows that elephant seals use this information to identify individual rivals. 

To read the entire study:

Nicolas Mathevon, Caroline Casey, Colleen Reichmuth, Isabelle Charrier, Northern Elephant Seals Memorize the Rhythm and Timbre of Their Rivals’ Voices, Current Biology, Available online 20 July 2017, ISSN 0960-9822, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.035.

Image: By original image by Jan Roletto, uploaded 18:58, Feb 26, 2004 - de:Wikipedia by de:User:Baldhur, edited by Matthew Field - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.noaa.gov), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3440642

Keywords: rhythm perception; metrical patterns; rhythm; timbre; individual vocal recognition; mammal; rival assessment

Friday, June 2, 2017

Looking at ex situ Amphibian programs

Amphibian populations are in trouble. According to the Amphibian survival Alliance (amphibians.org) entire species are being driven to extinction by threats that include loss of habitat, disease, contamination and climate change. At least one third of all Amphibians are classified as threatened (Hoffman, et. al, 2010; Biega, et. al, 2017). Conservation initiatives are needed to reverse this trend. Biega, et. al. examined “the extent to which zoos house species representing the greatest overall conservation priority by testing how eight variables relating to extinction risk – International Union for the Conservation of Nature status, habitat specialization, obligate stream breeding, geographic range size, body size and island, high-altitude and tropical endemism – vary between amphibian species held in zoos and their close relatives not held in zoos” (Biega, et. al. page 113).

You can read methods and results from this study published in Animal Conservation, Vol 20, Issue 2 [Full citation below].

To summarize the article briefly, researchers found that zoos and other ex situ programs as a whole are not targeting the high risk amphibian species. If range-restricted habitat specialist species are not a focus, populations will continue to decline without a safety net. Researchers suggest that zoos increase their conservation-focused amphibian species holdings.

Biega, A., Greenberg, D.A., Mooers, A.O., Jones, O.R., Martin, T.E., 2017. Global representation of threatened amphibians ex situ is bolstered by non-traditional institutions, but gaps remain. Animal Conservation. Volume 20, Issue 2. Pages 113–119. DOI: 10.1111/acv.12297 

Hoffman, M., Hilton-Taylor, C., Angulo, A., Bohm, M., Brooks, T.M., Butchart, S.H., Carpenter, K.E., et al. (2010).The impact of conservation on the World’s vertebrates. Science 330, 1503–1509.

Image credit: Amphibians.org

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

When a Town Runs Dry By Joris Debeij

(taken from the Global Oneness Project Website-link below)
When A Town Runs Dry documents life in Stratford, a small town in California's Central Valley. A farming community for over a hundred years, Stratford is suffering from a drought that is severely impacting the community, land, and residents' daily lives.
Currently in its sixth year of drought, the Central Valley is home to the country's most productive agricultural region, containing more than half of all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States. Some farmers are selling land and cutting back on farmed acreage, while others dig deeper wells to maintain crop yields. Groundwater in the area has significantly diminished due to over-use and according to the Los Angeles Times, the water table below Stratford fell 100 feet in two years. Residents are living without running water.
This film explores the drought through the eyes of three Stratford residents—a farmer, a shopkeeper, and a high school football coach. All three men prepare for an uncertain future.
Here is the link to the lesson plan for the above film.
This and other great films can be found on the Global Oneness Project Website. "They provide stories and lesson plans  that explore cultural, social and environmental issues with a humanistic lens. Aligned to National and Common Core standards, our lesson plans, available in both English or Spanish, offer an interdisciplinary approach to learning and facilitates the development of active, critical thinking".  Please go to their site and explore the work they do.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jon Moore

Dr. Jon Moore

Ph.D., Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 
M.S., Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
B.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
B.S., Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 
Dr. Moore teaches courses in marine biology, zoology, and conservation. His research includes the ecology, evolution, and distribution of deep-sea fishes and other animals. He also has interests in the biodiversity of scrub and flatwood habitats in Florida, the conservation of endangered species, and in herpetology (especially tortoises and lizards). Dr. Moore came to the Honors College from both Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, MA where he was a visiting scientist. More information is available at the website below, along with a CV and pdf files of various published papers.

Contact: 561.799.8025; HC 175 
Jon Moore's homepage 

His research revolves around the ecology, evolution, and conservation of marine and terrestrial organisms and their habitats. This allows my students and I to study diverse topics around Florida and elsewhere.

Particular areas of research include: the ecology, systematics, and evolution of deep-sea fishes; ecology of seamounts; ecology and conservation of gopher tortoises and their habitat; ecology of Florida's reptiles and amphibians, including studies of invasive species, such as northern curlytail lizards (Leiocephalus carinatus armouri), green iguanas (Iguana iguana) and hemidactyline geckos; conservation of Florida scrub habitat, including studies of the endangered perforate lichen (Cladonia perforata) and endangered fragrant prickly apple cactus (Harrisia fragrans). (Text Borrowed from his website)

He also maintains a tortoise page on FaceBook . You can find it here:

You can watch him with the tortoises here: 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How building border walls harm wildlife.

Science Photo library

Recent events and talk about a new border wall in the United States has raised concerns for wildlife. Below are links to a few articles on the subject. 
 Wall Could Have Unexpected Victims: Wildlife  By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sorting out the Dakota Pipeline

The protest:

Native Americans from tribes all over the country are protesting the construction of a crude-oil pipeline slated to snake through sacred sites and under the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Over the past month, thousands of protesters, including Native Americans from more than 100 tribes across the country, have traveled to the North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to block the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built.

You can get more info here:

to better understand what exactly fracking does to the environment and why we should care…Earthworks is providing a good basis on  fracking….

Here is the energy company’s website
Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC, is developing a new pipeline to transport crude oil from the Bakken/Three Forks play in North Dakota to a terminus in Illinois with additional potential points of destination along the pipeline route