A wildlife population can sustain itself when at least one animal is born for every animal that dies. Conservation biologists generally have a rule of thumb regarding how many individual animals need to be in a population to make sure that population has a high chance of sticking around for over 100 years or so; conservation plans often try to boost troubled populations up to that magic number. For many animals, the magic number of individual animals needed to maintain a population is in the thousands. But, now a recent scientific paper says that for the highly imperiled Bog Turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) the magic number is actually a lot lower. Like, 40. The authors caution that their results shouldn't be used to say that we can let large populations decrease in size without worrying about them. Rather, we should not neglect small populations when making conservation plans, because even small populations are important for the long-term conservation of the Bog Turtle throughout its range.
Think you have the skillz to tell apart two Caribou (Rangifer tarandus)? Help a Canadian research group gauge people's abilities.
We hear a lot about how many species are declining because of human activity. But some are actually thriving. American Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) used to have a hard time finding good spots to start nesting colonies but eventually found out that the space underneath bridges and overpasses suited them just fine. Turns out they are even more adaptable than we thought. One of the hazards associated with living under highways is that of being hit by cars. Scientists recently found out that birds with relatively long wings had a high chance of being killed by a car. Shorter wings, they say, make a bird more maneuverable and more likely to avoid oncoming traffic. Over time, the wing-lengths in the colonies they study are getting smaller and smaller. These birds may now be more likely to escape cars, but only time will tell if there are costs to this human-induced adaptation.
Snake venom is a complicated concoction of many chemicals, some of which have mysterious functions. Andrew Durso highlights some recent and surprising research that is beginning to tell us why.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a wildlife photographer that seemed to be bothering Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) for some pictures. Now he's being sued about it.
Want to Learn More? Check out these Articles:
Shoemaker KT, Breisch AR, Jaycox JW, & Gibbs JP (2013). Reexamining the Minimum Viable Population Concept for Long-Lived Species. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology PMID: 23458501
Brown, C., & Bomberger Brown, M. (2013). Where has all the road kill gone? Current Biology, 23 (6) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.023