Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Roundup-Alabama Turtles, Florida Pythons, and Mystery Meat

Are Alabama Turtles the Next Target? A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Georgia recently enacted new laws to help protect their native turtle populations. By creating limits on the number of turtles one person can catch, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources hoped to regulate the likely-unsustainable harvest. Turtle populations just do not grow fast enough to replace the many individuals that were being removed and shipped overseas for food.

Because it is now more difficult to profit off of catching turtles in Georgia (and Florida has even stricter regulations), there is some concern that out-of-state turtle harvesters have turned their attention to Alabama. In recent years, Alabama has shown that they take turtle conservation seriously. We will have to wait and see if they follow the lead of Georgia and Florida and respond to citizens' comments by approving new regulations.

Auburn Dogs on the Hunt for Florida Pythons: In recent years, there have been many legitimate concerns raised about pythons prowling through south Florida. These pythons, likely descended from released (or escaped) pets, are having big impacts on native wildlife populations. And, it doesn't look like there is much to stop them from expanding their range.

Researchers have been working hard to develop and evaluate different methods of tracking down wild pythons. Some Auburn colleagues of mine recently revealed their preferred strategy: using specially trained dogs. Last summer I spent some time in the Everglades helping out on their project, I have been meaning to write more about it here...

What's the Catch of the Day? I have written in the past about how I feel it is important to know where your food is coming from. But, figuring out this information first requires that you know what you are eating. If you like seafood, this can be surprisingly difficult.

From the blog Salamander Hours comes an interesting summary of some recent research that uses DNA analyses to show that seafood products are often mislabeled. The species you are eating is often not the species listed in the ingredients. In some cases, these analyses can reveal that rare species, species that should not be harvested, are showing up in supermarkets disguised as something else.

What do Marine Biologists do? From the Deep Sea News blog, an amusing graphic regarding perceptions of what marine biologists do. I think much can be also be applied to us biologists that tend to work on land.


Links to some relevant scientific articles are provided below:

Hart, K., Schofield, P., & Gregoire, D. (2012). Experimentally derived salinity tolerance of hatchling Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) from the Everglades, Florida (USA) Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 413, 56-59 DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2011.11.021

Dorcas ME, Willson JD, Reed RN, Snow RW, Rochford MR, Miller MA, Meshaka WE Jr, Andreadis PT, Mazzotti FJ, Romagosa CM, & Hart KM (2012). Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (7), 2418-22 PMID: 22308381

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