The dwindling dusky
In the marshes around America’s spaceport, Kennedy Space Center, live the last few specimens of a bird that may be closer to extinction than even the much-mourned whooping crane. While the whooper might make a gradual comeback if protected and left alone, the dusky seaside sparrow is as good as dead unless man steps in to lend an active hand. — Science News, May...
The biggest genetic study yet of a notorious frog-killing fungus says it probably originated in East Asia in the 20th century.
The chytrid fungus nicknamed Bd, which attacks the skin, has astonished biologists in the last several decades by causing sudden, mass die-offs among frogs and other amphibians in Australia, Panama and other places worldwide. But where and when the killer emerged...
News in Brief
Pulling DNA out of bottles of seawater collected from reefs has revealed some of what biologists are calling the “dark diversity” of sharks.
Physicists have their dark matter, known from indirect evidence since humans can’t see it. Dark diversity for biologists means species they don’t see in some reef, forest or other habitat, though predictions or older records say the creatures could...
Honeybees and bumblebees have a way to resist toxic compounds in some widely used insecticides.
These bees make enzymes that help the insects break down a type of neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, scientists report March 22 in Current Biology. Neonicotinoids have been linked to negative effects on bee health, such as difficulty reproducing in honeybees (SN: 7/26/16, p 16). But bees...
Deep in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, wildlife workers trek up above 9,800 feet to save some of the world’s most rare carnivores, Ethiopian wolves.
“It’s cold, tough work,” says Eric Bedin, who leads the field monitoring team in its uphill battle.
In this sparse, sometimes snowy landscape, the lanky and ginger-colored wolves (Canis simensis) reign as the region’s apex predators....
News in Brief
Orangutan numbers on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo plummeted from 1999 to 2015, more as a result of human hunting than habitat loss, an international research team finds.
Over those 16 years, Borneo’s orangutan population declined by about 148,500 individuals. A majority of those losses occurred in the intact or selectively logged forests where most orangutans live, primatologist...
Harbor porpoises are frequently exposed to sounds from shipping vessels that register at around 100 decibels, about as loud as a lawnmower, scientists report February 14 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Sounds this loud can cause porpoises to stop echolocation, which they use to catch food.
While high-frequency submarine sonar has been found to harm whales (SN: 4/23/11, p. 16), low...
The Science Life
Spring calving season for the saiga antelope of central Kazakhstan is a delight for the researchers who keep tabs on the critically endangered animals. During the day, thousands of newborn saigas lie quiet, hidden within a sea of waving grass. Mothers return twice daily to feed them. “If you come at dawn and dusk, it’s magical,” says E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at the...
SAN FRANCISCO — Even moderate light pollution can roughly double the time a house sparrow remains a risk for passing along the worrisome West Nile virus.
House sparrows, about as widespread across the United States as artificial lighting itself, make a useful test species for a first-of-its-kind study of how night illumination might contribute to disease spread, said Meredith Kernbach,...
Sickness makes some corals lose their glow.
Disease reduces a coral’s overall fluorescence even before any sign of the infection is visible to the naked eye, a new study finds. An imaging technique that illuminates the change could help with efforts to better monitor coral health, researchers report November 6 in Scientific Reports.
Many corals naturally produce fluorescent...