BIOL 375: Conservation Biology Blog

In this blog, undergraduate students in my Conservation Biology course at NJIT will be posting links to relevant news stories that come up over the course of the semester, with a short description. The posts will be in the comments section below.

Advertisements

68 Comments

  1. This recent article explains the first ever bumblebee in the U.S. to go on on the endangered species list. Climate change and diseases were the main factors resulting in their rapid decline.

  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/11/new-species-of-gibbon-discovered-in-china

    A new species of gibbon (a type of ape) has been recently discovered in China. This article brings up the fact that it is a nice change to find a new species in an area where a lot of organisms are going extinct due to habitat loss. This new species, the Skywalker hoolock gibbon, is named after the popular movie series “Star Wars.” Unfortunately, it is estimated that there are only 200 individuals so this new species listed as endangered.

  3. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-endangered-sea-mammal-the-last-vaquitas/

    This article talks about the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), the world’s smallest porpoise, and how there may be about 60 vaquitas left . The focus of the article is to inform how humans, their only known predators, have allowed the vaquita numbers to decrease because of the use of fishing nets and gillnets. Another problem mentioned is that people will not help protect something they do not see, an issue to helping conserve vaquitas, due to their low abundance.

  4. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-38909512

    This article is about the conservation of the Rhinoceros at one of the parks in India. The park authorities have been given permission to shoot and kill anyone that is suspected to be a poacher. The Rhino population has increased due to these efforts, but this has lead to the local village children becoming shot as well due to chance by them walking into the park’s borders. The article brings up the question “when does conservation efforts become a problem?”.

  5. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38920199
    This article is about the conservation efforts of crickets in Europe. Crickets are being driven to extinction due to intense agriculture practices and tourism development. Currently Europe has approximately 1,000 species of crickets that are crucial to the survival of other species such as birds and reptiles. Without crickets, biodiversity will be affected as they serve a major role in the food web.

  6. http://time.com/4672990/the-future-of-zoos/

    This article talks about how zoos may need better conservation and exhibit implements to keep zoos from closing down. They talk about he Philadelphia Zoo and how its Zoo 360’s big cat crossing is an example of a way people can make connections with animals to be able to help care and act in support of their protection and conservation. Another good example is the St. Louis Zoo’s new polar bear exhibit. However, the problem is trying to explain to the public how animals in captivity benefit when many studies have shown they are depressed and suffer from anxiety when confined and not in their wild homes.

  7. This small article discusses the urgent need of new and better conservation measures for Tuna Fishing in Eastern Pacific and from the starting of 2017 fishing season there would be no official conservation law or rules in place for Tuna fishing leaving the species for exploitation without any safeguards.

  8. This article discusses the reintroduction of the scimitar horned oryx- an antelope declared extinct in the wild since 2000, to it’s original home in the Sahara desert. Due to a breeding program in captivity, created by the United Arab Emirates, the species has been kept alive. Twenty one of these species of antelope that were first released in the wild have been observed to be thriving so the release of this second group of fourteen is expected to be successful as well.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/14/extinct-antelope-scimitar-horned-oryx-released-sahara-chad?CMP=share_btn_link

  9. This article discusses that it seems that pre-Columbian indigenous shaped the Amazon forest by planting number of trees. We thought that the Amazon was untouched until not too long ago when people started to cut down trees for wood or for agriculture. This article is linked to our discussions about the Amazon forest and how human activity destroys the forest.

  10. Here is a very interesting video I came across on Facebook. This video shows multiple locations where bridges have been put in place to allow animals to cross a road safely. I never knew these existed so I started researching it a little more and found out many areas are starting to incorporate these bridges to help animals get across roads. These bridges are not only advantageous for animal safety, but it is also beneficial for humans to not be stopped while driving or have damage to their vehicle.

  11. This article is an update on ecological and genetic impact of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake tsunami on intertidal mud snails. The earthquake tsunami destroyed local populations of various coastal organisms. To evaluate the impact of the tsunami on the ecology and the genetic population characteristics of the snails, scientists monitored the density, shell size, and micro-satellite DNA of B. attramentaria for more than ten years throughout the natural causes.

  12. Tasmanian Devils are at risk of extinction in the wild because of Devil Facial Tumor Disease. This is a rare contagious cancer. The gene expression of transcription factors T-bet and GATA-3 and cytokines interferon gamma and interleukin revealed a drastic increase in GATA-3 and IL-4 expression during puberty.These outcomes all demonstrate that adult devils are relied upon to have a lower anticancer safe limit than subadults, which may clarify the observed example of illness predominance of DFTD in the wild.

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep44716

  13. Vince, a 4 year old white rhino, was found shot in the head and stripped of its horn by a chainsaw in a French Zoo by poachers. Ever since then, police are visiting every zoo and wildlife park in the UK that holds rhinos (111 in total) to provide security. The white rhino is an endangered species, with an estimated 21,000 remaining in the wild across the world, mainly in South Africa and Uganda. Trade in rhino horn is completely illegal but demand from Vietnam and China fuels poaching and smuggling, putting the rhinos at risk of extinction. This act of violence and theft from museums across Europe brought attention to the black market and wildlife trafficking.

  14. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-39524196

    This article is talking about a problem we discussed in class, namely coral bleaching due to an increase in temperature of the ocean. The Great Barrier Reef has now two thirds of its surface that is damaged and suffers from coral bleaching. What is a big change is that for some places, the reefs were bleached two years in a row, which leaves the coral a very low chance to recover. The places where the bleaching occurs can vary from year to year.

    1. This article was about how billionaires, lobbyists and the powerful men and women in the world in control are offering more economic growth, but in doing so they don’t care about the environment leading to ecological destruction. Raworth tells us that the dominant model of the human in society is flawed and economists are just that way too. Raworth gives us an image of the current embedded economy circle or graph and tells us it’s clearly flawed and not much care or even care at all is given to the environment. She also said that we (humans) are more than workers and consumers that are sucked up in this capitalist society. Raworth also goes on to draw another diagram that she says is better and logical in today’s world. Raworth draws a doughnut shaped ring and gives us boundaries, and if we pass the green circle, we are transgressing. In doing this she seeks out to reduce wealth/ income inequality , and to not squander any more resources as well as remaining efficient in doing so.

      1. This article talks about climate policies and how the EU banks won’t suffer much in terms to it, since the utility and fossil fuel portfolios they manage they only make a max of 1% in income and can suffer a max of 7% in loss. Also the article states the if there is a stable policy in terms of climate policies then it is a win-win situation for both sides.

  15. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170410085510.htm

    Article is focusing on how the percentage of forest fires will increase by 20-50% over the next years. The concern of hotspots is at a risk, also how humans are developing in these areas which are very flammable. The increase of the forest fires is due to the high temperatures, dry conditions and strong winds all because of the climate change that is happening.

    1. The website and video mentioned and talked about the lack of seed diversity. It tells us that 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared thanks to certain corporate companies “Monsanto” . In having a variety of seeds, it will be better and easier to feed our blooming population numbers as well.

  16. This article shows how it was found that wax worms (Galleria Mellonella) a able to eat plastic bags. Wax worms are able to digest plastic bags since they are similar to wax since they are polymers and have a similar carbon backbone. In the research to see if these worms can be used for environmental reasons it was found that it would take approximately 100 worms to break down a 5.5 gram plastic bag in a month. It was also questioned if it is worth spending money on this as a solution to the production of plastic bags.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/wax-worms-eat-plastic-polyethylene-trash-pollution-cleanup/

  17. This article discusses how the rehabilitation of orangutan survivors has helped the species when a baby is found without its mother. The Salat island has been found to be a safe haven for this species, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Fundation often takes the animals there after rehabilitation. Moreover, it shows how palm oil companies have purchased big pieces of land in order to “help” protect the species but they have not stopped the constant deforastation that affects the species in the first place. Some say that the idea of rehabilitation is not the solution to deforestation.

  18. This article discusses on the misconception that people believe that Antarctica’s biodiversity is doing well. The article states that people tend to believe that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean have healthier ecosystems because they have remote environments and should be less exposed to human impact. But now the habitat is subject to change due to higher temperatures which are resulted from climate change and a majority of species in those habitats are deep-water based and can highly vulnerable to environmental and exogenous impacts. Which can result in a mass extinction amongst those species. Whatever happens in other parts of the world can have an impact on Antarctica because the oceans are interconnected and Antarctica is vulnerable.

  19. This article examines how often whales in New England are hit by boats and how affected the whales are. It was discovered that 15 percent of whales from the southern Gulf of Maine had injuries or scars from a collision with a boat. Scientists are currently trying to figure out ways to decrease vessel strikes, such as altering shipping lanes.

    https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2017/04/23/researchers-say-boats-are-hitting-whales-in-new-england-waters-more-often-than-thought

  20. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/global-tree-database_us_58e769cae4b058f0a02e0c39

    This article discusses how thousands of tree species are on the brink of extinction, according to the first global database of the world’s trees, unveiled this week by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. There are currently 60,065 identified tree species living on Earth. Of that number, more than half were found to only occur in a single country, which could suggest an increased vulnerability to threats.

  21. “Devil rays get worldwide protection – and genetic tools could catch out illegal traders”
    The Gill Plate Trade

    http://theconversation.com/devil-rays-get-worldwide-protection-and-genetic-tools-could-catch-out-illegal-traders-70155?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton

    I source this article through a World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Australia(‘s) Tweet from 4/20/17.

    This article discusses the human threat on the Devil Ray, a close cousin to the famous Manta Ray. Devil rays are harvested and scaled for their gill plates, which are used to filter plankton and small prey, and plates are sold in lower-East Asia. A conspiracy purpose for the gill plates is in health tonics, which have no scientific support for this claim. Devils are sadly victims of targeted fishing and by-catch of other species. This subspecies of rays has a low fecundity, causing special decline to become a more prominent issue among the Gill Plate trade.

    Current protections are in place, although genetic identification is being done for distinction between Devil rays and the Mantas. This is beneficial for the pre-existing regulations over Manta rays. Tissue samples of both species are being studied by elongated DNA and sequencing to show differences among individuals.

  22. If any of you are going to be taking classes in the Fall, here is a story that links this course with my Ecology and Evolution of Disease course. Local people are blaming moneys for an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, and killing them as a result. In fact the monkeys themselves are vulnerable to yellow fever. It is the population of vectors (mosquitoes) that drives the emergence of these outbreaks, not the hosts.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/05/health/brazil-monkeys-yellow-fever/index.html

  23. Does Farming Drive Fish Disease?

    Aquaculture is a fast producing business, so these industries make significant profits; however, they are being threatened by high losses now because of infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. With time these infections are getting stronger, and industries are not being able to handle them. Two examples discussed in their article were the Atlantic salmon being infected with salmon lice and the zebrafish being infected with F. columnare strains. It was found that natural selection does not help fight off these infections; instead, these infections get stronger with time. This is not a concern just for aquaculture industries but also for conservationists since these farmed fish may spread infections to their wild counterparts which include endangered species.
    I wish this article gave more information on how humans can be affected by this situation. People need to always be aware of what they consume because things are not as safe as they seem to be. At the end of the day, many industries are more focused on making profits than worrying about how human health will be affected.

    Asher, Claire. “Does Farming Drive Fish Disease?” The Scientist. 19 Apr. 2017. Web.
    .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s