Social Media Could Help Save Species on the Verge of Extinction

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 29, 2014   View Article

Dodo, meet Instagram.

Scientists think that the same technology that brought us the selfie could be used to help save some of the thousands of species tottering on the brink of extinction around the world.

While an untold number of butt selfies and pictures of food are posted on social networks daily, people are also snapping images of birds, flowers, and other creatures that can help researchers who keep a close eye on flora and fauna at the tipping point.

Climate Warming Driving Native Trout to Extinction, Study Says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 25, 2014   View Article

Montana fly fishing guide and shop owner Jason Lanier hooks a feisty rainbow trout almost every day he hits the waters in the lower valley of the Flathead River system. From an angler’s perspective, the catch is a thrill. Rainbows put up a good fight, much better than the one offered by the state’s native westslope cutthroat trout.

“And cutthroats that have some rainbow genetics in them typically fight harder for sure,” the owner of the Bigfork Anglers Fly Shop told NBC News.

About 20 million rainbows were stocked in the river system that spans Montana and southern British Columbia, Canada, from the late 1800s to 1969. The fish can, and do, mate with cutthroats. This hybridization may drive the genetically pure natives to extinction, according to Clint Muhlfeld, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in West Glacier, Mont.

What’s more, climate change is accelerating the hybridization process, according to new research led by Muhlfeld. “This is the first example we are aware of that has shown how invasive hybridization has probably spread due to climate warming,” he told NBC News.

Polar Bears Switch Diets to Survive, Studies Say

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 24, 2014   View Article

Arctic polar bears may be adjusting their eating habits as their sea ice habitat melts and the furry white predators stand to lose the floating platform they depend on to hunt seals, their primary food. According to researchers, however, the bears are displaying flexible eating habits as their world changes around them.

Indeed, scientific studies indicate polar bear populations are falling as the sea ice disappears earlier each spring and forms later in the fall. But a series of papers based on analysis of polar bear poop released over the past several months indicate that at least some of the bears are finding food to eat when they come ashore, ranging from bird eggs and caribou to grass seeds and berries.

Five distinct humpback whale populations identified in North Pacific

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 4, 2013   View Article

Five distinct populations of humpback whales ply the North Pacific Ocean each year between winter breeding and summer feeding grounds, according to a new study. The finding adds a layer of complexity to ongoing efforts to conserve the majestic marine mammals.

Humpback whales are found throughout the world’s oceans. In the North Pacific, they number more than 21,000 today, up from less than 1,000 at the end of commercial humpback whaling in 1966. “That is a great thing,” Scott Baker, a marine biologist with Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, told NBC News.

Covert satellite cams may catch animal poachers in the crosshairs

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 9, 2013   View Article

High-tech cameras are being deployed behind bushes and tall grasses in Africa in an effort to curtail the illegal slaughter of rhinos, which are sought for their horns to decorate daggers and treat everything from hangovers to cancer.

The motion of an animal or poacher approaching the camera is enough to trigger a clandestine snapshot, which is then relayed to local game wardens and wildlife enthusiasts around the world via a satellite communications network.

Saving most of Earth’s plants may take just a bit of land

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 5, 2013   View Article

Nearly two thirds of the world’s plant species — and the creatures and critters that depend on them for survival — can be saved by protecting patches of land, from the cloud forests of South America to islands in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, according to a new study.

The finding is based on analysis of data on the distribution of more than 110,000 plant species, and is an effort to determine if internationally agreed conservation targets of protecting 17 percent of the Earth’s land area and 60 percent of its plants by 2020 are achievable.

Old whooping cranes keep the young ones on course, study shows

Publication:   Date: NBC News   View Article

When endangered whooping cranes fly their routes to summer breeding grounds, the old birds play a crucial role in showing the young birds where to go.

“This learning takes place over many years,” Thomas Mueller, an expert on animal migration at the University of Maryland and lead author of a study on the cranes’ migration habits, told NBC News. “It is a long-term process.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach