Biodiversity

Captive male frog coughs up babies

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 3, 2011   View Article

A captive male Darwin’s frog coughed up ten babies Thursday at a zoo in Santiago, Chile, a milestone in a project to save the amphibians from extinction.

The vulnerable species is one of two members of the only genus on Earth that rears its young inside of its vocal sac, a job taken on by the males.

Fish poop boosts distant forests

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 24, 2011   View Article

The Amazon’s big fish poop seeds far from where they eat fruit, helping to maintain the genetic diversity of the tropical forest, according to new research that shines light on a little-studied mechanism of seed dispersal.

The seed excretions occur during the six- to eight-month-long flood season, when the characid fish Colossoma macropomum swim from lakes and rivers into vast floodplains where they gobble up fruit dropped by trees and shrubs.

Froggy finds raise hope for Haiti

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 12, 2011   View Article

Conservationists have rediscovered six species of frogs in Haiti, offering a ray of hope for the country on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that left it in shambles.

“I am very wary of highlighting frogs at this time in Haiti. Obviously the country has very pressing needs, but I think ultimately they are a symbol of something more hopeful,” said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert with Conservation International who helped lead the expedition that found the frogs.

Birds in trouble? Yes … here’s why

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 7, 2011   View Article

Birds are indeed in trouble. But this trouble has nothing to do with freakish events such as the thousands of blackbirds that fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. Rather, experts say birds are falling prey to a laundry list of long-term threats ranging from pollution and habitat loss to climate change.

Devonian die-off teaches grim lesson

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 30, 2010   View Article

A long, long time ago — between 378 million and 375 million years ago — about half of all species on the planet vanished. The trigger for this mass extinction, one of five known in Earth’s history, was a lethal combination of sea level rise and invasive species, according to a new study.

“The basic processes that normally result in new species forming were blocked,” study author Alycia Stigall, a paleobiologist at Ohio University, told me today.

Reefer Madness: The race to save corals

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 10, 2010   View Article

Climate change, coastal development and overfishing have effectively wiped out nearly a fifth of the world’s coral reefs, and by the end of this century they “are unlikely to look much like the reefs that we are familiar with today,” said Peter Mumby, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland in Australia, who envisions smaller and weaker reefs that harbor fewer fish.

“But there will still be reefs and they will still be very important,” he said. “And so what we really have to do is take all the steps we can locally to

Check out seven ways scientists and conservationists are pushing to preserve reefs for future generations.

Pictures: Rare Bees Make Flower-Mud “Sandwiches”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 10, 2010   View Article

What appears to be part of a spring wedding bouquet is actually a nest for a rare species of solitary bee, a new study says.

Called a “flower sandwich,” the three-tiered arrangement consists of a thin layer of petals on the outside, then a layer of mud, and finally another layer of petals lining the inside of the chamber, according to study leader Jerome Rozen, a curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

At the core of the sandwich is the bee’s larva, which feasts on nectar and pollen deposited inside the chamber by its parent before the egg is laid and the nest is sealed.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach