New threat to Pacific humpback whales?

Jumping_Humpback_whale

Once hunted to near extinction, the humpback whales of Canada’s Pacific are back in larger numbers and their status has been downgraded from “threatened” to one “of special concern”.

However, this BBC report shows how there are now concerns that the whales face new risks from increased oil and natural gas exploration.

BBC News – New threat to Canadas Pacific humpback whales?.

Sunday Photo Magazine — 11/30/2014

Originally posted on PLANET EARTH NEWSLETTER blog:

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‘Divide and rule’—raven politics

Originally posted on World of Birds:

 Cognitive biologists now revealed that ravens use a "divide and rule" strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics. Credit: Jorg Massen

Cognitive biologists now revealed that ravens use a “divide and rule” strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics. Credit: Jorg Massen

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups and they can gain power by building social bonds that function as alliances. Cognitive biologists of the University of Vienna now revealed that ravens use a ‘divide and rule’ strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics: Socially well integrated ravens prevent others from building new alliances by breaking up their bonding attempts.

Thomas Bugnyar and his team have been studying the behavior of approximately 300 wild ravens in the Northern Austrian Alps for years. They observed that ravens slowly build alliances through affiliative interactions such as grooming and playing. However, they also observed that these affiliative interactions were…

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Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrating birds

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:

This video is about bird migration.

From BirdLife:

Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrants in the air

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 20/10/2014 – 08:18

On the weekend 4–5 October, over 23,000 people took part in the most exciting nature event of the autumn: the annual Eurobirdwatch. From Portugal to Kazakhstan, from Malta to Norway, BirdLife Partners invited people of all ages to discover and observe the fascinating migration of birds. The result of these two days of fun, exchange and learning was the observation of over 2.5 million birds as they migrated to southern countries in search of suitable wintering grounds.

In autumn, some species of birds, the so-called migratory birds, leave the north, where they breed in spring and summer and head to their wintering grounds in the south. The migration of several thousands of birds of different species is a unique spectacle; the BirdLife…

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An epic story: Very Important Trees.

Originally posted on Woodland Matters:

Nearly 1,000 years ago, the epic story of the build up to and successful invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror was captured on a length of embroidered cloth. There is much that we don’t know about this iconic piece of work, including who commissioned it. But looking closer, the Bayeux tapestry tells us much about trees.

I was recently invited to the heart of Normandy to give a presentation to the University of Paris, Summer School in Collonges about the iconography of the trees on the Bayeux tapestry.

According to Sylvette Lemagnen, one of the conservators of the tapestry,

“The Bayeux tapestry is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque … Its survival almost intact over nine centuries is little short of miraculous … Its exceptional length, the harmony and freshness of its colours, its exquisite workmanship, and the genius of its guiding spirit combine to make it endlessly fascinating.”

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Global wildlife halved in 40 years, reveals WWF

lion_1_19451

Pic: WWF

Global wildlife populations have halved in just 40 years, according to new research by scientists at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2014 found.

The key findings are:

  • Populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52% since the 1970s.
  • Freshwater species populations have suffered a 76% decline, an average loss almost double that of land and marine species.
  • The worst declines have been observed in the Tropics.

The report draws upon the Living Planet Index, a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London, which monitors trends in over 10,000 populations of 3038 species since the 1970s. It also looks at how human consumption levels have increased in the same time period. It shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

New book celebrates 50 years of wildlife photos

Cherry Alexander/NHM

Pic: Cherry Alexander/NHM

The Natural History Museum’s new book is a real treat. Entitled ’50 Years of Wildlife Photographer of the Year’, it features the most memorable pictures from 50 years of the prestigious competition, including this beautiful photo taken by Cherry Alexander of Antartica.

The book celebrates the art of wildlife photography by charting its development  from the first hand-held cameras and the colour film revolution of the 1960s, to the increasingly sophisticated photographs of wild animals and unexplored places taken today.