Sunday, 12 August 2012

Wildlife stuff from the fortnight 30/7 - 12/8/12

In the last 25 years, news of amphibian decline has prompted scientists to search harder, damnit - and so far 3000 species have been discovered!
"Currently, a new species of amphibian is described in the scientific literature every 2.5 days"
The 7000 Kinds Of Amphibians song:

[audio] Researchers have designed a free online tool called iBatsID to identify European bats via their calls and to assist bat conservation throughout the continent.

'Report: Captive lion reintroduction programs in Africa operate under 'conservation myth''
Raising captive lions, to reintroduce them into the wild, might work well for drawing in the tourists (they get to pet the young ones, and see them up close), but it's wasting money and effort that should be put into supporting wild populations.
The report states that wild lion management schemes have a much higher chance of success; and many captive lions never see the wild at all, because they're deemed unsuitable for release.

How does yeast survive the winter, and proliferate itself across every grape in the fields, when the time comes?
It was assumed that birds or bees would be responsible, because yeast is a fungus incapable of motility, and wind-blowing seemed too random.
It turns out that birds are unsuitable environments - the fungus simply doesn't survive long - and so the researchers' interest was turned to insects.
They conducted experiments in the vineyards of Italy, and found that wasps, who hibernate through the winters, have yeast populations in their guts, that survive throughout the year, and are transferred from generation to generation.
"The researchers also found that the wasps harbored all manner of yeasts, noting over 230 strains in just those they studied, some of which matched those used to make some of our foods and drinks and some that live in the wild."
Other species might play a similar role in providing a habitat for the yeast life-cycle to roll on, but we do now know that wasps play a useful role - so don't just treat them as pests!

How do elephants make those really low sounds (<20 Hz) that they can hear through the ground, from kilometres away - with their vocal cords, or like a cat, with abdominal muscle contractions?
Now we know - subsonic sounds can be made without any muscular contractions, suggesting that this is how elephants do it - but this does not mean that elephants don't ever produce any sounds the way purring cats do.

[video] ''Superbird' stuns researchers'
"A team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the National Research Council of Argentina recently fitted a South American sea bird called an imperial cormorant with a small camera, then watched stunned as it became "superbird" – diving 150 feet underwater in 40 seconds, feeding on the ocean floor for 80 seconds where it eventually caught a snakelike fish, before returning to the surface 40 seconds later."

Donna, believed to be the world's oldest hippo, has died at the age of 62, in Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, after living for more than two decades beyond the massive mammal's usual life expectancy.
Hippos live into their forties, in the wild, and fifties in captivity. Donna could have lived longer - she was killed by a vet, due to increasing pain caused by arthritis, so it would have been cruel to let her pain continue.

A peculiar, green lacewing has been found in the tropical forests of Malaysia. Finding new species in places like that is not uncommon - hundreds of species are newly discovered every year, and there are tens of thousands estimated to be unfound.
The peculiar element of the story behind this peculiar insect's discovery, is that its existence was only confirmed after pictures of it were posted on Flickr, and scientists managed to find specimens in the Malaysian forests.

Another awesome organism discovered {if that doesn't assonate, then your accent's wrong :-P }
'World's first eyeless huntsman spider discovered'
And yes, it is eyeless because of atrophy, caused by the lightless cave environment in which it lives. 
It was found in Laos. Which is pronounced exactly the same as "Laos", to rhyme with "cow". And Laos is here:

[audio] Bowhead whales have been recorded singing to each other, contiguously, for more than 5 months! Being so big, they never sleep, but 5 months straight!?
"Bowhead whales are massive creatures. They grow to over 60 feet long, may live to 200 years old and can weigh 200,000 pounds. They use their huge skulls to break through ice as thick as 1.5 feet.
Bowhead whale song is unique in that the whales appear to sing with "two voices," simultaneously producing high- and low-frequency sounds. The whales sometimes repeat the same tune for hours at a time.
Stafford and her colleagues deployed the two hydrophones 60 miles apart. They made 2,144 hours of simultaneous recordings from September 2008 through July 2009."

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