The toughest snake on Earth lives in central Africa and eats baby rodents

first_imgThe skin of the Calabar burrowing python is 15 times thicker and orders of magnitude harder to pierce than the average snake. The skin’s puncture resistance is owed to its layered sheets of collagen fibers.Scientists think the snake’s tough skin may have evolved to protect the snake from the bites of mother rodents defending their young, which make up the entirety of the Calabar’s diet.The snake’s skin is flexible despite being thick and nearly impenetrable. This unique combination of qualities has already intrigued a pharmaceutical company hoping to mimic its structure to create puncture-resistant medical gloves that don’t restrict movement. The fury of rodent mothers may have given rise to the toughest of all snakes.The skin of the Calabar burrowing python (Calabaria reinhardtii), a one-meter-long snake native to equatorial Africa, may be thicker and harder to pierce than any other snake in the world, according to a study due to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Morphology. The Calabar’s armor-like casing may have evolved to ward off biting attacks by the protective mothers of its exclusive prey: the pups of burrowing rodents.Snake skin, like human skin, has an outer epidermis and a deep dermis. In snakes, scales compose the outer layer. Typically, the deeper layer in both snakes and mammals is made up of disorganized bundles of collagen, arranged like loose piles of hay. This lack of structure makes skin quite elastic, but it’s also easily punctured or sliced.The Calabar python’s skin is remarkably different. The discovery arose from a bit of grisly serendipity, recalls study co-author Bruce Young, a biophysicist at A.T. Still University in the U.S. state of Missouri. The tightly packed scales of the Calabar burrowing python don’t spread apart when stretched. Photo Credit: Bruce Young.In 2015, Young and his colleagues were comparing the brain structures of different snakes. Their project required decapitating quite a few of them.“We had gotten this down to a science, but when we got to the Calabar we couldn’t do it,” Young told Mongabay. The razor blade that had easily sliced through every other snake met its match in the Calabar’s tough sheath of skin. A brand-new surgical scalpel and an extra helping of brute force finally separated the Calabar’s head from its body.Intrigued by the struggle, Young kept a bit of the snake’s skin to investigate what had rebuffed his blade. It was thicker than anything Young had come across, so the team took a close look at its structure.A research team led by Dawei Han of Truman State University, also in Missouri, pitted the Calabar’s skin against that of 13 other species of snake. They assessed its thickness with a microscope and its puncture resistance with hypodermic needles and a force transducer, which measured the pressure required to poke through the skin. Results showed that the Calabar’s skin was 15 times thicker and orders of magnitude harder to pierce than the skin of any other snake in the study.A scanning electron microscope created this image of a section of the Calabar’s skin. Photo Credit: Bruce Young.Under magnification, color-stained cross-sections of the skin revealed highly organized layers of collagen under the snake’s scales. Bundles of collagen in each layer ran perpendicularly to those above and below — a tough crisscross arrangement more similar to the hide of a rhinoceros than to the skin of other snakes.The work has surprised and delighted other herpetologists. “Most snakeskin has collagen fibers that run parallel. That organization allows the skin to stretch around a large meal or eggs,” says morphologist Alan Savitzky of Utah State University in the U.S. Savitzky has studied snakes for 35 years but was not involved in the present study. “These cross-ply fibers in the Calabar dramatically increase its strength but reduce its ability to stretch. It’s a very significant finding.”Despite its toughness, the snake’s skin remains flexible. This combination of pliability and puncture resistance has already piqued the interest of a pharmaceutical company seeking to make tougher medical gloves that don’t restrict movement. The company reached out to Han and Young for guidance in mimicking the underlying structure of the Calabar’s skin, according to the researchers.Several other aspects of the snake’s physiology have captured the attention of serpent aficionados. For instance, it looks like a “snake with two butts,” as described by Bruce Young’s 10-year-old daughter, because its head and tail look almost identical. Both ends of the Calabar are blunt and oblong — the head a bit thinner and the tail a bit thicker than the average snake’s. The snake presents its tail — shielded by the thickest skin on its body — to would-be assailants while burying its head beneath its coils.The Calabar python showcases what researchers call “cephalic mimicry,” which means its tail looks just like its head. Photo Credit: Bruce Young.The Calabar’s armor creates some limitations. Calabar pythons have one of the smallest clutch sizes of any snake, for instance. Females lay only four eggs on average, whereas more elastic snakes can lay up to 100. The eggs themselves are long and slender, rather than the chicken-like eggs produced by many other snakes.And while most snakes can famously eat things far bigger than their own heads, the Calabar’s thick skin limits its ability to swell. This partly explains their preference for eating infant rodents. Despite being a close relative to constrictors, which subdue their prey by coiling around it and squeezing, the Calabar’s technique might more accurately be described as “squashing.” Within the tight quarters of underground burrows, the snakes squish their tiny prey against the earthen walls. This tactic allows the Calabar to kill and eat entire litters at once.The individual scales of the Calabar burrowing python, which modern genetic analysis reveals is actually in the boa family despite “python” being in its common name, are only a bit thicker than those of most snakes. However, they’re packed more closely together.“With most snakes you can spread their scales apart and see the inner skin between the scales,” said Young. “You can’t spread the scales of the Calabar.” Pressing down on the scales also appears to make them lock together even more tightly — something Young is anxious to study.“No other snake approached the skin condition of the Calabar,” said Young. “This really is a novelty among snakes.”The blunt head of the Calabar burrowing python looks almost identical to its tail. Photo Credit: Bruce Young.CITATIONHan D, Young BA. The rhinoceros among Serpents: Comparative anatomy and experimental biophysics of Calabar burrowing python (Calabaria reinhardtii) skin. Journal of Morphology. 2018; 279:86–96. doi:10.1002/jmor.20756 Article published by Mike Gaworecki Animals, Environment, Herps, Reptiles, Snakes, Wildlife center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Indonesia prepares to adopt standardized peat-mapping technology

first_imgThe winner of a competition announced in 2016 to come up with a fast, accurate and cost-effective method to map Indonesia’s vast tropical peatlands will be announced on Feb. 2.The government currently lacks an authoritative map of its carbon-rich peat areas, which it urgently needs to enforce a policy of conserving existing peatlands and rehabilitating degraded areas.The country’s peatlands are important as stores of greenhouse gases and habitats for endangered species; but their drainage and deforestation, mostly for oil palm plantations, has made Indonesia one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters and contributed to loss of wildlife habitat. JAKARTA — The daunting task of mapping Indonesia’s vast peatlands in painstaking detail has entered the home stretch, as competing proposals vie for selection as the standard to be adopted by the government.Indonesia is home to the largest combined area of tropical peatland in the world, but lacks a comprehensive and detailed map of these carbon-rich landscapes that it needs to undergird a landmark policy of restoring degraded peatland and preventing the recurrence of annual fires across these ecosystems.Peatlands are fast being drained and razed to make way for monoculture crops, primarily oil palms, in the process releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases once trapped within the meters-deep layers of partly decomposed organic matter that comprise peat.“That’s why peat maps need to be updated with the latest condition,” said Wiwin Ambarwulan, head of research at Indonesia’s Geospatial Information Agency, or BIG.To that end, the presidentially appointed Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) in 2016 announced a competition, the Indonesian Peat Prize, to find a fast, cost-effective and accurate mapping method for the country’s peat forests.The competition has now been whittled down to the final five, and the winner will be announced in Jakarta on Feb. 2.“We’re really anticipating the results of this competition because this problem of data accuracy is very important for our work,” said BRG deputy head Budi S. Wardhana. “The BRG’s mandate is only for five years. If we spend all of our time on mapping, when do we get to carry out the restoration work?”The five finalists have proposed a wide range of mapping techniques, from using a device to measure the electromagnetic resistivity of peatlands, to integrating low-tech improvements to soil sampling methods with high-tech innovations in digital mapping based on the sophisticated processing technique of interferometric synthetic-aperture radar.The technology that ultimately wins out will be adopted by the government as the standard for future peat mapping in the country, Wiwin said.“We will implement it in all regions in Indonesia,” she said, adding “there’s a chance that we may combine technologies from two finalists.”Drainage canal dug through peat swamp in Riau Province. Photo by Rhett A ButlerNo authoritative mapThe vastness of Indonesia’s peatlands poses its own complexity. These landscapes are important for biomass production, water supply, carbon storage and biodiversity conservation. At the same time, their massive range means there are no authoritative maps clearly delineating peatlands from other areas, which has allowed them to be included in concessions for commercial exploitation, including plantations, logging and mining.A 2016 presidential regulation, issued in the wake of devastating forest and land fires fueled largely by the burning of drained and degraded peat in 2015, bans companies from planting on peat that has been zoned for conservation. Plantation firms already operating in conservation areas can see their crops through for the duration of their life cycle, after which they cannot replant the land, but are required to rewet the peat for conservation purposes.Currently, two peat maps among several in existence are the most commonly used: one produced by the NGO Wetlands International in 2004, and the other by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2011. In a 2013 report, the Dutch consultancy Deltares concluded that neither of these maps was suitable for spatial planning or policymaking, as both consistently underestimated the extent of the peatland and thickness of the peat layers.The Ministry of Environment and Forestry also published a peat hydrological area map in 2017, which divides peat zones into two categories: protection or production. The map uses data from various official maps, including that of the Ministry of Agriculture and one from the Ministry of Public Works.But at a scale of 1:250,000, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s map is not detailed for use in effective spatial planning and policymaking tasks, which require maps with a finer resolution of 1:50,000.This lack of an authoritative map and poor data has made it difficult for the government to identify peat areas that needed to be conserved — the necessary first step toward rehabilitating peatlands that have been degraded and rendered susceptible to fires.Peat forest in Borneo, Indonesia, home to orangutans. Orangutan populations found on the opposite sides of wide rivers often possess differing behavioral traits, which upon careful study in some cases have been proven to be culturally caused. Photo by Rhett A. ButlerCost concernsThe government has experimented with the high-resolution mapping technique known as lidar, which functions similarly to radar — by beaming radiation toward the object being surveyed and measuring the reflected radiation — except it uses laser pulses rather than radio waves.While reliable and accurate, lidar’s main drawback is its high cost at about $700 per square kilometer ($1,810 per square mile). Indonesia’s peatlands span an estimated 149,000 square kilometers (57,529 square miles), around the size of New York, making this technique prohibitively expensive.“It’s also still not enough because it can only cover the surface,” Budi of the BRG said. “So we can see the topography and identify land cover, but we can’t measure the depth [of the peat layer] even though the depth determines the management of peatlands, whether they’re for cultivation or to be protected.”These limitations have left the BRG struggling to meet its target of mapping 104 peat zones in seven provinces. To date, it has only mapped seven peat zones using lidar and eight using traditional methods, which require multiple field observations and tacking on the costs.“We’re indeed struggling because it’s expensive,” Budi said.That’s why, he said, the BRG is looking forward to settling on a proven and cost-effective solution and quickly adopting it as the national standard.“We will submit the technologies to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for them to improve their existing map,” Budi said. carbon, Ecological Restoration, Environment, Fires, Forest Carbon, Forest Fires, Indonesia, Mapping, Peatlands, Restoration Banner image: Coastal peatlands in Riau Province. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. Article published by Hans Nicholas Jong Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Two new dog-faced bats discovered in Panama and Ecuador

first_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Bats, Biodiversity, Conservation, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Mammals, New Species, Research, Species Discovery, Wildlife Researchers have described two new species of dog-faced bats: the Freeman’s dog-faced bat (Cynomops freemani) from Panama and the Waorani dog-faced bat (Cynomops tonkigui) from Ecuador.The Freeman’s dog-faced bat was named after bat specialist Patricia Freeman.The species name of the Waorani dog-faced bat, “tonkigui,” honors the Waorani tribe of Ecuador that lives near one of the locations where the bats were captured, the study says. For the past few decades, scientists have known of six species of fast-flying, insect-eating bats with dog-like faces — collectively called the dog-faced bats.Now, a group of researchers has described two more species of dog-faced bats in a new study published in Mammalian Biology: the Freeman’s dog-faced bat (Cynomops freemani) from Panama and the Waorani dog-faced bat (Cynomops tonkigui) from Ecuador.Researchers from the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) first came across the Freeman’s dog-faced bat inside abandoned wooden houses in the town of Gamboa in 2012. Over the course of five nights, the team captured 56 bats using specialized mist nets, took their measurements, then released them. They also recorded the bats’ calls and collected one individual that had died.At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C, the scientists compared their field observations, including DNA, sound recordings and body measurements of the bats, with existing museum collections from across the Americas and Europe, and confirmed that the bat was new to science. They named it Freeman’s dog-faced bat after Patricia Freeman, a bat specialist currently at the University of Nebraska State Museum of Natural History.“We were very lucky to catch several different individuals of this species in mist nets and to record their calls,” Thomas Sattler, who was one of the team members in Panama at the time of collection, told Smithsonian Insider. “Knowing their species-specific echolocation calls may make it possible to find them again in the future with a bat detector — without catching them—and to find out more about their distribution and habitat preferences.”In fact, some STRI staff recently spotted pregnant females of the species in Gamboa in August 2017, and some young individuals the following month.Thomas Sattler holds two Freeman’s dog-faced bats discovered in Gamboa, Panama. Photo: Elias BaderThe Smithsonian team described the second new species — the slightly smaller Waorani dog-faced bat — from individuals collected by other naturalists and researchers from Ecuador’s rainforests. The team did not have any call recordings of the bats, so they confirmed its status by comparing the bats’ physical measurements and DNA with those of other museum specimens collected in Ecuador.“Identifying two mammal species new to science is extremely exciting,” Ligiane Moras, lead author of the study who did part of this work as a fellow at NMNH, said in a statement.Rachel Page of STRI added: “Molecular tools combined with meticulous morphological measurements are opening new doors to the diversity of this poorly understood group. This discovery begs the question — what other new species are there, right under our very noses? What new diversity is yet to be uncovered?”A Waorani dog-faced bat. Photo by Diego Tirira.The newly described Freeman’s dog-faced bat. Photo by Thomas Sattler.Citation:Moras, L. M., et al. (2017). Uncovering the diversity of dog-faced bats from the genus Cynomops (Chiroptera. Molossidae), with the redescription of C. milleri and the description of two new species. Mammalian Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2017.12.005.center_img Article published by Shreya Dasguptalast_img read more

Andes dams twice as numerous as thought are fragmenting the Amazon

first_imgAmazon Biodiversity, Amazon Conservation, Amazon Dams, Amazon Destruction, Amazon People, Biodiversity Hotspots, Controversial, Dams, Deforestation, Drivers Of Deforestation, electricity, Energy, Energy Politics, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Politics, Flooding, Food Crisis, food security, forest degradation, Forest Destruction, Forest Loss, Forests, Green, Hydroelectric Power, Hydropower, Infrastructure, Land Use Change, Law, Monitoring, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforests, Regulations, Research, Rivers, satellite data, Satellite Imagery, Saving The Amazon, Sedimentation, Threats To The Amazon, Tropical Deforestation Article published by Glenn Scherer Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img A new study identified 142 dams currently in operation or under construction in the Andes headwaters of the Amazon, twice the number previously estimated. An additional 160 are in the planning stages.If proposed Andes dams go ahead, sediment transport to the Amazon floodplains could cease, blocking freshwater fish migratory routes, disrupting flow and flood regimes, and threatening food security for downstream communities, impacting up to 30 million people.Most dams to date are on the tributary networks of Andean river main stems. But new dams are planned for five out of eight major Andean Amazon main stems, bringing connectivity reductions on the Marañón, Ucayali and Beni rivers of more than 50 percent; and on the Madre de Dios and Mamoré rivers of over 35 percent.Researchers conclude that proposed dams should be required to complete cumulative effects assessments at a basin-wide scale, and account for synergistic impacts of existing dams, utilizing the UN Watercourses Convention as a legal basis for international cooperation for sustainable water management between Amazon nations. The Marañón River flows though the Peruvian Andes, and is a major Amazon River tributary. The Peruvian government is planning to build several major dams on the river, though the projects are fiercely opposed by many local riverine communities. Photo by Gato Montes on Wikimedia CC-BY 3.0The scale of hydroelectric development in the Andean Amazon is far more extensive than previously thought, with numerous headwater dams fragmenting river habitats, disrupting natural systems, and affecting the lives and livelihoods of 30 million downstream Amazon basin inhabitants, according to a new study published in Science Advances.If proposed dams in the region go ahead, sediment transport from the Andes to the Amazon floodplains will cease and migratory routes of freshwater fish will be blocked, threatening food security for downstream communities.An international team of researchers led by Elizabeth Anderson, a freshwater ecologist at Florida International University in Miami, used satellite imagery to verify reported locations of existing dams in the Amazonian Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and to quantify their impact on river connectivity.The scientists identified 142 dams currently in operation or under construction – twice the number previously estimated. This study represents “the most detailed accounting of dams in the Andean region,” says Kirk Winemiller, an aquatic ecologist at Texas A&M University, who was not involved in the study. The team also included the impact of proposed dams in their model – an additional 160 projects – and found that they would further reduce connectivity on five out of eight major Andean rivers that flow into the Amazon basin, with the Napo, Marañón, Ucayali, Beni, and Mamoré most effected.Aerial view of the Rio Solimóes flowing through Amazon rainforest in Brazil. In the rainy season, rivers jump their banks and flow into floodplain forests, enriching soils with vital nutrients. Construction of all the planned Andes dams would prevent those annual flooding events. Photo by Iubasi on Wikimedia CC-BY 2.0Satellite image of a flooded forest in Pará state, Brazil. Dams disrupt flow and flooding regimes vital to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and plants. Photo courtesy of NASAThe last large-scale survey of hydroelectric development in the Andean Amazon was published in 2012, but hydroelectric development has flourished there in intervening years, and global and regional reports often exclude small hydroelectric projects – estimated to outnumber large hydropower plants 11 to 1, according to another study published last month – meaning that other research using past published data has seriously underestimated the number and impact of dams in the region.Anderson and colleagues looked at rivers and tributaries in seven Andean Amazon basins. They combined satellite imagery with government planning and energy authority records, and calculated dam impacts using the Dendritic Connectivity Index – a measure of how passable each stretch of river is for fish. They found that the tributary networks supplying the Marañón and Ucayali rivers in Peru (important Amazon River headwater streams) have already lost 20 percent of their original connectivity.The Andes represents only a tiny fraction of the Amazon basin, but it exerts a disproportionate effect on ecological processes downstream – influencing fish migration and transporting nutrient-rich sediments all the way to the vast floodplains of Brazil and to the Amazon River estuary.The problem arises because most hydroelectric projects in the Andes Amazon store or divert water for later energy generation, rather than allowing normal river flow to generate electricity continuously. As a result, headwaters dams trap up to 100 percent of the sediments previously carried by the streams, Anderson explains.A Shawi fisherman on the Rio Paranapura. The new study raises an alarm over the number of existing, under construction and proposed dams in the Andean Amazon, which would seriously diminish connectivity and impact fisheries. Photo by Alvaro Del CampoAnother problem: the dams disrupt the seasonal cycle of flooding in the Amazon basin, reducing or preventing forest inundation, and influencing migration, mating and feeding patterns, as well as social behaviors of both aquatic and terrestrial animals. Fragmentation of the Andes headwaters has “huge ramifications for not only the rivers of the Andean region of the Amazon, but also for the ecology of the entire Amazon basin,” says Winemiller.Most hydropower development to date has affected the tributary networks of Andean Amazon river main stems, but this may be about to change. Dams are currently planned for the main stems of five out of eight major Andean Amazon rivers. Anderson’s team warns that these projects could result in connectivity reductions on the Marañón, Ucayali, and Beni rivers of more than 50 percent, with the Madre de Dios and Mamoré rivers suffering connectivity decreases of over 35 percent.That loss in aquatic connectivity could have a big impact on the biodiversity of Amazon fisheries. The team compared their data on river connectivity with a list of freshwater fish species collated from the published literature by the Amazon Fish Project, and found that sites greater than 500 meters above sea level in the Andean Amazon are home to 671 species of freshwater fish – the first published estimate for the Andean headwaters.Of the four freshwater ecoregions defined for the Andean Amazon, the Amazonas High Andes – spanning Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador – has experienced the most intense hydropower development so far, and is also the site of the greatest number of proposed dams. However, the region is likewise home to hundreds of fish species, nearly 40 percent of which are thought to be unique to the region.The fast-flowing waters of the Topo River in Ecuador. Many Andes fish species are narrowly adapted to inhabit rapids at specific altitudes. Dams would wreak havoc on connectivity and impact fish and fisheries in negative ways. Photo by Elizabeth AndersonThese fish species are specially adapted to steep mountain rapids, with the Amazonas High Andes harboring distinctive collections of species at different elevations. “It is not uncommon for a fish species to just be found in a small part of one basin, and nowhere else,” says Anderson.Others migrate thousands of miles to spawn or feed. The goliath catfish (Brachyplatystoma sp.), for example, makes the longest freshwater migration in the world, covering almost the entire length of the Amazon River. Proposed tributary and main stem dams could block crucial migration routes for numerous Amazonian fish, as well as altering environmental cues such as flow pulses and flooding that are used by fish as signals to begin migration.The dams would affect more than fish: the “rhythms of life of many human populations across the Amazon are linked to river flows,” says Anderson, with reduced connectivity set to disrupt seasonal activities like farming, fishing and transporting goods.Cooperative international water resource management will be critical to protecting the natural and human communities that rely heavily for survival on the flow of Andes and Amazon basin rivers, says Anderson. The new study calls for transboundary assessments of the physical, chemical and biological impacts of Andean dams on the Amazon region, echoing concerns expressed by scientists and environmentalists over hydropower development globally.“Proposed dams should be required to complete cumulative effects assessments at a basin-scale,” Anderson asserts, and take into account synergistic effects of existing dams. If ratified by Amazonian countries, she adds, the UN Watercourses Convention could provide a legal basis for encouraging more sustainable transnational water management.Satellite view of the confluence of the Chimore, Ichilo and Mamore rivers in Bolivia. Scientists are urging Amazon nations to take a basin-wide management approach to the planning and construction of dams in the region, especially looking at the cumulative environmental impacts of multiple dams. Photo courtesy of NASAThe newly published study “demonstrates the feasibility of environmental impact assessment at large spatial scales,” says Winemiller, and helps pave the way for similar assessments to be incorporated in large scale, transnational water management planning across South America.However, to achieve that broad goal, Anderson says, government will need to begin seeing free-flowing rivers as vital and worth protecting. “The future of Andes Amazon connectivity depends on a shift in mindset towards recognition of free-flowing rivers as objects of conservation and then ensuring them adequate protection,” she says.The political tide may already be turning. In 2014, Colombia announced plans to fully protect the Bita River, an Orinoco River tributary, and the country’s first conserved river. And despite a wave of environmental deregulation initiatives promoting Amazon development, Brazil’s President Michel Temer recently announced a shift in policy away from mega-dams.“I am hopeful that we will soon see other Andean Amazon countries turn towards rivers as a new frontier for ecosystem conservation,” says Anderson.Citation:Anderson, E. P., Jenkins, C. N.; Heilpern, S., Maldonado-Ocampo, J.A, et al, (2018), Fragmentation of Andes-to-Amazon connectivity by hydropower dams, Science Advances, Vol 4, no. 1 easo1642; DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao1642FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Members of the La Roya indigenous community paddle at sunset on the Ucayali River. Dams disrupt fisheries, with major detrimental impacts on indigenous lives and livelihoods. The Andes dams could ultimately impact up to 30 million people. Photo credit: CIFOR on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-NDlast_img read more

In blood-sucking leeches, scientists find a genetic snapshot of local wildlife

first_imgArticle published by Sue Palminteri data collection, DNA, Forests, Genetics, Mammals, Monitoring, Research, Surveying, surveys, Technology, Wildtech FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Scientists have identified mammals present at sites in Asia by examining the DNA in the blood sucked by leeches.They found that the nearly 750 Haemadipsa (blood-sucking) leeches stored the DNA of a diversity of other species, from mice to monkeys and birds, not to mention humans and domestic animals.Collecting terrestrial leeches is fast, cheap, and easy (they come to you!), and they feed on a broad spectrum of mammals, enabling them to serve as cost-effective tools for determining the presence of even scarce and elusive species. The arduous task of assessing animal populations in the wild takes plenty of sweat and tears. Now a group of scientists is adding blood to that mix, in an innovative method that takes field surveying to a sanguine yet promising extreme.The hero of this tale is the humble blood-sucking leech, an invertebrate that feeds off a wide range of animals, from birds to mammals to humans, and whose vampiric qualities led to their use in historic and some current medical treatments.But where the blood drawn by leeches was once considered full of vile humors, now researchers see in it a treasure trove of DNA that sheds light on the animals that the leeches feed on.It’s looking for you. A leech of the terrestrial Haemadipsa (blood-sucking) genus senses and reaches out to a potential source of lunch. Photo © AMNH/M. SiddallResearchers from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the University of Delaware, and Kunming Institute of Zoology in China/University of East Anglia in the U.K. have used genetic analyses to identify the animals preyed upon by a given parasitic leech in the remains of the leech’s most recent meals. Scientists can extract invertebrate-parasite-derived DNA (iDNA) of host mammals because leeches store blood meals inside them for several months after feeding.Building on a 2012 pilot study of the use of iDNA methods to detect mammal presence at a site in Vietnam, the team tested the utility of leeches to assess Asian mammal communities across a broader range of geographic locations.A Haemadipsa leech not currently seeking a meal. Photo © AMNH/M. SiddallLead author Michael Tessler, a postdoctoral fellow at AMNH’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, told Mongabay-Wildtech the 2012 investigation was “an absolutely pioneering study” that used around 25 leeches to screen for mammals in a concentrated area in Vietnam.“Given the promising results of Schnell et al. [2012], we wanted to see if the method could be applied over much of the range of these terrestrial leeches (Haemadipsa),” Tessler said in an email. To accomplish this, the researchers analyzed the blood meals remaining inside nearly ~750 leeches from sites in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and China.“We also took note of the leeches themselves to look for new species that had previously been overlooked,” Tessler said.Haemadipsa (blood-sucking) leeches readily attack humans, so they are fast, cheap, and easy to collect. “It’s quick and easy to survey a park in this way, as you don’t really need to search for the leeches—they come to you looking for a meal,” Tessler said in a statement.Collecting leeches in the field is easier than camera trapping or observing birds or mammals. The data vehicle comes to you. In this study, the researchers collected leeches attached to their clothing, but not themselves. Photo © AMNH/L. Berniker“A snapshot of the vertebrates in an area can be taken with just one day’s worth of sampling,” Tessler said. Using camera traps, the current standard for surveys, “takes months or longer,” he added.The researchers then extracted and sequenced the samples of residual DNA from the collected leeches to determine to which host species they belonged. For this analysis, they used primers optimized for detecting mammal DNA.An effective survey toolThe researchers found that the leeches fed on a unexpectedly broad range of species.“What is most surprising and exciting is how generalized the leeches seem to be in their feeding across their ranges,” Tessler said. “This means they should be an excellent tool for surveying mammals both large and small, carnivore or herbivore, nocturnal or diurnal. As leech biologists, we were also shocked to find these leeches feeding on ground birds and even once on a bat, as these do not appear to be hosts commonly reported in the literature.”This relatively fast and low-cost technique detected the presence of both the birds and various smaller-bodied mammals, such as rats, squirrels, civets, and tiny mouse deer, which can be difficult to capture with camera traps.Mouse deer, the world’s smallest hooved mammals, are just one of a variety of Asian mammal groups preyed upon by leeches. Photo credit: Uspn (Bjørn Christian Tørrissen) CC 3.0“Our recent work has demonstrated that we can determine what mammals are in a protected area without hunting, without trapping, without the use of scat or hair samples, and especially without camera traps-all of which are problematic methods for one reason or another,” co-author Mark Siddall, a curator at AMNH’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, said in a statement.Scientists are still exploring possible limitations of assessing mammal communities from the DNA in leeches. These could include leeches’ host specificity, habitat preferences, time lapse between collection and the leech’s last feeding, as well as possible DNA contamination in the analysis process.The researchers also examined the genetic structure of the leech populations to identify possible prey specialists. They determined that the two described species of the Haemadipsa genus actually represent up to 15 different groupings, called clades, suggesting that future taxonomic work may distinguish additional species.The photogenic tiger leech (Haemadipsa picta) is one of the better-known leech species. Photo credit: Dick Culbert, CC 2.0Some samples in this study lacked sufficient vertebrate DNA to be successfully sequenced. The methods, which are still being tested, may not be equally effective across all leech genera.Nevertheless, the authors state in their paper: “While the leeches generally appear to prefer ground-dwelling species, no pattern was evident between leeches of a given clade and their prey.” In shorth, they say, the findings suggest “the iDNA technique may be robust for finding vertebrates in an area regardless of which leech species is reviewed.”Analyzing mammal DNA from easy-to-collect leeches could save future mammal research teams time and money to survey the more elusive species found at a given site.“As the method is focused on DNA, this type of study could easily sequence several genetic markers and study the population genetics of the mammals of conservation interest,” Tessler said. “This type of work usually requires actually trapping the mammal of interest, which is hard to do and incredibly stressful to the mammal, or finding fresh scat, which can be very difficult to find.”center_img ReferenceTessler, M., Weiskopf, S. R., Berniker, L., Hersch, R., Mccarthy, K. P., Yu, D. W., & Siddall, M. E. (2018). Bloodlines: mammals, leeches, and conservation in southern Asia. Systematics and Biodiversity, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/14772000.2018.1433729 Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Public opinion asked on needs of high schools

first_imgSo far, meetings have been held at Littlerock and Quartz Hill high schools. Meetings are scheduled for Monday at Palmdale High, March 22 at Eastside High. April 2 at Lancaster High, April 5 at Knight High, April 10 at Highland High and April 23 at Antelope Valley High. The meetings are held in the evenings, generally starting between 6 and 7 p.m. Call the schools to get the exact time and location. The purpose is in part to gather input about what people want to see built or improved if the district does pass a bond. But the forums also give people a chance to propose projects that would not fall under bond funding. LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Union High School District is holding a series of public forums to get community input about facility needs as it gears up for another run at passing a construction-bond measure. The district didn’t hold such meetings in a previous attempt in June to pass a $177.5 million bond measure, which voters rejected. “We were up against a time frame,” Deputy Superintendent Jeff Foster said. “We opted to go with an earlier date. The trade-off was it cut down on community awareness or time to let people know what it was we were trying to do.” District officials are studying whether to pursue a bond measure in November. A decision will be made by summer. “It’s to get input from the public,” trustee Donita Winn said. “And my emphasis is, even if it’s something that would not fit into the bond picture, how can we make changes these people want, with developer fee money or something else.” More than 100 people showed up to the Littlerock High meeting. Staff members and parents talked about electricity and lighting that didn’t work, the desire for tile flooring instead of carpeting and the need for a new paint job and a press box for the stadium. District officials want a bond issue to pay for building one or two high schools, completing construction of Eastside High and making improvements at other campuses. In January, the board voted to spend $21,000 for a consultant to increase awareness about the need for more facilities in the growing district and to generate support for a bond measure. In June, the district came up just short with Measure E, which got 52 percent of the vote when 55 percent was needed for passage. The measure would have taxed property owners about $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation annually. Measure E would have helped pay for building new high schools in southeast Palmdale and on the west side of the Antelope Valley, completing construction of Eastside High, expanding Quartz Hill High and adding two new science labs at Lancaster. The district serves about 24,000 students, and some of its high schools, including Highland and Quartz Hill, have enrollment of more than 3,000. karen.maeshiro@dailynews.com (661) 267-5744160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Raiders on the lookout for Amari Cooper in London

first_imgFor complete Oakland Raiders coverage follow us on Flipboard.ALAMEDA — The Raiders are traveling 5,345 miles Thursday night in hopes of finding Amari Cooper.Cooper will be on the team charter, of course, as he is every week. But whether Derek Carr will be able to locate Cooper on the field Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks is anybody’s guess.Carr threw the ball just one time to Cooper in a 26-10 Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, completing it for a …last_img

Powerful HIV antibodies found

first_imgThis model represents the newly discovered antibodies (shown in red), above a viral spike of HIV (the blue mesh and elements within), which protrudes from the body of the virus. (Image: The Scripps Research Institute) MEDIA CONTACTS • IAVI Rachel Steinhardt rsteinhardt@iavi.org 212 847 1045 Megan Youmans myoumans@iavi.org 212 328 7419 • The Scripps Research Institute Keith McKeown kmckeown@scripps.edu 858 784 8134 • Theraclone Sciences David Fanning dfanning@theraclone sciences.com 206 805 1603 • Monogram Biosciences Chris Petropoulos cpetropoulos@monogrambio.com 650 201 0353 RELATED ARTICLES • HIV/Aids in South Africa • SA men: brothers, lovers, fathers • Dormant Aids Council awakens • HIV in South Africa stabilising • Anti-Aids gel offers hopeMediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporterResearch in seven sub-Saharan African countries has unearthed two powerful and broadly effective antibodies to the HI virus that promise to give new impetus to the development of an Aids vaccine.Published in this week’s edition of Science, the findings are the result of a worldwide effort launched by the US-based International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) in 2006 to find new antibodies that neutralize a wide variety of strains of HIV circulating in the world.HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is the most changeable pathogen encountered by modern science. It mutates at a furious rate, allowing it to evade the body’s immune system. Today, countless variations of the virus infect people around the world. To be effective, an Aids vaccine would have to work against many versions of HIV.The two new broadly neutralizing antibodies are the first to be discovered in more than a decade, and the first to be isolated from donors in developing countries where the pandemic is raging. Now researchers will try to exploit the newfound vulnerability on the virus to craft new approaches to designing an Aids vaccine.“The findings are an exciting advance because now we’ve got a new, potentially better target on HIV to focus our efforts for vaccine design,” said Wayne Koff, senior vice president of research and development at IAVI. “And having identified this one, we’re set up to find more.”The antibodies are naturally produced by a minority of HIV-positive people. They were discovered in blood specimens collected from over 1 800 volunteers from South Africa, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, as well as from Thailand, Australia, the US and UK.How it worksAntibodies are infection-fighting protein molecules that tag, neutralize and help destroy toxins and invading pathogens. They are secreted by immune cells known as B lymphocytes – a kind of white blood cell – in response to stimulation by antigens, which are molecules found on the invading pathogen.Each antibody binds only to the specific antigen that stimulated its production. HIV attacks and quickly overwhelms the body’s immune system, but a minority of people naturally produce broadly neutralizing antibodies – ones that target multiple strains of HIV and prevent the virus from infecting cells. Isolating these antibodies gives vaccine researchers valuable insight into fighting the virus.Antibodies from the developing worldBefore this discovery, researchers had found just four antibodies widely considered to be broadly neutralizing, but those four were associated with a strain of the virus circulating primarily in the Americas, Europe and Australia. The new antibodies came from a donor in the developing world, where 95% of new infections occur.They also reveal a new vulnerable spot on HIV, binding to a potentially easier-to-reach patch on the virus that no previously known antibodies targeted. This is extremely important as it provides a new target for vaccine designers to exploit.And the antibodies appear to be highly potent as well, which means they bind to the virus tightly.This potency means the body might not have to produce large amounts of the antibodies to gain protection from HIV.“These new antibodies, which are more potent than other antibodies described to date while maintaining great breadth, attach to a novel and potentially more accessible site on HIV to facilitate vaccine design,” said Dennis Burton, professor of immunology and microbial science and scientific director of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Centre at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.“So now we may have a better chance of designing a vaccine that will elicit such broadly neutralizing antibodies, which we think are key to successful vaccine development.”The new antibodies will now be closely studied by researchers in IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Consortium, who will work out the molecular structure and the precise mechanism by which the antibodies bind to HIV. With this information they will begin designing novel immunogens – the active ingredient in vaccines – to elicit these antibodies in all people. If they succeed, the immunogens will be put through the preclinical process to produce an industrially viable vaccine candidate for further development.Global collaborationThe discovery is the result of a global collaboration between IAVI, the Scripps Research Institute, private biotech firms and more than a dozen clinical research centres around the world.It began with an IAVI-sponsored clinical study called Protocol G, a global hunt for new broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. The effort involved scientists from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The study was unprecedented in scope and ambition.The blood samples collected from more than 1 800 HIV-positive people across the world were processed at IAVI’s Human Immunology Laboratory in London.The samples then had to be tested for neutralizing activity against HIV. IAVI scientists suspected that traditional screening methods weren’t picking up the presence of every powerful antibody.They were right. IAVI researchers worked with a private biotech firm, Monogram Biosciences, and an independent biostatistician to create a new process that more accurately predicted whether a given sample contained broadly neutralizing antibodies. Researchers scored the samples in terms of how many types of HIV they neutralized, and separated the top 10% for further study.These most promising samples then went to four IAVI research partners – HuMabs in Bellinzona, Switzerland; Rockefeller University in New York; the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Centre at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California; and Theraclone Sciences in Seattle, Washington. Each would employ a different technology in an effort to pluck out new antibodies.The Theraclone team was the first to succeed, finding the two powerful new antibodies against HIV.Isolating antibodies can be painstaking work. But Theraclone, a company that had been working outside the HIV field, had a unique process that it adapted to HIV work with financing from IAVI’s Innovation Fund, which is co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.The team used a system designed to expose the entire array of antibodies from a blood sample. Antibodies with broadly neutralizing potential were identified and traced to their corresponding antibody-forming cells. Using recombinant DNA technology, broadly neutralizing antibody genes were isolated from these cells to enable the production of unlimited quantities of the antibody clones for research.With a large pool of HIV-positive donors from Protocol G now identified whose serum contains broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV, this global collaboration is likely to generate findings that will benefit the vital enterprise of accelerating Aida vaccine research and development.“The story of the discovery of these two new antibodies demonstrates the power of the collaboration that formed to produce this advance,” said Seth Berkley, president and CEO of IAVI.“This is what can happen when you have researchers from the global North and South, from academia and industry, from within and outside the HIV field, working together in a framework to speed innovation.”Queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.comlast_img read more

Grow Your Own Green … Insulation, That Is

first_img Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. At first they used grants and the winnings from competitions to finance the company. One of those competitions was the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, which gives a huge chunk of money (~$700,000) to the business with the best idea for reducing CO2 emissions. They entered in 2008 and won. RELATED ARTICLES Alternative WallsStraw-Bale WallsNatural Building In NicaraguaThe Natural Building MovementGBA Encyclopedia: Insulation OverviewGBA Encyclopedia: Insulating Roofs, Walls, and FloorsGBA Encyclopedia: Insulation Choices Rather than blowing agents, this insulation uses growing agents. It’s natural. It’s made with agricultural waste and fungi. You can grow it in place. No hydrocarbons are involved, and it yields little to no toxic waste. Compared to most other insulation materials, it takes little energy to make the stuff (low embodied energy). Indoor air quality is likely to be better, too.Wow! If you’re looking for a super green insulation, mushroom insulation could be for you… if you can wait a bit longer. Mushroom insulation sprouts in New YorkThey decided that using their materials as a replacement for packaging was the most marketable direction to go, so mushroom insulation got put on hold for a while. They’ve since picked it back up, and their focus has been on building tiny houses and growing the insulation in the assemblies. They’ve got a nice blog about the project, and it’s called — you guessed it — Mushroom Tiny House. One of the things you’ll find there is a nice little video explaining how they make insulation from mushrooms.I recently spoke with Sam Harrington of Ecovative Design, the company started by Bayer and McIntyre, and got the scoop on where they’re going with this. The plan at first is to grow insulation that can be used in board form and as structural insulated panels (SIPs). The mushroom tiny house is basically a grown-in-place SIP.Harrington said they’re benchmarking their product against extruded polystyrene (XPS). The advantages are that it uses natural materials, doesn’t have the global warming issues associated with the blowing agents in foam insulation, and has much lower embodied energy. The main drawback is the lower R-value. XPS is about 5 per inch, and mushroom insulation ranges from 1.8 to 4 per inch, with the typical material coming in at about 3 per inch. That means that your walls are going to have to be thicker with mushroom insulation. How mushroom materials science got its startI first heard about this a while back when I saw a TED Talk by Eben Bayer, Are mushrooms the new plastic? While studying engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bayer and his classmate, Gavin McIntyre, came up with the idea of using mycelium, the white vegetative strands of fungus you find under logs, to grow materials that could replace plastics.They’ve gotten a lot of great media coverage, and I recently read a really nice article in the New Yorker about them. According to that piece, the two young engineers worked on developing their idea in their senior year at RPI and then took it full time into a business incubator upon graduation. The challenges were numerous, as they experimented with different varieties of mycelium and substrates. But, along with starting a few fires in their lab, they persisted and promoted and had some good help from advisers who saw the potential of their idea. Mushroom insulation and indoor air qualityTheir longer-term plans include using it to replace as many environmentally-harmful materials as possible: plastic foam, acoustical tiles, medium density fiberboard (MDF), particle board, adhesive, and engineered wood. One advantage of their materials is that the mycelium is their adhesive, so they don’t have to use the stuff with nasty volatile organic compounds (VOCs). That means better indoor air quality.But wait, I hear you asking, what about the IAQ problems of having fungus and spores and who knows what from the oat hulls and wheat chaff substrate? Ah, but there are no spores. They’re using mycelium only. And although they call it mushroom insulation, you’ll see no mushrooms sprouting from the walls. The substrates used as the filler material that the mycelium feeds on and weaves together are sterilized to prevent other organisms from growing. Then, once the mushroom insulation has finished growing, they hit it with steam to stop the growth. Get ready for mushroom insulationNone of the mushroom insulation products is ready for market yet. If you’re an early adopter, Ecovative Design is taking pre-orders. (According to their blog, the cost is about $0.66 per board foot.) To get shipments of mushroom board insulation, SIPs, or the other materials they’re working on, you’ll need to wait a while longer.When their building products enter the market, I hope they can scale it up so that the cost is competitive with the other materials out there. It’s also going to be important for them to do enough R&D to reduce the number and severity of problems that new products so often have.Yeah, it’s still fairly early in the development of mushroom insulation, but I’m excited to see this material getting ready to enter the building products market. When it does, it may well be the greenest insulation available.last_img read more

Unintended Pregnancy Estimates

first_imgPosted on December 16, 2010November 13, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Earlier this months, estimates of unsafe abortions were published in Reproductive Health Matters. A related paper in Studies in Family Planning written by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute estimates rates of unintended pregnancies in various regions.According to the authors:Unintended pregnancy can carry serious consequences for women and their families. We estimate the incidence of pregnancy by intention status and outcome at worldwide, regional, and subregional levels for 2008, and we assess recent trends since 1995. Numbers of births are based on United Nations estimates. Induced abortions are estimated by projecting from recent trends. A model-based approach is used to estimate miscarriages. The planning status of births is estimated using nationally representative and small-scale surveys of 80 countries. Of the 208 million pregnancies that occurred in 2008, we estimate that 41 percent were unintended.The authors estimate 86 million unintended pregnancies resulting in approximately 41 million abortions worldwide, roughly 35 million of which took place in “less developed regions.” Given the relatively high rate of unsafe abortion leading to maternal morbidity and mortality in developing countries, a move towards further reducing unintended pregnancies could greatly improve the health outcomes for women in the developing world by decreasing the number of unsafe abortions.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more