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Trapdoor spider population in sharp decline in southern Australia

They might give you the shivers, but trapdoor spiders play an important part in Australia's ecosystem and their decline could be to our detriment, a biology professor has warned. "It's a little bit concerning and we don't quite know what is going on," Professor Andrew Austin, from the University of Adelaide's Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, said. Professor Austin said follow-up surveys from data collected in the 1950s and 1970s showed a sharp decline in numbers throughout southern Australia.

The western swamp tortoise is a threatened West Australian species

The Western swamp carnivorous tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina) is Australia’s most endangered reptile. Thought to be extinct for more than 100 years, the tortoise was rediscovered in 1953. Two small habitats in the Swan Valley are the only locations where they are now found naturally. One of the unique features of the tortoise is that it aestivates (the opposite of hibernates) during the hot summer months when the swamps it lives in are dry, and food sources such as tadpoles are not available.

The magnificent Arid Bronze azure butterfly is critically endangered in Australia

The unique Arid Bronze azure butterfly (Ogyris Subterrestris Petrina) is found only in one location, near Mukinbudin. Unusually, for butterflies, their young are carnivorous. The female butterflies lay their eggs just outside the nest of the bearded sugar ant. When the eggs hatch, the tiny caterpillars crawl into the nest where they are fed by the ants, or feed on the ants’ eggs and larvae. They spend their lives underground, protected by the ants, until emerging as the next generation of butterflies.

The numbat is teetering on the brink of extinction

The numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) first became known to Europeans in 1831. “Saw a beautiful animal but, as it escaped into the hollow of a tree, could not ascertain whether it was a species of squirrel, weasel or wild cat ...” George Fletcher Moore, early settler in Western Australia, on first seeing a numbat. Eating almost exclusively termites (adult numbats need up to 20,000 termites each day), the mammal emblem of Western Australia was once common across southern parts of Australia.

The uncommon nighthawk

Unfortunately the common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) isn’t all that common anymore. From May until September, Canada hosts an estimated 900,000 of them, coming here to nest before their long trip to South America where they wait out the winter. But we used to harbour considerably more back in the day. From 1973 through 2012 it’s been estimated their population plummeted some 76 per cent, and by no means has that trend slowed down. Those 900,000, estimated as such in 2013, are merely the survivors of a nation-wide decline.

Orcas of the Salish Sea on track to extinction

As Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc makes announcements on Canada's West Coast this week, and with World Whale Day approaching (February 18), WWF-Canada calls upon the federal government to release its recovery plan for the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs). The action plan for their recovery under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) is long overdue, and unless strong protection measures are quickly implemented, it is unlikely this group will survive in the long-term.

The survival of the White-bellied heron greatly depends on the existence of their wetland habitat

The mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries serve as the winter visiting ground to many migratory birds. From the marshes of Kaziranga to the forests of Eaglenest in western Arunachal and further up to the alpine areas of Arunachal -- one come across more than 750 species of birds that includes most of the winter visitors. Assam, along with the other six northeastern states, shares a common migration route for many of the avifauna that flies over Bhutan, Tibet, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Populations of farmland birds are in freefall, down a staggering 55% in the last three decades

Farmland covers 45% of the EU’s land area and these habitats are rocketing towards biodiversity oblivion. We cannot afford to mince our words here, the situation is very serious and requires both monitoring and action. The European Bird Census Council (EBCC), where many BirdLife partners play a key role, has been coordinating the collation of data on more than 160 common bird species across 28 European countries. The data collected is fundamental to understanding the future of European biodiversity – and the forecasts are alarming.

Sparrowhawks absent from gardens this winter

Sparrowhawks are most frequently seen in gardens during the autumn and winter months, a time when numbers are swelled with juveniles and when the smaller birds they prey on are flocking into gardens to feed. January 2016 saw the highest average counts of Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) for the time of year but since summer 2016 numbers have been abnormally low, according to Garden BirdWatch. They were only seen in 8% of gardens in December, well below average and a 5% reduction on December 2015. Sparrowhawks are not always popular garden visitors, as they feed on other garden birds.

Silver Y abundance in the Netherlands has dropped by 56% in the course of the last 30 years

Although the silver Y still remains the most common moth of the Netherlands, the species is declining sharply. In the course of the last 30 years the abundance has dropped by 56%. This corresponds to the situation in Great Britain. As an abundant species, the silver Y plays various important roles in the ecosystem. First, moths pollinate nocturnal flowering plants. Second, larvae and adults of moths are important prey for insectivorous birds and bats, and this is particularly true for numerous species that are not too small, such as the silver Y.