Dakota skipper and Poweshiek skipperling are in deep trouble

With most of their prairie habitat sliced and diced by agricultural development, the Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae) and Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) have long been in trouble. The butterflies were put on the Endangered Species List in 2014, and this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated about 46,000 acres of critical habitat for the two species. “That these butterflies have survived at all is because of the good stewardship of some of the region’s landowners,” said USFWS Midwest regional director Tom Melius. “We will continue to work with these and other landowners to ensure the conservation of remnant prairie habitat and these prairie butterflies.” Specifically, the USFWS has designated about 19,900 acres of critical habitat in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota for the threatened Dakota skipper, and about 25,900 acres in 56 units in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin for the endangered Poweshiek skipperling. Of the total 33,742 acres of critical habitat, about 12,050 acres is common to both species.

Three More Florida Species Considered For Protection: Florida pine snake, short-tailed snake and the blue calamintha bee

Two Florida snakes and an insect are being considered for protection by the U.S,. Fish and Wildlife Service. The review is still under way, but the three species made the initial cut. They are the Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus), short-tailed snake (Lampropeltis extenuatum) and the blue calamintha bee (Osmia calaminthae). The two snakes have been protected species under Florida wildlife regulation for years and been long proposed for federal protection, which carries with it implementation of a recovery plan. The bee was only discovered in 2002 in Highlands County and its main host plant, Ashe’s savory, is also a rare, protected species. It was proposed for listing because of its small range, reported population decline and potential future threat of extinction.

The rusty-patched bumblebee could soon be the first bee species to be protected under the US Endangered Species Act

The rusty-patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) has not been very lucky at all in recent years. The insect, which was once common to the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest, has disappeared from 87 percent of its historic range. Even where it does exist, its populations are as much as 95 percent smaller than they were a few decades ago. In response to this rapid decline, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in January 2013 petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the rusty-patched bumblebee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. After no action was taken, the group followed up with a lawsuit in 2014. Last week the FWS finally responded and agreed that the species may merit protection. The agency will conduct a 12-month review to determine if an Endangered Species Act listing is warranted.

Assessment of endocrine disrupting properties in EFSA Conclusions on the Pesticides Peer Review

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 introduced new criteria for the approval of pesticide active substances, including hazard based exclusion criteria with regard to certain classification criteria, environmental concerns, and endocrine disrupting properties. The Regulation specifies criteria for substances with carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction properties (CMR), Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and substances that are persistent, bioaccumulable and toxic (PBTs) including those very persistent and very bioaccumulable. The Regulation also calls for specific scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine disrupting properties, and pending the adoption of these criteria, enacts the so-called ‘interim criteria’, based on classification considerations and ‘toxic effects on the endocrine organs’. Since 2014, EFSA has published 15 Conclusions on new active substances and 26 on applications for renewal that explicitly summarise the assessment of potential endocrine effects under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009. For 24 active substances, including 3 microbial pesticide active substances, the available information has not led to the detection of specific concerns, however in the case of two substances EFSA has recommended additional studies to confirm this conclusion. Hazard or risk based concerns have been identified from the available information for 15 substances.

The toxicological effects of thiamethoxam on Gammarus kischineffensis follow the Druckrey-Küpfmüller equation

Neonicotinoids are a new group of insecticides, and little is known about their toxicity to nontarget freshwater organisms an potential effects on freshwater ecosystems. The aim of this study is to establish the acute toxicity and histopathological effects of thiamethoxam-based pesticide on the gill tissue of Gammarus kischineffensis. In this study G. kischineffensis samples were exposed to 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 mg/l of commercial grade thiamethoxam for 96 h. The 24, 48, 72 and 96 h LC50 values were determined as 75.619, 23.505, 8.048 and 3.751 mg/l respectively. In histopathological study the individuals were exposed to 0.004, 0.04 and 0.4 mg/l thiamethoxam concentrations for 14 days. The results showed that the most common changes at all doses of thiamethoxam were vacuolization and hemostatic infiltration in the gill tissue of G. kischineffensis.

Effects of Oral Exposure to Fungicides on Honey Bee Nutrition and Virus Levels

Sublethal exposure to fungicides can affect honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) in ways that resemble malnutrition. These include reduced brood rearing, queen loss, and increased pathogen levels. We examined the effects of oral exposure to the fungicides boscalid and pyraclostrobin on factors affecting colony nutrition and immune function including pollen consumption, protein digestion, hemolymph protein titers, and changes in virus levels. Because the fungicides are respiratory inhibitors, we also measured ATP concentrations in flight muscle. The effects were evaluated in 3- and 7-d-old worker bees at high fungicide concentrations in cage studies, and at field-relevant concentrations in colony studies. Though fungicide levels differed greatly between the cage and colony studies, similar effects were observed. Hemolymph protein concentrations were comparable between bees feeding on pollen with and without added fungicides. However, in both cage and colony studies, bees consumed less pollen containing fungicides and digested less of the protein. Bees fed fungicide-treated pollen also had lower ATP concentrations and higher virus titers. The combination of effects we detected could produce symptoms that are similar to those from poor nutrition and weaken colonies making them more vulnerable to loss from additional stressors such as parasites and pathogens.

Comparative Losses of British Butterflies, Birds, and Plants and the Global Extinction Crisis

There is growing concern about increased population, regional, and global extinctions of species. A key question is whether extinction rates for one group of organisms are representative of other taxa. We present a comparison at the national scale of population and regional extinctions of birds, butterflies, and vascular plants from Britain in recent decades. Butterflies experienced the greatest net losses, disappearing on average from 13% of their previously occupied 10-kilometer squares. If insects elsewhere in the world are similarly sensitive, the known global extinction rates of vertebrate and plant species have an unrecorded parallel among the invertebrates, strengthening the hypothesis that the natural world is experiencing the sixth major extinction event in its history.

European grassland butterfly abundance has declined by 30% since 1990

Due to their high numbers of species and their wide range of ecological requirements, butterflies, like birds and vascular plants, are good expressions of the level of biodiversity (that is, the variety of life forms) in our landscapes. Their generally low dispersal capacity, their short life cycle and a high sensitivity and responsiveness to climate conditions also make butterflies good bioindicators of environmental change. In addition, butterflies are emblematic, well known and easy to identify in the field. The European Grassland Butterfly Indicator represents one of the EU biodiversity indicators of the European Environment Agency (EEA). Data for seventeen grassland butterfly species have been used to assess abundance trends between 1990 and 2013. Of those seventeen species, "ten have declined in the EU, three have remained stable and three increased. For one species the trend is uncertain". At the European scale, grassland butterfly abundance has declined by 30% since 1990.

Pacific Northwest tree octopus might soon disappear

The list of endangered or extinct species grows faster now than ever before on Earth, scientists say. Last week, another animal popular in the northwestern corner of the United States faces a similar fate. The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus will be the newest animal added to the rapidly growing list of endangered animals. The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) measures 30-33 centimeters as an adult and is similar in many ways to other cephalopods. Cephalopods are marine animals with a prominent head and arms or tentacles. The birth and first months of life of the Octopus paxarbolis is like every other species of octopus in that it spends all of its time in an aquatic environment. However, over millions of years of evolution, the Octopus paxarbolis has developed an amphibian-like skin that minimizes water loss. In addition, similar to how a human baby adapts to a world in air, the Octopus paxarbolis has adapted to breathing oxygen. Their lungs are not as developed as a human’s lungs. This allowed this species of octopus to live the majority of its life in trees. The lungs of an Octopus paxarbolis must maintain a flow of very moist air to be most fit. For this reason, the habitat of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is limited to a small northwest corner of the United States where rainfall and humidity are abundant.

Marine mammal, birds, fish and reptile populations have almost halved since 1970

Marine mammal, birds, fish and reptile populations have almost halved since 1970, according to a report which is a "wake-up call" to tackle the crisis in the world's oceans. The study by conservation group WWF and the Zoological Society of London looked at how 5,829 populations of 1,234 species of marine creatures had fared in the past 45 years and found a 49% drop in numbers. Some species people rely on for food are faring even worse, such as the Scombridae family of fish which includes tuna and mackerel have fallen by almost three quarters (74%). Sea cucumbers, which are prized as luxury food in Asia, have been significantly exploited, with a 98% decline in the Galapagos and 94% drop in the Egyptian Red Sea in just a few years. Robin Freeman, head of indicators and assessments at ZSL, said: "This is a wake-up call, but it's also an opportunity. "These are populations that are smaller than they would be, and should be. They aren't recovering." Louise Heaps, chief advisor on marine policy at WWF-UK, said: "As well as being a source of extraordinary natural beauty and wonder, healthy seas are the bedrock of a functioning global economy. We are sowing the seeds of ecological and economic catastrophe."

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