Multitudes of wintering birds on an estuary form one of the most magical wildlife spectacles each winter in the UK, but this scene is changing. Latest data collected by thousands of Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) volunteers show that populations of the UK’s most familiar coastal waders have declined markedly in the last ten years. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)(-52%), Redshank Tringa totanus (-40%), Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) (-38%), Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) (-34%) and Curlew Numenius arquata (-23%) are among the eight most abundant waders on Scottish estuaries in winter, yet the populations of all of them are declining. The annual WeBS report, now published in conjunction with an online interactive interface, makes this information available to anyone with an interest in birds and the environment. The new report, covering the period up to June 2013, highlights worrying trends shown by the eight most abundant waders on UK estuaries, particularly in the most recent ten year period.
The Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) also called the horny toad or horned frog, is in decline in most of the state of Texas except West Texas, according to Russell Martin, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. West Texas is where there are large oil and gas exploration fields, and where the fight over the proposed endangered species listing of the Dunes Sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) occurred over the last few years. That lizard was not put on the endangered species list. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the lizard is doing fairly well in areas of West Texas, but is in decline in Central and East Texas. Martin attributes the decline to urbanization and the drop in harvester ant populations, the main food source for the lizard. The use of pesticides on invasive fire ants has contributed to the drop in harvester ants.
The Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) was once common in the eastern Ottawa area. To assess its current status, we conducted auditory surveys at 184 wetlands in 2011 and 2012. Boreal Chorus Frogs were heard at only five (2.7%) of the surveyed sites. These five sites were spatially aggregated, with only 0.5–7.5 km between any two sites. Sites occupied by Boreal Chorus Frogs in eastern Ottawa were surrounded by significantly greater agricultural cover (at 1.0-, 1.5-, and 2.0-km radii), less forest cover (1.0- and 2.0-km radii), and less wetland cover (1.5- and 2.0-km radii) than occupied sites in western Ottawa. Sites in eastern Ottawa that were apparently unoccupied were surrounded by significantly greater agricultural cover (only at the 2.0-km radius), similar forest cover (all radii), and less wetland cover (all radii) compared with occupied sites in western Ottawa. Boreal Chorus Frog populations are commonly subject to extirpation resulting from stochastic events. The reduced wetland cover in eastern Ottawa may be accompanied by reduced wetland connectivity, making recolonization of wetlands difficult or impossible. Our data do not show whether wetland connectivity has been reduced, but future research should address this important topic.
The Peach State has 16 species of bat, but they're becoming more scarce by the minute. In the last few years, wildlife officials say the population has dropped 36 percent in the northern part of Georgia. One reason: a fungal disease called white nose syndrome. "They're finding that it's traveling further south. They're still doing a lot of research of what's causing it," Daniele Buck said. Buck, senior bird keeper at the Jacksonville Zoo, says pesticides and the loss of roosting locations may also be contributing to the decline. Now, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources wants our help. Biologists are asking coastal homeowners to count and document as many as they can. "You can report the number of bats you see in your neighborhood. Of course, if you do see a bat on the ground -- never touch it," Buck said. While the coastal area doesn't have caves, bats can be found in marshes, palm fronds and barns. They're one of the most important species in the ecosystem. Buck says their survival is key. "They eat mosquitos and other insects that can actually be harmful to humans," he said.
ONE of the nation’s best-loved garden creatures is in rapid decline right under our noses and needs urgent help to survive. A Somerset wildlife rescue charity is hoping to bring the plight of the hedgehog to the forefront of public attention. The hedgehog population is dwindling rapidly in the West Country, and East Huntspill’s Secret World is hoping a special open weekend will highlight the issue. Secret World founder Pauline Kidner says there were about 30 million hedgehogs in the UK 50 years ago but now it is estimated their numbers have slumped to one million. She said: “So if we carry on at this rate and positive steps are not taken to encourage them and preserve their habitats then they could be almost extinct in 10 years.”
Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Midwestern United States and one of the first conducted within the United States. Effective in killing a broad range of insect pests, use of neonicotinoid insecticides has dramatically increased over the last decade across the United States, particularly in the Midwest. The use of clothianidin, one of the chemicals studied, on corn in Iowa alone has almost doubled between 2011 and 2013. “Neonicotinoid insecticides are receiving increased attention by scientists as we explore the possible links between pesticides, nutrition, infectious disease, and other stress factors in the environment possibly associated with honeybee dieoffs.” said USGS scientist Kathryn Kuivila, the research team leader. Neonicotinoid insecticides dissolve easily in water, but do not break down quickly in the environment. This means they are likely to be transported away in runoff from the fields where they were first applied to nearby surface water and groundwater bodies.
“Birds are one of humankind’s most important early-warning systems. Ancient cultures used birds to track changes in their world. Now birds are telling us that something is terribly wrong in the environment. SongibirdSOS is the modern day story of the “canary in the coalmine”. “We have lost almost half of the songbirds that filled the skies forty years ago and human activity is responsible for the decline.” Inspired by the groundbreaking work of renowned ornithologist Dr. Bridget Stutchbury (author of SILENCE OF THE SONGBIRDS) SONGBIRDSOS will unravel the mystery of disappearing songbirds by taking a journey with them.
This study quantitatively measured neonicotinoids in various foods that are common to human consumption. All fruit and vegetable samples (except nectarine and tomato) and 90% of honey samples were detected positive for at least one neonicotinoid; 72% of fruits, 45% of vegetables, and 50% of honey samples contained at least two different neonicotinoids in one sample, with imidacloprid having the highest detection rate among all samples. All pollen samples from New Zealand contained multiple neonicotinoids, and five of seven pollens from Massachusetts detected positive for imidacloprid. These results show the prevalence of low-level neonicotinoid residues in fruits, vegetables, and honey that are readily available in the market for human consumption and in the environment where honeybees forage. In light of new reports of toxicological effects in mammals, the results strengthen the importance of assessing dietary neonicotinoid intakes and the potential human health effects.
New research has identified the world’s most widely used insecticides as the key factor in the recent reduction in numbers of farmland birds. The finding represents a significant escalation of the known dangers of the insecticides and follows an assessment in June that warned that pervasive pollution by these nerve agents was now threatening all food production. The neonicotinoid insecticides are believed to seriously harm bees and other pollinating insects, and a two-year EU suspension on three of the poisons began at the end of 2013. Peer-reviewed research, published in the leading journal Nature this Wednesday, has revealed data from the Netherlands showing that bird populations fell most sharply in those areas where neonicotinoid pollution was highest. Starlings, tree sparrows and swallows were among the most affected. At least 95% of neonicotinoids applied to crops ends up in the wider environment, killing the insects the birds rely on for food, particularly when raising chicks.
Frogs and other amphibians are under pressure. Nearly one-third of the world’s amphibians are threatened or extinct, according to a report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The spread of a fungus called chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has taken a toll, leading to the catastrophic decline or extinction of at least 200 species. The amphibian specialists at the IUCN put together a list of five frogs that face the greatest risk of extinction.