News

Weekly round-up: June 27

Ornithologists and conservationists hope a year-long hunting ban on turtle doves in Spain will help slow the dramatic UK decline of the species. The birds, with their distinctive ‘purring’ call and striking mottled wings, have become a rarity on British shores over the past half century, the population falling around 95 per cent from a…

Weekly round-up: June 20

Rewilding is an often controversial topic among British farmers, landowners and conservationists, but while the debate continues, Eurasian jays, thrushes, mice and squirrels have been busy regenerating woodland themselves. A study of two abandoned fields in Cambridgeshire revealed rapid growth of woodland over 24 and 59 years, with the presence of seed-caching and berry-eating species…

Weekly round-up: June 13

Ever considered the mechanics of eating underwater? Most fish rely on suction to hoover up prey, but a wonder of evolution presented the moray eel with a second set of jaws to grab and swallow its meals – which one species has just been found to do on land. Rita Mehta, associate professor of ecology…

Weekly round-up: May 30

Seven Tasmanian devil joeys have been born on mainland Australia, the first such birth in more than 3,000 years. The newborns are part of a project between Re:Wild (formerly Global Wildlife Conservation) and Aussie Ark to re-establish the animals, starting with the introduction of 26 adults into a 400-hectare wild sanctuary last year. “We have…

Weekly round-up: May 23

Swifts are even more swift than scientists thought, with new tracking technology showing the migrating birds cover an average of 570 kilometres (354 miles) per day, 70 kilometres more than previously estimated. New tracking data also recorded one individual travelling 830 kilometres (516 miles) per day over nine days on the journey between Africa and…

Weekly round-up: May 16

More than 14,000 sharks are thought to have been caught in an Indian Ocean marine protected area – in which all fishing is banned – between 2010 and 2020. A study led by the University of Exeter recorded evidence of illegal fishing in the British Indian Ocean Territory and conducted interviews with local fishers from…

Weekly round-up: May 9

A species of fanged frog new to science has been “hiding in plain sight” in the Philippines. The Mindoro fanged frog (Limnonectes beloncioi) was previously thought to simply be another population of the Acanth’s fanged frog, a physically identical amphibian on the neighbouring island of Palawan, but genetic analysis has revealed the two are entirely…

Weekly round-up: May 2

Pollination, pest control and a potential cancer treatment – which family of insect offers all three? The much-maligned wasp, which researchers say needs a significant PR overhaul. A study, led by UCL and the University of East Anglia, is calling for wasps to be as highly valued as other insects – especially bees, often similar…

Weekly round-up: April 25

While Steven Spielberg may have beachgoers across the globe fearing a great white shark lurks behind every wave, in reality the apex predator is only seen consistently in a handful of locations – and scientists have just discovered one more.  Central California, Guadalupe Island Mexico, South Australia and South Africa have traditionally been the main…

Weekly round-up: April 18

Just 2.8 per cent of the Earth’s land area remains ecologically intact, according to a new study, significantly lower than the 20-40 per cent mapped previously. Researchers measured loss of species instead of habitat intactness and areas free of human development such as roads and settlements – the results estimated a maximum 2.9 per cent…

Weekly round-up: April 11

A record 1,019,802 people across the UK took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in January, more than double the number 12 months earlier – recording over 17 million birds across the nation. The house sparrow remained the most-sighted species for the 18th year running, with the blue tit in second and starling in…

Weekly round-up: April 4

The 2020/21 North Atlantic right whale birthing season delivered more calves than the previous three years combined. Survey teams monitoring the critically endangered species recorded 17 newborns during daily flights over coastal waters between North Carolina and Florida from December to the end of March.  “What we are seeing is what we hope will be…

Weekly round-up: March 28

African elephants will now be officially identified as two separate species – the African forest elephant and African savanna elephant – following new genetic evidence. Both are at risk of extinction.  As a single species the African elephant was classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List, but division…

Weekly round-up: March 21

Safeguarding 30 per cent of the world’s seas and oceans would protect almost 80 per cent of marine species and increase catch by eight million metric tonnes – while also preventing the release of one billion tons of carbon dioxide annually due to bottom trawling, reports an international team of scientists and economists. Their study,…

Weekly round-up: March 14

Birds that live in groups and receive help raising their young live longer than those parenting alone, and boast an eight per cent higher annual survival rate than their frazzled counterparts. A study from Lund and Oxford universities reviewed data for 23 species of bird which vary in rearing habits, including the long-tailed tit, sociable…

Weekly round-up: March 7

A brown marmorated stink bug has been trapped in Britain for the first time, with fears the fruit-loving insect could become established across the nation – causing millions of pounds of damage to crops. The insect, which as its name suggests releases a strong odour when threatened, originated in south-east Asia, but has spread into…

Weekly round-up: February 28

Ten orangutans were released in the Borneo rainforest earlier this month as part of ongoing conservation efforts – but only after testing negative for Covid-19. Operations by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation have been hampered by the global pandemic since March last year, with rehabilitation centres closed to visitors, volunteers and researchers, and releases on…

Weekly round-up: February 21

Climate change is altering the composition of wintering bird communities in Europe and North America faster than that of breeding populations, according to new research. The study, led by the University of Helsinki, found that while warming temperatures are affecting both communities, the higher proportion of migratory species in the wintering areas revealed a more…

Weekly round-up: February 14

Female giraffes who are more sociable and spend time in larger groups with other females benefit from lower stress, more efficient foraging and co-operation in caring for young – resulting in longer lives. A study of more than 500 females across multiple communities in Tanzania by the University of Zurich showed that less social individuals…

Weekly round-up: February 7

Noise pollution from human activities in the ocean is causing significant harm to marine fauna, affecting their behaviour, physiology and reproduction – in some cases resulting in death – according to a new study. Sound is vital to marine animals, including for communication, navigation and hunting. Since the Industrial Revolution however, the ocean soundscape has…

Weekly round-up: January 31

Longline fishery fleets in Namibia have reduced seabird bycatch by 98 per cent following the introduction of mandatory mitigation measures, saving the lives of an estimated 22,000 birds per year. Accidental death resulting from fishing activity is one of the biggest threats to seabirds, including petrels and albatrosses. Namibia’s hake trawl and longline fisheries were…

Weekly round-up: January 24

President Biden officially returned the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office, also signing an executive order to reverse Trump-era laws that threatened the environment. The US formally withdrew from the international treaty in June 2017, but the action was only completed on November 4 last year, a day…

Weekly round-up: January 17

Rewards have been offered for information leading to conviction over the discovery of a manatee in Florida with ‘Trump’ scratched into the algae on its back. It is a federal criminal offence to harass the animals, which are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Threatened by the US…

Weekly round-up: January 10

The use of charismatic umbrella species as the focal point in conservation planning does not always benefit their neighbours according to a study by Michigan State University, which revealed efforts to protect the giant panda has not prevented habitat loss for other species. Efforts to save the giant panda from extinction have been one of…

Weekly round-up: January 3

The 12th horizon scan has identified 15 emerging global biodiversity conservation issues, including deoxygenation and coral health, increased logging in response to fires and the use of seabirds to locate fishing boats operating illegally. Published annually, the horizon scan searches for early signs of hazards and opportunities across the natural world, focusing on those that…

Weekly round-up: December 20

Scottish mountain hares could be at increased risk of predation due to longer periods of ‘camouflage mismatch’ – the period between their white winter coat coming in and snowfall – according to a new study. Like many species, mountain hares moult their dark summer coat for better protection in winter conditions, with shortening daylight hours…

Weekly round-up: December 13

European bison are no longer classified as Vulnerable following long-term conservation efforts according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – but the organisation’s latest update also reclassifies 31 species as Extinct, including three species of South American tree frog and 17 freshwater fish species in the Philippines. It also revealed every…

Weekly round-up: December 6

Loggerhead sea turtle eggs incubated in warmer temperatures have a lower chance of hatching, while hatchlings are also less likely to survive their journey from nest to sea. Researchers investigating the effects of sand temperature on loggerhead nests in Cabo Verde, the only rookery of the species in the eastern Atlantic, found nests buried in…

Weekly round-up: November 29

UK bird populations declined 11 per cent between 1970 and 2018 according to a new government report. Farmland bird numbers fell 57 per cent over the same period, with seabirds showing a 28 per cent decline. The study, which assessed 130 species, found numbers of some native birds had increased significantly over the period, including…

Weekly round-up: November 22

The world’s only known white giraffe has been fitted with a GPS tracking device in a bid to protect him from poachers. The giraffe’s striking colouring is caused by leucism, a rare genetic trait – a female and her calf with the same condition were killed by poachers in March. Conservationists hope that by monitoring…

Weekly round-up: November 15

A new species of monkey has been identified in Myanmar – but with an estimated population of 199 to 259 individuals, is also at risk of extinction. Scientists discovered the Popa langur (Trachypithecus popa) during an expedition researching another species, Phayre’s langur, which is also endangered. The only previous example of a Popa langur had…

Weekly round-up: November 8

DNA analysis has proven Australia’s greater glider population is formed of three distinct species, not one. The greater glider, a nocturnal possum-sized marsupial capable of gliding up to 100m, is found the length of Australia’s eastern seaboard, from the Great Dividing Range in Queensland to the national parks of Victoria. For years two subspecies of…

Weekly round-up: November 1

The rediscovery of two species was announced this week, the Voeltzkow’s chameleon and giant fox-spider, not seen since 1913 and 1993 respectively. A number of Voeltzkow’s chameleons were found on an expedition in northwestern Madagascar, where the reptile was last seen more than a hundred years ago. The team’s study, published this week following their…

Weekly round-up: October 25

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has launched an initiative in south-east Asia to help protect four species of endangered gibbon.  Announced on International Gibbon Day, October 24, the €460,000 IUCN Save Our Species support fund will focus on the Cao Vit and Northern white-cheeked gibbon, both critically endangered, and the Northern yellow-cheeked…

Weekly round-up: October 18

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, has lost half of its corals in the past 30 years, a new report shows. Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies studied populations along the length of the 1,250-mile reef between 1995 and 2017, finding the numbers…

Weekly round-up: October 11

A team of scientists has developed 3D-printed, GPS-enabled decoy sea turtle eggs and successfully planted them in nests to help trace illegal trafficking. One decoy – or InvestEGGator – was planted in 101 different nests along four beaches in Costa Rica, of which 25 per cent were taken. Illegally removed or trafficked clutches were located…

Weekly round-up: October 4

The Big Butterfly Count 2020 recorded the lowest average number of butterflies since its inception 11 years ago, despite a record-breaking number of counts submitted by the public. More than 1.4 million butterflies and two species of day-flying moth were counted between July 17 and August 9, with the lowest average per count down 34…

Weekly round-up: September 27

A study by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture Forestry Service have predicted that planting new trees in understocked forests could increase the nation’s annual carbon sequestration capacity by 20 per cent. At present, approximately one per cent of understocked federal woodland is reforested annually.Publication Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences The…

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