Ecology & Zoology

We're all aware of the concept of an ecological food niche and a web that extends from it - but it is pretty simplistic and easily leads to claims that if species X is used too much, we are doomed. Literate people know that 99.999% of species had gone extinct and we never even knew they existed.

But some are more important than others and so researchers have taught to make that abstract concept real. Biologists in a new paper outlined the position of fourteen fish species in relationship to their food in a four-dimensional food diagram. 

A new systematic review says that no-take zones in Belize are helping rebuildeconomically valuable species such as lobster, conch, and fish - and perhaps also helping to re-colonize nearby reef areas.

The literature in the review was from no-take areas around the world.

According to other papers, the recovery of lobster, conch, and other exploited species within marine protected areas with no-take zones, or fully protected reserves, could take as little as 1-6 years. Full recovery of exploited species, however, could take decades.

If global warming is causing extinction, it isn't happening to Adélie penguins in the Southern Ocean.

Adélie penguins have long been considered a key indicator species to monitor in order to understand the effects of climate change and fishing in the Southern Ocean. New evidence shows that the population is 3.79 million breeding pairs - 53 percent larger than previously estimated.  

The migration of tropical fish poses a serious threat to the areas they invade, because they overgraze on kelp forests and seagrass meadows. The harmful impact of tropical fish is already evident in southern Japanese waters and the eastern Mediterranean, where there have been dramatic declines in kelps.

There is also emerging evidence in Australia and the US that the spread of tropical fish towards the poles is causing damage in the areas they enter.

The authors blame the increased fish on warming oceans due to climate change that have led to hotspots in regions where the currents that transport warm tropical waters towards the poles are strengthening.

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College have identified a highly specialized ligament structure that is thought to prevent giraffes' legs from collapsing under the immense weight of these animals.

"Giraffes are heavy animals (around 1000 kg), but have unusually skinny limb bones for an animal of this size" explained lead investigator Christ Basu, a PhD student in the Structure&Motion Lab. "This means their leg bones are under high levels of mechanical stress."

The first molecular characterization of the African elephant's adipose tissue, body fat, will form the basis of future studies aimed at securing the health and future survival of captive elephants.

The population of captive elephants, both Asian and African, in Europe and North America is not self-sustaining, largely due to poor fertility and fewer baby elephants being born. Captive elephants might face demographic extinction in North American zoos within the next 50 years if the reproductive issues aren't solved. 

A new study has found that kangaroos, commonly viewed as two-legged hoppers, move with a “pentapedal” gait, planting their tails on the ground in combination with their front and hind legs. 

What’s remarkable is that the tail is anatomically quite different, being made up of more than 20 vertebrae taking on the roles of our feet, calves and thigh bones. “Animals have discovered many uses for their tails,” says professor Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University’s Locomotion Laboratory, “but as far as we know, this is the first use of one as a leg.
Want to send a message to possible invaders? Pile dead bodies high and deep. A new species of wasp does just that.

This wasp with a unique nest-building strategy was discovered in the forests of southeast China. The "bone-house wasp" shuts off its nest with a chamber full of dead ants in order to protect its offspring from enemies, as shown by Michael Staab and Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein from the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg as well as scientists from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

No other such strategy has ever been discovered before in the animal kingdom. 

Scorpions build a platform on which to warm up before the evening hunt. 

Locusts decide the most nutritious plant to eat based on ambient temperature - they choose their food and then where they digest it according to how hot it is.