Ecology & Zoology

The Bahama Nuthatch, native to a small area of native pine forest on the island of Grand Bahama, was feared extinct after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, but researchers are pleased to announce that the little-known bird is still out there.

But there may be only two left, they worry.

The Bahama Nuthatch has a long bill, a distinctive high-pitched squeaky call, and nests only in the mature pine trees of the Caribbean island. There may have been a sharp decline in its estimated population, from a believed 1,800 reported in a survey in 2004 to just 23 being seen in a survey in 2007, but it is hard to be sure.


Credit: Matthew Gardner, University of East Anglia
Ground sharks (Carcharhiniformes) are the most diverse shark group living today, with over 200 different species, and they are one of the major groups that survived the Cretaceous–Palaeogene mass extinction which is why we have the Tiger, Hammerhead, and Blacktip Reef sharks and lamniforms by the Great White and Mako sharks.

Before the mass extinction that killed-off non-bird dinosaurs and marked the end of the Cretaceous period and the Mesozoic era 66 million years ago, dinosaurs dominated terrestrial environments and Mackerel sharks (Lamniformes) were the dominant shark forms of the sea.
Impulse control is associated with larger cognitively advanced animals like humans and other primates, but there are exceptions, like ravens. Now a recent study shows that the great tit, a common European songbird, has a tremendous capacity for self-control - almost the same as chimpanzees. 

Biologists learned this by placing food in a small translucent cylinder. The great tits that started pecking at the cylinder to get to the food failed the test as the behavior was considered an impulsive act. Those that, on the other hand, moved to an opening in the cylinder and thereby were able to access the food without pecking at the cylinder wall passed the test.

Mounting levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide reduce the medicinal properties of milkweed plants that protect monarch butterflies from disease, according to a recent experiment.

If a study has 229 trials and there are only 12 false positives, that is a good result. 
The mix of bacteria (microbiome) of bee bread, the long-term food supply stored within a hive for young bees, is now at risk, according to a new estimate.

The scholars are blaming modern monoculture farming, commercial forestry and gardeners could be making it harder for honeybees to store food and fight off diseases, a new study suggests. Human changes to the landscape, such as large areas of monoculture grassland for livestock grazing, and coniferous forests for timber production, is affecting the diversity of the ‘microbiome’ associated with honeybees’ long-term food supply, the authors claim. 
More competitive animal species, with males that compete intensively for mates, might be more resilient to the effects of climate change, according to a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Sexual selection can provide a buffer against climate change and increase adaptation rates within a changing environment, the authors believe.

Moths exposed to increasing temperatures were produced more eggs and had better offspring survival when the population had more males competing for mating opportunities, three males for every female. 

A geriatric semi-captive rhino died in Kenya recently. “Sudan”, a 45-year-old northern white rhino was put to sleep as vets decided, after months of ill health, that his condition had deteriorated to the point where the levels of pain and quality of life were unacceptable.

From a conservation perspective, this does not sound like a big deal. Sudan was one old rhino. He was well past breeding age. So why did his death make headlines?

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is clearly on the campaign trail for his next job, because even in a state that is lawsuit happy like New York he is setting records for most pointless emails about investigations and lawsuits.

But now he says the science is on his side, not just his political interpretation of the law, and that will get a response where the usual politics won't. So let's see if this is about science or greed.
USDA has reported that honeybees are down 4 percent for 2017, which set off another flurry of Beepocalypse claims by corporate journalists who desperately want to believe that modern science is killing us.

What gets left out of the story is that the 4 percent is down from a 22 year high.

There is no Beepocalypse, no Colony Collapse Disorder, no anything. It is just a statistical blip, as has happened in bees since even casual record-keeping began over a thousand years ago.