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Cool promo to help an endangered cat!

Click the Photo to Visit Pledge Page.


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We only have five pairs to give away right now. An update will let you know when they’re gone, but don’t let that stop you from pledging.

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Teko’s Web site


Nature Files Readers can ignore this post

6SA5H96HG3CF I am just verifying a claim on Technorati.

Thank you. Morgan

Fishing Cats Discovered

My colleague Joanna Nasar and I embark on a new project, “Cat in Water,” to track and document the elusive fishing cat. Learn more about the expedition, and stay tuned for more cross-postings as the project continues. First up…a new population of this rare cat has been discovered in Thailand. Check out Cats Discovered.

Nature Needs Half

Finally, an idea to show the progress of conservation. My first contribution to Nature Needs Half goes live. Watch the trailer and find out how Nature Needs Half could apply to your home.We can reach the goal, one piece at a time.

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Learn more at


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Water flea: small critter, big genome

Daphnia pulex (water flea) with a brood of genetically identical future offspring.

Daphnia pulex (water flea) with a brood of genetically identical future offspring. (Photo/Paul D.N. Hebert, University of Guelph)

In an interesting science factoid of the week, researchers at the University of Guelph have just found the animal with the most genes.

Ringing in at a whopping 31,000 genes, the winner is a near-microscopic crustacean called daphnia, or water flea. In case you’re wondering, humans tally a mere 23,000, about 8,000 less than this little aquatic critter.

Daphnia‘s high gene number is largely because its genes are multiplying, by creating copies at a higher rate than other species,” said project leader and CGB genomics director John Colbourne in a press release. “We estimate a rate that is three times greater than those of other invertebrates and 30 percent greater than that of humans.”

So let that be a lesson. Just because you’re little, doesn’t mean you can’t be big at something.

Gangster Birds of the Kalahari Desert

A drongo in the Kalahari. (Photo/Andy Radford, University of Bristol)

Drongos, African Kalahari Desert birds with a penchant for thievery, are taking a turn towards the avian equivalent of organized crime, a new study finds.

The victims in this case, pied babblers, have long contended with the risk of drongos popping in to make off with the babblers’ hard-earned insect prey. Now it seems a set of behaviors have evolved that are taking this interaction from a purely parasitic relationship to one of more mutual benefit. Researchers found that the drongos form protection squads for foraging babblers, keeping an eye out for trouble and strong-arming danger when it arrives.

“Like any good gangster,” says Andrew Radford, a scientist with the University of Bristol who led the research team, “as well as lying and stealing, the drongos also provide protection by mobbing aerial predators and giving true alarm calls on some occasions.”

That means pied babblers can spend less time watching for predators and more time looking for prey. The relationship is not without its caveats. Drongos still aim to take advantage of babblers, crying wolf to scare the babblers and grab the insects. The babblers likely put up with it, the researchers say, because the benefit of not having to worry about predators outweighs the cost of the drongos’ antics.

The research, which is a collaboration with the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Cape Town, is published online in the current issue of Evolution.

Andy Radford (University of Bristol) and a pied babbler in the Kalahari. (Photo/Matthew Bell, University of Cambridge)

A pied babbler in the Kalahari. (Photo/Andy Radford, University of Bristol)

iLCP RAVE – Oyster Roundup on the Chesapeake Bay

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I recently made like the prodigal daughter and traveled back to my hometown after more than a decade absence. The salty air smelled like memories as I bobbed on a boat in Virginia Beach, Virginia’s, Lynnhaven River. As an emerging photographer with the International League of Conservation Photographers, I was home to participate in one of their Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions, or RAVEs, where teams of photographers fan out across a geographic area at risk in order to document and raise awareness of the environmental issues taking place there.

On this trip, I returned to my nature roots to help document environmental issues of the Chesapeake Bay, and support a campaign by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to pass the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act. One of my first stops was an Oyster Roundup, one of the local efforts by residents and the CBF to help bolster struggling oyster populations. Check out the video and some photos here, and see what some of the other photographers have been up to at the iLCP blog.

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