I dug this up from a project I did a few years ago, but wildlife factoids never go out of style. So go ahead and test your wildlife savvy with this wacky wildlife trivia. Some you probably know without breaking a sweat, but others might take you by surprise. (Answers are upside down in the green border at the bottom. You can click on the quiz to view it bigger.)
Tag Archives: Wildlife
Here’s some food for thought.
The mountain plover’s populations now range around 20,000 birds left in the world. Across the globe, a very different creature, the saiga antelope, only boasts about 40,000. One of these animals is globally listed as critically endangered, and one was found not qualified for federal endangered species status. Any guesses?
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after a review of the current scientific and commercial information found mountain plover not warranted for listing, citing threats to its habitat as less significant than previously thought.
Mountain plovers are a small ground-nesting bird that rely on short-grass prairies and shrub-steppe environments in the American West for breeding habitat. Land use and habitat loss have been a primary suspect in the disappearance of the plover, an animal so good at hiding, that science is just now starting to get a better idea of how many are left. Recent research shows that rather than being pushed out by agriculture, mountain plovers are actually using farmland as a refuge during nesting season.
I want to take this as good news, but with short-grass prairie and steppe disappearing, swallowed up by energy development and overgrazing, active cropland does not sound like the most stable of refuges for a bird of small numbers, stature and a master of camouflage. My hope is that not being listed will help avoid animosity of the animal by landowners, and perhaps even foster pride and care of the plover so that farmers will not have to contend with being the harbor of an endangered species.
How many of an animal is left is not necessarily determinant of whether a species should be protected. Many factors go into the decision. But one has to wonder, what makes a population of 20,000 birds so much more stable than 40,000 of another species?
The Secret Lives of Fishing Cats
Our resident fishing cat biologist friend, Namfon Cutter, was kind enough to give us permission to share her first-ever photo of a mama fishing cat with kitten in the wild. This is a rarely witnessed event!
With CAT in WATER, we are hoping to add to these efforts by incorporating new high-res camera-traps into the project that will bring you even more intimate views of these amazing critters.
Please enjoy this sweet moment in the life of a rare wild creature courtesy of Namfon and the Fishing Cat Research and Conservation Project.
With all the support so far, we are just $124 away from our start-up goal. Thank you to everyone who has pledged. This photo is the epitome of what you are helping to protect when you do so.
We’ll keep fund raising throughout this project, as the camera-trapping is a whole other canister of film. (I know, we like the old school lingo around here.) If you’d like to help support CAT in WATER, click HERE to learn more.
In wildlife conservation, people tend to pay closer attention to the disappearing creatures. There is a sense of urgency, and rightfully so, to save the few, but new research indicates that it is the common things that need protecting. For if they go, all the ways that they influence the nature of the world will be so disturbed that even the rare will have nowhere left to go. Let’s face it. If things get so bad that even common critters aren’t around anymore, we’re in deep doo-doo.
The research, led by Kerstin Johannesson with the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, looked specifically at marine systems. Johannesson found that a vast number of species in the oceans are so rare, it’s difficult to find even a few individuals anymore. “Committing most resources to saving individual species is not just an expensive business – it would also risk destroying the foundation for ecosystems,” states a press release on the study.
Common species, found Johannesson, create habitat for other species, so by protecting them, it’s possible to protect the rare animals as well. Johannesson uses the once common cod in the fjords of the Bohuslän coast as an example of this phenomenon. Their numbers have virtually disappeared.
“Without the big predatory fish, the sea-grass meadows become clogged, with the result that the shallow bays no longer act as larders and nurseries for inshore fish,” Johannesson stated in a press release.
I don’t know if Johannesson’s conservation strategy is the right way to go, moreso than concentrating on endangered species, but who’s to say that we shouldn’t really implement both tactics? Regardless, I have no doubt that we need to understand better the value of the common creatures. After all preventative conservation, sure does sound a heck of a lot smarter and potentially easier than waiting to clean up a mess.
What are your thoughts?
Kerstin Johannesson of the University of Gothenburg
Kerstin Johannesson, Kerstin.Johannesson@marecol.gu.se, 465-266-8611
For the dormouse, life can be hard. Raising the kids takes obscene amounts of energy. Anyone’s who’s ever tried to raise one knows these little guys are divas when it comes to feeding time. So dormice only breed when the acorns are good.
To the other extreme, they’re also on a lot of menus: owls, weasels, pine martens and both wild and domestic cats all like to eat them. The poor guy is even called the “edible dormouse.” Basically, a public life for the dormouse is nothing short of a way to punch the ticket. That’s enough stress to tucker anyone out. So how do these guys survive? By sleeping through 8 months of the year.
You can learn more new science about the dormouse from the new study by Professor Thomas Ruf firstname.lastname@example.org at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna or in the journal paper:
Survival rates in a small hibernator, the edible dormouse: a comparison across Europe by Karin Lebl, Claudia Bieber, Peter Adamík, Joanna Fietz, Pat Morris, Andrea Pilastro and Thomas Ruf at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06691.x/abstract
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Support the Kickstarter project to document them in the wild here.
The fishing cat is up and running! We have 90 days to raise the first round of funds for the CAT in WATER expedition. Check out our Kickstarter project and watch the short video. You can also learn about all the paybacks in store for our supporters. Who wouldn’t want a care package from Thailand and the knowledge they are helping a gorgeous, wild animal in need?