The Sound of Silence: Consequences of Man-made Noise on Humpback Whale Songs

Male humpback whales sing loudly and for long durations during breeding season. A hundred years ago their voices did not have to compete with much man-made noise. These days they contend with underwater drilling, sonar, and the noise of thousands of cargo and passenger ships. This affects how and when they sing. The consequences of these changes are still largely unknown.

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The value of a species: the whooping crane conservation paradox

The endangered whooping crane is one of the world’s rarest species, with only around 600 individuals, including one wild self-sustaining population (French et al., 2018). Reintroduced populations have had limited success, largely due to low hatching success. One multi-year study demonstrates the role that some endemic species of black flies play in Whooping crane nest desertion. This work also illustrates how conservation approaches should evaluate trade-offs and utilize a decision-analysis framework to construct management strategies that incorporate the needs of all endemic species, rather than pining the value of one species above the other.

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The human-leopard conflict in India… who are the victims?

Conflicts between humans and leopards in India have increased in frequency over the past few decades, due to habitat fragmentation and a decrease in human tolerance towards wildlife. To assess the long-term effects of this conflict, researchers studied two distinct regions in India to track the opinions of local communities on leopards. The researchers compared local sentiment about leopards to records and found that local opinions are related to distance from leopard habitat and history of attacks: the region in which humans live in closest proximity to the leopards’ habitat (Pauri), has had many more attacks and people hold much more negative views towards leopards.

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Let’s Paint the Town Green!

Many places around the world are searching for ways to balance a growing population while also caring for the environment. Developers, policymakers, and citizens everywhere are concerned with maintaining biodiversity while developing economies and building homes and businesses for humans. New research from the European Union aims to balance the use of ecosystem services and conservation efforts by introducing green infrastructure. This new way to look at land use can have important implications for the future of development and policy-making in the European Union, and throughout the world.

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The biodiversity emergency: what can we all do?

There is a biodiversity crisis. The repercussions of species and habitat loss are everywhere: Animals (giant pandas or bees), and places (coral reefs), are experiencing negative human-related impacts. This means more than just loss of physical beauty; all habitats and species are interconnected, so a loss of something as seemingly small as a bee population will reduce pollination of plants that we eat. There is hope of recovery, but it begins by motivating people to help. As the world is becoming more urbanized and disconnected from nature, where does motivation for environmental conservation and stewardship come from?

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Captive breeding: Saving species from extinction or sending them there?

In the midst of the sixth mass extinction, conservation efforts are more important now than ever. Captive breeding programs aim to supplement wild populations with individuals born in captivity. Seems great, right? Well… maybe. Despite good intentions, captive breeding and release programs can have permanent harmful effects on the world’s most vulnerable species. This recent study explores the demographic and genetic effects of a common conservation practice.

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Genetics and bee conservation: telling the full story of a species’ decline

We’ve all probably watched bees engage in pollination as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. This process is essential to the reproduction of many plants, including crops. When most people think of pollinators, they think of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, more than 20,000 species of bees have been described—all of which are pollinators! In fact, honey bees are actually native to southeast Asia and have spread across the globe due to human activities, potentially competing with other bees. Despite the honey bee’s ubiquity and popularity, native bees are important pollinators because ecological adaptations that differ from those of honey bees. For example, the tongues of many native bees such as bumble bees can reach the nectar of longer flowers for pollination better than the honey bee.

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