The Unintended Catch: Population Declines in Greater Scaup due to Fishery Bycatch

Aquatic birds play an important role in shallow water ecosystems, affecting the diversity of their prey communities and providing an important link in the food web. Over the years, mortality has increased in many aquatic bird species due to human activity. New research on a population of Greater Scaup (Aythya marila), an aquatic bird species native to Europe, determined that fisheries contribute heavily to its mortality and gives us tools to understand how we can reduce this impact. If no action is taken, this species could become endangered within the next 30 years.

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These Boots Were Made from Exotic Leather

When picturing an American cowboy, images of horses and lassos come to mind, studded in spurs and blanketed in leather. The leather that you imagine is most likely cow hide, tanned and sourced in the United States of America. However, this mental image may require some adjustment. According to a study conducted by Jessica Heinrich and her team, exotic leather within the US is relatively common, particularly leather sourced from scaled mammals known as pangolins and large fish known as arapaima. Conservation efforts are more dire than ever as illegal trade of the two scaly organisms continues.

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Farmers vs. Fish: The Story of Delta Smelt

Delta smelt, a small free-swimming fish native to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California, have been portrayed as the catalyst for failing agriculture in the delta region. As an Endangered Species Act-listed species, delta smelt require increased water allocation to maintain low salinity in an already water-starved area, leaving less water for farmers and their crops. In reality, only a small percentage of freshwater outflow to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is being used for fish protection. Through improper management and general disregard for delta smelt recovery, the species is near extinction.

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Last call for African forest elephants

African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) are in trouble; this may not be news to you. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as well as poaching for the ivory trade. Rather than beat this information over everyone’s heads, scientists are trying to get us to understand why we will miss the elephants when they are gone.

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Endangered Species Act: Headed for Extinction?

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a law designed to protect and recover endangered species of plants, animals, and ecosystems, and in turn, preserve our nation’s ecological history and functionality. However, there has been a recent push to overhaul the ESA in favor of economic opportunities. This would relieve the burden carried by landowners and industries who have been hampered by ESA restrictions, but would strip protections on species already listed on the ESA and make it more difficult to add species to the list. Left unprotected, those endangered species would be left to go extinct, and the ecological functions they serve within their ecosystem could collapse or irreversibly shift their biomes. With human activity responsible for current accelerated extinction rates, this is the time for urgent action on conservation, not a time to overhaul the law designed to protect our nation’s species and ecosystems.

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