Islands and Alleles: How genetics can help protect endangered species

When talking about diversity in the natural world, we often think of the bright colors and bold patterns of fish gliding among a reef, or the variety of flying, creeping, and crawling critters found in the layers of a rainforest canopy. However, diversity even within a single species is an important indicator of a population’s health and stability. This type of diversity can be invisible to us when contained in the form of genes that control which traits organisms possess. In this study, scientists helped us to see the invisible diversity of an endangered skink and learn how to more effectively conserve this diversity.

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Out with the new, in with the old: can removing Asian carp benefit native fish populations?

Asian carp have been plaguing the waters of the Mississippi River Basin for over 40 years. As an invasive species, Asian carp often out-compete native species and decimate food webs. Many control measures have been proposed and implemented to mitigate the presence of Asian carp, and some methods are working. Now, the question is, with the removal of Asian carp, can native fish populations rebound and thrive in their natural environment once again?

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Frostbitten toads: Are cane toads adapting to the cold as they move northwards in Florida?

How might animals respond to global climate change? A new study evaluates the northbound expansion of cane toads in Florida. Toads in northern Florida are tolerating freezing temperatures that are colder than they have previously been able to live in. Read on to find out how the cane toads tolerate freezing and what this teaches us about how other animals might respond to global climate change.

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Why YY Males? Using Hatchery Brook Trout to Eliminate an Invasive Species

Brook Trout were first introduced to the American West in the early 1900s. Since then, they have hurt native fish populations through competition and predation. In this study, scientists examine the effectiveness of using genetic technology to shift the ratio of male to female Brook Trout in the wild, which could eventually help remove them from their non-native streams.

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Intertidal Examination: Competition Between an Invasive and Endemic Species

Coastal New England isn’t independent from the world of invasive species. The Asian shore crab has encroached on many crustaceans habitats in the last few decades and recently this includes the American lobster. Work done by Baillie and colleagues suggest that specific life stages of the lobster may be negatively impacted by the invasion of the crab. Not only will understanding the interactions between these two species aid in preservation of one of North America’s most important fisheries, it may also provide critical insight into the fascinating relationship between endemic and invasive species.

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Red Deer Takeover!

Most people would not think of red deer as powerful enough to take over farmers’ land. However, a recent increase of red deer population has devastated land in Slovakia and other European countries. A recent study determined the amount of forage red deer consume per season and the key elements affecting forage availability that determine the boom or bust of red deer.

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Invasive ant species is forming supercolonies across southwestern British Columbia, Canada

Ant supercolonies are taking over southwestern British Columbia. A study published in the Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia late last year provides evidence of at least two supercolonies of an invasive ant species, Myrmica rubra, inhabiting BC. Evidence from behavioral experiments demonstrates that this ant species behaves as if it has formed up to five different supercolonies across seven regions of southwestern BC.

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Invader vs. Predator: Invasive species benefit from control of apex predators

Humans have laid claim to almost every habitable place on the globe, and in doing so, have brought with them many species causing introductions of foreign species to lands they would have otherwise never seen. “Invasive species” are an ecological hot topic these days. What is an invasive species? According to the NISIC (National Invasive Species Information Center) an invasive species is “non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm.” Many conservation groups, governments and activists have spent much time and money in efforts to get rid of these species and in order to control the effects they might have on their “native” counterparts. However, another group of animals has longer been threatened by man, the predator. The loss of predator species has not only led to changes in the way the regions they belonged to operate, but has also allowed for foreign species to flourish.

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