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Showing posts from 2021

Migration strategies of rosefinches

During their seasonal migration, birds typically travel between breeding and non-breeding grounds along migratory routes grouped into major flyways, such as the Indo-European flyway between Europe and the Indian subcontinent. In a new study published in the Journal of Biogeography , investigators used modelling and tracking techniques to identify potential migratory barriers and corridors within the Indo-European flyway and birds’ adaptive behaviours that help with navigation along the route.  The study, tracking rosefinches ( Carpodacus erythrinus )  from five breeding populations using lightweight global navigation sensors, aimed to determine what factors influenced the birds' migratory paths: wind or resources. Deserts, oceans and mountains influence weather systems and resource availability and create corridors or barriers for moving animals. Risks have to be balanced against food availability and energy conservation.  Migratory birds have developed several adaptive behaviours

Light pollution hindering firefly courtship

Right across the ecosystem, our pollution has a deleterious effect on the reproductive behaviour of many species. This is also true for light pollution. Imagine you are in a crowded noisy room and trying to ask your partner whether they would marry you, but they can't hear you no matter how loudly you shout the words.  Pardon? What?  New research published in Insect Conservation and Diversity indicates that artificial light at night is most likely now to be interfering with the courtship and mating of bioluminescent fireflies.  Fireflies, or glowworms, attract mates by flashing light.   The female finds a plant stalk to climb. and then she bends her abdomen upwards showing her glowing organs to attract males.  For the study, investigators exposed courting pairs of fireflies to five colours of light at two intensities, and they recorded changes in the rate, brightness, and pattern of male advertisement flashes, as well as how often females responded. All artificial light treatments

Celebrities spread false news like a virus

Celebrities can spread false news like a virus a new study shows.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation about symptoms, vaccines and infections rates has been rife. New research published in Online Social Networks and Media investigated the authors, content and propagation of this 'infodemic'. Using data from over 92 professional fact-checking organizations between January and July 2020, researchers analyzed 1,500 false or partially false tweets that spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.  Celebrities are a major source of false information, as they are more likely to be liked and shared by many followers.  The results revealed that false claims spread faster than partially false claims and are generally focused on discrediting other information. The research found that brands (either organizations or celebrities) were involved in 70 per cent of the false information claims either through liking or retweeting false information. The study even identified the

Are we losing our moths?

Are we losing our moths? A new report on the state of Britain’s larger moths shows a worrying 33% decline in their populations over the last 50 years. The report has been produced by the wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation, in partnership with BBSRC- funded Rothamsted Research and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. The report updates the findings released in 2013, with tens of millions of records gathered through the Rothamsted Insect Survey and National Moth Recording Scheme. The findings are stark. The abundance of larger moths in Britain decreased by 33% over a 50-year period between 1968-2017. This decline was seen across Britain with a greater loss in the south (39% decrease) than in northern Britain (22% decrease).  Dr Richard Fox, Associate Director of Recording and Monitoring at Butterfly Conservation and lead author of the report, says: "This decline is worrying because moths play a vital role in our ecosystems. They are pollinators of many plants, with some

The secret life of Giant Pandas

Giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca , have usually been regarded as solitary creatures, coming together only to mate; but recent studies have begun to reveal a secret social life for these enigmatic bears.  GPS tracking shows they cross each others path more often than previously thought, and spend time together.  What we don't know is what they are doing when together.  Photo by  Sid Balachandran  on  Unsplash For such large mammals, pandas have relatively small home ranges. Perhaps this is no surprise. Pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo. The only real threat to pandas has come from humans. No wonder then that the panda is the symbol of the WWF.  Pandas communicate with one another through vocalization and scent marking. They spray urine, claw tree trunks and rub against objects to mark their paths, yet they do not appear to be territorial as individuals.  Pandas are 99% vegetarian, but, oddly, their digestive system is more typical of a carnivore. For the 1% of their diet

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