Friday, 25 May, 2018

Category: All Creatures Great & Small

Climate Change On Track To Cause Major Insect Wipeout Global warming is on track to cause a major wipe-out of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis. Insects are vital to most ecosystems and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the carbon cuts already pledged by nations so far, climate change would make almost half of insect habitat unsuitable by the end of the century, with pollinators like bees particularly affected. However, if climate change could be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5C - the very ambitious goal included in the global Paris agreement - the losses of insects are far lower. The new research is the most comprehensive to date, analysing the impact of different levels of climate change on the ranges of 115,000 species. It found plants are also heavily affected but that mammals and birds, which can more easily migrate as climate changes, suffered less. “We showed insects are the most sensitive group,” said Prof Rachel Warren, at the University of East Anglia, who led the new work. “They are important because ecosystems cannot function without insects. They play an absolutely critical role in the food chain. The disruption to our ecosystems if we were to lose that high proportion of our insects would be extremely far-reaching and widespread,” she said. “People should be concerned - humans depend on ecosystems functioning.” Pollination, fertile soils, clean water and more all depend on healthy ecosystems, Warren said. In October, scientists warned of “ecological Armageddon” after discovering that the number of flying insects had plunged by three-quarters in the past 25 years in Germany and very likely elsewhere. “We know that many insects are in rapid decline due to factors such as habitat loss and intensive farming methods,” said Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, UK, and not part of the new analysis. “This new study shows that, in the future, these declines would be hugely accelerated by the impacts of climate change, under realistic climate projections. When we add in all the other adverse factors affecting wildlife, all likely to increase as the human population grows, the future for biodiversity on planet Earth looks bleak.” In the new analysis, published in the journal Science, the researchers gathered data on the geographic ranges and current climate conditions of 31,000 insect species, 8,000 birds, 1,700 mammals, 1,800 reptiles, 1,000 amphibians and 71,000 plants. They then calculated how the ranges change when global warming means some regions can no longer support particular species. For the first time in this type of study, they included the 1.5C Paris target, as well as 2C, the longstanding international target, and 3.2C, which is the rise the world will experience by 2100 unless action is taken beyond that already pledged. The researchers measured the results in two ways. First, they counted the number of species that lose more than half their range and this was 49% of insect species at 3.2C, falling to 18% at 2C and 6% at 1.5C. Second, they combined the losses for each species group into a type of average measure. “If you are a typical insect, you would be likely to lose 43% of your range at 3.2C,” Warren said. “We also found that the three major groups of insects responsible for pollination are particularly sensitive to warming.” Guy Midgley, at University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and not part of the research team, said the new work built on previous studies but is far more comprehensive. He said major impacts on wildlife would be expected given the potential scale of climate change: “Global average surface temperatures in the past two million years have rarely approached the levels projected over the next few decades.” Warren said the new work had taken account of the ability of species to migrate, but had not been able to include the impact of lost interactions between species as ranges contract, or of the impacts of more extreme weather events on wildlife. As both of those would increase the losses of range, Warren said the estimates of losses made were likely to be underestimates. Warren said that the world’s nations were aware that more action on climate change is needed: “The question is to what extent greater reductions can be made and on what timescale. That is a decision society has to make.” Another study published in Science on Thursday found that one third of the world’s protected areas, which cover 15% of all land, are now highly degraded by intense human pressure including road building, grazing, and urbanisation. Kendall Jones, at the University of Queensland, Australia, who led the work, said: “A well-run protected area network is essential in saving species. If we allow our protected area network to be degraded there is a no doubt biodiversity losses will be exacerbated.” Credit: Damian Carrington for The Guardian, 17 May 2018.

Climate Change On Track To Cause Major Insect Wipeout

Global warming is on track to cause a major wipe-out of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis. Insects are vital to most ecosystems, and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the

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The Handfish

The Handfish

Handfish is any anglerfish within the family Brachionichthyidae, a group which comprises five genera and 14 extant species. These benthic marine fish are unusual in the way they propel themselves by walking on the sea floor rather than swimming. Handfish is found today in the coastal waters of southern Australia and Tasmania. This is the most species-rich of the few marine fish

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The Elephant Shrew

The Elephant Shrew

Elephant shrews also called jumping shrews or sengis, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea. Their traditional common English name “elephant shrew” comes from a fancied resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and their superficial similarity with shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Eulipotyphla. In 1997

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Pufferfish

Pufferfish

The Tetraodontidae is a family of primarily marine and estuarine fish of the order Tetraodontiformes. The family includes many familiar species which are variously called pufferfish, puffers, balloonfish, blowfish, blowies, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab. They are morphologically similar to the closely related porcupinefish, which has large external spines (unlike the thinner, hidden spines of the Tetraodontidae, which are only visible when the fish has puffed up). The

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Axolotl

Axolotl

Axolotl. The axolotl, also known as a Mexican salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum) or a Mexican walking fish, is a neotenic salamander, closely related to the tiger salamander. Although the axolotl is colloquially known as a “walking fish,” it is not a fish, but an amphibian. The species originates from numerous lakes, such as Lake Xochimilco underlying Mexico City. Axolotls are unusual among amphibians in that

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Royal Flycatcher

Royal Flycatcher

Royal Flycatcher. The Royal Flycatchers are a genus, Onychorhynchus, of passerine birds in the family Tityridae. The genus contains four species: the Amazonian royal flycatcher, the Northern royal flycatcher, the Pacific royal flycatcher, and the Atlantic royal flycatcher. The common name for all the species in this genus, royal flycatcher, refer to the striking, colourful crest, which is seen

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World’s Rarest Penguin Population Plummets

World’s Rarest Penguin Population Plummets

World’s Rarest Penguin Population Plummets. Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame. The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where

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Tetra

Tetra

Tetra. A tetra is one of several species of small fish from Africa, Central America, and South America belonging to the biological family Characidae and to its former subfamilies Alestidae (the “African tetras”) and Lebiasinidae. Many of these, such as the neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi), are brightly coloured. Tetra is short for Tetragonopterus, a genus name formerly applied to many of these fish, which is Greek for

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Porcupine

Porcupine

Porcupine. Porcupines are rodentian mammals with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that protect against predators. The term covers two families of animals, the Old World porcupines of family Hystricidae, and the New World porcupines of family Erethizontidae. Both families belong to the infraorder Hystriccognathi within the profoundly diverse order Rodentia and display superficially similar coats of quills. Despite this, the two

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Stick Insect

Stick Insect

Stick Insect. The Phasmatodea are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects in Europe and Australasia; stick-bugs, walking sticks or bug sticks in the United States and Canada; or as phasmids, ghost insects or leaf insects (generally the family Phylliidae). The group’s name is derived from the Ancient Greek phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom, referring to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves. Their natural camouflage makes them difficult for predators to detect, but

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Ladybird

Ladybird

Ladybird. Coccinellidae is a widespread family of small beetles ranging from 0.8 to 18 mm (0.03 to 0.71 inches). They are found worldwide, with over 6,000 species described. Coccinellids are known as ladybugs in North America, and ladybirds in Britain and other parts of the English-speaking world. Entomologists widely prefer the names ladybird beetles or lady beetles as these insects are not classified as true bugs. They are commonly yellow,

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Elephants Unloosening The Chains.

Unloosening The Chains Of Elephants

Unloosening The Chains Of Elephants. Elephants have large complex brains, exhibit complex social behaviour, show a facility with tools, and are generally thought to be highly intelligent. Cognitive studies have demonstrated that elephants are capable of visual symbol discrimination and long term memory, means-end recognition, relative quantity judgment, mirror self-recognition,

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Scale Of Pangolin Slaughter Revealed

Scale Of Pangolin Slaughter Revealed

Scale Of Pangolin Slaughter Revealed. The pangolin is considered the world’s most-trafficked animal, with all eight species listed as vulnerable or critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species. Experts believe pangolins make up 20 percent of the global illegal animal

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