USU herpetologist reports surprising evolutionary shift in snakes

In the animal kingdom, survival essentially boils down to eat or be eaten. How organisms accomplish the former and avoid the latter reveals a clever array of defense mechanisms. Maybe you can outrun your prey. Perhaps you sport an undetectable disguise. Or maybe you develop a death-defying resistance to your prey’s heart-stopping defensive chemicals that … Read more

Improving assessments of an endangered lion population in India

An alternative method for monitoring endangered lions in India could improve estimates of their abundance and help inform conservation policy and management decisions. Keshab Gogoi and colleagues at the Wildlife Institute of India present their findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on February 19, 2020. Conservation practices have enabled Asiatic lions to recover from a population … Read more

Global relationships that determine bird diversity on islands uncovered

The study, a collection of molecular data from bird species found across 41 oceanic archipelagos, reveals how the area and isolation of islands are key to determining the diversity of species they contain. It is known that biodiversity is unevenly distributed across the planet. But why do some islands such as the Galápagos and Hawaii … Read more

Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common

The variety of finch species on the remote Galapagos Islands is the most prominent example for Charles Darwin’s and Alfred R. Wallace’s theory of evolution through natural selection. Galapagos finch species have developed distinct beak sizes and shapes and thereby have adapted to different food sources. This exemplifies how even closely related species can effectively … Read more

Biodiversity scientists pull together to document how life works before it’s too late

Time is running out to predict how potential climate futures will impact biodiversity and the functioning of our biosphere. To save and predict the future of biodiversity we need to rapidly accelerate our understanding of the planet’s diverse forms of life. A new, global network of international researchers is using the power of open source … Read more

Biodiversity offsetting is contentious – here’s an alternative

A new approach to compensate for the impact of development may be an effective alternative to biodiversity offsetting – and help nations achieve international biodiversity targets. University of Queensland scientists say target-based ecological compensation provides greater certainty and clarity, while ensuring the management of impacts from projects like new mines, roads or housing estates directly … Read more

Ocean fish farming in tropics and sub-tropics most impacted by climate change: UBC study

In a study published in Global Change Biology, researchers at the University of British Columbia looked at how climate change could impact 85 species of fish and molluscs that are most commonly farmed in seawater. They found that certain species like Atlantic salmon, European seabass and cobia, while certain areas like the tropics and the Arctic, … Read more

Can a river sing? ANU researchers say ‘absolutely’

Scientists and audio specialists have teamed up to travel the entire length of the river by kayak, starting in Kosciuszko National Park in southeast NSW and ending in South Australia. They are capturing the river’s sights and sounds as well as turning important data about the river into audio. Honours student Xavier Anderson is one … Read more

Orb-weaver spiders’ yellow and black pattern helps them lure prey

Researchers from Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK placed cardboard cut-out models of the golden orb-weaver, Nephila pilipes, onto real webs in the field. Testing different combinations of colours and patterns they discovered that both the yellow colour and the black and yellow mosaic pattern are essential for luring prey during the day. The webs of Nephila … Read more

Conflict between ranchers and wildlife intensifies as climate change worsens in Chile

Scientists from the University of La Serena, Newcastle University, UK, and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile surveyed ranchers to find out what they thought were the drivers of conflict between people and guanacos (a wild camelid species closely related to the Llama). Ranchers blamed the increased aridity for reducing the availability of pasture, which … Read more