species decline

Snail Foils Trump's Plan for Wall on an Irish Golf Course

Vertigo angustior, CM62.27772 from Switzerland. (Photo by Charles F. Sturm)

by Timothy A. Pearce

What can stop a wall that the president of the United States wants to build? Snails of course!

At least that was the case on a golf course in Ireland owned by President Donald Trump’s company, Trump International Golf Links.

According to The Washington Post, the company’s plans to build a huge, two-mile sea wall on its Irish golf course were recently withdrawn and replaced with a proposal for two smaller walls.

A tiny, 2 millimeter snail, Vertigo angustior, living in the adjacent Carrowmore Dunes, a special area of conservation, could be harmed if the wall were to change the hydrology of the area. The Carrowmore Dunes site is specially designated for conservation due to its three different dune types and the presence of Vertigo angustior.

Trump’s company submitted an initial wall proposal that cited rising sea levels as a result of climate change as the reason it needed the wall, according to BBC News.

Concerns over the snail and the special dunes delayed a decision about the proposed wall, so Trump International Golf Links resubmitted a proposal for smaller walls just before Christmas 2016, according to the Washington Post. The Clare County Council will carefully consider the revised proposal for its conservation objectives and the impact on the protected snail. A decision is expected this spring.

The European snail Vertigo angustior is unusual for coiling the opposite direction of most land snails and occurs in wetlands and low areas among coastal dunes. It is legally protected under the European Union’s Habitats and Species Directive due to declining populations and because wetlands are difficult to protect. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the main threat to this species is the modification of site hydrology, which could occur with the building of sea walls.

Some people feel that business endeavors are more important than species extinctions, while others argue that it is unfair for one species, humans, to cause the complete extinction of another species. Endangered species laws recognize the importance of allowing species to persist.

Timothy A. Pearce, PhD, is the head of the mollusks section at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.

heroicmeep  asked:

hey, I wanted to know what you meant by "domesticated animal handling issue" vs "conservation issue"? All I know is that hives are undergoing spontaneous collapse, I don't know exactly what differentiates these things from each other.

Thanks for asking! I should have elaborated. Honey bees are domesticated animals. They are not native to North or South America (or Australia for that matter), and we’ve been keeping and selectively breeding honey bees for 9,000 years. Trying to conserve honey bees to “save the bees” is like conserving chickens to “save the birds.” There are about 20,000 species of bees world-wide, and only 6 of those species are honey bees (and only one of those is widely kept and bred - Apis mellifera, the European honey bee). There is growing evidence that many of these other wild species of bees are declining, as well as more and more evidence that honey bees actually harm native bee populations. I’m happy to provide sources if you’re interested!

'Star Wars gibbon' is new primate species

by Rebecca Morelle 

The animal has been studied for some time, but new research confirms it is different from all other gibbons.

It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon - partly because the Chinese characters of its scientific name mean “Heaven’s movement” but also because the scientists are fans of Star Wars.

The study is published in the American Journal of Primatology.
Dr Sam Turvey, from the Zoological Society of London, who was part of the team studying the apes, told BBC News: “In this area, so many species have declined or gone extinct because of habitat loss, hunting and general human overpopulation.

"So it’s an absolute privilege to see something as special and as rare as a gibbon in a canopy in a Chinese rainforest, and especially when it turns out that the gibbons are actually a new species previously unrecognised by science.”

Hoolock gibbons are found in Bangladesh, India, China and Myanmar. They spend most of their time living in the treetops, swinging through the forests with their forelimbs, rarely spending any time on the ground.

But the research team - led by Fan Peng-Fei from Sun Yat-sen University in China - started to suspect that the animals they were studying in China’s Yunnan Province were unusual.

All hoolock gibbons have white eyebrows and some have white beards - but the Chinese primates’ markings differed in appearance.
Their songs, which they use to bond with other gibbons and to mark out their territory, also had an unusual ring.

Read more via BBC 


In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been used successfully in many animals — including, notably, humans — for decades. But despite numerous attempts, scientists had never been able to figure out IVF for dogs. 

This year, for the first time, seven puppies (five beagles and two “bockers,” or beagle-cocker spaniel mixes) were born through IVF. That’s cool. And cute. And also very exciting for the people trying to save other canine species that are in decline because of habitat destrcution:

ISLAND FOX, Urocyon littoralis (Southern California)
~4000 left
They live on only six of the eight Channel Islands (less than 400 square miles).

ETHIOPIAN WOLF, Canis simensis (Ethiopian Highlands)
360 - 440 adults left
The Ethiopian wolf sometimes team up with monkeys to hunt alpine rodents.

AFRICAN WILD DOGLycaon pictus (from Algeria to South Africa)
~5,000 left
They hunt antelope by chasing them to exhaustion. 

RED WOLF, Canis Rufus (North Carolina)
~150 left

Their population once fell to just 14 individuals.

MANED WOLFChrysocyon brachyurus (central South America)
~17,000 left
Maned wolves need wide uninterrupted territory to survive.

DHOLECuon alpinus (China, India, Southeast Asia)
4,500-10,500 left
These pack hunters use “whistles” to communicate with one another while hunting much larger prey. 

DARWIN’S FOXLycalopex fulvipes (Chile)
less than 250 left
So-called because Darwin collected a specimen in 1834. 200 of the remaining population live on on Chiloé Island.

MEXICAN GRAY WOLFCanis lupus baileyi (Mexico, the southeastern US)
~360 left
All the Mexican gray wolves alive today are all descendants of five wolves captured in 1973.

Currently, efforts to increase these species rely on natural breeding programs. The Smithsonian’s maned wolf breeding program ships males from South America to their facility in Front Royal, Virginia. It would be great if they could just ship sperm. And using samples collected from multiple individuals could greatly increase the genetic diversity of a population, instead of relying on a few captive mating pairs. Exciting!

Shark week is coming to an end, and to cap off this wonderful week, we’re giving you enough shark facts to last you the whole year!

  • Sharks have roamed the oceans since well before the days of the dinosaurs and remain among the world’s most effective hunters.
  • Sharks originated some 450 million years ago, and many species have changed little in the past 100 million years. 
  • Unlike most fishes, they have no gas bladder to keep them afloat, so many species must move constantly to keep from sinking. 
  • Their skeletons are made of light, tough cartilage instead of bone, and many have large, oil-filled livers that make them more buoyant.
  • Sharks’ mouths bristle with rows of teeth which are constantly replaced by new ones as they become broken or worn. 
  • The first vertebrates to develop an immune system, sharks may have greater immunity to cancer than humans, and they are being studied for potential new cancer medications and antibiotics.
  • Most sharks are no more dangerous than other fishes. Humans, however, have proved extremely dangerous to sharks. 
  • Of the roughly 340 species of sharks, most never attack people. Fewer than 100 people per year are bitten by sharks, and less than 15 percent of these attacks are fatal. 
  • Humans kill 50 to 100 million sharks each year, placing entire populations and some species at serious risk.
  • As top ocean predators, sharks maintain the balance of other populations.
  • Growing consumption of shark meat and fins, and the popularity of shark fishing for sport, have caused some shark species to decline by more than 90 percent, threatening the sharks’ survival and disrupting ocean ecosystems.
  • Some sharks lay eggs, but most bear live young, as mammals do. Some species remain pregnant for over two years – longer than any other vertebrate. 
  • Sharks typically bear just three to 12 pups, and many do not reproduce until age 30, making it hard for them to recover when millions are killed by humans.

Learn much more about sharks and other marine life in the Museum’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

New work in progress of a blue phase arctic fox.

By Sarah Leea Petkus


The arctic is perhaps the most vulnerable ecosystem in the wake of climate change. According to the ACIA, a report by the Arctic Council, average temperatures have risen almost twice as fast in the arctic as compared to the rest of the world since the industrial revolution. The arctic ecosystems are especially threatened by climate change compared to warmer systems because in general, there are fewer species to fill similar roles(vegetation, prey, predator, scavenger) so when one species is in decline or displaced, there is a rapid and devastating ripple effect across the entire system.

#resist #epa #climatechange


It wasn’t long ago that our Earth was thought to be only a few thousand years old and having been created in a matter of days. However during the scientific revolution that was taking place in the 18th and 19th centuries, minds like Darwin, Hutton and Lyell were challenging these age old theories. It was Charles Lyell that pioneered the theory that the forces of physics have remained the same throughout history, James Hutton also expressed that we can interpret the ancient past by studying modern day natural processes because the past and present are governed by the same laws. His findings reported that layers of sediment accumulated at around 2cm per year, he deduced that since mountains are sedimentary formations and thousands of metres high that the planet is more than a few thousand years old, but hundreds of millions. 

Our Earth is actually 4600 million years old, this staggeringly long time is almost impossible for the human mind to comprehend. As far as we know, life emerged as single celled organisms around 3800 million years ago, for the next 3 billion years it would remain as these minute unicellular organisms. This is the Precambrian, 4600 - 570 million years ago. 

To help us grasp the immense history of the Earth, a geological timescale was developed with each period marking a milestone in evolution and life.

CAMBRIAN 540 - 488 million years ago
Named after Cambria, an ancient name for Wales where rocks of this age are greatly exposed.
The Cambrian period sees explosive development of multicellular life with all the main modern phyla being established. Complex eyes and food chains evolve as well as active predation. Life is confined to the sea.

See Hallucigenia Opabinia Anomalocaris  

ORDOVICIAN 488 - 440 million years ago
Named for an ancient welsh tribe, the ordovices who lived in areas where rocks of this age are well exposed. Th oceans flourish with huge diversity of jawless fish, trilobites and gastropods and arthropods begin to dominate. The period ends with arthropods taking the first steps onto land. The end of the ordovician is marked by the first of the five major mass extinctions to hit the planet.

See Pterygotus Cameroceras 

SILURIAN 444 - 416 million years ago
Named for another welsh tribe, the silures, who inhabited areas where rocks of this age are abundant. Life in the oceans recovered from extinctions, magnificent coral reefs thrive in warm seas. Small plants begin to colonise the land and jawed fishes evolve.

DEVONIAN 416 - 359 million years ago
Named after the English county of Devon which is rich in Devonian age rocks and fossils. The Devonian period is also known as the age of the fishes. Jawed fish and placoderm fish rule the oceans, trilobites still thrive. Plants move from the coastal areas deep into land and the first forests spring up. Shark species increase in numbers and early forms of amphibian begin to spend more time on land.

See Dunkleosteus 

CARBONIFEROUS 359 - 299 million years ago
Known as the age of amphibians and named for the ancient coal deposits which were laid down during this time. The land is overrun with lush forests and swamps, The two main continents of the time, Eurasia and Gondwana are colliding to form the supercontinent Pangea. Winged insects take over the skies, oxygen content is much higher that today allowing insects to reach great sizes and the first true reptiles evolve, these are the first truly terrestrial vertebrates.

PERMIAN 299 - 251 million years ago
Named after Perm in Russia where rocks of the age are well exposed. Pangea is covered in harsh deserts, the number of species goes into decline, eventually 95% of them are wiped out in the worst mass extinction ever seen. Mammal like reptiles evolve. The first dinosaurs evolve towards the end of the Permian, they start as a few isolated groups and begin to increase rapidly in numbers.

See Scutosaurus Helicoprion Dimetrodon Gorgonops 

TRIASSIC 251 - 200 million years ago
Named after the word “Trias” referring to 3 rock divisions in Germany called bunter, muschelkalk and keuper. The climate of Pangea is warm and dry and dinosaurs have gradually assumed dominance in the land, skies and oceans. Mammals only exist as a few small species. Ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs reign in the sea and reach phenomenal size.

See Proterosuchus Tanystropheus 

JURASSIC 200 - 146 million years ago
Named for the Jura mountains. Dinosaurs still dominate the land and the oceans flourish with marine reptiles and ammonites. The first bird start to appear towards the end of the Jurassic.

See Liopleurodon Megalosaurus 

CRETACEOUS 146 - 65 million years ago
Named for the latin “creta” meaning chalk which is laid down during this period and found widely now. Dinosaurs continue to dominate, the first flowering plants evolve. Sea levels are up to 300m higher than today in some areas, much of the land is covered in shallow seas. Carbon dioxide concentrations rise, slowly choking the atmosphere. The end of the cretaceous is marked by the extinction of the dinosaurs due to possible meteor impact.

See Archelon Deinosuchus Ankylosaurus 

PALEOGENE 65 - 23 million years ago
The world begins to recover, mammals and birds begin to flourish and exploit the vacant niches left behind by the dinosaurs, in doing so they grow to incredible sizes. The climate is gradually cooling and will continue to do so bringing the earth into an ice age. In these cooler conditions the first grasses evolve.

See Gastornis Paraceratherium Entelodon Andrewsarchus Ambulocetus

NEOGENE 23 - 2.5 million years ago
The climate is still cooling, ice sheets begin to spread down from the poles, as a result sea levels slowly drop. The size of forests reduce and grasslands take over resulting in vast open planes. Mammals dominate the earth due to their ability to adapt to changing environments and harsh conditions. Towards the end of the period early hominids begin to appear.

See amphicyon Glyptodonts Megalodon

QUATERNARY 2.5 million years ago to present
With an enduring ice age much of the mammalian megafauna have become extinct. Hominids have continued to evolve, only the homo sapiens survive as they are able to adapt.

See Megatherium 

New species of gibbon discovered in China
Newly recognised species given the name ‘Skywalker hoolock gibbon’ by the team that proved it was distinct from other Chinese gibbons
By Georgia Brown

Scientists have discovered a new species of gibbon living in south-west China’s rainforests.

Although scientists had been studying the primate for some time, new research has revealed it is in fact a different species.

It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon by its discoverers, who are Star Wars fans. The name is also a nod to the fact that the Chinese characters of its scientific name, Hoolock tianxing, mean “Heaven’s movement”.

Dr Sam Turvey, from the Zoological Society of London, who was part of the team studying the apes, told BBC News: “In this area, so many species have declined or gone extinct because of habitat loss, hunting and general human overpopulation…

sandwichknight  asked:

Imagine if VB was part of a species though. Maybe their species declined due to the Great War and the fact that they would kill each other for survival.

Hmmmmmmm…………. that’s not a bad idea! After all, VB’s ‘species’ is actually unknown in Fallout:Tactics and they pretty much insult him for being pseudo-human


The universe isn’t evil, John. It’s just indifferent. 

Entry 2: Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus)

Once the largest carnivorous marsupial of both the Australian mainland, Tasmania, and New Guinea, the Thylacine was already declining when European settlers came to the shores of this far flung continent. As an apex predator, they were never particularly suited to the role. Despite initial assumptions, they did not posses a strong olfactory system as similar predators such as the wolf.  They were not strong runners, but instead likely relied on surprise to hunt.

They had the ability to stand up for periods of time on its hind legs, similar to a kangaroo.  Both male and females possessed pouches, a rare attribute in marsupials.  

By the time they had become extinct on the mainland, due to a combination of the dingos partial domestication by aboriginal peoples who may have overrun the thylacine’s hunting ground as well as a decline in prey for any number of reasons, their isolation upon Tasmania spelt their doom.  A bounty was put upon their heads by the colonial government due to their predation upon livestock.  This bounty put pressure on an already declining species that led to substantial population loses.

The last known specimen died in captivity just 59 days after Tasmania declared them a protected species.  Though people continued to report sightings of the creature through the 1960s, it was only listed as a endangered species through the 1980s despite little evidence of their continued existence.

Extinction Date According to the IUCN Red List: 1986

Lappet-faced, white-backed and Cape vultures squabble over a carcass at Sable Dam, Kruger national park, South Africa. These three species are declining at a rate of 80%–92% over three generations (about 45–55 years), a study suggests. An international team of researchers, including leading scientists from the University of St Andrews, the Hawk Conservancy Trust and the University of York, say African vultures are likely to qualify as ‘critically endangered’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s global threat criteria.

Photograph: Andre Botha/Conservation Letters

Pine martens are small tree-climbing mammals belonging to the weasel family. They are considered one of the rarest and most elusive wildlife species. The main reasons for the species’ decline were related to hunting for its fur; loss of habitat through the destruction of forests; direct and indirect poisoning and persecution as a potential predator of livestock game populations. 

Photo by @daviddoubilet May 23 is World Turtle Day. This baby green sea turtle is heading to the safety of the open sea in Nengo Nengo French Polynesia. Green sea turtles are the ancient mariners of the sea, migrating long distances to return to their nesting beach. Adults prefer sea grass diets, and can live to 80 + years. Green sea turtles are an IUCN and CITES listed endangered species due to declines related to direct overharvest, by-catch and habitat loss. With @natgeo @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #ocean #worldturtleday #life #beauty #sea #wild for #moreocean follow @jenniferhayes and @daviddoubilet by natgeo

Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis)

Extinct in the Wild

Corvus hawaiiensis is also known as the alala, and is endemic to Hawaii. It mainly feeds on fruit, and may also eat nectar and insects. A small captive population is kept on the island of Maui, after the only wild population on Hawaii became extinct. Although it was once common, this species declined due to habitat loss, hunting, and invasive species. 

photo by @joelsartore | Believe it or not, even snakes need a little help now and then. This Armenian viper is a seldom-seen, misunderstood species that’s in serious decline, along with many other reptiles and amphibians in that part of the world. The @stlzoo knows that saving habitat for all creatures, great and small, is key to having a healthy planet, and hope to set up Armenia’s first-ever conservation breeding center for reptiles and amphibians. It’s easy to get involved. Check out http://ift.tt/1X6oDWB find out how you can help. #PhotoArk #joelsartore #photooftheday by natgeo

oxcake-deactivated20161207  asked:

I certainly agree with your panda post, but I have a question. How do you feel about the big cat's huge vulnerability to extinction? Are they a species that we should save instead of pandas or am I looking too far into it?

The main difference between big cat conservation and panda conservation is that we are actually seeing progress from big cat conservation. Amur leopard populations have doubled since 2007 after their range was protected. Tigers have increased from ~1 500 to over 2 000 in India after similar changes in protected areas. Amur tigers - including cubs - were spotted in Chinese nature reserves for the first time since the species went into decline, meaning that they’re breeding and expanding, even if it’s by minute increments.

As a general rule, predators are extremely important for the survival of an ecosystem, and big cats are no exception. Predators regulate prey populations - usually many, many species of prey, which trickles down through the food web in a process that is known as a trophic cascade. Simply, it means that if the predator numbers decrease, their prey increases, which means the prey eat more, breed more, and can actually wipe out their own food sources - to the point that not only are the food species extirpated, but the prey population can collapse from lack of food and also vanish. 

Big cats do breed easily in captivity and out (generally) - more easily than pandas - and they play a crucial role in ecosystems. They face some of the same problems that pandas do, since they, too, are charismatic megafauna, but they also have the benefits that aren’t really working with panda conservation. 

Since big cats are large, wide-ranging predators, loads of other species can be protected within reserves set aside for them. They have the public eye, and can garner money and interest for conservation initiatives that otherwise wouldn’t get any attention. They are well-known and popular, bringing money in to zoos and other facilities so they can run conservation programs as well.  People love them. People want to protect them. Conservation is actually working. And their loss would be much more detrimental to the environment than the loss of pandas


Keep reading

Frogs have existed on Earth for 300 million years, but 43% of all amphibian species are declining. Habitat loss, introduced predators, and environmental changes are some of the main reasons for their decline.

Original image via: Vancouver Aquarium