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Archive for August 2011

Helen Scales, author of Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality, reveals the unusual anatomy and strange sex lives of seahorses. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that seahorses live mysterious lives, tucked away out of sight on the seafloor, and provides insights into their strange characteristics, including: kangaroo-like pouches for the males to bear the young, horse-like snouts used like straws to suck in tiny zooplankton, prehensile tails to grasp sea grasses, swiveling chameleon eyes and color-changing skin. Seahorses face many threats, including habitat loss and degradation and commercial trade. They’re used in traditional Asian medicine, and also sold as curios and as aquarium pets. Global consumption of seahorses is massive, with about 25 million seahorses sold each year. There’s so much we still don’t know about seahorses. For instance, we’re not even sure how many different species there are.

Dr. Helen Scales is a marine biologist, writer, and broadcaster who specializes in fisheries, habitat protection, and the international trade in endangered species. She has lived and worked in various countries and now lives in Cambridge, England where she works as a consultant for a number of conservation groups including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Natural England, and TRAFFIC International. For her PhD from the University of Cambridge she studied the loves and lives of one of the biggest coral reef fish, the Napoleon wrasse, and its imperiled status due to demand from Asian live seafood restaurants.She appears as a radio host on the BBC’s The Naked Scientists show and on BBC Radio 4’s Home Planet. She also produces and presents a new podcast series, Naked Oceans, a fun and informative exploration of the undersea realm. In her first book, Poseidon’s Steed: The Story of Seahorses from Myth to Reality, she explores humankind’s thousand-year fascination with seahorses. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 17, 2010. It was reposted on August 22, 2011.

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David Kirkby, veteran U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Special Agent, talks about wildlife law enforcement. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about two of his most prominent cases: smuggling of primates for research institutions; and Operation Arachnid, an undercover investigation into the illegal trade in tarantulas.

David Kirkby was a US FWS Special Agent for twenty years, from 1988 until he retired in 2008. Raised in North Canton, Ohio, Kirkby worked for years in the federal wildlife refuge system, starting in the west desert of Utah before moving to Montana’s Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge, and then the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois. From there, he moved into US FWS’s law enforcement division, first as a wildlife inspector at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. That helped prepare him for another shift, as a special agent. In 1988, after additional extensive training, he began as a FWS Special Agent, with his first duty station in Montgomery, Alabama. Eventually, Kirkby moved back to Chicago, where he pursued numerous complex multi-year undercover investigations, including ones on primate smuggling and on the pet tarantula trade. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August XX, 2011.

The WildLife is a show that explores the mysteries of the animal world through interviews with scientists, authors and other wildlife investigators. It airs every Monday from 1-2 pm EST on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont.

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IUCN program officer Emma Brooks discusses illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam and her research on how commercial farming of a traded species, like porcupines, affects both the species and the trade. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how most animals in Vietnam’s wildlife trade end up on the plates of wealthy restaurant patrons. In Vietnam and elsewhere, commercial wildlife farming, meaning the breeding of wild species for legal sale, is often promoted to supply demand while preventing overhunting in the wild. However, in a study on the conservation impact of commercial wildlife farming of porcupines in Vietnam published in August 2010 in Biological Conservation, IUCN program officer Emma Brooks concluded that commercial porcupine farming is instead having the opposite effect.

Emma Brooks has been involved with numerous conservation projects around the world, from biodiversity surveys in Mozambique to Giant River Otter counts in Bolivia. She first became interested in wildlife trade issues during her MSc at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her research in the trade in porcupines formed her dissertation topic, for which she spent three months collecting data and interviewing locals in northern Viet Nam. Emma now works for the IUCN, as part of the Global Species Programme based in Cambridge, UK. Her work includes assessing the extinction risk of species from around the world for inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as well as using the information gathered to analyze species richness, major species and habitat threats, and important areas for biodiversity. The importance of species, ecosystems and services to human livelihoods and wellbeing is increasingly being recognized, and she works in a number of areas to provide the information to support decisions for the protection of species and livelihoods. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August 15, 2011.

The WildLife is a show that explores the mysteries of the animal world through interviews with scientists, authors and other wildlife investigators. It airs every Monday from 1-2 pm EST on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont.

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Ari Daniel Shapiro, a wildlife biologist and radio contributor, shares his research on the vocalizations of killer whales. He reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme a number of interesting facts about the sounds of killer whales. Did you know they use both high and low frequencies in the same vocalization? He’ll also divulge what it’s really like to undertake this demanding kind of research in remote and frigid locales. While earning his PhD in biological oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Ari Daniel Shapiro studied the vocalizations of killer whales in Norway. Now he uses his own voice and knowledge to tell stories about science on radio and other media. He's a regular contributor to a variety of national public radio programs and the host of both the Podcast of Life and Ocean Gazing. You can find the video on Ari’s killer whale research discussed in this interview as well as other material on his website, www.aridanielshapiro.com. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 29, 2010.

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Sharon Levy, author of Once and Future Giants, discusses what Ice Age extinctions teach us to help today’s megafauna, like elephants and bears, avoid the same fate. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that North America was home to a menagerie of massive mammals, like mammoths, mastodons, camels, giant beavers, sloths and lions, until about 13,000 years ago, when the first humans reached the Americas. She notes that today’s large mammals face an intensified replay of that great die-off, and that these large animals need to be able to move in times when they need to adapt to a changing climate.

Sharon Levy is the author Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals. For the past nineteen years, she’s covered environmental issues of all kinds, including the ecology of top predators, bioengineered mosquitoes, and archaeological evidence of ancient human impacts on wildlife and fisheries. She is a contributing editor at OnEarth magazine, and writes regularly for National Wildlife, BioScience, Audubon and the New Scientist.  Her work has also appeared in Natural History, Nature, Wildlife Conservation, High Country News and Discovery Channel Online. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August 1, 2011.

The WildLife is a show that explores the mysteries of the animal world through interviews with scientists, authors and other wildlife investigators. It airs every Monday from 1-2 pm EST on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont.

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