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Archive for the 'wildlife biology' Category

Dr. Steven Amstrup has been studying polar bears and their habitat since 1980, and much of what we know about them, and even how scientists study them, comes from his work. For instance, he was the first person to apply radio telemetry to the study of polar bears, which allowed scientists to understand the immense distances that polar bears travel, and that knowledge of their movements is vital to understanding polar bear ecology. He also developed studies to quantitatively describe denning habitat and developed the ability to locate dens under the snow with Forward Looking Infrared Imagery (FLIR). That allowed him to uncovered – quite literally – information about polar bear maternal denning. He made the unexpected discovery that over half of historic polar bear maternity dens in Alaska were on the drifting pack ice, and then, subsequently, he led work that showed that polar bears increasingly opted to den on land because of sea ice deterioration due to global warming.

Over the three decades he’s been studying polar bears, Amstrup has observed a profound change in their Arctic habitats and the threats they face, and he often speaks out about the need to mitigate greenhouse gasses if polar bears are to survive as a species.

Dr. Amstrup is currently senior scientist at Polar Bears International. He led the international team of researchers that prepared nine reports that became the basis for the decision, by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 2008, to list polar bears as a threatened species. He is a past chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and has been an active member of the group throughout his career. Prior to joining Polar Bears International staff, he was the Polar Bear Project Leader with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.

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Iain Douglas-Hamilton reflects on a lifetime studying elephants and discusses the current surge in ivory poaching.

At age 23, Iain Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior in Tanzania's Lake Manyara National Park. During the 1970s he investigated the status of elephants throughout Africa and was the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching holocaust. He and his wife have co-authored two award-winning books and have made numerous television films. In 1993, he founded Save the Elephants, a Kenyan conservation organization dedicated specifically to elephants. In 2010, he was named the recipient of the prestigious Indianapolis Prize, in recognition for his lifetime achievements.

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Carbofuran was developed in the 1960s to replace more persistent pesticides such as DDT. Since then it has repeatedly been implicated in the mass mortality of nontarget wildlife, especially avian species. Conservationists worldwide have sought to regulate or ban the use of carbofuran for decades. However, this controversial product remains registered for use in a number of developed and developing nations. Its use in the United States has fueld an ongoing regulatory battle between the US Environmental Protection Agency and various lobby groups. Several significant obstacles, including flawed field study designs, lack of analytical capacity and a dearth of forensic evidence to support anecdotal reports have all contributed to carbofuran's remarkable staying power.

This presentation on carbofuran was made by Ngaio Richards at the Society of Wildlife Forensic Science's first triennial meeting in May 2012. It highlights key points and advances from the recently published book, Carbofuran and Wildlife Poisoning: Global Perspectives and Forensic Approaches.

Ngaio Richards is a Canine Field Specialist with Working Dogs for Conservation. She is a forensic ecologist and conservationist ans has authored numerous papers on wildlife monitoring and conservation.

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The Rhino DNA Index System (RhODIS) is a secure database containing DNA profile data of individual rhinoceros. The extraction method has been optimized and is now used to individually identify rhinoceros horns from stockpiles and to link recovered horns to poaching cases. The information contained in this database has assisted in a number of convictions in South Africa and also one in the United Kingdom. This podcast contains a presentation on the Rhino DNA Index System that was made at the Society of Wildlife Forensic Science’s first triennial meeting in May 2012 by Cindy Harper, Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

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Naturalist Mark Fraser shares his enthusiasm for wildlife  and reveals simple things you can do to help wildlife in your own backyard. He takes "The WildLife" host Laurel Neme on a "virtual tour" of New England forests to meet local "residents" from fishers to coywolves to salamanders and songbirds.

This episode of "The WildLife" originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 31, 2011 and was reposted on October 3, 2011.

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Megan Parker, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Working Dogs for Conservation, reveals the secrets of using detection dogs for wildlife conservation. She tells "The WildLife" host Laurel Neme how she trains dogs to detect animals, plants and their seed and scat. Frequently, the dogs uncover what wildlife biologists can't easily see or find, and they do it in a more efficient and non-intrusive way, meaning without baiting, luring, trapping, handling or radio-collaring the animals. She also tells stories of the dogs in action, and shows how her dogs have sniffed out dwindling populations of cheetahs in Kenya, assisted with population surveys of endangered snow leopards in eastern Russia, and uncovered invasive cannibal snails in Hawaii. This episode of The WildLife originally aired on WOMM-LP, The Radiator, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 3, 2011 and was reposted on September 26, 2011.

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Anna Bachmann, Director of Conservation for Nature Iraq, and Hana Ahmed Raza, their mammal specialist, discuss wildlife and nature in Iraq. They tell "The WildLife" host Laurel Neme, how, after 35 years of wars and sanctions, Iraq's environment is in dire need of care and attention. In order to rebuild the country's natural foundation, more information is needed, and Nature Iraq aims to fill some of those gaps. This episode originally aired on March 28, 2011 and was reposted on September 12, 2011.

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Alejandro Arteaga, a 19-year-old university student, talks about his discovery of a new frog species living in Ecuador’s Andean highlands, the Bamboo Rain-Peeper (Pristimantis bambu). He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how he and his colleagues traipsed through the forest late at night searching for tiny creatures with the aid of headlamps. The result was many seemingly identical little, brown frogs. At first, Alejandro grouped them as the same species, Mountaineer Rain-Peepers (Pristimantis orestes). However, after much hard work and observation, he uncovered differences in their songs and ecological preferences. He soon came to realize that those frogs that had a different song also were restricted to patches of bamboo forest, while the other seemingly identical frogs lived in old-growth montane forests and paramos. Neither habitats, nor songs overlapped. Discovering a species new to science is not an easy task but as, Alejandro notes, in the right place, with the right info, and with the right assistance, the task becomes much easier, and even fun.

Alejandro Arteaga is an experienced and talented 19 year-old student from Venezuela studying biology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. He’s also the founder Tropical Herping, a novel initiative striving to discover, document and preserve tropical reptiles and amphibians through sustainable tourism, scientific research and effective environmental education. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on September 5, 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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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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