September 24

White Nose Syndrome Spreads West Bats

White Nose Syndrome Spreads West Bats

The U.S. The U.S. Geological Survey and Fish and Wildlife Bats Service provided a disturbing update last month on the white-nose syndrome epidemic in North America. WNS was confirm in Myotis Lucifugus, a little brown bat, near North Bend, Washington. This is more than 1,300 miles from Nebraska, the western edge of the disease front.

WNS and the bat conservation community hit hard by the news. WNS spreads in a gradual manner from one state to another over the past 10 years. It is believe to have originate in Albany, New York. Researchers were able to predict the arrival of the pathogen Pseudogymnoascus structans on the Pacific Coast in 2026 because of this consistency.

Since 2007, researchers have been working on strategies to stop WNS spreading and prevent massive bat deaths. Yet, the disease is spreading faster than expected. Researchers are still trying to figure out how to stop this deadly disease from spreading faster than expected.

Gateway To The West Bats

To understand why this is so bad for bats, it’s important to understand how wildlife biologists try to stop the spread of deadly pathogens.

Many of the current strategies to reduce the impact of WNS upon susceptible bat populations are base on the idea of stop-gap, or methods that could be use at geographic choke points to slow down the spread of the disease. This would allow scientists to find permanent solutions such as vaccines and gene silencing, to stop the spread of the disease to new populations.

WNS’s arrival on the West Coast removes this option from the equation in many ways. It has already passed the geographic bottlenecks where scientists had hoped it would slow down. The WNS community has other concerns about this case.

Come Here Often

The pathogen has shown to be mono-clonal in studies of the eastern U.S. fungus. P. destructans from Georgia is genetically identical to P. destructans from Missouri and New York. This is good news for bats as it increases their chances of developing resistance.

The results of subsequent evaluations indicate that P.destructans is, as most fungi are, likely to participate in sexual reproduction where complementary mating types exist (think male and feminine, but with many potentially compatible “genders”) This, along with recent findings that P. destructans is widespread in eastern Asia, suggests that the West Coast case could have been introduced in a novel way or that it may be a different strain. It could also be a complementing mating type to P.destructans in the eastern U.S.

For several reasons, this could prove to be very dangerous for bats. Researchers will need to identify the source of this infection and determine if it is compatible with any existing isolates to understand how serious it could be for WNS in North America.

Stronger Than The Average Spore Bats

Conidia are spores, which are fungi-produced reproductive cells that reproduce in sexual reproduction. The sensitivity of conidia to any given control agent is the basis of all the work currently being done to make spores inactive and stop the spread of WNS.

However, this phylum, Ascomycota fungus can also reproduce sexually through a type spore called ascospores. Ascospores have proven to be more resistant than conidia in numerous Ascomycota cases.

Researchers may discover that P. destructans is capable of producing ascospores, which is sexual reproduction as opposed to conidia. If this is the case, then existing decontamination protocols must be modified to accommodate the increased resilience of these sexualspores.

A Red Queen And Brown Bats

The ultimate meaning of whether or not the fungus reproduces sexily is dependent on a long-debated theory in evolutionary biology, which many believe will eventually save vulnerable North American bat species. This theory is the Red Queen hypothesis.

In a system that has a parasite (P.destructans) and a host (bat), coevolution happens as the disease recurs over many generations. The parasite will not be tolerate if the host reproduces sexually (WNS in North America).

Coevolution is a mechanism that supports the status quo in systems where the parasite and host reproduce sexually. As bats develop tolerance to one strain P. destructans, another strain that results from sexual recombination and is capable of causing diseases in the new host will be the dominant strain.

The analogy of the Red Queen running found in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There”. Even though evolution is happening (running), everyone’s evolving together so that the disease paradigm does not change.

This is why North American WNS may be affect by the introduction of a complementary mate type. The fungus reproduces sexually so bats will not be able develop significant tolerance. Bats also quickly adapt to any resistance.

September 24

Uncontrolled Consumption Of Wildlife Animals North America

Uncontrolled Consumption Of Wildlife Animals North America

It was a difficult time for animals. Poaching was rampant. Poaching was rampant. Wild mammals and birds were being kill by the thousands. A wild trade in wildlife causing rare species to disappear and making it difficult for once-common animals to be found.

This is the story of North America 100 years ago and Asia today. There was a surprising ending in America and one I believe could happen in Asia. North America is home to a wide range of wildlife. My research as a wildlife biologist is primarily focused on documenting the recovery of species once hunted to extinction, such as deer, wolves, and fishers.

This is what I call the North American wildlife preservation miracle. With many species at risk of extinction a century ago, the people of North America created a new culture of conservation and stopped overusing wildlife.

Today, the unregulated trade in Asia’s wildlife is threatening many species around the globe. This spotlight has brought to light the dangers of unregulated wildlife trade in Asia, which presents an opportunity for Asia to achieve a conservation miracle. I hope that lessons learned from America’s experience will be helpful.

Trade In Wild Animals That Are Out Of Control

The seemingly inexhaustible bounty of wildlife found in America began to diminish in the late 1800s and early 2000s. Three northeast species, the Labrador duck and great auk, were extinct by 1878. In the 1880s, the eastern elk was extinct, making it the largest mammal found in eastern states. Even resilient species such as the white-tailed deer or Canada goose saw their numbers drop sharply. Bison numbers once reached 30 million. However, they were reduced to just a few hundred animals in the late 1880s.

Instead of believing they had an endless supply, the pioneers realized that there was no way to stop it. American settlers believed they had a manifest fate and that expansion across the continent was their destiny. They also accepted the inevitable consequences of losing other species. The bison did not become extinct.

Recovering From The Brink

The possibility of eradicating a famous species such as bison was an appealing prospect for some Americans, including Theodore Roosevelt. The American Bison Society was formed by them. It bred bison at New York’s Bronx Zoo, and then shipped them west to repopulate their former habitats.

Roosevelt, as president, helped to create the first national wildlife refuges. He also signed laws restricting wildlife trade. However, the majority of the work was completed by individuals and states.

Americans opposed large-scale hunting. George Bird Grinnell was the editor of Forest and Stream magazine. He used it as a platform for calling for the protection of birds. Grinnell teamed up with Teddy Roosevelt to form the Boone and Crockett Club. This group is made up of conservation-minded hunters. Harriet Hemenway, a Boston socialite, and Minna Hal, founded the Massachusetts Audubon Society. They worked to end the practice of embellishing ladies’ hats in wild bird plumes.

Wildlife Animals Agency

Every state had a wildlife agency by the 1930s. It was funded through taxes and hunting license fees. These agencies stopped most wildlife harvests, protected and restored habitat, and reintroduced animals that were extinct, like turkeys and otters.

States controlled when hunting could be resume and how many animals could be harvest. Aldo Leopold, a scientist from Ecology, adapted his principles to create wildlife management. This new branch of research could inform regulations.

Today, deer, turkeys, bears, elks, ducks, and geese are plentiful in many areas of North America. The harvest is carefully control by the state governments. The United States does not sell wildlife for commercial purposes, as opposed to Australia and most of Europe. Sustainable management is use to manage the trapping and sale of fur-bearing animal like fisher and beaver.

Wildlife conservation in North America faces many challenges. These include habitat loss, climate change, and pollution. Unsustainable hunting is not a problem anymore, as legal hunting funds conservation of all species.

Asia Will Stop Eating Wildlife

In Asia, the demand for wildlife products has led to a decline in animal population over the past 20 years. Today, the majority of larger mammal species that not found in North America are under threat from poaching for food and art as well as traditional remedies of questionable effectiveness.

It seems that no species has been spare from this scourge. Exotic dishes such as braised salamander or soup made with the swim bladder of a totoaba, a large Mexican fish, will be expensive.

Conservationists want to capitalize on the SARS-Cov-2 tragedy to end global wildlife trade or to regulate it more closely. What lessons can North American experience teach us?

It is crucial to reduce the demand. It was slow work a century ago. COVID-19 has created a stigma around wildlife products, which could help turn the tides in Asia. This is similar to how public shame in the U.S. ended demand for feather hats or fur from spotted cat strays.

Encourage Asian Consumers Animals

Animal welfare activists are now using social media to encourage Asian consumers not to buy products from endangered animals. China has banned domestic ivory sales in China since 2017. The Chinese have also stopped eating shark fin soup over the past ten years.

This effort will also involve many stakeholders, including the national governments, regional authorities, and non-governmental organizations such as Save Vietnam’s Wildlife and Bat Conservation India Trust. These groups are able to connect with local communities and help them understand their culture and politics.

Finally, we need to have some optimism. Americans learned from the persistence of the bison 100 years ago that extinction was not an option. It is crucial to now monitor wildlife populations to ensure that conservation efforts are direct at the most vulnerable species. Also, it is important to celebrate any recovery that may be a sign of a second conservation miracle.

September 24

Insect Apocalypse At Least In North America

Insect Apocalypse At Least In North America

The idea of an insect apocalypse is a popular topic within the conservation science community. It has also been a major focus in recent years. Scientists warn of a global catastrophe and say that arthropods, a large group of invertebrates including insects, are rapidly decreasing. This could signal a collapse of ecosystems around the globe.

Researchers have observed large population declines in many insect species, including bees and butterflies, since 2000 and even more often since 2017. This trend, if confirmed, would be a serious concern considering the fact that insects are an important animal in nearly all terrestrial environments.

In a new study, which I co-authored along 11 colleagues, we reviewed more than 5,000 sets data on arthropods in North America. This included thousands of species and many habitats that have been covered over decades. We found, in essence, no change in population sizes.

These results do not mean that insects are perfect. In fact, there is strong evidence that certain species of insects are declining and at risk of extinction. However, our findings suggest that the concept of large-scale insect declines is still a question.

The Insect Debate

Scientists consider the possibility of insects disappearing a frightening prospect. This would have negative repercussions on all aspects of human life, including human well-being.

Some scholars are skeptical about the insect apocalypse. Some studies that showed widespread declines were restricted geographically and focused mainly on Europe. These studies typically only examined a small number of species or groups.

Some long-term assessments have shown that the declines over the last 30 years were caused by periods of increased insect populations. Natural fluctuations are a common feature of many insect populations, with some instances causing dramatic changes. Many scientists agreed that mass insect deaths were a concern, but the jury is still out about what actually happened.

Spotlighting North America

Bill Snyder, an ecologist, and I believed that studies indicating widespread insect deaths produced an interesting pattern with important implications. However, the evidence was not strong enough to draw any conclusions. We wanted to see what was happening in North America. This vastly diverse country has not been extensively analyzed for insect declines.

We used data from the Long Term Ecological Research network to conduct our study. This network is funded by the National Science Foundation. This network covers 28 U.S. sites that have been extensively studied since the 1980s. It includes forests, deserts, prairies, and mountains. We hoped that trends at these sites would complement European insect studies with almost 40 years of data.

Six undergraduate students were included, as well as post-doctoral scholars Michael Scott Crossley (and Amanda Meier) and colleagues from U.S. Department of Agriculture. We expected at least some broad insect declines when we had completed compiling our data.

Left confused by the results. We were surprised to see that some species declined while others rose. The most common result we saw for any species at any particular location was no significant change. Most species we examined had stable numbers.

We thought that we were missing something at first. We tried to compare different taxonomic groups such as butterflies and beetles, as well as different feeding methods such as herbivores or carnivores. Compared urban, agricultural, and relatively undeveloped areas. We tried to compare different habitats at different times.

The answer was the same: there has been no change. The sites that we visited did not show any signs of an insect apocalypse. In fact, there was no evidence of any large-scale declines.

Explaining Continental Differences

While we are confident in our analysis, and our conclusion, a bigger question is how our results differ from other recent studies. Two possible explanations are publication bias and location.

As I noted, the majority of insect decline papers are based on European data. Europe is home to more detailed and better long-term data than any other part of the globe. It also has three times the population density of North America.

A majority of Europe’s land is also adapt for human use. The sprawling nature of agriculture is intense and widespread. Large swathes of land are cover by cities and suburbs. It is not surprising that Europe has lost a greater proportion of its wild animals than North America.

Publication bias does not refer to dishonesty, false results, or anything else. This is the belief that more dramatic results are more publishable. Journals and reviewers are more interested in species in decline than species with no changes over time.

This means that declining species may become overrepresented in literature over time. When scholars search for papers about animal populations, they often find declines.

Long-Term Ecological Research sites chosen for analysis because they had raw data that was not peer review and therefore could be use to analysis trends. Scientists gathered these data to track ecosystems and see trends over time. It was therefore unbiased data. The data sets covered a wide range of habitats and species because they were varied.

Future Of Insect

Our study won’t be the only answer. The human population is growing and appropriating more of the earth’s land, water and biomass, the other species will have to retreat or survive on a smaller amount of resources. It is clear that the world loses some of its animal or plant life every time a forest, prairie, or field is plow

This process can only be quantified with more monitoring, more conservation biologists in the field, and more awareness about how human actions impact biodiversity on Earth. It is possible that insects, which have survived through many biological disasters over the years, may find a way to continue their existence.