News from the Wild

Find out the latest wildlife news: tasty bites of new scientific discoveries in an exciting and uncomplicated shape.


Here you can read, summed up in plain words (not in scientific jargon), some new and very interesting research findings.

I love research and researchers (see Wildlife people are amazing) but I must admit many peer review publications are just too hard to read for entertainment.

Yet this is sad because research is actually amazingly entertaining. Especially when cool wildlife is involved.

Who would have thought? Nature is good for you!

This will come as no surprise to all of you Nature lovers: interaction with our beautiful wild planet increases our well-being.

enjoying-nature-beach

Would you believe it?

Enjoying the beauty of Nature, such as its beaches, is good for you!


The connection has been proved in a review published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, an American peer-reviewed scientific Journal.

The researchers screened the scientific literature for evidence of the impact of Nature on well-being at different level of interactions:

  • knowing: by study and curiosity, having an understanding of Nature,
  • perceiving: seeing Nature from your window for instance,
  • interacting with: being out there for excursions, trips, activities,
  • living within: total daily immersion.

"The weight of the literature shows clearly that connections to nature contribute positively to our health and happiness"

Anne Guerry, co-author of the paper

What they found is that globally, interacting with Nature had positive effects.

Positive effects on health are widely recognised and can include quicker recovery after an illness and in general, improved mental and physical health.

Other benefits are more of a spiritual, inspirational, philosophical or identity or self-improvement nature ; such as increased patience, self-discipline, attention, spirituality, sense-of-place and belonging, being part of something bigger than oneself, and in general, happiness.


The abstract of the paper, entitled: "Humans and Nature: How Knowing and Experiencing Nature Affect Well-Being" can be viewed but you will have to pay for the full text.


Wildhelpers, November 2013


"Do not burn yourselves out.

Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic.

Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure.

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

So get out there [...] and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.

Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators.

I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards."


Edward Abbey, author and environmentalist.


IUCN 2013 Red List Shows Alarming Loss of Species

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ 2013 is just out... And it's not good news...

The Red List compiles scientific data and gives a conservation status for all species on which we have appropriate data.

When you hear a species is endangered, we know it thanks to the work done by IUCN.

And the latest news from IUCN are pretty grim:

  • We have data confirming we lost three species forever: the Santa Cruz Pupfish, a lizard known as the Cape Verde Giant Skink and a species of freshwater shrimp - these are the extinctions that we have seen happening in front of our eyes, many more species disappear without us noticing.
  • This brings the total of species we know are now extinct to 799, in addition to 61species extinct in the wild.
  • Some of our oldest and largest trees species on the planet are in decline: the conifers. 34% of these large beautiful trees are threatened with extinction. Species in trouble include the California’s Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) and the Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica).
  • Other worrying declines concern cone snails and the Yangtze Finless Porpoise.
  • Even species that used to be very common, like the The White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) – a member of the pig family found in Central and South America – have seen declines of up to 89%.

In total, 20,934 of the 70,294 species assessed  are threatened with extinction!

Global figures for the 2013 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

TOTAL SPECIES ASSESSED = 70,294

Total threatened species = 20,934



Extinct = 799

Extinct in the Wild =61

Critically Endangered = 4,227

Endangered = 6,243

Vulnerable = 10,464

Near Threatened = 4,742

Least Concern = 31,846

Data Deficient = 11,671

See more details of the results directly on the IUCN website in this article: World’s oldest and largest species in decline – IUCN Red List.

 

Time to act!



Wildhelpers, July 2013


Rare Species are Essential for our Planet to Work

For us and other animals to live on Earth, we need our ecosystems to work: we need them to clean our water, recycle nutrients, regulate our climate.

"We can compare the Earth to a spaceship.

 And like any spaceship it has a life support system, it’s a biosphere – it provides us with the air we breathe, the food we eat, and regulates the temperature and climate. And that biosphere is run by a crew of earthlings: bacteria, insects, fish, trees, flowers, bees – all of those creatures make it possible for us to live.

We humans are not the crew, we are passengers."

Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society 

For a long time it has been thought that the ecosystem functions (water cleaning, nutrient cycling, food production etc.) relied on common species, species that were numerous enough to provide lots of labour, in a way!

This has sometimes lead to a controversial conservation position: that we could afford to lose rare species without the ecosystem to stop working.

 

Well, interestingly, new research has just proven otherwise...

Indeed based on a study of three very different ecosystems: coral reefs, tropical forests and alpine meadows, researchers have proven that often rare species provide some unique and fundamental functions.

For example, a rare huge tree in the rainforest of Guyana was a very important insurance policy in case of fire and drought.

 

The importance of this discovery? CRITICAL!

If rare species are essential for our planet to keep working, we cannot afford to lose them! Thus we need ensure we are preserving all species: common and rare.


Check more details about this fascinating discovery for free: Rare Species Support Vulnerable Functions in High-Diversity Ecosystems.

Wildhelpers, June 2013.


Frogs in Troubled Waters...

Scientists have just released the results of a 9 years study on frogs (and other amphibians such as toads and salamanders) across the US.

And the results are... pretty sad. All the species studied, everywhere across the US, are declining!

Some of the amphibians species were known to be in trouble before the study. But what was not expected is that even the species that are thought to be "all good" are actually declining.

Another unexpected results was that the most dramatic declines were observed in protected areas managed for the preservation of the environment: it seems we are just not able to protect our frogs even where we try to...

Why are all our frogs disappearing? There might be several causes: habitat loss (usual suspect), pollution, invasive species and a killer disease (Chytrid fungus).

The whole study is available freely if you'd like more details on this widespread frog decline.

Wildhelpers, May 2013

australian-frog

Frogs are in trouble all around the world... Here a beautiful Australian frog.


Giant Squid Mystery Revealed....

Giant squids have been a mystery for centuries, and they are the origin of many legendary sea monsters.

They are very hard to study: they live deep in the oceans, and had never been seen alive until recently. The only proof science had of their existence for a long time came from giant scars on sperm whales, telling us stories of fights we cannot imagine!

But scientific have been focusing on these animals, getting samples from whales' stomachs (nice job that would be!) and even getting a first footage of a giant squid swimming of Japan.

The latest findings of all the recent scientific efforts show that the squid remains found all around the world come from only one species.

This means these incredible giants (squids can reach up to 18m long!) are able to travel the entire oceans during their life time...

Not a bad achievement for an invertebrate hey!?

Wildhelpers, May 2013