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Star of Bethlehem

Calectasia cyanea, commonly known as the star of Bethlehem or blue tinsel lily, is a plant in the family Dasypogonaceae growing as a perennial herb and is endemic to the south–west of Western Australia. Restricted to a single population in Torndirrup National Park, it is critically endangered.  The species was incorrectly recorded in the past as being widespread throughout south-west Western Australia. However, this was due to misidentification (the species was previously mistaken for C. narragara) and it is now known that true Blue Tinsel Lily (Calectasia cyanea) is confined to a small area south of Albany

Image Credit:  By Geoff Derrin 

Image Credit:  By Geoff Derrin 

In 1840, Robert Marnock described this species as:

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of the floral productions of the South-Western Coast of Australia. Sir William Hooker says, 'We figure it on account of its great beauty, a beauty which is scarcely altered by drying, for the form and colour of both leaves and flowers is truly of that kind called everlasting; and partly with the hope that our cultivators may be induced to import this lovely plant as an ornament to our greenhouses. Nothing can exceed the richness of the bright purple perianths and the contrasting deep orange-coloured anthers. It grows in sandy soil among shrubs.

John Lindley also remarked on the beauty of this species: "In the first place there is that most beautiful plant Calectasia cyanea, R.Br., a bush like an Adansonia, with quantities of large blue flowers with deep orange-coloured anthers; this is the handsomest Endogen in the Colony."

 

Description

Calectasia cyanea is a clump forming woody perennial herb growing to a height of about 60 centimetres (20 in) and a width of 30 centimetres (10 in). Unlike some other members of the genus (such as C. grandiflora) this species lacks a rhizome, the stems have only a few short side branches and the leaves are 6.5–13.2 millimetres (0.3–0.5 in) long and 1.0–1.3 millimetres (0.04–0.05 in) wide. The six petals are dark blue, fading to white with age and the central anthers are yellow, turning orange-red with age Flowers appear from June to October.

Taxonomy and naming

Calectasia cyanea is one of eleven species in the genus Calectasia. It was first described by Robert Brown in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae in 1810. The specific epithet (cyanea) is from the Ancient Greek κυανοῦς (kyanós) meaning "dark blue" referring to the flower colour. Common names include blue tinsel lily and star of Bethlehem

Distribution and habitat

The Star of Bethlehem has a very restricted distribution in the Torndirrup National Park and Albany regions of the South West Botanical Province. Old records show it as being common in the region of King George Sound but much of this area is now urbanised as the city of Albany or devoted to agriculture. It grows in yellow sand over laterite. The total population was estimated at around 70 plants in 2005 in an area around 0.02 square kilometres.

Conservation status

Calectasia cyanea is classified as Critically endangered by the Department of the Environment and Water Resources and the Department of the Environment, Canberra. It is vulnerable to, and threatened by, dieback (Phytophthora cinnamomi) and grazing by the western grey kangaroo.

 

Source Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia - Creative Commons

How Australia’s animals and plants are changing to keep up with the climate

Image 20170315 11555 cknzgv
Flora and fauna can adapt to climate change, but some are more successful than others. allstars/shutterstock
Ary Hoffmann, University of Melbourne

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Australia’s wildlife, plants and ecosystems, a point driven home by two consecutive years of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

Yet among this growing destruction there is a degree of resilience to climate change, as Australian animals and plants evolve and adapt.

Some of this resilience is genetic, at the DNA level. Natural selection favours forms of genes that help organisms withstand hotter and drier conditions more effectively.

Over time, the environmental selection for certain forms of genes over others leads to genetic changes. These genetic changes can be complex, involving many genes interacting together, but they are sufficient to make organisms highly tolerant to extreme conditions.

Some of this resilience is unrelated to DNA. These are “plastic” changes – temporary changes in organisms’ physical and biochemical functions that help them deal with adverse conditions or shifts in the timing of environmental events.

Plastic changes occur more quickly than genetic changes but are not permanent – the organisms return to their previous state once the environment shifts back. These changes also may not be enough to protect organisms from even more extreme climates.

What about Australia?

In Australia there is evidence of both genetic and plastic adaptation.

Some of the first evidence of genetic adaptation under climate change have been in vinegar flies on the east coast of Australia. These flies have a gene that encodes the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. This gene has two major forms: the tropical form and the temperate form. Over the past 30 years, the tropical form of the gene has become more common at the expense of the temperate one.

Plastic adaptation due to climate change has been demonstrated in common brown butterflies in southern Australia. Female butterflies are emerging from their cocoons earlier as higher temperatures have been speeding up their growth and development by 1.6 days every decade. According to overseas research, this faster development allows butterfly caterpillars to take advantage of earlier plant growth.

Higher temperatures are causing the common brown butterflies in southern Australia to come out of their cocoons earlier. John Tann/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

In many cases, it is not clear if the adaptation is genetic or plastic.

The average body size of Australian birds has changed over the the past 100 years. Usually, when comparing birds of the same species, birds from the tropics are smaller than those from temperate areas. In several widespread species, however, the birds from temperate areas have recently become smaller. This might be the direct result of environmental changes or a consequence of natural selection on the genes that affect size.

In the case of long-lived species like eucalypts, it is hard to see any adaptive changes. However, there is evidence from experimental plots that eucalypts have the potential to adapt.

Different eucalypt species from across Australia were planted together in experimental forestry plots located in various environments. These plots have unwittingly become climate change adaptation experiments. By monitoring the plots, we can identify species that are better at growing and surviving in extreme climatic conditions.

Plot results together with other forms of DNA-based evidence indicate that some trees unexpectedly grow and survive much better, and are therefore likely to survive into the future.

What’s next?

We still have much to learn about the resilience of our flora and fauna.

There will always be species with low resilience or slow adaptive ability. Nevertheless, plastic and genetic changes can provide some resilience, which will change the predictions of likely losses in biodiversity.

Much like how our worst weeds and pests adapted to local climate conditions, as demonstrated many years ago, our local plants and animals will also adapt.

Species with short generation times – a short time between one generation (the parent) and the next (the offspring) – are able to adapt more quickly than species with longer lifespans and generation times.

For species with short generation times, recent models suggest that the ability to adapt may help reduce the impacts of climate change and decrease local extinction rates.

However, species with long generation times and species that cannot easily move to more habitable environments continue to have a high risk of extinction under climate change.

In those cases, management strategies, such as increasing the prevalence of gene forms helpful for surviving extreme conditions and moving species to locations to which they are better adapted, can help species survive.

The ConversationUnfortunately, this means doing more than simply protecting nature, the hallmark of our biodiversity strategy to date. We need to act quickly to help our animals and plants adapt and survive.

Ary Hoffmann, Professor, School of BioSciences and Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Why we need to quit plastic in our lives

This South Pacific island of rubbish shows why we need to quit our plastic habit

Jennifer Lavers, University of Tasmania

A remote South Pacific island has the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere on the planet, our new study has found.

Our study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, estimated that more than 17 tonnes of plastic debris has washed up on Henderson Island, with more than 3,570 new pieces of litter arriving every day on one beach alone.

Our study probably actually underestimates the extent of plastic pollution on Henderson Island, as we were only able to sample pieces bigger than two millimetres down to a depth of 10 centimetres. We also could not sample along cliffs. Jennifer Lavers, Author provided

It is estimated that there are nearly 38 million pieces of plastic on the island, which is near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current.

Henderson Island, marked here by the red pin, is in the UK’s Pitcairn Islands territory and is more than 5,000 kilometres from the nearest major population centre. That shows plastic pollution ends up everywhere, even in the most remote parts of the world. Google Maps

A 2014 paper published in the journal PLOS One used data from surface water all over the world. The researchers estimated that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the top 10 centimetres of the world’s oceans.

The ConversationPlastics pose a major threat to seabirds and other animals, and most don’t ever break down – they just break up. Every piece of petrochemical-derived plastic ever made still exists on the planet.

Jennifer Lavers, Research Scientist, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Winter Blues?

Beat the Winter Blues at HideAway Haven

Beat the winter Blues at HideAway Haven

Have you ever noticed noticed how spending a day at the water can make you feel more relaxed, rested and re-energised. Scientists say when we spend time by the water, our brain actually changes.

Our minds are sent into a restful almost hypnotic space thanks to the soothing smells and sounds of the water. Researchers refer to this as "blue space."

Here's what a visit at the beach, or really a trip to the lake or any other body of water, can do:

Boosts creativity

Being in a blue space makes you more creative, as it allows your brain to become relaxed, so you are more likely to drift off and imagine than you would be when being pushed around in the middle of the often chaotic day-to-day world.

Stress melts away

If you put your toes in the water, or go for a swim, that water is filled with naturally occurring positive ions that are known to help relieve stress and boost your mood. Some scientists believe that the positive ions given off by the many appliances we use on a regular basis can leave us feeling angry, cranky, and overworked. Naturally occurring negative ions counteract all of this.

It reduces depression

The sounds of the waves can put you into a meditative state which has been associated with reduced depression and better mental clarity.

Your perspective is changed for the better

Being in a place surrounded by beautiful scenery, the sounds of the water and simply the presence of nature is incredibly soothing to the soul. It reminds us that there are things bigger on this planet than a traffic jam or a snarky co-worker.

Read More

Boomerang

A boomerang is a curved, usually wooden, device which is thrown. A boomerang spins as it flies through the air, and can travel long distances. A boomerang is designed to, when thrown correctly, fly a curved path to return to the person who threw it

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16429

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16429

A boomerang is a tool, typically constructed as a flat air foil that, when thrown, is designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang is designed to return to the thrower. It is well known as a weapon used by Indigenous Australians for hunting.

Boomerangs have been historically used for hunting, as well as a sport, and entertainment. They are commonly thought of as an Australian icon, and come in various shapes and sizes.

 

Source Wikipedia

K-9 Spots Abandoned Puppies While On The Job And Does The Sweetest Thing

This K-9 provided just what the puppies needed after being dumped.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

The K-9s that aid law enforcement on a daily basis are truly amazing animals, as they show both extreme professionalism while also being very compassionate while working. These incredibly intelligent dogs typically have a keen sense of each situation and how to handle it, and that was exactly what Tek the German Shepherd did when he and his human partner, Trooper Jordan Ennis, came across some abandoned puppies.

It was a regular Monday workday for the pair when they decided to head out to a known dumping ground for stolen cars to see if they could locate any cars or catch someone in the act. They never expected to come across an adorable trio of puppies waiting for them.

“[Ennis] was driving in an abandoned subdivision when he saw three puppies that had been dumped in a briar patch,” the Georgia Department of Public Safety said in a post on Facebook.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Ennis pulled over and immediately knew that these puppies had been dumped there. Their sad faces said it all, as they likely watched what they thought was their human drive away without them, never to see their mother again. Luckily, the puppies were all old enough to live on their own, and Ennis decided to bring them to Headquarters.

As he loaded them up, Tek moved aside for the newcomers and even stayed with each one as they were individually loaded. He provided some comfort to the babies, who just as easily could have found their end in that horrible dumping ground. On their ride to Headquarters, the puppies turned to him for support and he assured them that everything would be all right by remaining confident and relaxed on the drive.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Not surprisingly, as soon as the puppies were brought in, they found homes. In the Facebook post, they said,

“[Ennis] and his K-9, Tek, brought the puppies to Headquarters where they were all promptly adopted. A Trooper never knows what he may encounter on a shift, but a day with puppies is a good day.”

Though, of course, it isn’t actually a “good day” when any animal is abandoned. It’s good because everyone got to interact with the puppies and they all found forever homes, where they will never be abandoned again. The person who dumped the puppies has yet to be found.

Sadly, these instances of abandonment happen all too often, but this can serve as a reminder that it is just as easy to leave unwanted animals in front of a shelter if you don’t feel you have the time to properly surrender them, rather than just leaving them where they may never be found. The extra effort can go a long way.

Read More: http://www.trueactivist.com/k-9-spots-abandoned-puppies-while-on-the-job-and-does-the-sweetest-thing/    

At HideAway Haven we believe all life is precious and we are committed to the welfare, rescue and rehabilitation of all animals.

Jon Doust - Albany's resident comedian

Jon Doust is a comedian, writer, novelist and professional speaker from Western Australia. Doust was born in Bridgetown. He studied English at Curtin University and worked in farming, retailing and journalism before pursuing a career in comedy and writing.

In the 1993 Australian federal election, he unsuccessfully stood for the seat of Curtin against incumbent Allan Rocher making only 428 votes. His campaign slogan was

"Put me last!".

He then went published two small books titled How to lose an election and Letters to the police and other species.

HideAway Haven in Albany Region

Jon Doust is also an environmentalist and a huge lover of our Magpies.  He co-wrote a book called Magpie Mischief.   Magpie Mischief is a delightfully irreverent story about a group of school kids who gang together and take on the City Council to protect the magpies nesting in the trees outside their school. It has strong wildlife conservation theme.

Teaching notes encourages students to think about   • Habitat • Feeding • Handling • Intelligence • Care of the injured of our unique magpies.

Image Source:  Jon Doust

Image Source: Jon Doust

Amazing Quotes Will Inspire You to Fight For Animals and Nature

These Amazing Jane Goodall Quotes Will Inspire You to Fight For Animals and Nature

Her endless compassion for animals, humans, and the natural world that unites us all has inspired millions of people across the world to stand up and make a difference. Whether that difference comes in the form of standing up for abused animals, planting a tree to help regrow a forest or simply speaking to others about the importance of respecting all living things, innumerable actions have been spawned by Goodall’s influence. There is no debating the fact that Dr. Jane Goodall has changed the world for the better.  (Source One Green Planet)

Jane remains a constant beacon of hope and reminder that we all have the power to make a difference.

The only question is what difference will you make?

We are doing something at HideAway Haven
Respect for all animals at HideAway Haven
Caring for animals is everyones responsibility at HideAway Haven
At HideAway Haven we do make a difference
Learning the true nature of our wildlife at HideAway Haven
At HideAway Haven we speak for those that cannot speak for themselves

Get Rid Of Weeds Without Hurting The Planet

If you're looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go

Image Source:  Garden Answers

Image Source: Garden Answers

It’s been said that weeds are just plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered, but if you’re tired of waiting to find out what those virtues are, you might want to use one of these homemade herbicides instead of the chemical versions.

Pesticides – including weed killers, fungicides, insecticides, and rodenticides – can be highly toxic to birds, both by directly poisoning them and by altering the ecosystem they depend on for survival.  Avoid large-scale spraying of any chemicals in your yard, even those considered organic or nontoxic. Birds’ respiratory systems are far more sensitive than ours, and they can easily be harmed by fumes.

Many common weeds can be either food, medicine, or unwanted visitors to the garden, depending on the varieties and how you view them. But if you’ve eaten all of them you can, and you still need to get rid of weeds in your yard, it’s far better for you, your soil, and your local waterways to choose a more environmentally friendly herbicide than those commonly found in the home and garden centre.

Strong chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can end up polluting our drinking water, our groundwater, and surface water, so it’s important to consider the longer term effects of using them, and to instead make the choice to use a gentler herbicide, which won’t contribute to the larger issue of water contamination.

The most environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds is to pull them up, dig out the roots, let them dry in the sun, and then add them to a compost or mulch pile. However, that method can also take quite a bit of time, so if you’re looking for a quicker way to effectively get rid of weeds, one of these homemade herbicides might be the way to go.

[N.B.: Just because these are ‘natural’ or homemade herbicides, that doesn’t imply that they couldn’t harm your soil, your garden, or your person. An herbicide is a “substance that is toxic to plants,” which means that your garden plants are just as susceptible to these treatments, they could have a negative effect in the soil if applied in large quantities, and they may cause human injuries if misused.]

Drench with boiling dihydrogen monoxide: (that’s a fancy way of saying water)

This homemade herbicide is by far the simplest to prepare, and unless you happen to spill boiling water on yourself, is also the least harmful to both people and the environment. Simply bring a big pot of dihydrogen monoxide ( to boil on your stove, and then pour it over the leaves and stems of the weeds you wish to get rid of. Using boiling water is an effective method for killing weeds in places such as sidewalk or driveway cracks, or over a larger area that you’d like to replant after the weeds are gone, as it doesn’t leave any residue or have any harmful long-term effects. As with all of these homemade herbicides, it’s still important to only apply it to the plants you wish to get rid of, as they can easily also kill your flowers or vegetable plants.

Light ’em up with fire:

The application of direct heat to the foliage of weeds will cause the plants to immediately wilt, and repeated applications will kill any leaves that may resprout from the roots. A flame-weeder tool is available from home and garden stores, which allows you to apply flame and heat directly to the weeds without catching the whole neighborhood on fire. In fire-prone areas, weeding with flame needs to be done with some extra precautions, as dried weeds and grasses can easily catch fire and get away from you.

Douse with sodium chloride: (common table salt)

Sodium chloride,  is an effective herbicide, and has some historical notoriety for possibly being used to lay waste to the soils of conquered peoples (salting the fields prevents plants from growing there). Because salt can have a detrimental effect in the soil, it’s important to only apply it directly to the leaves of the weeds, and to not soak the soil, especially in garden beds with other, more desirable, plants. Dissolve 1 part salt in 8 parts hot water (it can be made stronger, up to 1 part salt to 3 parts water), add a small amount of liquid dish soap (to help it adhere to the leaf surfaces), and pour into a spray bottle. To apply, cover or tie back any nearby plants you don’t want to kill, then spray the leaves of the weeds with the solution. Be careful to not soak the soil, and keep this mixture away from cement sidewalks or driveways (it may discolor them). Multiple applications may be necessary.

Pickle ’em with vinegar:

OK, so it’s not exactly pickling, but by applying this common household item, white vinegar, to weed leaves, they’ll die off and make room in your yard for more desirable plants. The white vinegar sold in grocery stores is about 5% acetic acid, which is usually strong enough for most weeds, although a more industrial strength version (up to 20% acetic acid, which can be harmful to skin, eyes, or lungs) is available in many garden supply stores. The vinegar can be applied by spraying full strength onto the leaves of the weeds, being careful to minimize any overspray on garden plants and nearby soil. Repeated applications may be necessary, and the addition of a little liquid dish detergent may improve the effectiveness of this homemade herbicide.

Season them like chips:

Another common homemade herbicide recipe calls for combining table salt or rock salt with white vinegar (1 cup salt to 1 gallon vinegar), and then spraying this mixture on the foliage of weed plants. Adding liquid soap is said to help the efficacy of this weedkiller, as is the addition of certain oils, such as citrus or clove oil.

Harness up the 20 mule team:

Borax, which is sold as a laundry and cleaning product in many grocery stores, might not actually get transported by a 20 mule team anymore, but it could help lend a hand in the yard as an herbicide. Add 10 ounces of powdered borax to 2.5 gallons of water, mix thoroughly, and use a sprayer to coat the leaves of unwanted weeds in your yard. Keep overspray off of any plants you want to keep, avoid saturating the soil with the solution, and avoid contact with bare skin.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below and share this news.

This article (Six Homemade Herbicides: Get Rid Of Weeds Without Hurting The Planet) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and Treehugger.

 

Fernhook Falls - Walpole Wilderness

Fernhook Falls is more a series of cascades than a single waterfall, and is a lovely spot to visit in the rainy season. In a remote patch of native forest, the Deep River tumbles over rocks through a number of lush pools.  The Deep River has its beginnings 52 km north near Lake Muir and flows through forested areas of National Park including the Walpole-Nornalup National Park and meanders another 42 km before discharging into the Nornalup Inlet. Deep River is one of the purest rivers in the south West because 95% of its journey is through forested catchment areas.

The falls are easily reached up a good gravel road, about 6km from the main highway.  We hadn’t seen a single car all day.  At the car park a trail took us through the bush to the biggest cascade, where the river descends under the road bridge.  It wasn't really cascading, rather just a little trickle stream, but still very pretty, relaxing and peaceful.

The water may not drop a great height, but after rain in winter and spring the horizontal expanse of the main falls and surrounding rapids can be a delightful sight. And a delightful sound too; one not often experienced in the WA bush. It was so quiet with only the sounds of trickling water.  There were numerous small cascades which provided us the opportunity for us to go rock-hopping to find different viewpoints.

Continuing downstream, the trail passes other cascades and ends up at Rowel's pool.   There was a great trail/walkway to follow down the river with toilets and an interpretative centre at the carpark.

 

Awesome New Invention Allows You To Bake Edible Spoons To Reduce Plastic Waste

A neat invention allows you to bake a set of four flavoured spoons in just three to four minutes.  What a great idea for big hotels.  

Image Credit - Edible Spoons

Image Credit - Edible Spoons

Because it’s so easy to use single-waste plastic, such as cutlery, plates, and cups, one rarely thinks twice before tossing the materials into the trash. It’s because of this, however, that the world is becoming increasingly burdened by plastic pollution.

According to statistics compiled by The World Counts, humanity’s wasteful habits are already wreaking havoc on the environment. In the North Pacific Ocean, for example, there is 6x more plastic debris than plankton. Additionally, 90% of the trash that floats in the oceans is made up of plastic (equating to 46,000 pieces per square mile). As materials composed of plastic slowly break down, they release toxins into the environment. The trash is also oftentimes ingested by animals and in some cases, traps innocent creatures such as turtles and fish.

It’s because of this that every individual needs to do their part for future generations and wildlife by ending their reliance on plastic materials. Fortunately, there is an ingenious and delicious solution for peoples’ dependance on disposable cutlery: edible spoons!

The concept, which was initially introduced in India, led to the invention of a tool called the Edible Spoon Maker. According to the company’s website, the Edible Spoon Maker allows one to eat their food with an eco-friendly utensil and eat it, too! Designed by Anatoliy Omelchenko, cooks can use the Edible Spoon Maker to bake crispy and evenly browned spoons from a variety of homemade (or store-bought) doughs. The best part? The process to create a spoon takes only three to four minutes and produces a set of four!

The Edible Spoon removes the need for plastic disposable spoons, which are not bio-degradable

It takes its place by being 100% natural. It is 100% bio-degradable.

And its 100% edible. And its healthy.

Updates on when this gizmo will be available have yet to be released as its patent is still pending.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (Awesome Invention Allows You To Bake Edible Spoons To Reduce Plastic Waste ) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

 

Half Of All Species Will Be Extinct By The End Of The Century

Although wildlife populations are set to heavily decline, human populations will increase by billions.
 

Latest figures reveal that one in five species on Earth are now facing extinction, which is due to rise to 50% before the end of the century unless urgent changes are made now. A group of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists will gather in a few days time to discuss these figures and strategically determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere, according to recent reports. Organizers of the Biological Extinction conference, that is being held at the Vatican this week have said, “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.”

The male Regent Honeyeater is an Australian Endangered Bird. Dean Ingwersen

The male Regent Honeyeater is an Australian Endangered Bird. Dean Ingwersen

Although the constantly depleting numbers of well-known animals such as elephants, rhinos, and tigers are frequently in the news, there are many other life forms that are quickly becoming eradicated which are not so heavily publicized, meaning that the issue is a lot worse than the majority of people realize. The conference will examine the human population’s heavy reliance on the natural world for food and medicine, including things such as purifying water and air, absorbing carbon emissions from cars and factories, regenerating soil, and providing an aesthetic inspiration. Biologist Paul Ehrlich, from Stanford University in California, said, “Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate. We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”

Australian endangered species: Woylie    Flickr/Arthur Chapman

Australian endangered species: Woylie  

Flickr/Arthur Chapman

Ehrlich, who is speaking at the meeting, believes that the consistent growth of the human population is a key issue in the depleting populations of wildlife. He believes that wider use of birth control is needed to halt the world’s spiraling population, and told the Observer, “If you value people, you want to have the maximum number you can support sustainably. You do not want almost 12 billion living unsustainably on Earth by the end of the century – with the result that civilization will collapse and there are only a few hundred survivors.” He believes that if the world population was around one billion, then this would create a pro-life effect, which would be much more sustainable for future generations compared to the current uncontrolled growth. Biologist Professor Peter Raven, of the Missouri Botanical Garden, who is also attending the conference, agrees and says that “By the beginning of the next century we face the prospect of losing half our wildlife. Yet we rely on the living world to sustain ourselves. It is very frightening. The extinctions we face pose an even greater threat to civilization than climate change – for the simple reason they are irreversible.”

Past UN statistics have suggested that the global population is set to increase from the current 7.4 billion to 11.2 billion by 2100, with the majority of these extra billions appearing in Africa where fertility rates are currently twice that of the rest of the world. Economist and conference attendee Sir Partha Dasgupta from Cambridge University said, “[Africa’s] population is likely to go from roughly one billion now to around 4 billion. Can you imagine what tensions there are going to be there, especially with climate change coming and hitting the continent more than anywhere else? What do you think is going to happen when the arid regions spread, and a hundred million Africans try to swim across the Mediterranean? It is terrifying.” He adds that it is crucial to put the problem of biological extinctions in a social context, “That gives us a far better opportunity of working out what we need to in the near future. We have to act quickly, however.” Ehrlich agreed by adding, “We are wrecking our planet’s life support systems. We have the capacity to stop that. The trouble is that the danger does not seem obvious to most people, and that is something we must put right.”

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (Half Of All Species Will Be Extinct By The End Of The Century) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

Australia is one of the most important nations on Earth for biodiversity. In fact, Australia is one of only 17 “megadiverse” nations and is home to more species than any other developed country.

Most of Australia’s wildlife is found nowhere else in the world, making its conservation even more important. 87% of our mammal species, 93% of reptiles, 94% of frogs and 45% of our bird species are found only in Australia.

Sadly, however, Australia is facing an extinction crisis. Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world: 30 native mammals have become extinct since European settlement. To put this in a global context, 1 out of 3 mammal extinctions in the last 400 years have occurred in Australia.

More than 1,700 species of animals and plants are listed by the Australian Government as being at risk of extinction. Around 30% of our surviving (non-bat) mammal species are threatened with extinction.

The primary factors causing this loss of wildlife include:

  • Feral cats and foxes. For example, feral cats kill an estimated 75 million native animals every night across Australia.
  • Feral herbivores including pigs, goats, rabbits, donkeys, horses, camels, buffalo and feral cattle.
  • Changes in fire regimes, especially an increase in the extent and severity of wildfires.
  • Clearing native vegetation.
  • Weeds.

- See more at: http://www.australianwildlife.org/wildlife.aspx#sthash.evBM9ZoF.dpuf

Bees Prove They Are Highly Intelligent To Amazed Scientists

Bees were able to react in the same intelligent way that apes and birds do.

Bee videos have been making waves on social media as people begin to realize that the tiny insects are actually much more intelligent than anyone has ever given them credit for. Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London conducted experiments with bumblebees to test their intelligence and the little critters did not disappoint.

The experiments are usually used on apes and birds, but the bees’ quick learning showed for the first time that an invertebrate is capable of reacting in the same way in order to accomplish what they want.

“We wanted to explore the cognitive limits of bumblebees by testing whether they could use a non-natural object in a task likely never encountered before by any individual in the evolutionary history of bees,” said Dr. Clint Perry, joint lead author and also from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

In one experiment, scientists trained 23 out of 40 participating bees to use their legs and feet to pull a string to reach their food. The food was placed atop a small disc which was inaccessible because it was underneath a plastic covering. However, if the bees pulled the strings that were attached to the discs, they were able to pull the food out and eat it.

The training part of the experiment was crucial, researchers found, as only 2 out of 110 bees from a separate group that was not shown how to pull the strings were able to figure it out. Researchers allowed yet another group of bees observe the already-trained bees perform the task and 60 percent of them were able to learn it as well.

Bees were able to react in the same intelligent way that apes and birds do.

Credit: Olli Loukola

Credit: Olli Loukola

Bee videos have been making waves on social media as people begin to realise that the tiny insects are actually much more intelligent than anyone has ever given them credit for. Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London conducted experiments with bumblebees to test their intelligence and the little critters did not disappoint.

The experiments are usually used on apes and birds, but the bees’ quick learning showed for the first time that an invertebrate is capable of reacting in the same way in order to accomplish what they want.

“We wanted to explore the cognitive limits of bumblebees by testing whether they could use a non-natural object in a task likely never encountered before by any individual in the evolutionary history of bees,” said Dr. Clint Perry, joint lead author and also from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

In one experiment, scientists trained 23 out of 40 participating bees to use their legs and feet to pull a string to reach their food. The food was placed atop a small disc which was inaccessible because it was underneath a plastic covering. However, if the bees pulled the strings that were attached to the discs, they were able to pull the food out and eat it.

The training part of the experiment was crucial, researchers found, as only 2 out of 110 bees from a separate group that was not shown how to pull the strings were able to figure it out. Researchers allowed yet another group of bees observe the already-trained bees perform the task and 60 percent of them were able to learn it as well.

What’s even more fascinating is that the bees are able to pass this knowledge on to future generations. The researchers put the trained bees into colonies and the skills were spread successfully throughout the colony’s worker bees.

“Cultural transmission does not require the high cognitive sophistication specific to humans, nor is it a distinctive feature of humans,” said Perry.

In another experiment, the scientists essentially taught the bees how to play soccer by training them to move a ball to a certain location and then receiving food as a reward. The first group was first taught where the correct location was and then shown how to move the ball from elsewhere onto the location. Other bees learned under different conditions, such as with a “ghost” demonstration that didn’t involve a live or model bee showing them how to do it, but these attempts proved unsuccessful.

Joint lead author Dr. Olli J. Loukola, said: “The bees solved the task in a different way than what was demonstrated, suggesting that observer bees did not simply copy what they saw, but improved on it. This shows an impressive amount of cognitive flexibility, especially for an insect.”

With the population of bees dwindling rapidly, it’s important to make sure bees stay in the news, even if it is for something unrelated to their decline. Bees are extremely important for food production, wild habitats, and the environment and humans as a whole, and recognizing them for their great achievements and intelligence is crucial.

Watch the videos below to see the bees perform the “tricks” they learned.

This article (Bees Prove They Are Highly Intelligent To Amazed Scientists [Watch]) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and True Activist.

Almost no other insect has helped humans as much as the honey bee has and continues to do.

For hundreds of years, beekeepers have raised them, harvested their wonderful sweet honey, and relied on them to pollinate various crops.

Did you know that honey bees actually pollinate nearly one-third of the food crops in the world?

The Honey Bee Brain Is Tiny But Very Powerful

In spite of their small brain sizes, honey bees are very smart. Bees have a remarkable ability to learn and recall things very quickly.

Their brains are about 20,000 times less massive compared to human brains.

The honey bee brain is actually ten times denser compared to a mammal's brain.

The honey bee brain has an oval shape and is about the size of one sesame seed.

The bee brain is a very sophisticated sensory system which gives them excellent sight and smell abilities.

Their small brains are able to make very complicated calculations on distances for different locations. 

Bees can remember various colors and different landmarks quite easily.

In Australia, researchers were able to successfully teach honey bees to identify several different colors.

The bees were shown a color that was used to indicate a specific path in a maze.

The bees were then able to find their way through the maze because they recognized that color.

They were also able to recall that specific color later on, and they use it to guide their way through the maze even when they weren't shown it at the start of the maze.

Unfortunately, many pesticides that farmers use to protect their crops are very harmful to the honey bee.

These dangerous chemicals can scramble the honey bee's brain circuitry.

Research revealed that the learning circuits of honey bees stopped working very quickly when they were exposed to certain pesticides.

This clearly shows that something has to be done to protect the valuable lives of honey bees if we want to continue to eat the various the crops they pollinate.

Cyclist Captures Adorable Photos After Wild Quokka Refuses To Leave Him Alone

While out for a bike ride with his girlfriend in Rottnest, Australia, 21-year-old Campbell Jones became acquainted with possibly the friendliest quokka on Earth. The cyclist told the West Australian:

“As I walked back to my bike, the quokka chased after me. I put down the GoPro and it jumped at me as if to say, ‘Come back.’”

Credit: Campbell Jones

Credit: Campbell Jones

It would seem as if it were love at first site for the Quokka. And humorously, Jones agrees. When asked what made the Quokka approach him, Jones replied: “My good looks I think.”

Credit: Campbell Jones

Credit: Campbell Jones

As was recently reported, Quokkas are quite inquisitive animals who in many cases aren’t abashed to approaching humans. With few natural predators, they are less fearful than many wild animals.

Credit: Campbell Jones

Credit: Campbell Jones

Because the photos of Jones and the Quokka are making rounds on social media, one would hope that the exposure helps raise awareness for the ‘vulnerable’ animal and inspire more protection efforts.

 Quokkas have a very limited distribution in Australia. Most of the population exists on Bald and Rottnest islands. There is also a mainland colony in the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve near Albany on the South coast of Western Australia.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (Cyclist Captures Adorable Photos After Wild Quokka Refuses To Leave Him Alone) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com


 

Giant Manta Ray Approaches Divers To Ask For Help With Untangling Herself

She knew that the humans could stop her suffering.
 

Credit: Oceano VideoSub

Credit: Oceano VideoSub

Animals are wonderful creatures who are often smarter than humans believe them to be. No matter what species it is, most creatures have done something that’s amazed researchers or regular witnesses, including going to humans for help with problems they know they can’t solve.

That’s exactly what a giant manta ray off the coast of Costa Rica did after she was caught in a fishing net that was cutting into her skin. Divers that were exploring the surrounding waters were amazed when they saw the manta ray in the distance coming towards them but were shocked that she made a beeline towards them without diverting off-course.

Generally speaking, wild animals tend to keep their distance from humans as a way to protect themselves, but this manta ray sought out their services and headed straight towards them. She swam around them and got close enough for the divers to reach out and take the tangled net off of her body. Thomas Monteiro, who was present during the incident, told G1 Globo,

Credit: Oceano VideoSub

Credit: Oceano VideoSub

“It was the first time I saw a manta ray. There was a very profound interaction between her and the diver.”

Even after the encounter, the manta ray stuck around for about half an hour just swimming around the divers as if to say “thank you.” She then swam off into the abyss to continue on with her life, now unfettered by the pain of the fishing net. Brian Thompson, who is the diver that ultimately was able to release her from the netting, said longingly,

“I felt so strong a love for her and happiness to know that she was free and could enjoy her life again.”

Though brief, the moment was sweet and life-changing for both the manta ray and the diver. If one must interact with wildlife, this is the most positive way to do it, by only extending a helping hand when asked by a creature and allowing it to be free to live its life afterwards. Every human can take notes on this interaction in order to learn what a proper wild animal encounter should look like.

Watch the video below to see the full encounter.

What are your thoughts on this story? Please share, like, and comment on this article!

This article (Giant Manta Ray Approaches Divers To Ask For Help With Untangling Herself [Video]) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

 

Real-Life “Animal Whisperer”

Real-Life “Animal Whisperer” Has Mastered The Art Of Taking Selfies With Critters

Allan Dixon has taken hoards of 'selfies’ with animals, such as wild birds, kangaroos, quokkas, and goats. Most importantly, they participate on their own.
 

Wildlife Selfies

The preferred way to ‘shoot’ animals is with a camera, and New Zealand resident Allan Dixon has mastered the art of doing just that. Rather than tear wild animals away from their natural habitats or force them into unnatural poses (like tourists herehere, and here), this Auckland-based adventurer cultivates a calm environment which naturally draws wild animals, such as birds, sheep, and kangaroos, into his space. Then, he captures incredible photographs of their meeting.

It’s no wonder Dixon is known as “the animal whisperer,” as he’s taken selfies with a wide variety of critters. He’s even posed near grizzly bears, though smiley shots with quokkas remain his favorite. He calls them “the happiest animal in the world.”

When he’s not posing with wild animals, the modern day Dr. Doolittle is working on projects such as a book on mindfulness and “some personal quokka projects” (whatever that means). If you’re on Instagram and Facebook, follow Dixon’s adventures by using the hashtag #DaxonsAnimalSelfies.