Animals Biodiversity Ecology 

Megabiota, Largest Life, Vital to Biosphere

By Mackenzie Myers @kenzwrites Large organisms such as whales, elephants, and redwoods are often featured in awe-inspiring nature documentaries, but they’re more than just oohs and ahs. Their existence or extinction could make or break the planet as we know it.  Megabiota—the largest plants and animals—are more likely than smaller organisms to go extinct as a result of climate change. And the rest of us could be in big trouble if they do, according to a recent study.  The charisma conundrum Think of successful conservation campaigns. Which animals are deemed…

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Botany Ecology Environment 

An Evolutionary Approach to Conserving Plant Habitats

By Mackenzie Myers (@thetiniestnail) To conserve plant habitats, a traditional approach to biodiversity—species richness, or saving as many species as possible—might not be the most effective route. Instead, vulnerable landscapes might be better served by a quality-over-quantity mindset, a recent paper from a team of UC Berkeley scientists suggests. Think of going into a grocery store. On a budget and with limited cooking time, shoppers probably don’t buy the first dozen random ingredients they see on the shelf. Rather, they find it more practical to shop deliberately, perhaps by looking…

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Bats, Cuba Animals Science Videos 

Shelf Life Video: Into the Island of Bats

The island of Cuba is a key piece of the puzzle for two researchers who are studying bats and trying to understand biodiversity in the Caribbean. Find out why on an expedition with mammalogists J. Angelo Soto-Centeno and Gilberto Silva Taboada, joined by Ana Luz Porzecanski, director of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.   Shelf Life videos are shared by agreement with the American Museum of Natural History. GotScience Magazine kindly reminds you to not touch wild bats. Learn more about bat-human virus transmission. “We have evidence at a…

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Artist's impression of sabertooth cats hunting mammoths (Mauricio Anton). Animals Environment Paleontology 

Large Hunters Dominated the Pleistocene

For years, evolutionary biologists have wondered about the ecosystems of the Pleistocene epoch. How did so many species of huge, hungry herbivores, such as mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths, not wipe out the plant life? Observations of modern elephants suggest that large concentrations of those animals could have essentially destroyed the environment, but they didn’t. Now, life scientists believe that the ecosystem was kept in balance by predatory carnivores that kept the population of large herbivores in check. Scientists have found fossil evidence of intense, violent attacks by packs…

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Butterflies: A worn butterfly enjoys refreshment in a garden. tentative identification: Meadow Brown; German Ochsenauge; Latin Maniola jurtina Animals Environment 

Unexpected Biodiversity in Iberian Butterflies

Nature photographer and blogger Steven Spence has good news to share with you about butterflies and biodiversity on the Iberian Peninsula. By Steven Spence Winged Flowers A fallen blossom returning to the bough, I thought – But no, a butterfly. (Arakida Moritake, Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology) [落花枝にかへると見れば胡蝶哉 守武 落花枝にかへると見れば胡ちょかな 守武] Good News On Biodiversity This week we have encouraging data to share with you about butterflies in Europe. Biodiversity is a major concern in Europe and elsewhere. However, a recently released study of butterflies in Spain and Portugal suggests…

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