You can call me Mono - it's a pleasure to meet you. Here you'll find updates from a Master of Science (Zoology) student at Melbourne University, Australia. This is a mismatch of a place; expect updates from within Uni and from out of it. I post about both zoology and its domestic cousin, animal science, and mix photos and pictures with lengthy discussions.
The WWF and the Zoological Society of London have released a new analysis that shows the earth has lost 50% of its vertebrate wildlife in the last 40 years.
This steep decline of vertebrates was calculated by analysing 10,000 populations of more than 3,000 species. The data was then used to create a ‘Living Planet Index’ (LPI), to reflect the state of all 45,000 known species of vertebrates. And the result is this - in the last 40 years, we have managed to kill 50% of all earth’s known vertebrates. And remember, this analysis didn’t include invertebrates, so the total overall loss could be much, much higher.
The fastest declines are in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have dropped 75% since 1970. Freshwater rivers often represent the end of a system, where effluent often ends up.
The graph above shows the causes of vertebrate decline based on analysis of 3,430 species’ populations. As it stands, we are cutting down trees for soy, timber, and beef faster than they can grow. We are hunting animals faster than they can reproduce. We are pumping water out of rivers faster than rainfall can replenish them. And we are pumping out carbon faster than can be absorbed (and even then, the absorption of carbon dioxide by oceans is another issue).
David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.
“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”
You guys know I love new species, so here’s a new poison dart frog from Donoso, Panama, Andinobates geminisae.
Originally, it was unclear if this was in fact a new species or rather just a variety of another species, Oophaga pumilio, which has between 15 and 30 colour morphs. DNA sequencing has shown that A. geminisae is indeed a new species, though!
The type specimen (shown in the photo above), used to describe the species, was collected in February of 2011 in the headwaters of the Rio Caño, in the district of Donoso, Colón Province, Panama. It appears this species is only found in a very restricted area, so habitat loss and collection for pet trade are likely to be major risk factors for its ongoing survival.
You can read the abstract for the published article here.
Photo Credit: Cesar Jaramillo | STRI
The Society of Biology's photograph awards Shortlist is out - and the entries are incredible!
These are just some of the amazing photos, including a sea turtle chomping down on a jellyfish in the Maldives, and a Spectral Tarsier clinging to a tree.
Definitely check the rest out here (via The Guardian).
Tansy beetles (Chrysolina graminis) are beautiful iridescent beetles that get their name from the Tansy plant in which they live and eat as both larvae and adults. In the UK, they are currently restricted to about 45 km of the banks of the river Ouse centered in York, North Yorkshire.
Historically, Tansy Beetles were favoured for clothing decorations by Victorians. Competition by invasive plants on the Tansy appears a major contributing factor to their decline.
Photo Credit: Peter Byrne | via The Guardian
Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) dive for fish in Shetland.
Northern Gannets dive vertically into water at speeds of up to 100 km/hr, so their morphology is adapted to suit this. They have no external nostrils, and their secondary nostrils (which open into the roof of their mouth) can be closed while under water. The same can be done for their auditory canals, which are very small and covered with feathers. Their sternum is long and very strong, and Gannets also possess highly developed lungs and air sacs just under the skin along their chest and sides, which probably help buffer against the force of impact upon hitting the water.
Photo Credits: Richard Shucksmith | The Guardian
A Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) in the Vancouver Aquarium. The sting of the Pacific sea nettle is often irritating to humans, but is rarely dangerous.
Just a quick message today to keep everyone updated, since as you can see, the blog is a little dusty around the edges.
I’ve been granted Part-Time at university, which means I’ll no longer be graduating at the end of this year, but rather mid-year in 2015. This is good because it means I’ll actually be able to finish (or rather, do) my research - that’s a whole story I actually can’t get into, but suffice it to say I’m actually going to be able to complete my Masters.
So even though that’s a huge relief, it doesn’t mean I’m free from lab work, or even reading published articles at uni, which means less time to dedicate to reading news articles and telling you guys about it. Of course, this is highly disappointing for me because I love doing just that.
Thank you all for sticking by during the first part of my crunch at uni. I’m aiming for some non-regular updates for awhile before we can really get back into it.
Stand by, my little nerds. :)
Anonymous said: Hi! Thank you for the answer! They weren't nearly as long as the crab in the picture you added. I found another one of the same kind today. Spread out, the one I saw would have been 7cm. One might say the were avrage in length (compared to the little crabs that hid in the sand, they seemed long). I'll take a picture next time when I'm walking along there and take my phone along.
Ooh, please do! I’m really curious to see this now, and hopefully try and identify it.
Two new jellyfish species have been described!
Okay, you guys probably have seen by now that I get super excited about new jellyfish species, so it’s a lucky day for me when I hear about two. And even cooler, they’re both Irukandji jellyfish - which are my favourite kind!
Previously, only two Irukandji species were known in Western Australia. Recently, two more have been found, and have now been described. And with their addition, a total of sixteen species are known or believed to be causes of the agonizing (and potentially fatal) Irukandji syndrome.
In the photos above, you can see the most impressive of the two new finds, Keesingia gigas. Photo A shows the lateral (side) view, photo B shows the subumbrella (underneath, looking up) view, and photo C shows another lateral view.
What’s amazing about K. gigas is, first, it’s size - the body is between 30 and 50 cm, not including the tentacles. And speaking of tentacles, that’s the second thing - the specimens found so far (first in the 1980s and sporadically until 2013) haven’t actually had any. Researchers suspect this is simply because they’ve been lost at some point (perhaps during netting), because K. gigas has indeed been linked to stings that have caused Irukandji syndrome.
The second species is Malo bella, and has a mature size of only 20 mm (the smallest in its genus). It has thus far not had any recorded stings attributed to it, but its phylogenetic relationship to M. kingi and M. maxima suggest it is able, and is currently also considered potentially dangerous.
I find this all very exciting!
I also encourage you to read the actual paper, as it has some incredible photos of the new holotypes!
Anonymous said: Hi! I'm in Queensland (1-2 hours drive from the Gold Coast) at the moment. Yesterday I found a small crab washed up ashore, which I brought to a rather deep rock pool (the crab hid under a rock straight away(safe from the seagulls!)). It was dark gray with a green lining pattern on it's back and had long legs with small pincers. Can you help me identify it? Or do you know a site? I've been looking for a site that'll help me identify the crabs I find at the beach...
Without a photo, it’s really hard to identify your crab. Australia has about 1,000 crab species, and many of them are found in Queensland, and many of these can be small greyish variants with greenish lines.
When you say it was small, with long legs and small pincers, do you mean something that has weirdly long legs, like this:
(Source: Zoological Catalogue of Australia)
Or do you mean more that the legs are pretty long, and the pincers are small compared to what we imagine crab claws should be like, like this Cleft-fronted Bait Crab?
It might even be a “freshwater” crab - the Inland Freshwater Crab, for example, can be found in coastal Queensland, and might be found in the colours you’ve described.
I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful! I don’t have one particular site or even book I looked at that might help you identify the crabs you find, and unfortunately without photos it’s a difficult task indeed to definitively name a species (and even with photos it can be tough, haha!).
Best of luck with your crab-watching, though. If you do happen to have a photo, I’d love to give it another crack, of course.