A new species of stinkhorn mushroom, Phallus drewesii, has been found on the African island of Sao Tome. It was named after California Academy of Sciences researcher Robert Drewes in honour of his work in Sao Tome and Principe. Dr Drewes said the name was "a wonderful honour and great fun".
Four-day old common armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) in Managua, Nicaragua. Four baby armadillos were rescued by the Nicaraguan environmentalist Kamilo Lara. Armadillos are small mammals known for having a leathery armour shell, and are listed as an endangered species Photograph: MARIO LOPEZ/EPA
A brown bear cub on the road in the outskirts of Sinaia, north of Bucharest. Local authorities and members of the Forestry Institute started an operation to capture and relocate about 25 bears after many started to roam in the town in search for food. With half of Europe's brown bears - roughly 6,000 - living in the Carpathian mountains, environmentalists and authorities are struggling to keep the wild animals and residents in mountain towns safe from each other Photograph: Radu Sigheti/Reuters
Striking salamander species found Matt Walker Editor, Earth News
The yellow patch on the nose is a distinctive feature
A striking new species of lungless salamander has been found living in a small stream in the Appalachian foothills of the US.
The salamander is so distinct that it's been classified within its own genus, a taxonomic grouping that usually includes a host of related species.
The creature breathes through its skin, and unusually for its kind, males and females have different colouration.
Such a distinct amphibian has not been found in the US for half a century.
The researchers who discovered the salamander describe it in the Journal of Zoology. They have dubbed it the 'patch-nosed' salamander after the yellow patch on the animal's snout.
The tiny animal averages just 25 to 26mm long.
They found so few of the animals that either it is highly secretive, or more likely it survives in such small, isolated numbers that it is already at risk of extinction.
"This animal is really a spectacular find," says biologist Carlos Camp of Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia, who led the team which described the new species.
"It is the first genus of amphibian, indeed of any four-footed vertebrate, discovered in the US in nearly 50 years."
Around the world, there are approximately 500 species of salamander.
Two-thirds of these species are lungless, breathing entirely through their porous, moist skin.
The Appalachian Highlands of the southeastern US is a hot spot for lungless salamander diversity, with species occupying a variety of moist or wet environments including living in streams, underground, among the leaf litter of the forest floor, up cliffs and in trees.
"The salamander fauna of the US, particularly of the southern Appalachians, has been intensively studied for well over a century, so the discovery of such a distinct form was completely unsuspected," says Carlos.
Two graduate students, Bill Peterman of the University of Missouri, Columbia and Joe Milanovich of the University of Georgia, Athens discovered the first example of the species, scientifically named Urspelerpes brucei . They took the animal to Camp for identification.
"When we realised that it was something novel, we contacted a geneticist, Trip Lamb, of East Carolina University, Greenville and a bone specialist, David Wake of the University of California at Berkeley. John Maerz, a professor at the University of Georgia, completed the research team," says Carlos.
The team's investigations revealed just how novel the salamander is.
A yellow male with stripes above a more muted female
"The genetic data revealed that this was far more unusual than any of us suspected, which is why we described it in its own genus," says Camp.
But the amphibian also looks strikingly different to other species.
For a start, it has the smallest body size of any salamander in the US. It is also the only lungless salamander in the US whose males have a different colour and pattern than females, a trait more characteristic of birds.
Males have a pair of distinct dark stripes running down the sides of the body and a yellow back. Females lack stripes and are more muted in colour.
Males also have 15 vertebrae, one less than females. Yet while most species of lungless salamander have male and females of differing sizes, those of Urspelerpes brucei are close to being equal in size.
Uniquely for such a small lungless salamander, Urspelerpes brucei has five toes, whereas most other small species have reduced that number to four.
The behaviour and lifestyle of the salamander remain a mystery.
The animal's jaw and teeth structure suggest that it eats small, terrestrial prey such as insects caught using a projectile tongue as some other species of lungless salamander do.
So far, Camp's team have recovered just eight adults, all from within or alongside a single stream. Four were collected hiding under rocks and four in loose leaf litter. Three were females, each carrying eggs.
The last new genus of amphibian living in the US to be described, in 1961, was also a lungless salamander, the Red Hills Salamander of southern Alabama.
Researchers at the New Zealand Marine Research Centre are celebrating the arrival of 500 pot-bellied seahorses after two males gave birth. Very little is known about the species in its natural habitat around the coastline of New Zealand and Australia.
This is Tyrrhenoleuctra antoninoi. (Credit: José Manuel Tierno de Figueroa / SINC)
ScienceDaily (July 15, 2009) — After 10 years of biochemical and molecular analysis of the Tyrrhenoleuctra plecoptera that live in the Western Mediterranean, Spanish and Italian scientists have now demonstrated that one of the insect populations of this group is a distinct and, therefore, new species.
The researchers, including a team from the University of Granada (UGR), used biochemical and molecular techniques for a decade to detail the taxonomical and phylogenetic relationships of the insects of the Tyrrhenoleuctra plecoptera genus that are spread across the Western Mediterranean (northern Africa, Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Isles, Corsica and Sardinia). The analyses included three species described using morphological characters as a basis.
"One of the results discovered and published in our studies is that the population of Tyrrhenoleuctra on the Balearic Islands is a clearly distinct taxon and demands acknowledgement of its status as an independent species", José Manuel Tierno de Figueroa, co-author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Animal Biology at the UGR explained SINC.
In order to demonstrate that the insect, called Tyrrhenoleuctra antoninoi, is really a species in its own right the team of scientists, comprising the Spanish researcher and Romolo Fochetti from the Tuscia University of Studies (Italy), wrote a scientific description in the journal Zootaxa, with biochemical (based on studies of enzymatic electrophoresis) and molecular characters (by means of mitochondrial DNA fragment sequencing).
Among the results of the study, Tierno de Figueroa and Fochetti highlighted the fact that insect was genetically distinct and "more closely related to populations on the southern Iberian peninsula and northern Africa than to those found on Corsica and Sardinia". The researchers also highlight that Tyrrhenoleuctra evolve molecularly at a "considerably slower rate than other insects distributed similarly in geographical terms.
Very Different Insects
Populations of insects belonging to the Tyrrhenoleuctra plecoptera genus can be found in temporary fresh water streams, sometimes at sea level, "which is very unusual for this group of insects, which generally live in highly oxygenated water in the medium or high alps", Tierno de Figueroa clarified. The scientists performed biochemical and molecular analyses to also discern these insects' biogeographical implications.
A study carried out on a larger scale had already shown great variation in almost all the characters that experts use to separate species. "Thus, intra-specific variability was as high as inter-specific variability, rendering morphological characters useless for identification purposes", the biologist said.
The new species of plecoptera takes the name of Tyrrhenoleuctra antoninoi in honour of researcher Antonino Sánchez-Ortega, who died in 2002 after devoting the best part of his life to studying these insects on the Iberian Peninsula.
1. Fochetti, Romolo; Tierno de Figueroa, José Manuel. A new species of Leuctridae discovered by means of molecular and biochemical approaches: Tyrrhenoleuctra antoninoi n. sp (Insecta: Plecoptera). Zootaxa, 2112: 41-46 2009
Reintroduced Chinese Alligators Now Multiplying In The Wild In China
Chinese alligators from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo and other North American zoos were imported by Chinese agencies for a reintroduction program for the species. The program has scored a success with the reintroduced alligators breeding and producing young. (Credit: Copyright WCS)
ScienceDaily (July 14, 2009) — The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today that critically endangered alligators in China have a new chance for survival. The WCS's Bronx Zoo, in partnership with two other North American parks and the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Management of the State Forestry Administration of China, has successfully reintroduced alligators into the wild that are now multiplying on their own.
The alligator hatchlings—15 in number—are the offspring of a group of alligators that includes animals from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. The baby alligators represent a milestone for the 10-year effort to reintroduce the Chinese alligator on Chongming Island, located at the mouth of China's Yangtze River.
The announcement was made at the International Congress for Conservation Biology, convened by the Society for Conservation Biology in Beijing, China (July 11-16).
"We are grateful to our Chinese partners for their commitment to reintroduce Chinese alligators back into the wild," said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "WCS has championed careful wildlife reintroductions for more than a century. The reintroduction of Chinese alligators is a great example of how WCS partners with governments and local communities around the world to save wildlife and wild places."
"This is fantastic news," said WCS researcher Dr. John Thorbjarnarson, one of the world's foremost experts on crocodilians and a participant in the project. "The success of this small population suggests that there's hope for bringing the Chinese alligator back to some parts of its former distribution."
Plans to reintroduce Chinese alligators started in 1999 with a survey conducted by WCS, the Anhui Forestry Bureau, and the East China Normal University in Anhui Province, the only remaining location where the reptiles are still found in the wild in what is a small fraction of the alligator's former range. The results of the survey were dire, with an estimate of fewer than 130 animals in a declining population.
An international workshop on the species was held in 2001, followed by recommendations for the reintroduction of captive bred alligators. The first three animals released in Hongxing Reserve of Xuancheng County in Anhui in 2003 were from the Anhui Research Center of Chinese Alligator Reproduction (ARCCAR).
To ensure the maximum genetic diversity for the effort, project participants imported 12 more animals to Changxing Yinjiabian Chinese Alligator Nature Reserve from North America, including four from the Bronx Zoo. From this group, three animals from the U.S. were released in 2007 along with three more alligators from Changxing. The alligators were given health examinations by veterinary professionals from WCS's Global Health Program and the Shanghai Wildlife Zoo and fitted with radio transmitters for remote monitoring before being released.
Experts reported that the reintroduced alligators successfully hibernated, and then in 2008, bred in the wild.
With a former range that covered a wide watershed area of East China, the Chinese alligator—or "tu long," which means "muddy dragon"—is now listed as "Critically Endangered" on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species and is the most threatened of the 23 species of crocodilians in the world today. It is one of only two alligator species in existence (the other is the better known, and much better off, American alligator).
The Yangtze River, where the reintroduction of these alligators took place, is the third longest river in the world (after the Amazon and the Nile) and is China's most economically important waterway. The world's largest hydro-electric dam—the Three Gorges Dam—is also located on the river. The high levels of development along the river have become a challenge for native wildlife; in 2006, a comprehensive search for the Yangtze River dolphin, or baiji, didn't find any, although one isolated sighting of a dolphin was made in 2007.
Other participants in the project include the East China Normal University, Shanghai Forestry Bureau, Changxing Yinjiabian Chinese Alligator Nature Reserve, and Wetland Park of Shanghai Industrial Investment (Holdings) Co. Ltd.
The project is being supported by the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.
New Monkey Discovered In Brazil -- Threatened By Proposed Dams And Other Development In Region
A new monkey -- dubbed Mura's saddleback tamarin -- has been discovered in a remote region of the Amazon in Brazil. (Credit: Stephen Nash)
ScienceDaily (July 7, 2009) — The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced on July 7 the discovery of a new monkey in a remote region of the Amazon in Brazil.
The monkey is related to saddleback tamarins, which include several species of monkeys known for their distinctively marked backs. The newly described distinct subspecies was first seen by scientists on a 2007 expedition into the state of Amazonas in northwestern Brazil.
The discovery was published in the June online edition of the International Journal of Primatology. Authors of the study include Fabio Röhe of the Wildlife Conservation Society, José de Sousa e Silva Jr. of Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Ricardo Sampaio of the Instituto Nacional de Parquisas de Amaozônia, and Anthony B. Rylands of Conservation International.
Researchers have dubbed the monkey Mura's saddleback tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis mura) named after the Mura Indians, the ethnic group of Amerindians of the Purus and Madeira river basins where the monkey occurs. Historically this tribe was spread through the largest territory of any of the Amazonian Indigenous peoples, extending from the Peruvian frontier today (Rio Yavari) east to the Rio Trombetas.
The monkey is mostly gray and dark brown in color, with a distinctly mottled "saddle." It weighs 213 grams (less than ¾ of a pound) and is 240 millimeters (9 inches tall) with a 320 millimeter (12.6 inch) tail.
"The Wildlife Conservation Society is extremely proud to be part of this exciting discovery in the Amazon," said Dr. Avecita Chicchon, Director of WCS's Latin America Programs. "We hope that the discovery will draw attention to conservation in this very fragile but biodiverse region."
According to the study's authors, the monkey is threatened by several planned development projects in the region, particularly a major highway cutting through the Amazon that is currently being paved. Conservationists fear the highway could fuel wider deforestation in the Amazon over the next two decades. Other threats to the region include a proposed gas pipeline and two hydroelectric dams currently in the beginning stages of construction.
"This newly described monkey shows that even today there are still major wildlife discoveries to be made," said the study's lead author, Fabio Röhe of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "This discovery should serve as a wake-up call that there is still so much to learn from the world's wild places, yet humans continue to threaten these areas with destruction."
1. Fabio Röhe, José de Sousa e Silva, Ricardo Sampaio and Anthony B. Rylands. A New Subspecies of Saguinus fuscicollis (Primates, Callitrichidae). International Journal of Primatology, 2009; DOI: 10.1007/s10764-009-9358-x
'Extinct' tiny shrew rediscovered Matt Walker Editor, Earth News
A tiny species of shrew has been rediscovered in the wild, more than a century after first being described.
In 1894, a handful of specimens of the Nelson's small-eared shrew were collected in southern Mexico.
But the shrew was never seen again, and was considered by many experts to already be extinct.
That was until two researchers found three shrews in a small patch of forest, a find that is reported in the journal Mammalian Biology.
The Nelson's small-eared shrew ( Cryptotis nelsoni ) is named after the man who first discovered it.
In 1894, Edward Nelson and Edward Goldman collected 12 specimens some 4,800 feet up the slopes of the San Martín Tuxtla volcano in Veracruz, Mexico.
A year later, the creature was formally described for science, and the specimens were stored away in the drawers of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, US. In Mexico, the shrews are very poorly known, even by the people who co-exist with these beautiful animals Mammaologist Lazaro Guevara, who rediscovered the species
That was the last time the shrew was seen alive for 109 years.
The biology of the shrew has remained a mystery. It was even believed to have become extinct because it had gone unrecorded so so long.
That changed when two mammalogists based in Mexico decided to look for it.
Fernando Cervantes of the National Autonomous University of Mexico teamed up with Lazaro Guevara of the University of Veracruz in Mexico.
In 2004, they set off for the forest slopes of the San Martín Tuxtla volcano to search for the long-lost shrew.
Setting 100 pitfall traps a night for four nights, they eventually caught three shrews - one adult male, one juvenile male and an adult female.
Since then, the researchers have been validating their find.
"We have reviewed [all the] papers about Cryptotis. We visited several biological collections and museums," says Guevara.
"A recent study on the mammalian diversity of Sierra de Santa Martha, Veracruz, did not record the presence of C. nelsoni . Therefore, we believe that no more specimens exist."
The shrews are tiny, measuring less than 10cm from nose to tail. They have sooty brown fur, which is darker than a related shrew species C. mexicana . It also has a larger and heavier, but flatter skull than its relative.
The researchers found the animals scurrying around a patch of cloud forest, that local people know as "dwarf forest" due to its small trees.
"We know very little about its behaviour," says Guevara.
He says that after 100 years or more, it was acceptable to think that the Nelson's small-eared shrew had gone extinct, especially as shrews tend to be overlooked by many scientists.
The surviving shrews are still so scarce that they must be considered critically endangered, say the researchers.
The volcano upon which they live erupted in 1793, destroying all the vegetation around the crater. Despite this eruption, the shrew managed to survive.
But so few now exist that any small change to their habitat could prove disastrous, says Guevara.
"A small habitat alteration may cause changes in the population that may lead to their extinction," he says.
Subsistence crops and livestock are reared in the region, "and any conservation plan needs to involve communities, government and schools to promote the dissemination of the importance of this species," says Guevara.
"In Mexico, the shrews are very poorly known, even by the people who coexist with these beautiful animals."
Guevara explains that, when they started their search they knew that the last record of the species was from 1894. "We thought it was very important research," he says. "We thought that was risky but high value for wildlife conservation. So, we travelled to find it. When we found it, we (were) very pleased."
Scientists have discovered a new species of lizard in the lush Western Ghats mountain range in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The small reptile is a form of gecko and was found by taxonomist Varad Giri in the Kolhapur district. It has been named Cnemasspis kolhapurensis.
Mr Giri and his co-workers published their findings in this month's edition of the Zootaxa journal.
It is the third new species of lizard recently discovered in the area.
Mr Giri, a curator at the Bombay Natural History Society, told the BBC that the Western Ghats has never been surveyed for amphibians and reptiles.
"A gecko of this particular character has not been recognised elsewhere in the world," he said. Iridescent sheen
Mr Giri said he first noticed the lizard in 2005 during a survey of one of the forests in the area.
"When I first stumbled across it, the lizard looked like a normal specimen," he said.
"It was basically a form of gecko but then I saw that it was interesting because its scales were shiny."
He said that when the gecko was held up in a certain light, the tail dorsum exhibited an "iridescent sheen".
Iridescence is commonly reported in a variety of reptiles - but not geckos.
Once Mr Giri and his co-workers had analysed the specimen, they realised it was a previously unknown species.
They then enlisted the help of Dr Aaron M Bauer, an expert on lizards based at Villanova University in the US, to confirm the discovery.
Cnemasspis kolhapurensis are mostly small in size and have a circular, rather than elliptical, pupil. They are generally found in forests although some have also been found in areas inhabited by humans.
Mr Giri said it is a ground-dwelling specimen and can be seen in leaf litter or under rocks.
"Presently this species is known only to this area. It is endemic to the northern parts of the Western Ghats," he added.
The Western Ghats mountain range is said to be one of the world's "biodiversity hotspots".
But analysts say that the area is at risk of a biodiversity crisis, because it has long been under threat from logging and human encroachment.
Mr Giri says the discovery may well help in arguments to preserve parts of the landscape.
"This is really important now because there is a lot of human interference and deforestation," he said.
Other new species of lizard previously discovered in the area were Hemidactlyus sataraensis and Hemidactylus aaronbaueri.
The first giant panda conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sperm has been born in China, scientists say.
The cub was born early on Thursday at a panda reserve in Sichuan province.
Scientists hope that the innovation could help the endangered species, which numbers about 1,600 in the wild, avoid extinction.
It would mean frozen semen from zoos around the world could be used to widen the gene pool and avoid inbreeding.
"With the technology, we can keep the sperm frozen for decades," said Huang Yan, a researcher with the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre in Wolong.
"The freezing and thawing causes no harm or change to the genetic structure of the sperm, so the technology has no influence on the baby," he told Xinhua news agency.
Similar attempts had been made before but had failed, he said.
The baby panda, born to 11-year-old You You, would be named once its sex had been determined, the researcher said.
Dr Barbara Durrant of San Diego Zoo welcomed the idea of exchanging frozen panda semen with other zoos.
This would cause far less stress to the pandas than shipping them to other zoos in the hope that they would mate, she said.
The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species, because of the destruction of its forest habitat, a short annual conception window for female pandas and lack of contact between isolated populations.
According to experts only about 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mostly in Sichuan and neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
Another 180 pandas are being raised in captivity in China.
A newborn humpback whale is lifted clear of the water by its mother to take its first breath. The image was captured off the west coast of Australia by researchers from the Centre for Whale Research, Fremantle.
Population Of Nearly Extinct Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Discovered
USGS scientists found this adult mountain yellow-legged frog on June 10 in Tahquitz Creek, a rediscovered population of the endangered frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness, San Bernardino National Forest, California. (Credit: Adam Backlin, U.S. Geological Survey)
ScienceDaily (July 26, 2009) — For the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct frog has been rediscovered in the San Bernardino National Forest’s San Jacinto Wilderness. Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessing suitability of sites to re-establish frogs and scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum retracing a 1908 natural history expedition both rediscovered the rare mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild, Calif.
This re-discovery — along with the San Diego Zoo’s first successful breeding of the frog in captivity, and successful efforts by California Department of Fish and Game to restore frog habitat — renews hope of survival for this Southern California amphibian.
Globally, amphibians are on the decline because of habitat loss, effects of climate change and the spread of a deadly pathogen called the chytrid fungus. The mountain yellow-legged frog is one of three frogs or toads on the federal Endangered Species List in Southern California. Prior to this recent discovery, USGS researchers had estimated there were about 122 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild.
USGS and San Diego Natural History Museum biologists found the endangered frog during separate trips in June. The frogs were spotted at two locations about 2½ miles apart in the Tahquitz and Willow creeks in the San Jacinto Mountains. The number of frogs in the area has not yet been determined.
“If this population is large, it could play an important role in the re-establishment of this species across Southern California,” said Adam Backlin, a USGS scientist who led the survey team that spotted the first new Tahquitz Creek frogs on June 10.
Biologists from the San Diego Natural History Museum made their find June 25. The museum scientists were retracing the path of a 1908 expedition by the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley. During that expedition, which covered all elevations and faces of the San Jacinto Mountain region, the frog was collected at five sites. The San Diego Natural History Museum’s team is searching for all species of vertebrates — animals with a backbone — in a study of biological change in the region. The biologists were in the Tahquitz Valley area the week of June 21 when Drew Stokes, a field biologist with the museum, found and photographed a single mountain yellow-legged frog in Willow Creek, a tributary of Tahquitz Creek. The museum’s study will continue until biologists have completed three surveys at each of the 19 sites studied by the 1908 expedition.
Mountain yellow-legged frogs are not known to migrate far, possibly indicating a significant population. The size of the site represents much more habitat than occupied by the eight other mountain yellow-legged frog populations in the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel mountain ranges. In those areas, the frog occupies less than a half-mile of stream.
This rediscovery is a windfall for all the partners working to increase the number of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild by government and nonprofit partners. In addition to the USGS and the San Diego Natural History Museum, the effort involves collaboration between the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, University of California and California Department of Fish and Game.
The San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research was the first to breed a mountain yellow-legged frog in captivity. That amphibian has recently morphed from a tadpole into a froglet, or juvenile frog.
“Historically, scientists have had great difficulty breeding frogs in captivity,” said Jeff Lemm, an animal research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo. “We are excited by this success and cautiously optimistic we will have more eggs soon.”
In December 2008, researchers at the Institute for Conservation Research discovered a clutch of about 200 eggs in one of its tanks. Researchers were surprised because the frogs were younger than is typical for breeding. Because of the frogs’ young age, only a handful of the eggs were fertile. The one frog to mature is thriving. The next breeding season is expected to be December 2009 to March 2010.
The goal of the breeding program is to return the mountain yellow-legged frog to its native habitat.
The Zoo’s breeding program, in conjunction with its partners, began after the rare frogs were rescued from a drying creek. Anne Poopatanapong, a wildlife biologist for the San Jacinto Ranger District in the San Bernardino National Forest was monitoring declining creek water levels in Dark Canyon on Aug. 23, 2006, when she noticed many pools drying up, including one where frogs had been living. Concerned about losing the tadpoles, she called the Fish and Wildlife Service and the salvage effort started the next day. A USGS team led by Dr. Robert Fisher rescued 82 tadpoles, which were taken to the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research.
The frog recovery effort has been funded by Caltrans in part to mitigate for emergency work to stabilize a slope near the frog’s habitat on state Route 330 in the San Bernadino Mountains.
“The emergency slope reconstruction project had the dual benefit of opening a road that was about to fail as well as helping to ensure that the last known population of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Bernardino Mountains had a program in place to aid the frog's recovery,” said Craig Wentworth, a senior environmental planner/biologist with Caltrans.
Jim Bartel, the field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Carlsbad, said his agency is pleased to participate in the effort to rescue the mountain yellow-legged frog and conserve its remaining riparian habitat.
“We look forward to reintroducing the species to its native habitat," Bartel said.
Habitat protection and restoration, combined with efforts to reintroduce these frogs to areas where they have been decimated, offers the best hope of returning mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California to a healthy, self-sustaining population.
The California Department of Fish and Game is dedicated to the completion of the Little Rock Creek trout removal project to benefit the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog. Working with USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, trout populations have been significantly reduced in Little Rock Creek in the Angeles National Forest. As a result, frog presence in the section of the creek where the fish were removed has increased, demonstrating the success of this collaborative effort.
The bare-faced bubul -- the first-known bald songbird discovered in in mainland Asia. (Credit: Iain Woxvold, University of Melbourne)
ScienceDaily (July 31, 2009) — An odd songbird with a bald head living in a rugged region in Laos has been discovered by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Melbourne. Dubbed the "Bare-faced Bulbul" because of the lack of feathers on its face and part of its head, it is the only example of a bald songbird in mainland Asia, according to scientists. It is the first new species of bulbul – a family of about 130 species – described in Asia in over 100 years.
A description of the new species is published in the July issue of the Oriental Bird Club's journal Forktail. Authors include Iain Woxvold of the University of Melbourne, along with Wildlife Conservation Society researchers Will Duckworth and Rob Timmins.
"It's always exciting to discover a new species, but this one is especially unique because it is the only bald songbird in Asia," said Colin Poole, director of Asia programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society. "The discovery also underscores how much there is still to learn from wild places around the world."
The thrush-sized bird is greenish-olive with a light-colored breast, a distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill and a narrow line of hair-like feathers down the centre of the crown.
The bird seems to be primarily tree-dwelling and was found in an area of sparse forest on rugged limestone karsts – a little-visited habitat known for unusual wildlife discoveries.
"Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long," said Iain Woxvold of the University of Melbourne.
Fortunately much of the bird's presumed habitat falls within legally protected areas in Laos. However, quarrying of limestone looms as a potential threat to wildlife in this area, along with habitat conversion for agriculture.
The discovery was made as part of a project funded and managed by the mining company MMG (Minerals and Metals Group) that operates the Sepon copper and gold project in the region.
In 2002 in this same area, Rob Timmins of WCS described the kha-nyou, a newly discovered species of rodent so unusual it represented the lone surviving member of an otherwise extinct genus. Three years earlier he described a unique striped rabbit in the region also new to science.
1. I. A. Woxvold, J. W. Duckworth and R. J. Timmins. An unusual new bulbul (Passeriformes: Pycnonotidae) from the Limestone karst of Lao PDR. Forktail, July 2009