Nature and Conservation Linkspam

I spent the afternoon snowshoeing into a wilderness area with a group of teenagers, but I was too focused on them to spend any time looking for natural history stuff to photograph for this blog. (Yep, snowshoeing. Yesterday was the first day of spring, you say? Don’t make me laugh. It was -17ºF here a few days ago.) Anyway, luckily there’s been a lot of interesting new articles and whatnot floating around this week, so I’m going to treat you to another linkspam post instead.

  • The population of Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is hitting a record low. Not good, not good at all.
  • This aerial photo makes the reason for declining bee and butterfly populations in North America glaringly obvious.
  • Great post on why the idea of reviving extinct animal species is actually kind of arrogant and anthropocentrist (shut up, spell check, anthropocentrist is totally a word). (NOTE: see the comments on this post for some discussion on this subject. Ed Yong’s take on it, with an explanation of the effort to resurrect the very cool gastric-breeding frog, is worth a read as well.)
  • As both a birder and a lifelong Star Trek fan, this photo puts a smile on my face (though you’d have to be a Trekkie to understand why).
  • Famous naturalist William Bartram claimed to have seen a weird, brightly colored vulture in Florida in 1774. No one has ever taken the sighting all that seriously – until now.
  • Pesticides, not habitat loss, may be the primary cause of grassland bird declines.
  • National Audubon Society, I am shaking my head at you. Feral cats are terrible for native wildlife, and trap-neuter-release does not work. (NOTE: Although I stand by my statement about TNR, after reading through the comment thread on this post at 10,000 Birds I kind of regret linking to it. Lots of nasty birder-on-birder personal attacks and such. Ugh.)
  • Great photos and video of a displaying Ruffed Grouse.
  • This Song Sparrow sings opera. No, seriously, watch the video, it’s crazy.

Have a great rest of your week, and I’ll be back with new material soon!

5 thoughts on “Nature and Conservation Linkspam”

  1. The feral cat situation makes me sick. I love cats and have two indoor kitties that are only allowed in the backyard when I am there to watch them. The idea of killing cats doesn’t sit well with me, but neither does the fact that these cats are killing thousands of birds and animals. This is where I shake my head at humanity and wonder why people think nature is their dumping ground for trash and unwanted pets.

    The Song Sparrow made me smile, though. There’s one at park I frequent whose song I actually recognize….I’ve heard him the past two years and hope he returns for a third year! If so I should shoot some video!

  2. A link to Not Exactly Rocket Science and The Loom should be included as a counterpoint to the de-extinction article. They both have more thorough and less opinionated discussions than the lame Switek article and the other one you shared. Science should never be reduced to an opinion piece.

    1. Fair enough. I put this together fairly quickly and grabbed that one because I remembered a lot of what the author had to say really resonating me, but you’re right, I should include a link to one of the other pieces as well. Watching the whole debate on Twitter was really fascinating.

      1. there’s another decent piece focused (again) on the Woolly Mammoths, on Scientific American guest blog by Jacquelyn Gill. I don’t expect a link to every de-extinction article, but at this stage in the process (a dead Ibex and a few dividing gastric-brooding frog cells) the discussion should be about pros and cons, weighing the two, and the what-if’s, but it seems to be spiraling down into the Jurassic Park garbage rather quickly. What I really want to know but so far have failed to uncover is just the basics on why it isn’t working with the frogs, or what caused the lung failure in the Ibex but everyone wants to talk about Mammoths and velociraptors instead. Ethics and morality are social constructs. They will change on this topic as they have over time with colonialism, slavery, women’s rights, homosexuality, etc. but the science behind it seems to be moving forward regardless of our moral oscillations.

        1. For anyone else following this conversation, here’s the piece on mammoths quiscalus mentioned: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/03/18/cloning-woolly-mammoths-its-the-ecology-stupid/. Jacquelyn Gill is pretty great.

          Maybe it was a mistake to post a link to something pertaining to this debate on my blog, since it’s a big conversation that’s really outside the scope of this blog. You make some really good points, regardless. I was also really bemused by the fact that, with the gastric-breeding frog, I saw a lot of misleading headlines that suggested we’ve already successfully brought them back when all there really is is an embryo that failed to develop.

          By the way… are you the same person who’s commented here before under the name Christopher McLaughlin? WordPress says the blog your username links to has been deleted. Anyway, thanks for keeping me honest!

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