Mar 31
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Six Degrees of Separation

Spring has definitely sprung here in the northern hemisphere, and what better way to celebrate than with a bit of spring-themed wildlife linkage. First, let me start by saying a big congrats to Mitchell for his brilliant Madagascan solution to my last challenge – you really nailed those sifakas!

Spring in your step?

Tender new shoots are starting to poke their heads out, wobbly little lambs are beginning to take their first steps and frogs are busy making frogspawn. If you’re as pleased to say goodbye to winter as I am, then this springtime game is definitely for you.  For this challenge I want you to finish at frogspawn, but where do I want you to start? I think with the aptly named springbok! Here’s my attempt at a six-step spring-themed chain…

Springbok

Photo of a springbok pronking

I know they’re not the quintessential springtime species, but surely you can’t get better than a springing springbok? Another even-toed ungulate (member of the order Artiodactyla) is the red deer. Famous for their rutting and roaring behaviour, red deer have their calves from spring to early summer.

Red deer

Photo of a red deer calf

Whilst red deer might be good at roaring, the blackbird is another pretty vocal species. For many people, the blackbird’s beautiful mellow song is a sure sign that spring is on its way.

Blackbird

Photo of a blackbird singing

Blackbirds might be the animal harbinger of spring, but snowdrops are definitely the floral harbingers!

Snowdrop

Photo of snowdrops

Snowdrops are pollinated by bees. Now I know what you’re thinking, bees are not exactly a species you would immediately associate with spring, but bear with me…..

Honey bee

Photo of honey bee comb with honey storage cells

….honey bees produce honey (of course) and honey is very very sweet. Do you know what else is sweet? Ducklings, which are definitely associated with spring.

Mallard duckling

Photo of a mallard duckling

A cute little duckling such as this is very likely to be found swimming around in a pond and is also very likely to bump into lots and lots of……..frogspawn!

Frogspawn

Frogspawn

I hope you all feel fully prepared for spring now. Warmer weather, longer days and plenty of baby animals – what’s not to like?

Why not spring into action and see if you can get from the springbok to frogspawn in six sunny steps? Post your chains as comments on this blog and then watch this space for a winner to be announced!

Bonnie Metherell, ARKive Media Researcher

Mar 30
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Discover the Atlantic forest

Visit our new Atlantic forest pages to see stunning images and videos of the forest, and read about the fantastic biodiversity found there, the threats the forest is facing and the conservation projects working to protect this amazing place.

Photo of Atlantic forest canopy with flowering Cassia and Tibouchina trees

The Atlantic forest is the first of five new ARKive eco-regions which are being supported by HSBC as part of their HSBC Climate Partnership.

The Atlantic forest

The Atlantic forest is found on the east coast of South America and is one of the most diverse and biologically rich forests in the world, but also one of the most highly endangered. The huge diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else, has led to the designation of the Atlantic forest as a global ‘hotspot’ of biodiversity.

A menagerie of mammals

Home to an amazing array of mammals, including 26 endemic primates – from the largest of the New World primates, the northern and southern muriquis to the famous lion tamarins

Photo of a golden-headed lion tamarin

Today, surviving populations of the golden-headed lion tamarin are scattered and thinly distributed.

Other mammals found in the Atlantic forest range from the marsupial shrewish short-tailed opossum, to the rarest sloth in the world the maned three-toed sloth.

Photo of a maned three-toed sloth

Less than 5% of the maned three-toed sloth's Atlantic forest habitat now remains.

A plethora of plants

An incredible eight percent of the world’s plant species are found in the Atlantic forest, and more than half of the tree species are found nowhere else – including the threatened Brazilian rosewood, pau brasil and Parana pine.

Photo of Parana pine trees in forest

An important commercial timber species the Critically Endangered Parana pine has been over exploited for its high quality wood.

 A bonanza of birds and other biodiversity

With an estimated 936 bird species, 311 reptiles, 483 amphibians, more than 350 endemic fish species, over 2,120 butterflies and countless other invertebrates, it isn’t hard to understand why the Atlantic forest is such a special place and so important to conserve.

Photo of a red-browed amazon

The red-browed Amazon is found primarily in humid lowland forest patches of the Atlantic forest.

Visit our Atlantic forest pages to find more of the colourful variety of species which live in this stunning eco-region.

Mar 29
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ARKive: A STEM-ulating Project

Wildscreen is a STEM organisation – an organisation involved in science, technology, engineering or maths – and the ARKive project represents two of these, combining conservation science and internet technology to build awareness of the world’s endangered species.
ARKive STEM Ambassador presentation

Presenting ARKive as a STEM Ambassador

 
Our work with STEMNET
We first got involved in the STEMNET Ambassadors scheme in June 2010. STEMNET is a UK government-funded initiative, creating links between STEM-related organisations and schools, and inspiring young people to follow careers in STEM subjects. Teachers looking for guest speakers and workshops contact their local STEMNET coordinator, in our case the lovely Claire Dimond at Graphic Science, who then invites relevant STEM Ambassadors to run an activity or talk at the school. The sessions are provided free of charge and as a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on environmental education, it was a no-brainer for ARKive to participate.
To date, the ARKive team has run 28 workshops and talks in 12 schools around the Bristol and Bath area and 4 workshops with 2 schools in London. These have covered a wide range of topics including conservation, biodiversity, natural selection and evolution, penguins, minibeasts, adaptation, careers in wildlife media, animal communication and scientific communication. We also attended the Big Bang Fair in 2010 and 2011, a huge STEM-related science fair for young people, where we spoke to over 7,500 attendees. In February this year we increased our number of ARKive Ambassadors from 2 to 10; so you could say that we have been very busy!
ARKive workshop

6th Form students present in the "ARKive news" workshop

 
New ARKive teaching resources
The workshops have also been a great way of developing and testing new ARKive educational tools, which you can now find on our new-look teaching resources page. The teaching resources we have developed as part of our STEMNET work include modules on adaptation and sexual selection, and join our existing modules on conservation, food webs, classification and evolution. The ARKive Education pages will continually be updated as we develop new workshops and activities and we hope they become an invaluable free resource for science teachers.
ARKive adaptation species design

"Design a species" - part of the ARKive adaptation teaching resource

 
A brilliant opportunity
STEMNET has been an excellent opportunity for ARKive to reach young people face-to-face in our local area and around the UK and spread the conservation message. The response varies! For those that already have an interest, ARKive is a great source of extra information and depth to improve their understanding. For those with less interest, we hope that our enthusiasm and ARKive’s “WOW-factor” can plant a seed that will grow into an appreciation of the amazing species we share this planet with. Whichever the case, all we can do is keep passing on the message.
Visit the STEMNET website for more information on the UK STEMNET Ambassador scheme.
Email charles.whittaker@wildscreen.org.uk for more information on free ARKive workshops available in the Bristol and Bath area.
 
Charlie Whittaker, ARKive Media Researcher / STEMNET Ambassador
Mar 29
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In the News: Tiger numbers increasing in India

Tiger numbers in India are increasing, according to a new government census released yesterday.

Photo of a Bengal tiger on territorial patrol
The new report indicates that the tiger population has increased by around 12% compared with the 2008 estimate.

The ‘All India Tiger Estimation Report’, which was released as part of the two-day International Conference on Tiger Conservation being held this week in Delhi, estimates the Indian tiger population to be around 1,636 individuals, compared to 1,411 tigers in 2008.

However, the new census also surveyed the Sunderbans – a vast area of swamp and jungle – which was not surveyed in 2008. It is thought to hold an average population of 70 tigers, pushing the total population of wild tigers in India to an estimated 1,706 individuals.

Photo of a Bengal tiger standing in lake

The latest estimate includes new areas not previously surveyed, including the Sunderbans, thought to hold an average population of 70 tigers.

Critics uncertain

But, despite the promising figures, critics say that more frequent surveys need to be done, using the latest techniques to make the data more relevant.

Tiger expert Dr. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) cautions taking the new figures at face value, saying that “full details are not yet available on how these tiger numbers were obtained. It’s just not possible to give an expert opinion on them. Moreover, since various threats faced by tigers have not diminished in the last four years, it is difficult to explain the claimed reversal of the decline of tigers.”

The latest estimate of the tiger population in India uses field data collected by foot patrols, satellite data, and camera traps.

However, Dr Karanth highlights the need to shift to more intensive camera trapping and DNA monitoring of tiger source populations to track the fate of individual tigers, which will allow a better estimation of how populations are faring. “If we do not shift to such focused, intensive monitoring approaches, we are at serious risk of losing more and more key populations” says Karanth.

Photo of a Bengal tigress at rest

Tigers are not less threatened, but the population increase in India is seen as a step forward.

Welcome news

Azzedine Downes, Executive Vice President of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), welcomes the news of India’s apparent tiger population increase as a positive step in the right direction.

Despite this, he acknowledges that “This doesn’t mean that tigers in India, or in other range countries, are less threatened now, but it is definitely an indication that we have the ability to attain the global goal.”

The global tiger population is currently estimated to number between 3,000 and 5,000 individuals in the wild, with as many of half of these living in India.

A large and wide-ranging predator, the tiger faces a multitude of threats. Most of India’s breeding tiger populations are concentrated in a very small area of tiger habitat, which continues to become smaller and more fragmented as habitat is lost to agriculture, commercial logging and human settlement. Human-tiger conflict is also increasing, causing significant loss to wild tiger populations.

Read the IFAW press release.

Read the response of Dr Ullas Karanth to the latest population estimate.

View photos and videos of tigers on ARKive.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

Mar 24
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What’s New: 24 March 2011

We’ve been busy with our newly updated education section, new climate change pages and early preparations for a very large update soon, so just a small species update this week:

The stats

  • 31 new species
  • 353 new photos
  • 24 new texts
  • 9 newly authenticated texts

What’s new – our favourite new species

Photo of a Borneo bay cat

One of our Most Wanted species, the Endangered Borneo bay cat.

Photo of an Oaxacan spiny-tailed iguana climbing

New species profile for the Critically Endangered Oaxacan spiny-tailed iguana.

What’s new – our favourite new images

Photo of Steller's sea lion, close-up of jaws

Ten great new images of the Endangered Steller's sea lion.

Photo of immature Bruijn's brush-turkey

Stunning new images of the Endangered Bruijn’s brush-turkey.

Get involved!

If you have any photos, footage or species information that you think we should add into ARKive please let us know. There are many ways to get involved with ARKive, from contributing your photos to just spreading the word about us – every little helps!

Full details

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