May 31
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What’s New: 31 May 2012

More amazing photos, videos and texts are added to ARKive every alternate week. Here is a summary of our latest update:

The stats
  • 61 new species
  • 336 new images
  • 26 new videos
  • 15 new media donors
What’s new – our favourite new species
 
Paroedura lohatsara photo

We have added the Critically Endangered Paroedura lohatsara

 

Boxer pupfish photo

We also have a new profile for the Endangered boxer pupfish

What’s new – our favourite new images

Hula painted frog photo

We've added new images of the hula painted frog, a species now sadly Extinct

 

Yellow-margined box turtle photo

Check out our new images of the yellow-margined box turtle

What’s new – our favourite new videos

Rufous mouse lemur photo

There is great new footage of the rufous mouse lemur

 

Great tit photo

We've added fascinating footage of great tit chick development

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 

Subscribe to our RSS feeds for full details of what’s new to ARKive.

May 30
Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on Delicious Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on Digg Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on Facebook Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on reddit Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on StumbleUpon Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on Email Share 'In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala' on Print Friendly

In the News: Conservation success as new amphibian reserve is established in Guatemala

Fifteen conservation groups have joined forces to save the Sierra Caral, an area of primary rainforest in Guatemala, in what is a remarkable conservation success story.

Photo of Morlet's tree frog

Morelet’s tree frog, one of the five Critically Endangered (CR) amphibians found in Sierra Caral

“The most important conservation area in Guatemala”

The new Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve lies in the Guatemalan mountains on the border with Honduras, in a region that has been called the most important conservation area in Guatemala. The Sierra Caral is the single most biodiverse forest remnant in Caribbean Guatemala, and is home to an exceptionally large number of endemic amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates.

The Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve supports five Critically Endangered (CR), five Endangered (EN), and two Vulnerable (VU) species of amphibian. Because the amphibian diversity of the Sierra Caral is so unique, it has also recently been listed as an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site.

Despite its obvious importance as a site of conservation priority, the Sierra Caral has been severely threatened in recent years by deforestation, illegal cross-border logging activities and expanding cattle ranching, which have rapidly fragmented the once continuous forest, placing it under enormous pressure.

Photo of the brook frog on a leaf

The Critically Endangered (CR) brook frog is found in the Sierra Caral

Banding together

The bid to save the Sierra Caral was led by FUNDAECO, a Guatemalan conservation group, who were partnered by fifteen other conservation organisations including Global Wildlife Conservation, Conservation International and the World Land Trust-US. By pooling their resources and raising the money required to purchase the land, these conservation partners have now paved the way for the government to provide the area with some much needed legal protection.

This major land purchase lifts the last hurdle for the Guatemalan government to declare the area a National Wildlife Sanctuary, something that local communities and conservationists have been desperately awaiting since 2000,” said Marco Cerezo, head of FUNDAECO, in a press release.

Preserving vital habitat

As well as being a haven for reptiles and amphibians, the Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve also provides vital habitat for threatened bird species, including populations of the highland guan (Penelopina nigra), the great curassow (Crax rubra), and the keel-billed motmot (Electron carinatum), all of which are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

The forest is also an important stopping point along the migration route of hundreds of migratory bird species. In addition, the new reserve will play an important role in the ‘Jaguar Corridor Initiative‘, an initiative of the conservation organisation Panthera, which aims to preserve habitat for jaguars and other animals from Mexico to Argentina.

Male great curassow in forest habitat

The Sierra Caral is home to many other threatened species, such as the great curassow

This success story demonstrates how international alliances and local and national conservation leadership capacity can come together and protect unique species and habitats for future generations to enjoy,” said Claude Gascon, co-chair of the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group.

Read the full story on Mongabay.comHerp paradise preserved in Guatemala

Find out more about some of the conservation organisations involved in preserving the Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve:

Find out more about the Alliance for Zero Extinction

Explore more species found in Guatemala on ARKive

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

May 28
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Wildscreen at Bristol BioBlitz 2012

Every year, members of the Wildscreen team pull together to help out at our local BioBlitz. BioBlitz events take place all over the UK, and are a race against the clock to seek, identify and record as many species as possible in a natural space.

Scientists with different areas of expertise set off to explore the surroundings with school kids and members of the public. From spiders to sparrows, foxes to fungi and bats to buttercups, the team has it covered!

 

Photo of Pete sweeping for bugs © Wildscreen

Pete, the "Bug Man" sweeping for bugs

 

What a perfect opportunity to learn more about nature on our doorstep. This year we were at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, and the weather was spectacular! From 9am on Friday 25th to 3pm on Saturday 26th May, the experts were seeking out species from across the site.

Photo of Wildscreen Bristol BioBlitz 2012 Team (c) Matt Postles

Wildscreen Bristol BioBlitz 2012 Team

 

So, how did Wildscreen help?

Media Team

Recording everything that’s going on, from the best moments of the event to the latest species tally, was the Wildscreen Media Team. You can catch up with all of the action on the Bristol BioBlitz Blog, watch one minute interviews with some of the naturalists and have a look at the highlights of the event captured in the BioBlitz Bristol Flickr page.

Photo of Hannah and Ben from the Wildscreen Media Team (c) Wildscreen

Hannah and Ben from the Wildscreen Media Team

Guides

Some of the Wildscreen team volunteered as guides to help out the naturalists. A few of the activities included sweeping for insects, listening to bird song, identifying plants and completing the all important recording sheets to keep track of what’s been found.

Lauren helping kids collect insects (c) Wildscreen

Lauren helping kids collect insects

 

 

A few of our favourite photos from the event:

Pretty in pink

Photo of bluebells (c) Wildscreen

 

Harlequin ladybirds

Photo of harlequin ladybirds mating (c) Wildscreen

 

Taking a closer look

Photo of a John Bailey taking a closer look (c) Wildscreen

 

Funniest photo

Photo of kids with snail (c) Wildscreen

 

Total species identified so far = 454!

8 species have never been recorded in Bristol before and 1 species was a new record for Avon. The total is set to rise as specialists confirm unidentified species.

Savita Custead and Matt Harcourt from the BNHC revealing the species total (c) Wildscreen

Savita Custead and Matt Harcourt from the BNHC revealing the species total

A big thank you to Arnos Vale for hosting this year’s BioBlitz and to everyone else who was involved!

If you missed the Bristol BioBlitz, why not check to see where your local BioBlitz is.

Wildscreen Bristol BioBlitz 2012 Team

May 25
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: Chatham Island black robin

Chatham Island black robin  (Petroica traversi)

Chatham Island black robin (Petroica traversi)

Species: Chatham Island black robin (Petroica traversi)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Chatham Island black robin was brought back from the brink of extinction - in 1980 there was only 5 left in existence, but today there are more than 250!

The Chatham Island black robin was previously found throughout the Chatham Islands, a group of islands 850 km east of New Zealand. It now only exists on two of these islands: Mangere and Rangatira Island. The Chatham Island black robin typically lives for 4 years, and pairs will generally mate for life, producing 2 eggs per year.

Black robins can mostly be seen in lower branches of the forest, or foraging for invertebrates amongst leaf litter on the forest floor. This behaviour left the birds vulnerable to predation when mammalian predators such as cats and rats were introduced to the islands. The species eventually became extinct on all but one island. An intensive conservation programme began in the 1970s, where the tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) was used to cross-foster black robin eggs from the remaining breeding pair. This was a resounding success and there are now two thriving populations, as well as plans to introduce a population to the much larger Pitt Island.

Find out more about the Chatham Island black robin on the New Zealand Department of Conservation website.

See images and videos of the Chatham Island black robin on ARKive.

May 24
Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on Delicious Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on Digg Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on Facebook Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on reddit Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on StumbleUpon Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on Email Share 'In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain' on Print Friendly

In the News: Fewer than 100 pygmy sloths remain

The first ever formal survey of the pygmy three-toed sloth population has confirmed that it is one of the world’s most endangered mammals.

Pygmy three-toed sloth image

The pygmy three-toed sloth is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Hanging on

A strange-looking yet charismatic mammal, the pygmy three-toed sloth is only found on Escudo Island off the coast of Panama, and was discovered by scientists as recently as 2001. As well as being the world’s slowest sloth, this species is also the world’s smallest, being just 40% of the size of its mainland relatives.

Very little is known about the pygmy three-toed sloth, but the latest data collected by researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has provided the first accurate picture of the state of the species’ population. Previous population estimates ranged from 300 to 500 individuals, but the new research has revealed that these numbers were sadly rather optimistic.

Due to the species’ small population size and its evolutionary uniqueness, ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme has placed the pygmy three-toed sloth at number 16 on its list of the world’s 100 most unique and threatened mammals.

Pygmy three-toed sloth image

Male pygmy three-toed sloth swimming

Mangrove home

The pygmy three-toed sloth relies on the island’s mangrove forests for survival, as ZSL researcher Craig Turner explains: “The mangrove forests are relatively hard to penetrate, and from a sloth’s perspective they provide protection from aerial predators. We noticed that pygmy sloth mothers carrying young would remain low in trees, which may be an evolutionary hangover for predator evasion.

Depending on the temperature, sloths can be found at different heights in the mangrove forests, moving higher up the trees on cool days to catch the sun and remaining lower down to rest in the shade when temperatures are high.

Conservation plans

Following on from the valuable information obtained from the ZSL team’s research, the next step is to draft a conservation plan for the pygmy three-toed sloth to ensure its future survival. Currently, the precise reasons for its decline are unknown, but tourism, hunting, and the deforestation of mangroves, either alone or in combination, are all possible causes.

In 2009, all of Escudo Island was deemed a protected area. However, concerns for the pygmy three-toed sloth remain, as the island is a common stopover point for local fishermen and their families who sometimes bring dogs with them. Exploration of the island by Craig Turner and fellow researcher David Curnick also revealed a certain level of mangrove deforestation, presumably for charcoal production by local fishermen.

[Reforestation] is an option we hope to explore with the view to potentially develop a local community reforestation pilot project. However, there are areas of cleared mangroves already showing small signs of regeneration so it may be a case of buying them some time to establish themselves,” said Mr Curnick.

Pygmy three-toed sloth image

This sloth species relies on the presence of mangrove forests

Saving the sloths

Mr Curnick and his colleagues are aiming to further evaluate the risks to the pygmy three-toed sloth by undertaking a complete threat assessment. At present, the research team believes that the formation of a coalition devoted to the long-term survival of the species is one of the key components in saving it from extinction.

I would like to see better engagement with the local communities and stakeholders and the development of a local environmental management plan. This is a process we have already started and hope to develop this aspect of the project over the remainder of this year. We are also seeking funding to support a local Panamanian conservationist to take this, and other areas forward, through the EDGE Fellowship programme,” explained Mr Curnick.

A ‘last resort’ option would be to remove a few sloths from the island for a captive breeding programme, but with so little known about the ecology and biology of the species, Mr Curnick warns that this would be a difficult and risky strategy. “As a family, three-toed sloths are notoriously hard to keep in captivity, let alone breed, and I imagine the pygmy sloths will only be more difficult,” he said.

Along with ensuring the survival of the pygmy three-toed sloth, the ZSL research team hopes to be able to conduct a wider ecological assessment of Escudo Island, as it is home to two other Critically Endangered species which are found nowhere else on Earth: the neotropical fruit bat and the maritime worm salamander.

Read more on this story at Mongabay.com – Less than 100 pygmy sloths survive.

Learn more about the pygmy three-toed sloth on ARKive.

Find out more about the EDGE of Existence Programme.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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