Aug 21

Picture yourself in a misty wooded forest, with towering conifers creating an imposing canopy and ground squirrels exploring the damp earth below. Not too far away, you might hear the crash of the Pacific Ocean, and above your head you might hear the call of a bald eagle.

Young coast redwood growing next to mature specimen

Where is this place, you ask? It’s the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest, the featured ecosystem in our newest ARKive Education lesson all about temperate rainforests. Developed with support from the Weeden Foundation, ‘Temperate Rainforest in the Pacific Northwest’ encourages 7-11 year olds to get hands-on and explore their local environment, food webs, and the differences between living and non-living things. By comparing their findings with the Pacific Northwest region in the USA, students discover the many features of the Pacific Northwest that make it unique, and investigate how this ecosystem is changing as a result of human influence.

Supported by amazing photos and videos from the ARKive collection, students will uncover the diverse range of species that inhabit the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, including some rare and threatened ones.

‘Temperate Rainforest in the Pacific Northwest’ also incorporates an overarching conservation theme highlighting how human behaviors are threatening the region’s wildlife. Industries such as logging and housing construction are examined, and students are given the chance to suggest solutions to these conservation issues in the classroom.

To welcome our newest education resource to the ARKive website, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take a tour of some of the different species that call the Pacific Northwest home.

Night chaser

Red fox vixen head profile

 

An active nocturnal hunter, the red fox roams the temperate rainforest in search of small mammals and invertebrate prey. Although it’s only roughly the size of a small dog, it’s actually the largest species in the genus Vulpes.

Wise wood

Lawson's cypress

Lawson’s cypress thrives in the moderate temperature and high precipitation that characterizes the temperate rainforest. Amazingly, this conifer can live for as long as 560 years!

Whistling Washingtonian

Washington ground squirrel in habitat

After hibernating for seven to eight months of the year, the Washington ground squirrel emerges to seek food such as flowers, roots, bulbs and seeds.  A unique characteristic of this small mammal is its call, which is a soft, lisping whistle.

Mountain frogs

Adult Cascades frog

During the warmer months, the Cascades frog dwells in wet mountain habitats such as marshes and bogs, but during hibernation, it might actually be found in the mud at the very bottom of ponds.

High-flying hunter

Bald eagle landing

An iconic American symbol, the bald eagle can be found soaring above the temperate rainforest. This species is an impressive hunter, and is even capable of capturing birds the size of geese during flight!

Visit ARKive Education to download ‘Temperate Rainforest in the Pacific Northwest‘ and explore our fun and inspiring collection of lessons, games and resources.

Hannah MacMillan, Intern, Wildscreen USA

Aug 19
Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei)

Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei)

Species: Bemaraha woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The Bemaraha woolly lemur is named after the renowned British comedian John Cleese for his efforts to protect and preserve lemurs.

The Bemaraha woolly lemur is a little known primate first described in 2005. It is found only in the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in central-western Madagascar. The Bemaraha woolly lemur spends most of the time high in the canopy, sleeping during the day and emerging at night to forage. Small family groups emerge shortly after dusk to groom and feed upon leaves, buds, bark and fruits. These lemurs are extremely vocal and will maintain contact with distinctive whistles

Unique amongst Madagascan primates, woolly lemurs are monogamous. Juveniles may stay with the parents for several years, helping to defend small territories of around two hectares.

Known from just a single national park, the Bemaraha woolly lemur is extremely vulnerable to habitat loss. A population around the village of Ankinajao is already believed to have become extinct due to excessive logging, and its total range is now probably no more than 5,000 square kilometres. Little is known about the ecology and distribution of the Bemaraha woolly lemur, and further studies are needed to understand and conserve this Madagascan primate.

Find out more about the Bemaraha woolly lemur in the American Journal of Primatology brief report PDF.

See the Bemaraha woolly lemur on ARKive.

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher

Aug 17

From spots to strips and mammals to insects, the natural world is full of a diversity of creatures with some amazing patterns! Some we are all familiar with and others that might surprise you, here are ARKive’s top ten animal patterns!

Grevy’s zebra

Starting with one I’m sure you would all have guessed, Grevy’s zebra has the distinctive black and white stripes we all know and love. This type of zebra is listed as Endangered, partly due to its splendid coat being used for fashion. Because of this, and its other threats, Grevy’s zebra is now protected by law in both Ethiopia and Kenya, so hopefully this distinctive pattern won’t be lost.

Grevy's zebras

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common cuttlefish

The common cuttlefish is distinctive in that it can change colour. This can either be used for camouflage to blend into its surroundings, or when competing for females, males use spectacular displays in which bands of colour pass over the body. Who could resist this flashy pattern?

Common cuttlefishCommon cuttlefish image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panther chameleon

Chameleons are also well known for changing colour, but the panther chameleon probably has some of the most spectacular colour variations of them all. There are even different colouration and patterns within this species, depending on where it is found. The males colours become more pronounced when defending his territory, or courting a female. The female is usually a more dull grey or brown, but changes colour when breeding to become orange or pink.

Panther chameleon image

Panther chameleon image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bongo

The bongo is a species some of you may not have heard of, but it certainly has an amazing pattern and is, in fact, the largest and most colourful of all African antelope. The male and female look very similar, though the male is larger, and its coat becomes darker as it ages. So along with its interesting name, this is a truly distinctive species.

Bongo photo

Bongo portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shag

Looking at the shag, you may not think of it as an animal with a pattern, but a closer look at its feathers shows a very interesting design. It goes to show; sometimes having a closer look can show you an amazing pattern that isn’t immediately obvious. This bird is usually black, but it develops a nice green gloss to its feathers during the breeding season.

Shag feathers

Shag feathers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant clam

The giant clam is an incredible species, being the largest and heaviest living species of bivalve mollusc, weighing up to 300 kg. The mantle of this species has a striking pattern with its many small, blue-green circles giving it an iridescent colour, earning its place in our top ten.

Giant clam closeup

Giant clam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giraffe

Another obvious choice, the giraffe is well known for its pattern. Interestingly, the different subspecies have distinctive patterns, such as the obvious differences between these images of Thornicroft’s giraffe and the Reticulated giraffe. The name for the giraffe ‘camelopardalis’ means ‘camel marked with leopard’ due to its well known, blotched pattern.

Giraffe

Giraffe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orinoco crocodile

Crocodiles are known to have beautiful skin patterns, often having their skins used in fashion. The Orinoco crocodile is no exception, with its striking skin pattern. There are three different colour variations of this crocodile, and amazingly their skin has been seen to change colour over long periods of time. Unfortunately this species is Critically Endangered and, even though it is legally protected, illegal poaching continues to be a threat to this species, which has never recovered from population declines caused by hunting for its skin in the past. Captive breeding programmes are underway for this unique species, offering some hope for its survival.

Orinoco crocodile skin

Orinoco crocodile

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl-bordered fritillary

We have many beautiful butterflies on ARKive, so choosing one for our top ten was very difficult. In the end I chose the pearl-bordered fritillary, one of Britain’s butterfly species. With its vivid orange wings and black spots, this species definitely has stunning patterned wings.

Pearl-bordered fritillary

Pearl-bordered fritillary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger

A blog about animal patterns wouldn’t be complete without the majestic tiger. As the only striped cat, the distribution of stripes is unique to each individual, with no two tigers having the same pattern. The stunning stripes vary in their width; spacing, length, and whether they are double or single stripes. This pattern is enough to make anyone jealous!

Tiger portrait

Tiger photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have many species on ARKive with unique and wonderful patterns, are there any more that you can see?

Rebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher

Aug 16

Large mammals are being lost from Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest much faster than expected, according to a recent study.

Close-up photo of jaguar resting in tree

A jaguar, one of the species included in the study

The study, undertaken by scientists from Brazil and the UK, looked at 18 mammal species in 196 forest fragments, and compared their current populations to estimates of their population densities before Europeans colonised the region about 500 years ago.

The results of the study, published in the journal PLoS One, showed that mammals are being lost from forest fragments at least twice as fast as previous estimates suggested.

Staggering declines

Of over 3,500 mammal populations estimated to have originally lived in the study area, only about 22% remain today. Among the species being lost are large, charismatic mammals such as the jaguar, lowland tapir, northern muriqui and giant anteater, while the white-lipped peccary has been completely wiped out in the region.

Only 3 of the 18 species studied – two small monkeys and an armadillo – were still present across the whole area.

We uncovered a staggering process of local extinctions of mid-sized and large mammals,” said Dr Gustavo Canale of the State University of Mato Grosso (UNEMAT), one of the authors of the study.

Photo of white-lipped peccaries caught on camera trap

The white-lipped peccary has now become extinct in the area of Atlantic forest surveyed

Fragmented forest

The Atlantic forest is one of the most diverse and biologically rich forests in the world, with many of its species found nowhere else. However, it is also one of the world’s most highly threatened ecosystems, with only 8% of its original cover remaining.

Centuries of logging, urbanisation and clearance for ranches, agriculture and plantations have left only small fragments of forest intact, and what remains is often degraded. Forest fragments are also highly accessible to hunters, as well as being vulnerable to fires and to ‘edge effects’, which include increased exposure to winds and drought.

Photo of a lowland tapir swimming

Lowland tapir

According to Dr Canale, the presence of the mammals in the study could not be predicted by the size of the forest fragment, with even large patches of forest lacking many species. On average, only 4 of the target mammal species were found in each forest fragment, and none of the sites studied contained all 18 species.

Previous estimates of mammal populations assumed that large areas of forest would be able to support more species, but failed to take into account the combined effects of multiple threats.

You might expect forest fragments with a relatively intact canopy structure to still support high levels of biodiversity,” explained Carlos Peres, another of the authors of the study. “Our study demonstrates that this is rarely the case, unless these fragments are strictly protected from hunting pressure.”

Photo of a nine-banded armadillo, front profile

Nine-banded armadillo, one of the only mammals that still occurs across the entire study area

Vital protection

These findings, which suggest that even large forest fragments are not enough to save many mammals from local extinction, raise concerns for tropical forests around the world, many of which are becoming increasingly fragmented.

The study found that mammals only fared better in official protected areas such as national parks, where forest fragments are large and hunting is banned. The team therefore recommends that more protected areas are needed and that their protection should be strictly enforced.

Photo of a northern muriqui sitting in branches

Northern muriqui, another species included in the study

Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of the Atlantic forest currently has protected status, and the Brazilian government is under pressure from farmers to reduce forest protection. A final vote on changes to the government’s Forest Code is expected by the end of August.

According to Jean Paul Metzger, an ecologist at the University of São Paulo who was not involved in the study, “The new bill doesn’t explicitly stimulate deforestation, but it doesn’t impose forest restoration either. That means protected areas are likely to remain isolated, which in turn may mean more extinctions in the future.”

Read more on this story at Nature News & Comment and Mongabay.

Read more about the Atlantic forest on ARKive.

View photos and videos of Atlantic forest mammals on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

Aug 13

With the school holidays stretching out ahead of us and the arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere, many of us will be heading to the coast with friends and family to soak up some sun or play in the sand and surf. The beach is a great place to search for signs of wildlife, and with this in mind we’ve created ARKive’s beach treasure hunt, a bingo style game to keep the kids (and the competitive adults among us) entertained!

It’s so easy to play along, simply print out a copy of our PDF tick sheet, which can also be found on our fun stuff page, then head down to the seaside and start searching.

How many of the following will you be able to find on your next visit to the beach?

Beach Bingo Thumbnail

Crab

Our favourite coastal crustaceans, crabs can be found around the globe, from the common shore crab on the beaches of the UK to the huge coconut crab found on tropical Indo-Pacific islands, thought to be the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world.

Crab photo

Jellyfish

Wobbly they may be, but fish they are not! Jellyfish actually belong to the phylum cnidaria, along with anemones and corals. They can be found in every ocean of the world and are a fairly common sight washed up on beaches. If you do find one, approach with caution, some can give you a nasty sting even when out of the water.

Jellyfish photo

Sharks’ teeth

One of our favourite things to find on the beach is sharks’ teeth. Sharks continually shed and replace their worn-out teeth, with the lost teeth often fossilising on the seabed and eventually washing ashore. Some are very valuable if you are lucky enough to find them, like the teeth of the extinct giant shark megalodon.

Sharks' teeth photo

Urchin

Sea urchins are peculiar looking animals that typically live on the seabed or burrow in to the sand. Many have spectacular looking spines for protection, giving rise to the name ‘urchin’, an old term for their spiky lookalike – the hedgehog.

Urchin photo

Starfish or sea star

Another misnomer here, as starfish are not related to fish but belong instead to a group of animals known as echinoderms, leading marine scientists to use the name ‘sea star’ instead. Sea stars are a fascinating group, most famous for their ability to regenerate limbs. It is estimated that there are around 2,000 species found around the globe.

Starfish photo

Sea shells

Shells of all shapes and sizes can be found on beaches around the world, and the most commonly found are the hard, protective casings of marine molluscs, particularly bivalves such as mussels and oysters, and gastropods like periwinkles, limpets or the even spectacular queen conch.

Shell photo

Driftwood

Driftwood is a common sight on beaches, particularly after a storm. The term driftwood refers to all types of wood washed ashore including both trees and branches washed out to sea naturally or lost during logging, and man made wooden objects such as lost cargo or parts of shipwrecks.

Driftwood photo

Eggs

Many marine species lay their eggs at sea, and it is not uncommon to find eggs washed onto beach from time to time. Some species attach egg clusters to things like kelp (such as the common whelk eggs pictured), while others including sharks and skates lay eggs in distinctive protein cases sometimes known as mermaid’s purses.

Whelk egg mass photo

Seaweed

Seaweed is the name given to a vast array of marine algae, and the different species typically belong to three main groups; brown, green and red algae. Some species have distinctive ‘floats’ or ‘air bladders’ filled with gas to help keep them upright underwater.

Seaweed photo

Cuttlefish shell

Cuttlefish are molluscs, and as such they are related to bivalves and gastropods, the species who produce many of the sea shells we see washed ashore. The shell of the cuttlefish however, is internal, and often referred to as the cuttlebone. It is chambered and filled with gas to help the cuttlefish regulate its buoyancy.

Cuttlefish shell photo

Good luck with your own search – make sure you let us know how you get on! You could even share photographs of your finds on the ARKive Facebook page.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Researcher

About

RSS feedArkive.org is the place for films, photos and facts about endangered species. Subscribe to our blog today to keep up to date!

Email updates

Sign up to receive a regular email digest of Arkive blog posts.
Preferred frequency: