Dec 28

This weeks A-Z blog has been inspired by a couple of recent school visits where the classes were looking specifically at endangered species and the responsibilities humans have to the environment. As the aim of ARKive is to raise awareness of threatened species worldwide it seems particularly fitting for the ‘E’ edition of A-Z to be endangered-themed, so please join me on my exploration of the endangered species of ARKive.

Photo of southern bluefin tuna swimming next to fish farm net

Southern bluefin tuna are endangered due to overfishing

Life on the EDGE

We work closely with lots of other global conservation organisations including our friends at the EDGE of Existence programme, who are working to promote and conserve the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species. They are the only global conservation initiative to focus specifically on threatened species that represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history, including weird and wonderful creatures such as the purple frog, the platypus and the shoebill.

Photo of Shoebill showing detail of head

The shoebill is a potential EDGE species

See where the golden-rumped sengi, pygmy three-toed sloth and Chinese giant salamander come on the blog of ARKive’s Top 10 EDGE species.

Extinction

The word that strikes fear into the hearts of all conservationists, which is hardly surprising considering that at present it is believed that 1/4 of all mammals and 1/3 of amphibians are at risk of extinction. It might sound rather odd but there are actually varying degrees of ‘extinct’ according to the IUCN Red List. Species can either be Extinct in the Wild (EW), which means the only remaining populations are captive, such as the scimitar-horned oryx, or Extinct (EX), such as the golden toad which was last seen alive in 1989.

Photo of a male golden toad

The golden toad is classed as Extinct (EX)

 

Ethiopian wolf

Living high in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia this wolf is the most threatened canid in the world. Human encroachment on their habitat and its subsequent conversion to agricultural land is reducing their available habitat. With humans come their dogs, which carry diseases such as rabies and canine distemper to which the Ethiopian wolves have no resistance.

Photo of the Ethiopian wolf hunting

The Ethiopian wolf is the most endangered canid in the world

 

Ecuador

The South American country of Ecuador, nestled between Colombia, Peru and the Pacific Ocean, is host to a huge variety of species including the giant otter, the boto and the giant antpitta many of which are endangered. The Galapagos Islands are also part of Ecuador which means much of the Ecuadorian biodiversity is endemic. Species from the Galapagos, such as the Galapagos marine iguana, face a plethora of threats including the introduction of domestic pets, marine pollution and the effects of environmental fluctuations such as El Nino.

Photo of a male Galapagos marine iguana

The Galapagos marine iguana faces a number of threats

 

Watch out for our new Endangered Species education module and activity coming soon to our education pages. For more information why not check out our Endangered Species page.

What is your favourite ARKive E?  Perhaps you’re a fan of elephants or the echidna, how about the eastern sandfish or the earthworm? Let us know…

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Oct 14

Time for more ARKive A-Z’s, and in true alphabetical fashion, on we go with the D’s. It turns out that there are some rather extraordinary species names beginning with D – have you ever heard of the David Bowie spider? Or the death’s-head hawkmoth? How about dead man’s fingers? Why not see what other weird and wonderful names are hiding within ARKive’s D’s.

Dead man's fingers photo

Dead man's fingers is a colonial soft coral

…Darwin

Charles Darwin has to be one of the most famous biologists who ever lived so it is only fitting that he gets a mention in our blog of all things ‘D’. Darwin’s body of work, including his observations and meticulous notes from the voyage on the Beagle and his theory of evolution by natural selection, has led him to be recognised as the father of evolutionary biology. During his travels he discovered many species new to science, a number of which have been named in his honour, including the Darwin’s fox and the Darwin’s frog, both native to Chile.

For more about Darwin and his discoveries take a look at our educational resources.

Darwin's frog photo

Darwin's frog

…Dogs

Seeing as how we have already examined cats and all things Feline it seems only fair for dogs to get their moment in the spotlight. Dogs, or members of the Canidae family, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and they vary in size and stature from the diminutive fennec fox to the imposing grey wolf. Members share a number of common characteristics including non-retractable claws and digitigrade movement, which simply put involves walking on their toes. Long legs and slender bodies are common amongst canines, an adaptation for catching prey, as seen here in the dhole, an Asian wild dog.

Photo of dholes resting

Dholes show a number of typically canine characteristics

…Dugong

Did you know that the dugong is the only entirely marine mammal that feeds exclusively on plants, or that they are actually more closely related to elephants than other marine mammals? Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN dugongs were traditionally hunted for meat and oil. These gentle giants are still under increasing pressure from human activities such as fishing, marine traffic and pollution, threats accentuated due to the dugongs large size, low reproductive rate and dependence on coastal habitats. For more fascinating facts and gorgeous images of the dugong check out its ARKive species profile.

Photo of adult female dugong swimming with calf

Dugong swimming with calf

…Deserts

Instead of a country I have decided to look at a habitat type this time, one that takes up roughly a fifth of the Earth’s land surface; deserts. Many species have become specially adapted for life in deserts, such as the sand cat which has foot pads covered with thick hair to enable movement over hot sand. Camels are the iconic desert dweller and have a number of spectacular adaptations to their harsh habitat; a hump to store fat enabling them to go for long periods without food or water, narrow nostrils and dense eyelashes which can be tightly closed during sandstorms.

Photo of wild Bactrian camel standing in desert landscape

Wild Bactrian camels are well adapted to their desert habitat

What’s your favourite ARKive D? The dunlin, or maybe the diademed sifaka? How about the damara tern or the death cap? Let us know!

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Aug 30

Here we go again on our course through our colossal collection of captivating creatures, as it’s time for more alphabetical exploration with the C’s! Whether you like chameleons, corals, capercaillies or cacti ARKive’s got it covered.

This is the Turk’s head cactus which has to be one of the strangest looking plants on ARKive. It is a succulent adapted to survive in hot, arid environments with its thick skin to reduce water loss and vicious spikes to deter potential predators.

Turk's head cactus

The rather unusual Turk's head cactus

What do you think? Can you find a stranger looking plant on ARKive

C is for …Cats

Cats, or as they are more accurately known, members of the ‘Felidae’ family, are one of the most charismatic groups of animals and are found everywhere except Australia and Antarctica. They tend to be solitary, with the obvious exception of the lion and to a lesser extent the cheetah, where siblings often stay together for up to six months and brothers can remain together for life. The cheetah is a bit of a favourite here in the office as it also appeared in Lauren’s Top 10 Cats blog.

Four cheetahs sitting in a row

A coalition of cheetahs

Despite their often bold markings many cats are very well camouflaged in their respective habitats. Can you spot the tiger in this picture? Or the snow leopard in this one

…Climate Change

In addition to our species pages we also have a series of featured pages on ARKive, including eco-regions such as the Western Ghats and topics such as climate change. Many of the species on ARKive are threatened by man-made changes to our climate such as rising sea levels, the melting of polar ice caps and extreme weather events. Our featured page outlines the causes and effects of climate change as well as links to the species most at risk such as the polar bear, koala, corals and the Atlantic salmon

Atlantic salmon male

Atlantic salmon are just one of the species affected by climate change

There are also ideas for what you can do to help reduce emissions and energy consumption, so why not take a look

…Capybara

The capybara, found only in South America, is the world’s largest rodent species standing at over 1 metre long and 60 centimetres tall. They are well adapted to swimming and are able to remain underwater for up to 5 minutes. They have partially webbed feet and their nose, eyes and ears are aligned high on their head so that most of their body can be submerged while swimming. 

Capybara swimming

Capybaras are strong swimmers

It is widely believed that capybaras were once, rather curiously, declared to be ‘fish’ due to their semi-aquatic lifestyle, and meant that early Venezuelan settlers could eat them during the period of Lent! 

…Canada

Canada is the second largest country in the world by total area, but its wildlife is by no means purely terrestrial. Many whales and dolphins inhabit Canadian waters during the year, whether resident or migratory, including the blue whale, the North Atlantic right whale, the orca and the Pacific white-sided dolphin. Some of Canada’s most iconic species are more land based however and include the brown bear, the grey wolf, the moose, the North American otter and the bald eagle. Why not check out the full list of species that can be found in and around Canada? 

Common loon on the water

The common loon can be seen on the back of the Canadian dollar coin

Did you know that the common loon appears on the back of the Canadian 1 dollar coin, which is commonly referred to as a loonie? 

That’s it for now, we’ll be C-ing you!!  

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Aug 18

This week it is the turn of the letter B, so I decided to explore adjectives that describe ARKive beginning with the letter B. With over 13,000 species, 70,000 images and over 150 hours of footage I think I can say with confidence that the ARKive collection is bountiful. With photographs and footage from many of the world’s best wildlife photographers it is easy to see why so many of the ARKive images, such as this picture of giraffe in their habitat, are brilliantly beautiful. And from the beautiful to the bizarre, the slightly shocked looking creature taking a quick bath below is actually a young Asian elephant!

Photo of Asian elephant calf in water

Asian elephant calf in water

 

B is for…Brazil

The largest country in South America, covering an area of over 3 million square miles, Brazil has a diverse variety of habitats and as such is home to an extraordinary range of terrestrial and aquatic life. The forests are home to jaguars and ocelots, harpy eagles and the yellow-headed caracara, while the rivers are inhabited by Amazonian manatees and the boto. Brazil is also host to many threatened species, including the golden-headed lion tamarin, which is classified as Endangered by the IUCN as a mere 2-5% of its original habitat remains.

Photo of golden-headed lion tamarin on tree branch

Golden-headed lion tamarin on tree branch

 

…Birds

Did you know there are over 2,000 bird species on ARKive? These range from the mighty wandering albatross, with the largest recorded wingspan of any bird (reaching an enormous 3.5 metres across), to the smallest living bird, the tiny bee hummingbird which is only 6 centimetres long! Of course wingspan isn’t everything, particularly if you can’t fly. Some of the most easily recognisable bird species are flightless, including penguins of which there are 18 species on ARKive, and the ostrich, which strangely has the largest eyes of any land animal!

Photo of wandering albatross pair displaying

Wandering albatross pair displaying

 

…Baobab

Of the 8 species of baobab found worldwide 6 are endemic to Madagascar. One such endemic species is the Grandidier’s baobab, and in my opinion is one of the most impressive, as it genuinely looks like it has been planted upside down leaving the roots exposed! One of the most interesting features of this baobab is its ability to retain water within the fibrous wood of the trunk, evident by the fluctuation in trunk diameter with rainfall.

Grandidier's baobabs photo

Grandidier's baobabs

 

…Behaviour

Whether you are an avid reader of the ARKive blog, or just an occasional visitor it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that there is a lot more to ARKive than pretty pictures. For every species we profile we aim to cover the complete life history from birth to death and everything in between. We have Barbary macaques playing, South African ground squirrels fending off a cobra with their tails and Pere David’s deer boxing to name just a few. Check out Charlie’s blog on ARKive’s Top 10 Natural Nasties for some of the more gruesome behaviour examples.

Photo of Pere David's deer stags standing up to box

Pere David's deer stags standing up to box

Do you have a favourite ARKive ‘B’ species? How about the binturong, the bald eagle, the blue-footed booby or maybe even the basking shark?

Photo of basking shark feeding just below the surface

Basking shark feeding just below the surface

Well that’s it for the Bs, tune in next time for more captivating creatures and a close up on climate change when we explore the ARKive Cs.

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Jun 12

If you haven’t already heard, the ARKive Media Team is branching out; our intrepid STEM Ambassadors are venturing out into schools to spread the word about our awesome collection of images and footage and its use as an educational resource

So, this got us thinking – what’s the first thing you learn at school – your ABCs. With this in mind we have decided to delve alphabetically through the ARKive catalogue and generate a selection of species, themes and regions that can be found within; from the aardvark to the Zullich’s blue and everything in-between. 

So why not join us on our alphabetical exploration!

A is for… Adaptation 

Adaptation can be defined as the way a species has developed, or evolved, to enable it to survive successfully in its environment. We are bursting with examples of species that are specifically adapted to their environment here on ARKive, such as the sand cat with its large, sensitive ears, and fur-lined feet and the intriguingly named dragon’s blood tree. I particularly like the common crossbill, which at a glance might look a little unusual but the crossbill’s beak is actually adapted to allow it to expertly extract seeds from pine cones – their food of choice! 

The specialised beak of the common crossbill

The specialised beak of the common crossbill

Why not check out Erin’s blog for some more awesome adaptations.
 

…Axolotl 

This Critically Endangered amphibian is unique as it retains a number of its larval characteristics, a phenomenon known as paedomorphosis. Because axolotls never fully metamorphose they live permanently in water, where their branch-like gills act to increase surface area for gas exchange. However, as every resilient amphibian knows it always pays to be prepared, so if an axolotl’s habitat does dry up then it is still able to metamorphose and become an adult Mexican salamander. 

Portrait showing branch-like gills of leucistic axolotl

The axolotl is unique because it retains larval characteristics throughout life

Want to learn more about what the axolotl eats and where it can be found - check out the axolotl species page.

…Australia 

The land down under, home to a huge variety of bizarre species such as the kangaroo, koala and kookaburra. Where else can you find egg-laying mammals, boxing Macropods and laughing birds? I’m a particular fan of the platypus, with its duck-like bill and venomous spur – there’s little wonder it was once believed to be fictional! 

Photo of the head and bill of a platypus

The platypus is one of many unusual animals found in Australia

Check out more Australian critters using our ‘Search by Geography’ function.

…Amphibians

Amphibians are a group of cold-blooded vertebrates which includes frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. We currently have over 1,300 amphibian species on ARKive, and what an incredible variety of species they are. Whether you are captivated by the colourful tiger’s treefrog, the camouflaged Chinese giant salamander or just downright intriguing Suriname toad, there is bound to be something there that takes your fancy. 

Tiger's treefrog photo

There are over 1,300 amphibian species on ARKive, including the tiger's treefrog

Well that’s it for the As, stay tuned for the next instalment coming soon – you guessed it, the Bs! 

What’s your favourite ARKive A?

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Media Researcher

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