Mar 12
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What would your science superhero power be?

FloraWe recently launched Team WILD, an exciting new online game in which you have the opportunity to become a science superhero where you must protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction. While the aim of the game is to engage young people with career opportunities in conservation, Team WILD has certainly caught the imaginations of the big kids in the ARKive office too. In between competitive keyboard tapping, drawing up an office leader board and lunch hours spent practising and perfecting those double jumps, the team here started to think about the environmental issues they could tackle if they really did have superpowers. As we all know, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, and with this in mind, the team have come up with some ingenious ways they could use their ‘powers’ for good.

Kicking things off is Carolyn, our Online Marketing Officer, who took inspiration from our favourite web-slinger and decided that she would like spidey superpowers so that she could create webs to catch poachers. Preventing poaching would be a great step in helping to conserve species such as the Endangered eastern gorilla.

Eastern gorilla photo

Researcher Jemma went for a marine-themed power – the ability to breathe underwater so that she could free turtles trapped in fishing nets, a common cause of sea turtle mortality.

Turtle photo

Online Outreach Manager Ellie decided to think big – literally! She decided that by growing to giant size she would be able to defend habitats and halt the destruction of forests, protecting forest dwelling species like this Barbour’s forest tree frog.

Barbour’s forest tree frog photo

Thinking along similar lines, Text Author Liz decided that she’d like the power to make plants grow instantly just by touching the ground so that she could restore all the areas that humans have destroyed, as well as making towns and a bit greener and nicer!

Forest photo

Our Education Officer Helen thought outside the box, and decided that her superhero power would be time travel, so that she could travel back and save species before they go extinct – clever! First on her list would be the baiji, which although still technically listed as Critically Endangered is now sadly thought to be Extinct.

Baiji photo

Wildscreen Festival Assistant Becky opted for a stealthy power, the ability to be camouflaged and blend in with any habitat to observe animal behaviour and keep an eye out for poachers! The Critically Endangered black rhino would certainly benefit from such protection.

Black rhino photo

Finally, Text Author Kaz opted for a more subtle power, the power of persuasiveness, in order to convince more people to make the necessary changes to fight against climate change and species extinction. This is a vital tool in any campaign to protect the environment, and a power that we hope is both realistic and achievable.

Have your say!

We’ve also been putting this question to our followers on social media and have had some great responses so far. If you haven’t already, join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter:

@clairecjl: I’d be super-fast like The Flash and carry out a speedy vaccination program to protect African wild dogs from rabies #speciespower

@jimmac140: Although Aquaman seems kinda useless he must be good for something, Be warned anyone after sharks fin! Aquaman is on it!

@_Daktari_: I want Cupid’s Power to shoot arrows of LOVE for all living things in every human heart. It would save all species & their habitats.

@WWFHoBGI: Super-forest-defender – all species everywhere RT @ARKive Superpower would you like and which species would you save with it? #teamwildgame

@Owen_Thornton: there aren’t many superpowers that can help. Although, maybe ice control for saving the polar bears could help.

Harry Purple Monkey Dishwasher: Harry would have the superpower to heal all the forests, water, earth & air instantly. :D

Soph Kitty Preston: I would want xray vision to catch ppl smuggling animals and parts across borders.

Demetris Bertzeletos: The power to grant David Attenbourough immortality

Deborah Marland: I’d love the power of being able to make people forget that they are in wars & destroying the planet & make them start to treasure & nurture this world & all living creatures on it. The way it should be… If only……

Jan Hooper: i would like the power to make all weapons not work!

Dominique Hoekman: A bird with gigantic wings to fly whole over planet Earth to protect ‘Wildlife’

Feb 28
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Do you have what it takes to join Team WILD? Find out in ARKive’s new online game!

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: to protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction. Are you ready for the challenge?

Photo of Team WILD play screen

From jungle to savannah, rainforests to coral reefs, help Team WILD monitor, survey and conserve. Discover the different types of field tasks a conservation scientist or ecologist must do in order to protect the world’s species and habitats, from the replanting of native guapuruvu trees in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to the rescue and evacuation of non-infected mountain chickens (a frog) from Montserrat, where populations are being decimated by the deadly chytrid fungus.

Test your speed, skill and determination and see whether you’ve got what it takes to join this legion of science superheroes…

The Team WILD missions…

 

 Amphibian conservation Save the mountain chicken from a deadly disease in Montserrat

A deadly fungus is destroying the world’s amphibian populations. Team WILD needs to collect uninfected mountain chickens (a frog) to breed them and ensure the survival of the species.

Captive breeding in bio-secure breeding facilities and re-introduction of the mountain chicken is the best hope for its survival.

Coral reef conservation

Conserving coral reefs in the Chagos Archipelago

Scientists need to monitor coral reefs to make sure climate change and other threats such as overfishing or sedimentation are not having a negative effect on reef health.

Join Team WILD’s elite task force of divers to help survey the health of coral reefs in the Chagos Archipelago.

Reforestation

Reforestation in the Atlantic forest, Brazil

Team WILD needs help combating deforestation in Brazil. No tropical ecosystem has suffered as much loss as the Atlantic Forest, making reforestation projects here very important.

Over 90% of the Atlantic  forest has already been destroyed, so the team must act fast to replant native tree species, such as the guapuruvu tree.

Savannah

Surveying predator-prey relationships in the African savannah

Scientists study predator-prey relationships to help understand what might cause population changes over time.

Team WILD needs you on an important mission to help determine the relationships between predators and prey in the African savannah.

 

Are you a teacher? Find out how you can use Team WILD in the classroom.

Meet Team WILD’s science superheroes…

Flora

Root

 ROOT is a true radical. A research scientist to the core, he is nature’s ultimate guardian warrior. He’s also wildly cool.

A world-leading botanist, FLORA has a bit of a wild streak.She lets nothing stand in her way when solving the murkiest of scientific mysteries.

Play Team WILD!

 

Nov 4
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Spotlight on: ARKive School Museum

What do you get when you combine art supplies, ARKive’s amazing collection of endangered species imagery and fact files and creative young minds?  A unique, one of a kind learning experience called the ARKive School Museum which transforms classrooms and schools into a natural history museum all about endangered species.

The ARKive School Museum is an innovative and engaging educational experience which encourages students to get creative. By discovering fascinating biological facts about endangered species, designing and creating fun, interactive exhibits, and hosting unique, hands-on activities in their own ‘museum’, students improve their scientific literacy and develop cross-discipline skills that they can apply to an ever-changing global society.

Photo of a school hallway decorated with a student exhibit as part of an ARKive School Museum

A school hallway decorated with a student exhibit.

Photo of students at an ARKive School Museum

Students teach visitors about threatened species around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designed for students from 5-14 years of age, the ARKive School Museum begins with them diving into the world of conservation and learning how species become endangered. Then, by choosing a species to learn about further, students use ARKive as a scientific research tool to discover biological information and interesting facts that can be transformed into an interactive exhibit to inform the wider school community about the species and issues.  With optional museum-focused extension activities, students can explore the world of museum curation for additional exhibit tips and tricks.

An ARKive School Museum culminates with a ‘grand opening’, where students lead visitors through the interactive exhibits they have designed. Students engage and amaze visitors as they showcase the results of their hard work and communicate their findings about endangered species to fellow students, parents and their local school communities.

Photo of students taking part in Sizing up Species activity as part of an ARKive School Museum

A student demonstrates how their exhibit explores species lengths using string.

The ARKive team worked with classrooms in Virgina, USA, to pilot the ARKive School Museum program and we were consistently amazed by the creativity of the students. From constructing pitch black naked mole rat tunnels from cardboard boxes that challenged museum visitors to experience living underground and without vision to designing a measurement exhibit using string to illustrate the length of saltwater crocodiles (the largest living reptile) and other species, there seemed to be no end to what the students could dream up! One of the teachers we worked with said it best,

“We see students being transformed from just acquiring knowledge to discovering that learning has a purpose – the sharing of knowledge”. – Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Virginia, USA

We couldn’t agree more! To create an ARKive School Museum in your school or classroom, start by visiting ARKive Education today. Then, select the guiding materials that fit your students’ ages, learning styles and needs.

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education and Outreach Manager

Oct 25
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Pygmy Hippo Foundation Launched


Pygmy hippopotamus photo

Good things come in small packages - the pygmy hippopotamus

Last night the Natural History Museum in London hosted the launch of the Pygmy Hippo Foundation in a spectacularly glamorous fashion – a charity champagne reception, dinner and auction. Richard Edwards, Chief Executive, Wildscreen, was there to dine in style in the great hall under the watchful eye of ‘Dippy’ the museum’s famous replica Diplodocus skeleton. During the launch evening guest speakers gave talks to raise awareness of the plight of the Endangered pygmy hippopotamus and its rainforest and swamp habitats in western Africa. ARKive supplied footage of this elusive species on behalf of Marco Polo Productions, helping to bring the talks to life.

Pygmy hippopotamus and calf

Pygmy hippopotamus and calf

The Foundation’s Work

The Pygmy Hippo Foundation aims to preserve and protect the remaining wild pygmy hippopotami (Choeropsis liberiensis) population which is thought to be as low as 2000 individuals. One of the main projects of the foundation is the development of Sapo National Park in south east Liberia, where the majority of the wild population of pygmy hippopotami live. The foundation also engages with the local community through education programmes and conservation initiatives as well as petitioning the Liberian government on the importance of conservation.

Deforestation in west Africa

Deforestation in west Africa

(Not So) Mini Hippos

The pygmy hippopotamus is reclusive and is mainly active at night when it ventures out of the water to feed in the forest. Though not dissimilar in appearance to the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) it comes as no shock that the pygmy hippopotamus is significantly smaller and unfortunately is at an even higher risk of extinction.  Wide-scale deforestation of the pygmy hippopotami’s forest habitat poses a major threat for this species. The pygmy hippopotamus depends on the rainforest for its diet of leaves, roots and grasses as well as swamps and rivers for a water source.

There's nothing mini about those teeth!

A Brighter Future …

It’s not all doom and gloom though: fortunately the pygmy hippopotamus breeds well in captivity and the captive population has increased greatly in recent years. Couple that with the fact that  the Pygmy Hippo Foundation are taking an active role in preserving the wild population by sponsoring direct research and ranger training for Sapo National Park, the pygmy hippo has a good chance at pulling through.

Looks like the pygmy hippopotamus will just about keep its head above the water for now!

Find out more about the pygmy hippopotamus and its conservation on the Pygmy Hippo Foundation website.

George Bradford, ARKive Researcher

Oct 10
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Spotlight on: Phenology

Here in the Northern Hemisphere autumn has well and truly hit us and we are moving fast heading towards winter. As leaves change colour and fall from the trees, many creatures are beginning their preparation for hibernation and birds are embarking on their seasonal migrations to warmer climes. Across the globe many species rely on seasonal changes in weather to signal the next stage in their life cycle, such as hibernation, migration, blooming or molting. Although all organisms go through natural lifecycles, the study of seasonal cycling is unique and scientists refer to it as phenology.

What is phenology?

By definition, phenology is the study of how seasonal and climatic changes influence natural cycles. Not only can phenology provide valuable clues to the lifecycles of individual species, it can also highlight the importance of relationships between species. For example, insects such as honey bees must carefully time their spring emergence with the blooming of flowers, which they rely upon to provide nectar and pollen.

Honey bee photo

Come spring time, honey bees rely on blooming plants for food, while the plants rely upon the bees for pollination

 

Why study phenology?

Although phenology seems like something that is just observed and not studied, it is actually very valuable to research phenological patterns. Understanding phenology can allow scientists to make comparisons to see if a community is healthy and following normal cycles. Phenology can also aid conservation efforts, for example by calculating the timing and migration routes of the North Atlantic right whale, the species can be protected appropriately throughout its range at different times of year.

North Atlantic right whale photo

Conservation measures to protect the North Atlantic right whale include regulations in the US to restrict the use of certain types of fishing gear in specific areas at times when the whales are present

 

What triggers seasonal changes in nature?

One well-known sign that the seasons are changing is the difference in temperature throughout the year, but there are other indicators that may not be as well known. For example, the Caspian seal relies on the presence of ice formations in the Caspian Sea to trigger its seasonal migration to different locations, while the Critically Endangered black-eared mantella gets its signal to start the breeding season from seasonal fluctuations in rainfall.

Caspian seal photo

The Caspian seal relies on change in ice formation to jump-start its migration

Black-eared mantella photo

The black-eared mantella begins breeding at the arrival of the seasonal rains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can climate change affect phenology?

Climate change can have a negative effect on species that follow phenological patterns. For example, unusual seasonal droughts in the Namib Desert in southern Africa were followed by large declines in quiver tree numbers, which scientists believe to be the result of drought stress. Climate change can also effect species’ reproductive cycles, for example the loggerhead turtle comes ashore to lay its eggs in the summer when the odds of the young surviving are at their highest. Changes in climate patterns are likely to shift this cycle, putting the eggs and young at risk.

Loggerhead turtle photo

Climate change could cause this young loggerhead turtle to hatch too early or too late in the season

Butterflies and blooms education resource

Related education resource

Learn more about phenology with our creative Butterflies and Blooms education resource. Check it out on the ARKive Education pages, and help your students to discover the relationship between the butterflies of Wisconsin’s Northwoods and the springtime flowers they depend upon.

Christin Knesel, Intern, Wildscreen USA

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