Apr 1
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Happy April Fool’s Day from ARKive

Today is April Fool’s Day, a 12-hour window where everybody needs to be on their guard as friends, relatives and colleagues do their best to fool and out-smart them. If you are plotting a prank, remember to carry it out before midday, otherwise the joke is on you!

While we keep an eye out in the office for any sign of trickery, we thought we’d gather together a few examples of sneaky species for which it is April Fool’s Day every day of the year!

Mucous mask

Did you know that parrotfish are the masters of mucous?! Before settling down for the night, species such as this daisy parrotfish may spend up to an hour making their own ‘mucous bubble’ in which to sleep. It may sound pretty gross to us, but this slimy sleeping bag is thought to serve a very important function, potentially disguising the scent of the sleeping fish and preventing it from being picked up by sharp-nosed nocturnal predators. What a great trick!

While reef fish are kept free of parasites during the day by hard-working cleaner fish, they receive no such protection at night, and studies have shown that the mucous mask may also act as a bubbly barrier against blood-sucking crustaceans known as gnathiid isopods.

Crying wolf

The tufted capuchin monkey, a subspecies of the black-capped capuchin, could certainly be referred to as a cheeky monkey, as it is known to fool and deceive all in the name of a quick snack! Within groups of these monkeys there is a strict social hierarchy, with the dominant individuals gaining better access to rich food sources. Lower ranked individuals have been observed to produce false alarm calls to trick the dominant monkeys into thinking they are in danger, causing them to scurry for cover, leaving the delicious food available for the lower-ranking individuals to get their hands on!

Cunning cuttlefish

Cuttlefish, such as this common cuttlefish, are related to octopuses and squid, and are rather crafty creatures! These intelligent invertebrates are able to change colour to match their surroundings, and the males are willing to employ some deceptive measures to make sure they get some quality time with the ladies. Male cuttlefish put on rather spectacular displays to attract females, flashing bands of colour along their bodies. To ensure their wooing attempts are not disturbed by potentially more dominant males, some male cuttlefish may ‘flash’ their bright colours only on the side nearest to the female, while maintaining female-looking colouration on the other side. Any potential rivals surveying the scene would then simply see two ‘female’ cuttlefish hanging out, and would not attempt to attack the sneaky male.

 

What are your favourite animal tricksters? Comment below to share with us!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

Mar 26
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Earth Hour 2014

On Saturday 29th March at 8:30 pm, millions of people across the world will take part in WWF’s Earth Hour by turning off their lights for one hour. Held annually, WWF’s Earth Hour is a unique phenomenon that encourages individuals, communities and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol of their commitment to the planet.

Now in its eighth year, the Earth Hour event was first held in Sydney in 2007. For Earth Hour 2013, over 7,000 cities and towns across more than 150 countries and territories participated.

This year has seen the launch of Earth Hour Blue, an all-new digital crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the planet. This new platform gives individuals from around the world the chance to help fund or add their voice to environmental and social projects which are important to them.

Here at ARKive, to get ready for Earth Hour we have been thinking about species which are at home in the dark.

Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur

Believed to be the world’s smallest living primate, Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur is a nocturnal primate endemic to Madagascar. This lemur is well adapted to its nocturnal lifestyle as it has extremely large forward-facing eyes with a shiny layer behind the retina that reflects light back through the eye, significantly improving night vision.

Cave salamander

This unusual-looking animal is the rare cave salamander,  an amphibian which lives in dark, subterranean caves in central Europe. As this cave-dwelling animal spends its entire life in darkness, its eyes are so poorly developed that it is actually blind. 

Lion’s mane jellyfish

One of the largest jellyfish in the world, the lion’s mane jellyfish gains its common name from the long, thin, hair-like tentacles found hanging from the underside of its bell-shaped body. As well as being one of the largest jellyfish, the lion’s mane jellyfish is also often bioluminescent, meaning it produces its own light, making it glow in dark waters.

Night-flowering orchid

As its common name suggests, the night-flowering orchid is the only known orchid species which opens its flowers at night. Described as recently as 2011, it is not yet known for certain why this orchid opens its flowers at night, but it is likely that the flies which pollinate this species are nocturnal.

Devil’s worm

Thought to be the world’s deepest-living animal, the Devil’s worm is definitely a creature at home in the dark. Found at a depth of more than one kilometre into the Earth’s crust, the Devil’s worm demonstrates a high temperature tolerance and is thought to be able to survive in conditions of up to 41 degrees Celsius!

If you want to find out more about how to get involved in Earth Hour, visit  WWF’s Earth Hour website.

And don’t forget, Earth Hour is on Saturday 29th March at 8:30 pm local time, so join the ARKive team and millions of other people worldwide and switch off those lights!

Feb 21
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UK Invasive Species: Case Study – Avon Invasive Weed Forum Project Officer

562995_460205190743127_1808199899_nWhat is your job, where do you work?

My name is Neil Green and I am the Avon Invasive Weed Forum (AIWF) Project Officer.  I work mainly on the rivers and watercourses within Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.

What is your background?

My background includes life guarding in Cumbria, teaching English in Madrid, exporting oil for BP lubricants, building balconies in Bondi Beach and running my own landscape gardening business in sunny Swindon!  In more recent years I  have been a Coastal Ranger for the National Trust in North Cornwall and worked on the Source to Sea Invasive species project for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

What is the Avon Invasive Weed Forum, what projects are you working on?

The AIWF is an independent group of relevant stakeholders such as Bristol City Council, Bristol Zoo Gardens, The Environment Agency and South Gloucestershire Council, currently funded by Defra. The aim is to survey as much of the Avon catchment as possible for Non-Native Invasive Weeds (NNIW), so far we have over 70 kilometres of riparian habitat logged. Once the surveys are mapped we then get the NNIW into the appropriate management to control and reduce the abundance of these alien nasties.

How are you helping to fight invasive species in the UK?

We are helping by engaging with local conservation and community groups to take ownership of their local areas and the invasive species that they may have. In the Spring and Summer we carry out many practical Himalayan balsam weed pulls – we managed 22 ‘BIG PULL’ events last summer.   Himalayan balsam has a very shallow root system and is easy and very enjoyable to yank out of the ground. Removing the plants stop them from seeding, which is of paramount importance to help fight the invasion!

brislingtonbrook

How can people get involved?

You can get involved by volunteering to help manage the Himalayan Balsam as part of our ‘BIG PULL’ campaign or help survey the watercourses and open water in the Avon Catchment.   You can do this by contacting your local conservation groups, community groups or myself at the Avon Invasive Weeds Forum, we welcome individuals, groups and corporate social responsibility requests.

If you are not in the Avon area you can take a look at the GB NNSS website and find an Invasive Species Project closer to home.

You can also help by following the guidelines in the Check, Clean and Dry and Be Plant Wise Campaigns too.

Find out more about the Avon Invasive Weed Forum by visiting their website or their Facebook page.

Learn more about invasive species in the UK by visiting our UK invasive species page.

Oct 17
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In the News: Four in five children are not ‘connected to nature’

Large numbers of British children are missing out on engaging with nature, according to a new study.

Red squirrel image

Red squirrel

First of its kind

The ground-breaking study, led by the RSPB, marks the first time that connectivity between children and nature has been studied in the UK. Following 3 years of research, the project concluded that only 21% of children between the ages of 8 and 12 were ‘connected to nature’ at a level which is considered to be both realistic and achievable for all young people.

The report stems from growing concerns over the distinct lack of contact with and experience of nature among modern children, which some have argued is having a negative impact on their education, health and behaviour. In addition, this disconnection is viewed as being a very real threat to the future of UK wildlife.

Horse chestnut image

Horse chestnuts in autumn

Connecting to nature

Around 1,200 children from across the UK took part in the study, which was based on a specially developed questionnaire. Analysis of the results revealed several statistically significant differences in children’s connection to nature across the UK, including between boys and girls, and between urban and rural homes.

This report is ground-breaking,” said Rebekah Stackhouse, Education and Youth Programmes Manager for RSPB Scotland. “It’s widely accepted that today’s children have less contact with nature than ever before.  But until now, there has been no robust scientific attempt to measure and track connection to nature among children across the whole of the UK, which means the problem hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.”

Scotland come out top in the regional comparisons, with 27% of children in the country being found to have a particular level of connection to the natural world, while children in Wales had the lowest score across the UK, with just 13% achieving the basic level of exposure to nature.

Perhaps surprisingly, the study revealed that the average score was higher for London than the rest of England and that, overall, urban children were slightly more connected to nature than those living in rural areas.

European starling image

European starling flock in flight

Gender differences

Interestingly, this latest research found that girls were more likely than boys to be exposed to nature and wildlife. While only 16% of boys were at or above the ‘realistic and achievable’ target, 27% of girls were found to be at the same level.

We need to understand these differences,” said Sue Armstrong-Brown, Head of Conservation Policy at the RSPB. “Whether boys and girls are scoring differently on different questions, are girls more empathetic to nature than boys, for instance? We need to analyse the data to find that out.”

Positive impacts

The aim of the study was to create a baseline against which connectivity of children to nature in the UK can be measured and monitored, so that recommendations can be made to governments and local authorities on ways in which this can be increased. In turn, it is hoped that children will reap many benefits from a higher level of interaction with the natural world, including positive impacts on education, physical health, emotional wellbeing and social skills.

To further underline the importance of engaging young people with wildlife, the RSPB has signed up to The Wild Network, a unique and pioneering collaboration between organisations which is working to reverse the trend of children losing touch with their natural surroundings and is encouraging them to play outdoors.

Hedgehog image

Hedgehog

Influential attitudes

The RSPB says that some adults perceive nature to be dangerous or dirty, and that these attitudes could be having a significant effect by holding children back.

There is definitely an attitude out there, in some cases, that nature is not perceived as interesting or engaging. In some cases it is perceived as a dirty or unsafe thing, and that’s an attitude that won’t help a young person climb a tree,” said Armstrong-Brown.

In addition to the benefits reaped by young people, Armstrong-Brown believes that an improvement in the engagement of young people with wildlife is a vital component in ensuring the future of nature conservation in the UK, saying, “If we can grow a generation of children that have a connection to nature and do feel a sense of oneness with it, we then have the force for the future that can save nature and stop us living in a world where nature is declining.”

Read more on this story at BBC News – Just one in five children connected to nature, says study and RSPB News – Just one in five UK children ‘connected to nature’, groundbreaking study finds.

View photos and videos of UK species on ARKive.

Get connected with nature with ARKive’s fun educational activities.

 

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

Sep 20
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ARKive is a Champion Partner for National Geographic’s Great Nature Project

Great Nature Project logoWhether this is your first visit to ARKive or you are an ARKive superfan, odds are you’ve come to see amazing imagery of the world’s wildlife from the tiny water flea to the massive megamouth shark. We believe that films and photos are an incredible way to get up close and personal with animals and plants from around the globe and so do our partners at National Geographic and the Great Nature Project.

ARKive has been named a Champion Partner for the Great Nature Project – a week-long, picture-based BioBlitz event taking place around the world from September 21-29, 2013. Together, we’re working to build the world’s largest online album of animal photos.

Photo of Northern Raccoon

To join in, snap a picture of a plant or animal in your neighborhood, and upload it to a photo sharing site like Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, making sure to tag it #GreatNature and #ARKive. ARKive has its very own collection on the Great Nature Project website right alongside collections from National Geographic Explorer’s-in-Residence and celebrities like Jewel.

ARKive's Great Nature Project Collection

We’ll be curating our collection daily and add our favorite shots to the collection so check back often. Whether you’re exploring a park or a playground, join us in celebrating the wild world through imagery!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

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