Mar 6
Share 'Climate Week 2013' on Delicious Share 'Climate Week 2013' on Digg Share 'Climate Week 2013' on Facebook Share 'Climate Week 2013' on reddit Share 'Climate Week 2013' on StumbleUpon Share 'Climate Week 2013' on Email Share 'Climate Week 2013' on Print Friendly

Climate Week 2013

As you may be aware, not only is this week the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of CITES, it is also Climate Week in the UK. The biggest climate change campaign in Britain, Climate Week aims to inspire us to create a more sustainable future through a range of activities.

Climate week logo

Throughout the course of the week schools, businesses, charities, councils and many other organisations will run over 3,000 events attended by around half a million people interested in finding out more about the future of climate change and what we can do to safeguard against its impacts.

With such a wide range of events on offer there is bound to be something for everyone so do try to attend if you can. Not only will it be informative, by the sounds of it you will also have a lot of fun. Activities include test driving electric vehicles, growing your own food in community allotments, a green building show with a Climate Week Pledge Wall, swapping clothes, books, toys and DVDs, developing a Community Energy Plan and even an event at Manchester United hosted by none other than England football coach Gary Neville. There are too many to list but more information can be found on the Climate Week website.

Polar bear jumping between ice floes

Polar bears are dependent on sea ice for its survival, but climate change is causing drastic reductions in the extent of ice cover

If you are unable to attend any events near you (or, alas there are no events in your proximity), we’ll do our best in this blog to give you an overview of climate change and why it is so important for us to safeguard our wildlife and environment against it.

About climate change

Without wanting to be too accusatory, there is no doubt that climate change is caused by man-made impacts on our planet. You may have heard it referred to as ‘global warming’, due to the steady rise in the Earth’s temperature that is occurring. Both terms are correct, however they actually refer to different phenomena. Climate change refers to the changes in climate which arise as a result of the increasing global temperature. These can include changes in precipitation patterns, increased incidence of drought, heat waves and other extreme weather conditions. In essence, global warming does not mean that we will all have increasingly warmer weather; the planet’s steadily rising temperature will be associated with changes across the world in climate pattern, and more extreme and unpredictable weather. Some places may well become hotter, but some will become colder, and others wetter or drier.

Atlantic krill

Antarctic krill die due to ocean acidification

These changes in climate may not sound like much, but they are creating huge problems on a global scale for both wildlife and people. The severity of storms and floods are increasing, and ruthless droughts are on the rise. The acidity of our seas is rising, affecting species such as coral and krill and destroying marine food chains that ultimately maintain the balance of life in the oceans. The lack of arctic ice in the summer creates a dire situation for polar bears as well as compounding global warming because the ice would usually serve to deflect sunlight away from the planet. The increased heat absorbed due to the absence of this natural deflection in turn causes permafrost to thaw, releasing trapped methane gas. This gas, along with carbon dioxide released by the process of deforestation and the warming oceans both serve to increase what is known as the greenhouse effect; some gases trap and retain the sun’s heat giving rise to this phenomenon.

Hawksbill turtle

Rising sea levels could wash away hawksbill turtle nests and decrease nesting habitat

As we can see, this process is not pretty, and we’ve only scratched at the surface of what is happening in this blog. Mass extinction of wildlife is predicted in the near future, including species such as polar bears and emperor penguins that will lose their habitat to melting ice and rising sea levels. Colourful corals such as the Acanthastrea coral will die as a result of ocean acidification. Also affected are species that live and breed on low-lying remote islands, for example marine turtles like the giant South American, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. There are too many to name here, but you can check out more species that will be affected by climate change on ARKive.

Staghorn coral

Climate change is already having measurable impacts on coral reefs worldwide

 

So, even if it’s just spreading the word on climate change, will you do your bit this Climate Week?

Find out more about climate change, the species it affects and what we can do to mitigate the effects on our Climate Change topic page.

Download Climate Week resources from the Climate Week website.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

Jan 10
Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on Delicious Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on Digg Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on Facebook Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on reddit Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on StumbleUpon Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on Email Share 'In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer' on Print Friendly

In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer

Invasive reindeer are to be eradicated from South Georgia in an attempt to save the unique environment of this sub-Antarctic island.

Reindeer are normally found in the Arctic

As well as being home to 3,000 reindeer, the island of South Georgia has many endemic species of fauna and flora that evolved in the absence of grazing pressures. These species are now struggling to survive in the reindeer’s overbearing presence, and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced plans to eradicate the population in an effort to save the island’s unique species.

Habitat destruction

Reindeer were first introduced to South Georgia by the Norwegians in the 1900s to provide fresh meat on whaling missions in Antarctica. The population was originally managed by regular hunting, but when whaling stations were shut down in the 1960s, all hunting ceased.

Since then, the reindeer population has increased dramatically to a point where the island’s flora and fauna can no longer cope. Reindeer trample the indigenous plants, threaten king penguins and other local birds by destroying their nests and habitat, and cause substantial soil erosion.

King penguins are just one of the species threatened by the presence of reindeer

The reindeer herd is currently restricted by glaciers to the only suitable grazing habitat, which is also the most biologically productive. However, the impending threat of climate change and glacial recession will serve to increase the damage caused by opening up access to the rest of the island.

The government has decided to eradicate the reindeer population on South Georgia on the grounds of responsible environmental management practices.

Reindeer are grazing on the most biologically productive parts of the island

Island restoration

The reindeer cull will be led by the Norwegian Sami herdsmen whose expertise will ensure the programme goes smoothly, and it is estimated that it will take place over two summers. Meat from the cull will not go to waste and will be sold on the Falkland Islands, since South Georgia has no permanent resident population.

The Sami herdsmen are experienced in handling reindeer

Scientists hope that this, alongside a rat eradication programme currently in progress, will restore the island of South Georgia by allowing native plant species and bird populations to recover. Two native bird species which scientists hope will benefit from the removal of rats and reindeer are the South Georgia pipit and the South Georgia pintail, a subspecies of the yellow-billed pintail.

The endemic South Georgia pintail will benefit from the eradication of rats and reindeer

 

Read more on this story at BBC News – South Georgia prepares to cull its invasive reindeer.

Find out more about the invasive reindeer population from the IUCN Species Survival Commission Invasive Species Specialist Group newsletter.

View photos and videos of reindeer on ARKive.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

Aug 12
Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on Delicious Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on Digg Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on Facebook Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on reddit Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on StumbleUpon Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on Email Share 'Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin' on Print Friendly

Endangered Species of the Week: African penguin

African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) photo

African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

Species: African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The African penguin is the only penguin species to breed on the African continent.

The African penguin is also known as the ‘jackass penguin’ due to its loud, braying call. Feeding on fish such as anchovies and sardines, African penguins are strong swimmers and can reach speeds of 20km/hour in the water. The African penguin is known to breed on 24 islands in southern Africa. Pairs return to the same site each year to breed. Both adults take turns to incubate the eggs and, following hatching, adults will guard and regurgitate food to the chicks. After 30 days the chicks are left in crèches while the adults forage.

It is estimated that the current African penguin population is just 10% of what it was at the turn of the 20th Century. These penguins are currently threatened by depleted fish stocks due to overfishing and oil spills. All of the breeding areas of the African penguin in South Africa are protected as Nature Reserves, and work to rescue oiled African penguins has been shown to be successful. Work to conserve fish stocks is crucial to protect the African penguin from extinction.

Find out more about the African penguin on the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums website.

See images and videos of the African penguin on ARKive.

Mar 24
Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on Delicious Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on Digg Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on Facebook Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on reddit Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on StumbleUpon Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on Email Share 'In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic' on Print Friendly

In the News: Penguin breeding cycles affected by warming Antarctic

Although Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins share their western Antarctic Peninsula breeding grounds, new research has discovered that rising temperatures have been affecting the breeding cycles of the three species in different ways.

Photo of Gentoo penguin colony with chicks

Gentoo penguin colony with chicks. Gentoo penguin populations are thought to have increased on the Antarctic Peninsula

Tracking penguin colonies

Professor Heather Lynch and her colleagues from Stony Brook University used a combination of fieldwork and satellite imagery to track colonies of the three penguin species and monitor how their breeding cycles were affected by the region’s warming temperatures.

Currently, the Antarctic is considered to be one of the world’s most rapidly warming regions and is one of the areas most impacted by global climate change.

Photo of Adelie penguins walking along the beach

Adelie penguins walking along the beach. Adelie populations have declined in the Antarctic, possibly due to warming temperatures in the region

Shifting breeding cycles

According to Lynch’s research, warmer temperatures cause a shift in the breeding cycle, causing the Peninsula’s penguin inhabitants to lay their eggs earlier. The researchers found that the resident gentoo penguin population is able to adapt more quickly to this change, with these birds able to bring their egg laying dates forward by almost twice as much as the Adélie or chinstrap penguins. 

Lynch believes this may allow the gentoo penguin to better compete for the best nesting space. In addition, the gentoo prefers areas with less sea ice, and has been able to migrate further south into the Antarctic as the sea ice shrinks as a result of the warming temperatures.

While gentoo penguins are year-round residents on the Antarctic Peninsula, Adélie and chinstrap penguins migrate to the Peninsula to breed. The researchers believe that the Adélie and chinstrap penguins are not aware of the local conditions in the region until they arrive, and have not been able to advance their breeding cycles as rapidly as the gentoo penguin.

Chinstrap and Adélie penguins also rely more heavily on sea ice due to their dependence on Antarctic krill, a species which lives under the sea ice for parts of its lifecycle, for food.

Photo of Gentoo penguin adult and chick

Gentoo penguin adult and chick

Changing penguin populations

As a result of changing conditions in the region, the number of gentoo penguins has been increasing on the Antarctic Peninsula, while populations of both Adélie and chinstrap penguins have noticeably dwindled in recent years.

Analyses carried out by Lynch and her team have confirmed that populations of the Adélie penguin have decreased at almost all of its breeding locations on the Antarctic Peninsula. The researchers have also helped to resolve previous contradictory studies that suggest that the chinstrap penguin may benefit from decreasing sea ice, and have instead shown that populations of this species are also decreasing in the region.

The work by Lynch and her team has been published as a series of papers online in Polar Biology, Ecology and Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS).

Photo of chinstrap penguins on beach

Chinstrap penguins on beach. Chinstrap populations have also suffered as a result of rising Antarctic temperatures

Read the Stony Brook University press release about Lynch’s work.

Find out more about the Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins on ARKive.

For more information on the Antarctic visit ARKive’s Antarctic ecoregion page.

Interested in how climate change is affecting the world’s species? Find out more on ARKive’s climate change pages, or enter our creative climate change challenge!

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

Feb 16
Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on Delicious Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on Digg Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on Facebook Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on reddit Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on StumbleUpon Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on Email Share 'ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!' on Print Friendly

ARKive’s Love Species – The Top Ten!

Valentine’s Day has been and gone but we’d like to spread a little more love, so as a thank you for sharing your favourite species with us on Twitter, we are featuring your Top Ten cool and cute critters right here in our blog!

1. Kakapo

Kakapo image

The nocturnal kakapo is the world's biggest parrot species

This feathered fellow was chosen because it is the world’s only flightless parrot, and the male attracts a female with a bellowing ‘boom’! The kakapo, a giant parrot with an owl-like face, is endemic to New Zealand, and sadly there are only thought to be around 127 individuals remaining.

2. Manatee

Manatee image

The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee

The gorgeous and tranquil manatee was chosen for being such a gentle giant! This large sirenian can consume between 10 and 15% of its body weight per day…that’s an awful lot of seagrass!

3. Blue whale

Blue whale image

The blue whale is so big that its heart is roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle!

Whales are pretty incredible species, and some of you chose the blue whale as an ultimate favourite due to its sheer size; the blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived, being almost as large as a Boeing 737! Yet despite its size, this giant of the oceans feeds mainly on small shrimp-like krill.

4. Tiger

Tiger image

Young tigers are dependent on their mothers for at least 15 months

The majestic tiger was one of the favourites amongst the furred, and with its beautiful markings and powerful build, we can see why! The pattern and distribution of the stunning stripes on a tiger are unique to each animal, making identification of individuals possible. Sadly, poaching remains a threat to this incredible big cat.

5. Orangutan

Orangutan image

Orangutans are the slowest breeding of all mammal species

Orangutan means ‘person of the forest’ in the native languages of Indonesia and Malaysia, a description which certainly fits this enigmatic, human-like species. The long arms of the orangutan may reach up to two metres in length, perfect for giving their conspecifics a great big Valentine’s Day hug! Unfortunately, habitat destruction is a major threat to both species of orangutan.

6. Orca

Orca image

The shapes of an orca's dorsal fin and saddle patch are unique to each individual

The largest member of the dolphin family, the social orca, was chosen as a favourite for being graceful yet powerful. With its striking black and white markings, the intelligent orca, also known as the killer whale, is certainly an impressive animal, and the dorsal fin of a male can reach up to 1.8 metres in height.

7. Penguin

Emperor penguin image

Weighing up to 40 kilograms, the Emperor penguin is the heavyweight of the penguin world

Penguins were another of the most popular species choices, and they certainly are loveable creatures! The emperor penguin in particular shows great dedication to its family; the male will incubate an egg in sub-zero temperatures for several months without feeding. Now that’s true love!

8. Flamingo

Greater flamingo image

The greater flamingo is the most widespread of the flamingo species

The beautiful greater flamingo is instantly recognisable with its beautiful pink colouration, and long neck and legs. The highly social greater flamingo is the largest and palest of the flamingo species, and is known to swim to find food. This iconic bird nests in massive colonies containing more than 20,000 pairs, so no quiet dinner date for two where this species is concerned!

9. Gorilla

Eastern gorilla image

Young gorillas are not fully weaned until they are 3.5 years of age

The largest of the living apes, the gorilla was another of your favourite furries. This fascinating species lives in stable, cohesive family groups within tropical forests. With their cute, human-like faces and playful antics, it is hard not to feel engaged with these intelligent creatures.

10. Pangolin

Chinese pangolin image

The Chinese pangolin is terrestrial, but is capable of climbing trees and swimming

And finally, the strangest-looking creature from our top ten: the pangolin! Despite not being closely related to anteaters, the curious pangolin is sometimes known as the scaly anteater as it is highly specialised in feeding solely on ants and termites. I wouldn’t consider this to be a particularly delicious Valentine’s Day meal, but am sure the pangolin would beg to differ!

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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:

ARKive twitter