Mark Szotek, special to mongabay.com
February 02, 2010
“No one would have ever predicted that we could turn the cells in our collection into stem cells and that you would be able to clone animals from these (stem) cells; or that you could sequence the genomes of these animals on any kind of scale. At the time when this collection was first banked, the rate of nucleotide sequencing was 10 a year at best. Now nucleotides are being sequenced routinely by my colleagues across the hall.”
A “frozen zoo” is a cryonic or “cold storage” facility for the long term preservation of animal and plant genetic material such as skin cells, DNA, sperm, eggs, and embryos. The first facility of this type was developed by San Diego Zoological Society for the study and preservation of genetic material from endangered animal species from across the globe.
The following article is a dialog with Dr. Oliver Ryder, Director of Genetics at the San Diego Zoological Society’s Institute for Conservation Research, home of the San Diego Zoo’s genetics collection. This piece is intended to read as both an interview and a series of vignettes on the background, goals, and highlights of the San Diego Zoo’s genetics collection or “Frozen Zoo”
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0202-szotek_frozen_zoo.html#Fgb30WV3MdtTEml3.99
Southern Bear Photograph by Carlton Ward Bears in Florida aren’t just the stuff of Disney—the Sunshine State is home to at least three thousand black bears, including M13, pictured, a male captured in Highlands County (map) in 2006. But due to human activities, bears and other Florida wildlife are increasingly isolated in remote patches of habitat, preventing them from moving freely through their territories and potentially leading to the local extinction of some species. That’s partly why, a year ago this January, a team of explorers set off on a hundred-day, 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) expedition to drum up awareness and support for a proposed Florida Wildlife Corridor, a strip of uninterrupted wild and rural land that would link landscapes from the Florida Peninsula all the way to Georgia. (Related blog: “Follow Carlton Ward’s 1,000-Mile Trek Through Florida.”) The corridor would protect wide-ranging species such as the black bear; keep the watershed that drains into the Everglades clean and safe; and also maintain ranches and farms, which house much of the potential corridor land, Carlton Ward, Jr., a National Geographic explorer and conservation photographer who led the expedition, said recently. (National Geographic News is a division of the National Geographic Society.) “Despite very intensive development, we still have a chance to create a corridor that touches millions of acres of high-quality conservation land,” Ward said. The Florida Wildlife Corridor is gaining recognition within state agencies, Ward said, and formal recognition is a near-term goal. Overall, the state’s wild wonders are “really an untold story,” he said. “This is Florida—it’s not just coast, beaches, and amusement parks.” —Christine Dell’Amore
Do you know to order when you go out for fish? (from the perspective of conservation) :
Australia & New Zealand : http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/publications/-best-fish-guide
United Kingdom: http://www.fishonline.org
South Africa: http://www.wwfsassi.co.za/?m=1
— SAVE OUR SEAS FOUNDATION, DECEMBER 03 2012
n new research published in a special issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and in “Sources to Seafood: Mercury Pollution in the Marine Environment”, scientists report that mercury released into the air and then deposited into oceans contaminates seafood commonly eaten by people in the U.S. and globally.
Over the past century, mercury pollution in the surface ocean has more than doubled, as a result of past and present human activities such as coal burning, mining, and other industrial processes. The research findings by C-MERC published December 3 also examine the effects of local mercury inputs that dominate some near-shore coastal waters. The research is presented through nine scientific papers in Environmental Health Perspectives and is the culmination of two years of work by approximately 70 mercury and marine scientists from multiple disciplines including biology, ecotoxicology, engineering, environmental geochemistry, and epidemiology. The research provides a synthesis of the science on the sources, fate, and human exposure to mercury in marine systems by tracing the pathways and transformation of mercury to methylmercury from sources to seafood to consumers.
read more click the pic
See my previous post please
Conservationists working in Madagascar are doing the unthinkable—defacing the shells of endangered ploughshare tortoises—but it may be the animals’ last hope.
West African Manatees
To build a network of trained African researchers in all 21 range countries of the West African Manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) who will collect critically needed baseline data and enable grassroots conservation actions for the species and disseminate results.
Why this is important:
The West African manatee is one of the least understood and least studied marine mammals in the world. Conservation efforts are hindered by a lack of basic information about the species, and are also unsustainable without capacity building.
— LUCY KEITH DIAGNE, 11 NOVEMBER, 2012
On September 24, 2010 a live male West African manatee calf, approximately one month old, washed up on the beach in Mayumba, a very remote section of southern Gabon in central Africa. It is unknown where the manatee originated from, but evidence suggests he was traveling with his mother in the ocean and became separated. Staff from Mayumba National Park rescued the calf, which weighed 27 kg and was 117 cm long. This was the first documented record of a West African manatee in the Atlantic Ocean in Gabon.
After stabilizing him in a bath tub overnight, the calf was transferred to a corral, which the staff quickly built in the nearby lagoon at a quiet location. Lucy Keith Diagne was contacted since she has been studying manatees in Gabon since 2006, and she has led his care and fundraising efforts since. The manatee calf was named “Victor”, and he has now survived for 2 years, becoming the first of his species to be successfully raised in captivity. None of the people on site had worked with manatees previously, and all are to be commended for huge efforts over the past 2 years, including feeding the manatee bottled milk every 3 hours around the clock, treating wounds until they successfully healed, finding and housing volunteers, building Victor a new enclosure after he outgrew the first one, and locating and transporting supplies to the remote location.
The West African manatee project sponsored Puerto Rican manatee Masters student Jonathan Perez-Rivera to travel to Gabon twice, for 4 months each during 2011 and 2012. Jonathan trained Gabonese biologists in Victor’s care and conducted health assessments. This summer Jonathan helped transition Victor from bottles of milk to an adult manatee diet of native plants. Jonathan achieved great success and we are thrilled to report that as of the end of September Victor weighs 103 kg, he has now been completely weaned from the bottle, and he’s eating a diet of 100% plants! Victor is healthy and on track to be released back to the wild in a few months. Jonathan was able to collect a range of important samples from Victor during his time in Gabon, including blood, urine and hair samples, weekly weights, and length and other measurements to document Victor’s growth. This is the first time any of these samples have been routinely collect and analyzed for a West African manatee calf over time, and this is the first ever data on the growth and normal health parameters of this species. Jonathan will use this data for his Masters thesis, and he and Lucy also plan to publish it in a scientific journal. Lucy will use the hair samples to verify Victor’s diet over time using stable isotope analysis as part of her doctoral work at the University of Florida.
This has been an exceptional opportunity not only to help this individual, but for scientists to learn more about this elusive species, to promote educational awareness for manatees in Gabon and throughout Africa, and for international collaboration between manatee researchers from around the world. Unlike West Indian and Amazonian manatees, our physiological knowledge of this endangered species is literally nonexistent, thus Victor is a true ambassador for his species.
An international, shark-focused meeting of more than 50 nations, convened under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), concluded this week in Bonn with adoption of a global conservation plan for great white sharks, porbeagles, basking sharks, spiny dogfish, whale sharks, and two species of makos.
The plan aims to complement and promote the objectives of the 2010 CMS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the first intergovernmental treaty dedicated specifically to global shark conservation. To date, the MoU has 25 Signatories, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Australia, Senegal, and the United States.
“We congratulate the Signatories and CMS Secretariat on the adoption of a sound basis for conserving several threatened, highly migratory shark species,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International. “The success of the new conservation plan depends on immediate and concrete, follow-up actions to not only improve our understanding of sharks, but also to limit shark fishing, bycatch, and trade to sustainable levels.”
Through the Shark MoU and accompanying conservation plan, signatories are encouraged to cooperate in national and regional actions to:
- facilitate research, data collection, and monitoring of shark populations and fisheries;
- set fishing limits based on scientific advice and the precautionary approach;
- prevent “finning” (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea);
- impose area closures to protect critical habitats and key life stages of sharks;
- reach out to stakeholders and raise awareness of the sharks’ status and needs; and
- cooperate toward shark conservation through international fisheries and wildlife bodies.
“We are pleased by the widespread support expressed this week for strengthening shark finning bans and the specific text that encourages requirements for landing sharks with fins still naturally attached,” said Ania Budziak, Associate Director of Science and Policy at Project AWARE Foundation. “We note that the European Union is close to adopting this best practice for finning ban enforcement, and we are hopeful that the CMS endorsement will encourage Members of European Parliament to complete this critical task.”
You know the deal, click the pic to read more!
The Great Barrier Reef
An article published this month in the Australian Institute of Marine Scientists looking at Reef Diversity studies since 1985 has reported that the GBR has lost an unbelievable 50.7% of reef cover in the last 27 years, and that’s not the worst of it! The study predicts that at the current rate there will be a further decline of 5-10% in the next 10 years.
There are three m
1) Tropical Cyclones
2) Predation from the crown-of-thorns starfish
All three causes can be related to a changing climate. Bleaching is related to an increase in ocean temperatures. Tropical cyclone intensity and frequency is related to ocean surface temperatures, which also cause habitat declines, which allow opportunistic and new species to colonise the reef, species such as the crown-of-thorns starfish.
The worrying aspect of this study is that this is happening in such a well maintained well studied Marine Park, and not an un-managed reef such as the reefs in South East Asia which undergo uncontrolled and extreme environmental stress.
But there is hope! John Gunn, CEO of AIMS says that as the majority of this damage happened before the most intense stages of warming and acidification associated with climate change have kicked in, that continuing to monitor and manage the marine park, and controlling the problem of the crown-of-thorns starfish, the Reef may be repaired.
Image: Allen James