Meet Chimbu, the blue-eyed, bear-eared tree kangaroo

Tree kangaroos are so unusual that when Europeans first encountered them in Australia in 1872, they were sceptical. Who would believe a kangaroo could climb a tree? The Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is a threatened species found in forests in the Central Cordillera mountain ranges of Papua New Guinea, from sea level to high in theContinue reading “Meet Chimbu, the blue-eyed, bear-eared tree kangaroo”

Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours

Gisela Kaplan, University of New England Birds can certainly get very angry – and the owner of a galah or corella would be well advised not to get near this bird when the head feathers are raised — but birds can be joyful and playful, can get depressed and, as studies have shown, a neglectfulContinue reading “Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours”

Species Extinction: just how bad is it and why should we care?

Euan Ritchie, Deakin University “Dad, the world is missing amazing animals. I wish extinction wasn’t forever”. Despite my wife and I working as biologists, our five-year-old son came to make this statement independently. Euan Ritchie, Deakin University He is highlighting what I and many others consider to be society’s biggest challenge, and arguably failure: theContinue reading “Species Extinction: just how bad is it and why should we care?”

For primates, having a mother helps them learn social skills

Carla Litchfield, University of South Australia Wild bonobos, like all Great Apes, spend long childhoods with their mothers, learning the skills they need to function as socially and emotionally stable members of their community. But orphaned bonobos at sanctuaries don’t have that kind of upbringing. Can they still learn the skills they need to getContinue reading “For primates, having a mother helps them learn social skills”

The why, what and where of the world’s black leopards

Sam Williams, Durham University A black leopard was recently spotted in Kenya’s Laikipia area by San Diego Zoo scientist, Nicholas Pilfold. Sam Williams, a conservation ecologist focused on African carnivores, asked Nicholas about the elusive cats. Where are black leopards found in Africa? There have been a number of reports of black leopard in Africa,Continue reading “The why, what and where of the world’s black leopards”

One-fifth of reptiles heading towards extinction

Almost one-fifth of the world’s reptiles are currently threatened with extinction. A recent study assessed 1500 species for extinction risks. From the 19% found to be in danger, 12% were classified as Critically Endangered, 41% as Endangered and 47% Vulnerable. Three of the species listed as being Critically Endangered are believed to be possibly extinct.Continue reading “One-fifth of reptiles heading towards extinction”

What’s my name? How wild parrots identify their young

Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation Wild parrots name their chicks by teaching them an individual sound to identify them, researchers have found. Humans and dolphins create unique sounds by which individuals are identified and there was some evidence to suggest captive parrots created ‘contact calls’ – special calls used to identify family and friends. But untilContinue reading “What’s my name? How wild parrots identify their young”

We don’t know how many mountain gorillas live in the wild. Here’s why

Katerina Guschanski, Uppsala University How important are the mountain gorillas of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park to global populations? A new census – carried out by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (a coalition of governments, non-profits and conservationists) in 2018 – shows that the population of mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NationalContinue reading “We don’t know how many mountain gorillas live in the wild. Here’s why”

Nature’s hidden wealth is conservation’s missed opportunity

Australia has one of the worst extinction records in the modern world. Since European settlement, a third of the country’s native mammals have disappeared. How can we stem the losses? A recent article in Nature highlighted that most federal and state biodiversity conservation policy fails to recognise biodiversity as a major source of industrial products.Continue reading “Nature’s hidden wealth is conservation’s missed opportunity”

Monkey minds: what we can learn from primate personality

Carla Litchfield, University of South Australia Every human is different. Some are outgoing, while others are reserved and shy. Some are focused and diligent, while others are haphazard and unfussed. Some people are curious, others avoid novelty and enjoy their rut. This is reflected in our personality, which is typically measured across five factors, knownContinue reading “Monkey minds: what we can learn from primate personality”

Humans force wild animals into tight spots, or send them far from home

The COVID pandemic has shown us that disruptions to the way we move around, complete daily activities and interact with each other can shatter our wellbeing. This doesn’t apply only to humans. Wildlife across the globe find themselves in this situation every day, irrespective of a global pandemic. Our latest research published today in NatureContinue reading “Humans force wild animals into tight spots, or send them far from home”

What is a ‘mass extinction’ and are we in one now?

Frédérik Saltré, Flinders University and Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Flinders University For more than 3.5 billion years, living organisms have thrived, multiplied and diversified to occupy every ecosystem on Earth. The flip side to this explosion of new species is that species extinctions have also always been part of the evolutionary life cycle. But theseContinue reading “What is a ‘mass extinction’ and are we in one now?”

Inside the colourful world of animal vision

As humans, we live in a colourful world, but differences in visual systems means that not all animals see the world in the same way. Unlike other aspects of an object such as size or mass, colour is not an inherent property of an object but a result of the sensory system of the viewer.Continue reading “Inside the colourful world of animal vision”

Palm oil plantations are bad for wildlife great and small: study

Palm oil plantations have an overall negative impact on biodiversity, according to research released this week. The study, published in Nature Communications, found palm oil plantations are home to fewer insect species than even intensive rubber tree plantations. A forests expert at James Cook University, Bill Laurance, said of the research: “The big message isContinue reading “Palm oil plantations are bad for wildlife great and small: study”

The lengthy childhood of endangered orangutans is written in their teeth

Orangutan populations in the wild are critically endangered, and one of the things that may hamper their survival is the time they take to rear new offspring. An orangutan mother will not give birth again until she’s finished providing milk to her previous offspring. Nursing can take a long time and vary across seasons, asContinue reading “The lengthy childhood of endangered orangutans is written in their teeth”

African grey parrots help each other in times of need

Désirée Brucks, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and Auguste von Bayern, Max Planck Institute People readily help each other. We donate blood and food or help old people across the street. Among non-human animals this propensity to help is very rare. There are a few observations of helping behaviours in non-human animals. For example,Continue reading “African grey parrots help each other in times of need”

How forest loss has changed biodiversity across the globe over the last 150 years

Maria Dornelas, University of St Andrews; Gergana Daskalova, University of Edinburgh, and Isla Myers-Smith, University of Edinburgh The Earth’s forests have been changing ever since the first tree took root. For 360 million years, trees have grown and been felled through a dynamic mix of hurricanes, fires and natural regeneration. But with the dawn ofContinue reading “How forest loss has changed biodiversity across the globe over the last 150 years”

Gibbon song may be music to the ears of human language students

Nicholas Bannan, University of Western Australia Gibbons and humans have more in common than might immediately seem apparent. Among many behavioural traits shared by our two species is singing. Not just that – the songs of gibbons have the potential to teach us about the origin of our own human capacities. A recent study inContinue reading “Gibbon song may be music to the ears of human language students”

Deforestation on Indonesian island of Sulawesi destroys habitat of endemic primates

Jatna Supriatna, Universitas Indonesia Intensified illegal logging and expansions of palm oil plantations and farms have destroyed rain forests on Indonesia’s fourth-largest island, Sulawesi, threatening the biodiversity of a world-renowned laboratory of evolutionary biology. Sulawesi is part of a biodiversity hotspot – a region with at least 1,500 endemic plants, specifically those with developed tissues.Continue reading “Deforestation on Indonesian island of Sulawesi destroys habitat of endemic primates”

Borneo’s bearded pig, gardener of forests and protector of their inhabitants

Edmond Dounias, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) Borneo – fourth-largest island in the world, home to more than 20 million people – has always aroused the fascination of explorers. The island is dense with forests, waterways and soaring mountains, and its indigenous population have a deep relationship with the forest. A fragile landscapeContinue reading “Borneo’s bearded pig, gardener of forests and protector of their inhabitants”