The mimics among us — birds pirate songs for personal profit

From Roman classics to British tabloids, humans have long celebrated the curious and remarkable ability of birds to imitate the sounds of humans and other animals. A recent surge of research is revealing how and why birds use vocal mimicry to further their own interests, as we discuss in Biological Reviews. Anastasia Dalziell, Cornell UniversityContinue reading “The mimics among us — birds pirate songs for personal profit”

A fascinating history of warrior turtles: from ancient myths, warships and teenage mutants

Ask anyone the identity of the world’s most famed turtles, and the answer is likely to be those legendary heroes in a half-shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninjas. Since first appearing in comic book form in 1984, the pizza-eating, nunchuk-wielding characters have shown the world the tougher side of turtles. Louise Pryke, University of Sydney PartContinue reading “A fascinating history of warrior turtles: from ancient myths, warships and teenage mutants”

How deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans

Amy Y. Vittor, University of Florida; Gabriel Zorello Laporta, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, and Maria Anice Mureb Sallum, Universidade de São Paulo The coronavirus pandemic, suspected of originating in bats and pangolins, has brought the risk of viruses that jump from wildlife to humans into stark focus. These leaps often happen at the edgesContinue reading “How deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans”

Conservation activists suing Indonesian zoo could inspire global action on endangered species trade

In a court in rural Indonesia, an environmental group recently filed a lawsuit of global importance. Their case is against a zoo in North Sumatra that it’s alleged illegally exhibited threatened species, including Komodo dragons and critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. Images by Craig Jones Wildlife Photography. Jacob Phelps, Lancaster University The illegal wildlife trade isContinue reading “Conservation activists suing Indonesian zoo could inspire global action on endangered species trade”

Almost 90% of the world’s animal species will lose some habitat to agriculture by 2050

David Williams, University of Leeds and Michael Clark, University of Oxford Scientists know that biodiversity is declining across much of the world although less universally and dramatically than we feared. We also know that things are likely to get worse in the future, with a combination of habitat loss, climate change and overexploitation set toContinue reading “Almost 90% of the world’s animal species will lose some habitat to agriculture by 2050”

Deforestation can raise local temperatures by up to 4.5℃ – and heat untouched areas 6km away

Sally Thompson, The University of Western Australia; Débora Corrêa, The University of Western Australia; John Duncan, The University of Western Australia, and Octavia Crompton, Duke University Forests directly cool the planet, like natural evaporative air conditioners. So what happens when you cut them down? In tropical countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and the Congo, rapidContinue reading “Deforestation can raise local temperatures by up to 4.5℃ – and heat untouched areas 6km away”

Bonobos can inspire us to make our democracies more peaceful

Bonobos, sometimes called the “forgotten ape” due to their recent discovery and small numbers, titillate the democrat’s imagination. Before the 1970s, certain primatologists thought bonobos were strange chimpanzees because females govern in this primate society. Frans de Waal, the primatologist and popular writer, has done much to explain the fascinating lives of these “peace-loving apes”Continue reading “Bonobos can inspire us to make our democracies more peaceful”

Organized crime is a top driver of global deforestation – along with beef, soy, palm oil and wood products

Jennifer Devine, Texas State University Every year the world loses an estimated 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of forest, an area larger than the state of Indiana. Nearly all of it is in the tropics. Tropical forests store enormous quantities of carbon and are home to at least two-thirds of the world’s living species,Continue reading “Organized crime is a top driver of global deforestation – along with beef, soy, palm oil and wood products”

In the Atlantic Forest, the lowland tapir is at risk of extinction

Lowland tapir populations in the Atlantic Forest in South America are at risk of almost complete disappearance, scientists have estimated. Weighing up to 250 kg, the animal can adapt to most habitats in South America—but its populations continue to decline across its range. Today, its survival is seriously threatened: it can be found in justContinue reading “In the Atlantic Forest, the lowland tapir is at risk of extinction”

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?”

Africa’s rainforests are different. Why it matters that they’re protected

Martin Sullivan, University of Leeds; Oliver Phillips, University of Leeds, and Simon Lewis, UCL Around 2 million km² of Africa is covered by tropical rainforests. They are second only in extent to those in Amazonia, which cover around 6 million km². Rainforests are home to vast numbers of species. For example, the world’s tropical rainforestsContinue reading “Africa’s rainforests are different. Why it matters that they’re protected”

Demand for meat is driving deforestation in Brazil – changing the soy industry could stop it

Angela Guerrero, Stockholm University and Malika Virah-Sawmy, Humboldt University of Berlin Soy may have a pretty innocuous reputation thanks to its association with vegan food and meat alternatives. But don’t be fooled – crops of this pale legume are behind much of Brazil’s epidemic of deforestation. Since 2000, Brazil has doubled its total area ofContinue reading “Demand for meat is driving deforestation in Brazil – changing the soy industry could stop it”

A global juggling act: feeding the world, saving species

Jim Radford, Deakin University Our planet is on the precipice of a sixth mass extinction event. But unlike the five previous mass extinctions, this one is man-made: a global biodiversity crisis in which species are disappearing three to 12 times faster than the “normal” rate of extinction. Australia is not immune from this crisis. InContinue reading “A global juggling act: feeding the world, saving species”

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”

These are the forgotten animals of the secretly destroyed forests

These brands have products that contain palm oil sourced from mills that are responsible for the destruction of precious habitats of endangered species. Therefore, these brands are directly involved in the extinction of hundreds of endangered species. Here are some palm oil free alternatives to buy instead.

Climate Explained: what would happen if we cut down the Amazon rainforest?

Sebastian Leuzinger, Auckland University of Technology What would happen if we cut down the entire Amazon rainforest? Could it be replaced by an equal amount of reforestation elsewhere? Removing the entire Amazon rainforest would have myriad consequences, with the most obvious ones possibly not the worst. Most people will first think of the carbon currentlyContinue reading “Climate Explained: what would happen if we cut down the Amazon rainforest?”

Why you should stop buying new clothes

Alana James, Northumbria University, Newcastle The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, producing 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions – and it’s estimated that by 2050 this will have increased to 25%. A staggering 300,000 tonnes of clothes are sent to British landfills each year.Continue reading “Why you should stop buying new clothes”

Huge ecosystems could collapse in less than 50 years – new study

We know that ecosystems under stress can reach a point where they rapidly collapse into something very different. The clear water of a pristine lake can turn algae-green in a matter of months. In hot summers, a colourful coral reef can soon become bleached and virtually barren. And if a tropical forest has its canopyContinue reading “Huge ecosystems could collapse in less than 50 years – new study”