The Incredible Journey of Three African Wild Dogs – The New York Times

“The three sisters knew they had to leave home. They were African wild dogs, elite predators of the sub-Saharan region and among the most endangered mammals on Earth. At 3 years old, they were in the prime of their vigor, ferocity and buoyant, pencil-limbed indifference to gravity. If they did not seize the chance to trade the security of their birth pack for new opportunities elsewhere, they might well die as they had lived: as subordinate, self-sacrificing maiden aunts with no offspring of their own.

And so, in October of last year, the sisters set forth on the longest and most harrowing odyssey ever recorded for Lycaon pictus, a carnivore already known as a wide-ranging wanderer. Over the next nine months, the dogs traveled some 1,300 miles, which, according to the scientists who tagged them, is more than twice the previous record for the species. They lit out from their natal home range in the Luangwa Valley in eastern Zambia, crisscrossed Zambia and parts of Mozambique, skirted the edge of Zimbabwe and finally made their way back into central Zambia and settled in Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe, where evidence suggests they remain to this day.”

Climate Groups Use Endangered Species Act to Try to Stop Drilling – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Oil burned from a well drilled in Wyoming adds to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is heating the planet and devastating coral reefs in Florida, polar bears in the Arctic and monk seals in Hawaii. But drawing a direct line from any single source of pollution to the destruction of a species is virtually impossible.

Environmentalists want the government to try.

On Wednesday a coalition of organizations sued the Biden administration for consistently failing to consider the harms caused to endangered species from the emissions produced by oil and gas drilling on public lands.

If the coalition succeeds by invoking the protections under the Endangered Species Act, more than 3,500 drilling permits issued during the Biden administration could be revoked and future permitting could be far more difficult.”

A Proposed Road in Alaska Threatens Anilca Protections – The New York Times

“By Alaskan standards, the gravel road that an isolated community near the Aleutian Islands wants to build to connect to an airport is not a huge project. But because it would be cut through a federal wildlife refuge, the road has been a simmering source of contention since it was first proposed decades ago.

Now, the dispute is boiling over. And none other than former President Jimmy Carter, 97, has weighed in.

Residents of King Cove, and political leaders in the state, who argue that the road is needed to ensure that villagers can get emergency medical care, see the potential for a long-sought victory in a recent federal appeals court ruling that upheld a Trump-era land deal that would allow the project to move forward.

Conservation groups, who say the project is less about health care and more about transporting salmon and workers for the large cannery in King Cove, fear that more is at risk than just the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, 300,000 acres of unique habitat for migratory waterfowl, bears and other animals.”

Climate Change Will Accelerate Viral Spillovers, Study Finds – The New York Times

“Over the next 50 years, climate change will drive thousands of viruses to jump from one species of mammal to another, according to a study published in Nature on Thursday. The shuffling of viruses among animals may increase the risk that one will jump into humans and cause a new pandemic, the researchers said.

Scientists have long warned that a warming planet may increase the burden of diseases. Malaria, for example, is expected to spread as the mosquitoes that carry it expand their range into warming regions. But climate change might also usher in entirely new diseases, by allowing pathogens to move into new host species.

“We know that species are moving, and when they do, they’re going to have these chances to share viruses,” said Colin Carlson, a biologist at Georgetown University and a co-author of the new study.”

Margaret Renkl | The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Gives Me Hope for the Environment – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — Once upon a time, deep in the upland pine forests and hardwood bottomlands of the American South, a magnificent bird dwelt high in the treetops. The ivory-billed woodpecker was a denizen of old-growth forests, but by the end of the 19th century, vast stands of old-growth Southern forest were already gone. A confirmed sighting of the Lord God Bird hasn’t been recorded since 1944.

Reports of the elusive ivory-bill surface from time to time anyway. In 2004, a sighting in Arkansas inspired a frenzy among birders, but an exhaustive search by teams from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology turned up no definitive evidence of survivors. Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the ivory-billed woodpecker extinct.

Now Steve Latta, the director of conservation at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, believes his team of researchers has found the bird living in the marshes of Louisiana. Using drones and mounted trail cameras, they have amassed both images and recordings of the birds, in addition to more than a dozen observations by the skilled researchers themselves. Comparing the markings, morphology, and foraging behavior of the birds they observed with those in historic photographs and videos, the researchers concluded that the ivory-billed woodpecker is not extinct after all. “Our findings, and the inferences drawn from them, suggest an increasingly hopeful future for the ivory-billed woodpecker,” they write.”

David Lindsay. Thank you Margaret Renkl. Here is one of many good comments:

Al M
Norfolk Va6h ago

Hope is dangerous when it provides delusions that things aren’t really as bad as the actually are. Every reproducible measurement shows how desperate things are for our fragile biosphere and especially for the future of larger species like humans. We need major changes in how we live and we need global cooperation to save ourselves. Instead the world is moving toward division and war which will only exacerbate our demise.

The daily spin of political scandal and the needless carnal horror of our wars are unknown in the vinegar language of ants.

The fish whisper only of the disappeared and growing zones unbreathably dense.

The crows carry on their guttural gossip and raucous debates.

The trees meditate in hushed tones on the the taste and feel of wind soil and sun.

The squirrels continue their chattering play.

As we supposedly sentient apes revel in our superiority, knowingly consuming ourselves to extinction.

The seagulls laugh at our folly.

1 Reply38 Recommended

This Map Shows Where Biodiversity Is Most at Risk in America – The New York Times

Let your eyes wander to the areas of this map that deepen into red. They are the places in the United States most likely to have plants and animals at high risk of global extinction.

California has the most imperiled biodiversity of any state in the contiguous United States.

Southern Appalachia is a hotspot for species at risk of vanishing.

Rivers and streams light up with aquatic biodiversity across the South.

It’s the most detailed map of its kind so far. Animals like the black-footed ferret and California condor are represented, but so are groups often left out of such analyses: species of bees, butterflies, fish, mussels, crayfish and flowering plants. Not included are gray wolves, grizzly bears and other wildlife not at risk of global extinction.

Maps like these offer a valuable tool to officials and conservationists who are scrambling to protect biodiversity. That work is critical, because scientists say humans are speeding extinction at a disastrous pace.

“There are hundreds of species known to be globally critically imperiled or imperiled in this country that have no protection under federal law and often no protection under state law,” said Healy Hamilton, chief scientist at NatureServe, a nonprofit conservation research group that led the analysis behind the map.

By highlighting areas where land is permanently protected for biodiversity, in green below, you can see where the habitats of imperiled species are outside of conservation zones.”

Using Science and Celtic Wisdom to Save Trees (and Souls) – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/climate/celtic-wisdom-trees-climate.html

“MERRICKVILLE, Ontario — There aren’t many scientists raised in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, but there is at least one. She lives in the woods of Canada, in a forest she helped grow. From there, wielding just a pencil, she has been working to save some of the oldest life-forms on Earth by bewitching its humans.

At a hale 77, Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a medical biochemist, botanist, organic chemist, poet, author and developer of artificial blood. But her main focus for decades now has been to telegraph to the world, in prose that is scientifically exacting yet startlingly affecting, the wondrous capabilities of trees.

Dr. Beresford-Kroeger’s goal is to combat the climate crisis by fighting for what’s left of the great forests (she says the vast boreal wilderness that stretches across the Northern Hemisphere is as vital as the Amazon) and rebuilding what’s already come down. Trees store carbon dioxide and oxygenate the air, making them “the best and only thing we have right now to fight climate change and do it fast,” she said.

Her admirers, who included the late biodiversity pioneer E.O. Wilson, say what sets Dr. Beresford-Kreoger apart is the breadth of her knowledge. She can talk about the medicinal value of trees in one breath and their connection to human souls in the next. She moved Jane Fonda to tears. She inspired Richard Powers to base a central character of his Pulitzer-prize winning novel, “The Overstory,” in part on her: He has called her a “maverick” and her work “the best kind of animism.” “

Opinion | An Invasive Insect Threatens Delmarva Westlands – The New York Times

“On the Delmarva Peninsula, the low-lying expanse of coastal plain that bulges east from the Chesapeake Bay, some of the last remaining sizable green and wild spaces are wetland forests that shroud tidal rivers and creeks on their languid journeys toward the bay: the Nanticoke, the Marshyhope, the Choptank, the Tuckahoe, the Pocomoke.

As hard as it may be to believe in this long-settled part of the world, made up of Delaware and the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and Virginia, many of these forests remain virtually unexplored natural wonders. They are home to an explosive diversity of trees, shrubs and understory plants shaped by the rhythmic undulations of the tides, including rare and threatened species such as red turtlehead and seaside alder. They are havens for salamanders, lizards, woodpeckers, herons and more. The distinctive hill-and-hummock topography creates shallow pools where small fish shelter and forage; these fish feed bigger ones sought by fishermen and women.

The hummock-building power of ash trees is on display in a forest near the Tuckahoe Creek. Emerald ash borer damage is visible near the bases of trees.

The hummock-building power of ash trees is on display in a forest near the Tuckahoe Creek. Emerald ash borer damage is visible near the bases of trees.

One tree makes these wetlands possible: The ash. But now these trees face a formidable adversary. A few years ago, a small beetle showed up and started to change everything: the emerald ash borer, originally from Asia, was most likely a stowaway on a container ship and was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. It is now found in 35 states and was confirmed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 2015. This invasive insect has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States and threatens millions more in its continuing path of destruction. On the Delmarva, it could upend entire ecosystems.”

Seeing 1,000 glorious fin whales back from near extinction is a rare glimmer of hope | Philip Hoare | The Guardian

“Good news doesn’t get any more in-your-face than this. One thousand fin whales, one of the world’s biggest animals, were seen last week swimming in the same seas in which they were driven to near-extinction last century due to whaling. It’s like humans never happened.

This vast assembly was spread over a five-mile-wide area between the South Orkney islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. A single whale is stupendous; imagine 1,000 of them, their misty forest of spouts, as tall as pine trees, the plosive sound of their blows, their hot breath condensing in the icy air. Their sharp dorsal fins and steel-grey bodies slide through the waves like a whale ballet, choreographed at the extreme south of our planet.

The sight has left whale scientists slack-jawed and frankly green-eyed in envy of Conor Ryan, who observed it from the polar cruiser, National Geographic Endurance. Messaging from the ship on a tricky connection, Ryan, an experienced zoologist and photographer, says this may be “one of the largest aggregations of fin whales ever documented”. His estimate of 1,000 animals is a conservative one, he says.”

Source: Seeing 1,000 glorious fin whales back from near extinction is a rare glimmer of hope | Philip Hoare | The Guardian

The Ghost Wolves of Galveston Island – The New York Times

“From a distance, the canids of Galveston Island, Texas, look almost like coyotes, prowling around the beach at night, eyes gleaming in the dark.

But look closer and oddities appear. The animals’ bodies seem slightly out of proportion, with overly long legs, unusually broad heads and sharply pointed snouts. And then there is their fur, distinctly reddish in hue, with white patches on their muzzles.

The Galveston Island canids are not conventional coyotes — at least, not entirely. They carry a ghostly genetic legacy: DNA from red wolves, which were declared extinct in the wild in 1980.

For years, these genes have been hiding in plain sight, tucked away in the seemingly unremarkable animals that scavenged for food behind housing developments and roamed the grounds of the local airport.”