Asian bats show resistance to deadly white-nose syndrome

Read the full story at BBC News.

Researchers have found new clues about the deadly white-nose syndrome, a disease that has wiped out millions of bats in North America.

A study found that bats in China showed strong resistance to the fungal infection responsible for the deaths.

The fungus invades the skin of the bats and causes characteristic white markings on the face and wings.

The scientists involved in the report say some American species may evolve the ability to fight the disease.

In Mexico, Fish Poachers Push Endangered Porpoises to Brink

Read the full story in Yale Environment 360.

China’s lucrative black market for fish parts is threatening the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. The porpoises, who live only in the Gulf of California, are getting caught up as bycatch in illegal gill nets and killed.

More harm than help? Antibacterial hand soaps threaten fish

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Washing your hands with antibacterial hand soaps probably protects you from bacterial infections.

But when that soap gets washed down the drain to the waters of the Great Lakes, the harm may outweigh its benefit.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that many consumer products, including antibacterial soaps, contain triclosan.  That’s a chemical added to prevent and reduce bacterial contamination. Although it has not been found hazardous to people, scientific studies found that it alters hormones in animals, according to the FDA.

How food waste confuses wildlife

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The world wastes more than $750 billion worth of food every year — 1.6 billion tons of food left in farm fields, sent to landfills or otherwise scattered across the countryside, plus 7 million tons of fishery discards at sea.

That waste has gotten a lot of attention lately, mostly in terms of human hunger.

Hardly anyone talks about what all that food waste is doing to wildlife. But a growing body of evidence suggests that our casual attitude about waste may be reshaping the way the natural world functions across much of the planet, inadvertently subsidizing some opportunistic predators and thus contributing to the decline of other species, including some that are threatened or endangered.

new study in the journal Biological Conservation looks, for instance, at California’s Monterey Bay, where the threatened steelhead trout population has declined by 80 to 90 percent over the past century. Efforts to restore the species along the Pacific Coast have focused on major initiatives such as the recent demolition of a dam that had blocked access to critical steelhead breeding grounds on the Carmel River, which empties into Monterey Bay.

But a team of co-authors led by Ann-Marie Osterback, a marine ecologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz, suspects that garbage and fishery discards also might play an underrated part in the problem. The hypothesis is that local food wastes inadvertently subsidize Western gulls in the Monterrey Bay area, and these gulls in turn prey on the juvenile steelhead trout.

Why Do Some Fish Thrive in Oil-Polluted Water?

Read the full story from McGill University. The full research article is available here.

Scientists thought guppies in Northern Trinidad could be a rare example of adaptation to crude oil pollution. But they found something else.

Climate Change Is Deadly for Snowshoe Hares

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

When the final snow melts in the springtime, there are always some snowshoe hares that haven’t yet changed their white winter coats to their brown summer ones. That’s lucky for Marketa Zimova, a doctoral student in biology at North Carolina State University who studies the hares in western Montana. The contrast between the bunnies’ fair fur and dark surroundings made them easy to spot, and the hares don’t seem to realize how much they stand out. “They so rely on their camouflage that they stay put,” she says. “You can walk right up to them and look at them.”

It’s also lucky for the hares’ predators, such as bobcats, coyotes, and owls. Zimova and her colleagues are publishing today a study that found that, every week a showshoe hare remains white after its surroundings have turned brown, it’s seven percent more likely to get eaten. Right now, the average hare ends up standing out against its background for less than a week every year. In the future, however, as climate change melts the snow earlier, the hare population may take a hit. In fact, Zimova’s team calculated that, if the world keeps emitting greenhouse gases at a high rate and the hares don’t adapt, they’ll decline by 23 percent by the end of the century.

 

What’s Causing Deadly Outbreaks of Fungal Diseases in World’s Wildlife?

Read the full story at Yale Environment 360.

An unprecedented global wave of virulent fungal infections is decimating whole groups of animals — from salamanders and frogs, to snakes and bats. While scientists are still trying to understand the causes, they are pointing to intercontinental travel, the pet trade, and degraded habitat as likely factors.