Friday, July 15, 2011

Loose Feathers #299

Great Egret chicks / Photo by Mike Baird

Birds and birding news
Nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • An Asian stinkbug, Megacopta cribraria, was recently discovered for the first time in Georgia. This stinkbug species attacks and weakens kudzu, so it may slow down the growth of kudzu vines. However, entomologists are concerned that the stinkbug could turn its attention to soybean and peanut crops.
  • A viable population of snow leopards was discovered in Afghanistan.
  • Here is a gallery of treehopper helmet designs.
  • New Jersey is second in the U.S. in the amount of solar power it generates. Despite its small size, it jumped ahead of sun-drenched western states by setting aggressive goals for its renewable energy standard.
  • Residents along the Gulf Coast are still feeling the effects of last year's oil spill.
  • Human destruction of top predators has had pervasive effects on ecosystems worldwide.
  • Puerto Rican anoles (Anolis evermanni) are able to solve intelligence tests that are usually given to birds.
  • A comparison of farming methods found that fields sprayed with insecticides had more aphids in the long run than fields managed according to organic methods. The researchers suggested that the insecticides either killed off beneficial insects or made them seek other locations to prey on aphids, so that aphids could return to the treated fields without fear of predation.
  • The Bornean rainbow toad (Ansonia latidisca) was photographed for the first time after its rediscovery in 2010. It was the first time the toad species was seen for 87 years.
  • The decade 2000-2009 was less hot than predicted due to sulfate aerosol pollution from increased industrialization in Asia. This is a short-term effect, however, as the sulfates have a short life in the atmosphere, and any reduction in Asian sulfate pollution (such as less reliance on coal) will end the temporary cooling effect.