Friday, March 30, 2012

Loose Feathers #336

Lesser Scaup / USFWS Photo
News about birds and birding
Nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • The Xerces Society issued a report finding that neonicotinoid pesticides are harmful to honey bees and native bees. While they are not directly linked to colony collapse disorder, neonicotinoids make bees more susceptible to pathogens and parasites, including Nosema. Such pesticides are often poorly labelled and are approved for lawns and gardens at much higher application rates than for agriculture. Two studies published in Science this week reach similar conclusions; neonicotinoids make it more difficult for honey bees to find their way back to their colonies, and bumble bees have a harder time bringing enough food back to the colony to produce more queens. See also Tom Philpott's commentary.
  • Monarch butterflies in Mexico and the eastern U.S. could be down as much as 30% this year due to drought in Texas and the reduction of milkweed availability in breeding areas further north. The decline in milkweed is linked to widespread use of herbicide-resistant crops; application of such herbicides kills off milkweed, among other plants.
  • At least 17 European butterfly species have declined 70% in the last 15 years; one solution may be to maintain more open, agricultural-type habitat.
  • A group of scientists found coral beds in the Gulf of Mexico that are coated in brown goo, which is likely a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
  • Meanwhile, Bottlenose Dolphins in Barataria Bay, which got a heavy influx of oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig, are very unhealthy.
  • The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia marks its 200th anniversary this year. It is the oldest natural history museum in the Western Hemisphere and has one of the largest collections in the world.
  • A boom in development is threatening Turkey's biodiversity, much of which depends on unprotected lands. Turkey has over 9,000 species of plants, 150 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 500 birds species recorded to date.
  • The Cox Hall Creek WMA (a.k.a. The Villas, a.k.a. Ponderlodge) was formally dedicated this week. The dedication was marked with a release of trout into the pond.
  • A new paper argues that the extreme weather events of the last decade are linked to climate change.