Lake Mendocino invasive mussel species inspections now seven days a week — The Ukiah Daily Journal

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Mendocino announced it will now be conducting inspections seven days a week for invasive mussel species, with help from the Sonoma County Water Agency, an increase from the current weekend inspections. The inspections will start every day on Sunday, March 1, and the inspectors will be looking […]

via Lake Mendocino invasive mussel species inspections now seven days a week — The Ukiah Daily Journal

DNA Sequencing Saves Endangered Species

NEWS_2.26.16_Myanmar_Fig1.jpg DNA profiling, a technique where investigators compare the base pair order of DNA found at the crime scene to a suspect’s DNA. Now, another type of genetic analysis – DNA barcoding – is being used to combat illegal wildlife trading.

Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be right behind drugs and weapons in terms of size and profits, with experts estimating a yearly wildlife black market of $70 billion. Wildlife is sold as exotic pets, trophies and souvenirs, luxury items, religious items, and alternative medicines. High profits and low risks attract transnational criminal syndicates to this business. Because illegal wildlife trading funds and strengthens these criminal networks (networks that are also involved in human, drug, and weapon trafficking) it is considered a threat to global and national security. Wildlife trafficking can also have a long term negative effect on local communities. Finally, there is the very real environmental impact.

Animals and plants that are illegally traded are put under enormous stress. Sadly, endangered species are often targeted because their rarity increases their market value. The decrease/disappearance of these species can affect the health of the entire ecosystem. Accessing these animals provide an additional layer of ecological damage. In 2010, 179 nations came together to form the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to combat illegal wildlife trade.

A major challenge in enforcing CITES and other wildlife trade laws is that poachers will often disguise their product. For example bones, horns, and medical plants are often ground into powders before transport. This is where DNA barcoding proves a valuable tool. DNA barcoding uses a combination of genetic, taxonomic, and computational analysis to rapidly identify the species of a confiscated sample. Briefly, DNA is extracted from the confiscated sample and then sequenced at one or more pre-established genetic locations. These sequences are then searched against a database of sequences from voucher specimens. A match between the sample and several voucher specimens allows the sample to be classified down to genus or species.

NEWS_2.26.16_ParrotEggs_Fig2.jpgAn example is the 2003 case against Joao Migel Folgosa. Mr. Folgosa was apprehended at the Recife Internal Airport of Brazil when police discovered him hiding 58 eggs under his shirt. Based on egg morphology – and Mr. Folgosa history as an exotic pet trafficker – officials suspected that the eggs were parrot. However, they were unable to specify the species. Because Brazil has 21 endangered parrot species but 83 species overall only limited charges could be brought against him. The case was further weakened by Mr. Folgosa claim that the eggs were from quails.

NEWS_2.26.16_ThumbTwelve years later Dr. Miyaki and colleagues picked up this cold case. They retrieved tissue samples from the 58 eggs/embryos and isolated DNA from each. Then, using a combination of primers, they amplified and sequenced the DNA at two locations in the mitochondrial genome. Finally, they compared their results to publically available records in BOLD (Barcode of Life Data System) and Genbank. Through this process they were able to positively identify 57 of the eggs. All 57 were parrot eggs. More specifically fifty belonged to Alipiopsitta Xanthops (a IUCN vulnerable species), three belonged to Ara ararauna, and four were either Amazona aestiaval or Amazona ochrocephala.

This research illustrates how DNA barcoding could be used to prosecute criminal traffickers. However, the connected case also emphasizes an obstacle that still need to be overcome, making the DNA technology affordable and available to law enforcement in many countries. Many hope that new developments in nanopore sequencing will enable this. Equally important to the use of DNA barcoding in criminal investigations is developing a robust database. This database must (a) have all possible taxa are represented, (b) be readily accessible and searchable, and (c) be able to withstand the scrutiny of a legal investigation. Two organizations working towards these two goals are the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge and the Barcode of Wildlife Project.

To explore DNA barcoding with your students check out kit #338 – Exploring Plant Diversity with DNA Barcoding.

 

via DNA Sequencing to Save Endangered Species

Yoda the llama has finally found a place to live and he can’t wipe the smile off his face

Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

Source: Yoda the llama has finally found a place to live and he can’t wipe the smile off his face

Tragic end for Hunstanton whale as it dies after getting trapped in rocks

A whale beached in Norfolk is believed to have been part of a pod that stranded and died in the Netherlands.

The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday.

A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day.

MORE: Handyman’s note to military mother will restore your faith in humanity

Handout photo issued by Kathryn Robbins of a dead sperm whale beached in Norfolk. The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 23, 2016. A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day. See PA story ANIMALS Whale. Photo credit should read: Kathryn Robbins/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
The young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in Hustnanton on Friday (Picture: PA)
It is believed the animal became distressed and injured its tail thrashing around in the shallow waters.

There are fears at least two of the other whales could become stranded, he said.

Dr Peter Evans, director of the Seawatch Foundation, said the whales probably swam south looking for food but got disorientated.

‘They feed on squid and what’s probably happened is that squid came in and the whales fed upon them but ran out of food,’ he said.

Handout photo issued by Jonathon Holt of a dead sperm whale beached in Norfolk. The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 23, 2016. A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day. See PA story ANIMALS Whale. Photo credit should read: Jonathon Holt/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
They may be linked to a pod that was found washed up in the Netherlands (Picture: PA)

‘The further south they got the shallower the water gets and when they got to Norfolk, which is very, very shallow, it’s quite difficult to navigate and they tend to lose their way and actually strand.’

He believes they could have been part of a large pod, some of which beached in the Netherlands and Germany.

‘There have been 12 other sperm whales that stranded and died, six in the Netherlands and six in Germany,’ he added.

‘They were probably all in the same group, quite a big group which are usually adolescent males a few years old.’

The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which investigates all UK strandings, will send a team of scientists to perform a post-mortem examination on the whale in Norfolk.
The 50ft young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday.

Source: Tragic end for Hunstanton whale as it dies after getting trapped in rocks

DogDaz Zoo: Lynx Family Moment

Snuggle up and stay warm kiddies…!

DogDaz Zoo

Lynx by Isaac Baquero Pérez

Just like a house cat, they look so soft and cuddly – DogDaz

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Be careful driving, Willamette Valley gets 2nd round of ice, blustery showers.

You can expect wetter weather on and off through early next week

A second round of ice is expected in the Gorge Wednesday night and into Thursday. (KOIN)
A second round of ice is expected in the Gorge Wednesday night and into Thursday. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A second round of showers moved in along the coast and in the Willamette Valley on Wednesday night, a day after an ice storm caused thousands of power outages across the metro area.

KOIN 6 Meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke says the system will be a windy one, with gusts on the coast reaching 55 mph.

Temperatures will be below freezing in the Gorge and east of the mountains starting Tuesday evening. (KOIN)

Winds will also pick up in the Portland metro area with gusts up to 30 mph overnight and even 40 mph on Thursday. This could bring down large branches and even some trees, so be careful out on the roads.

There will be a lull in the rain after morning with a round of heavy, blustery showers pushing in Thursday evening.

Freezing temperatures will mean more ice and freezing rain in the Gorge overnight and into Thursday. A rise in temperatures will scour out the cold air and turn the ice back into rain in the afternoon.

Thankfully, the ice will be confined to the Gorge as temperatures in the valley warm up to the 40s overnight.

You can expect wetter weather on and off through early next week. There’s no sunshine in our immediate future, but temperatures are expected to be much milder with highs in the 50s.

Keep the weather in your hand all the time — download the PDX Weather App today.

Check the latest Weather Alerts on the KOIN 6 Weather page

 

A second round of showers moved in along the coast and in the Willamette Valley on Wednesday night, a day after an ice storm caused thousands of power outages across the metro area.

Source: Gorge gets 2nd round of ice, blustery showers in PDX

Chemical engineers can help solve the climate challenge #COP21

Posted on 02/12/2015 by

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties,COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help mitigate climate change.

These topics, as outlined in the IChemE Energy Centre Climate Communiqué, are:

  • energy efficiency
  • energy storage and grid management
  • carbon capture, storage and utilisation
  • nuclear
  • sustainable bioenergy

Released in a statement today, the Energy Centre says: “The technologies exist now to deliver massive energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions in all five priority areas. Taken together, they represent a pathway to a decarbonized energy system that can be realised now, as long as the agreement made at COP21 recognises that the time has come for deployment of such technologies.”

Read the Energy Centre supporting statement here.

Stefaan Simons, Chair of the Energy Centre Board, has also added: “Chemical engineers already understand the technology needed to limit atmospheric CO2 levels. Now is the time to start using it. World leaders can shift the focus from research and development to demonstration and deployment. We can give policy makers the solutions needed to mitigate climate change.”

You can watch Stef, alongside other members of the Energy Centre Board, Niall Mac Dowell and Ben Salisbury, discuss the five topics in more detail in the following video:

Over the next few days, whilst COP21 is still underway, the Energy Centre will be publishing evidence-based recommendations that cover each of the five topics on this very blog.

Stef will also present at the Paris climate talks on 10 December at an official side event: ‘Technology solutions for a 2oC world: Investing in renewables, storage, energy efficiency and CCS‘. So if you are in Paris, please join him.

There will also be an evening screening of the his side event on 10 December at it IChemE’s offices in Portland Place, London, UK – this event is free-of-charge and open to all.

Let’s all be part of the climate conversation, and make sure that the chemical engineering perspective is heard whilst the future of our planet is being decided over the next two weeks.

IChemE

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties, COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help…

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Snow Facts

It’s not really the most wonderful time of the year unless there is snow involved. Fact. 

DORKING, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 19: A family of snowmen sit on Box Hill on January 19, 2013 in Dorking, United Kingdom. Heavy snow around the UK caused hundreds of flight cancelations at Heathrow, with more travel disruptions expected during a snowy weekend. Approximately 3,000 schools were closed in England, Wales and Scotland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
This is your reaction when it snows (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Not only can snow be the greatest part of the British weather experience, but it also guarantees more happiness than a decent summer season.

Ah snow. Word on the street (the street being the Met Office) is that we are due a sprinkling of snow, with many places across the UK being treated to a flurry last night.

And snow lovers couldn’t be happier about this.

1. So PRETTY

Of course autumn is really beautiful, what with the leaves all turning to a cosy shade of orange. However, not even the prettiest autumn scene, trees lining a path through an empty park, could ever trump a field full of freshly fallen, untouched snow.

2. Makes Christmas better

There are only two things that could make Christmas Day even better; meeting Santa Clause, or a white Christmas.

Nothing could match the warm fuzzy feeling of waking up early in the morning on Christmas Day and seeing your street transformed as if it’s been draped in a layer of clean cotton wool.

Bing Crosby felt exactly the same way.

3. Snowmen 

You love nothing more than grabbing a few sticks, buttons, pebbles and the obligatory carrot stick and assembling a small team to make an epic snowman.

Of course you take this very seriously, and every time you pride yourself on having the best snowman on the street.

In fact you have a strict method involving rolling a huge ball of snow down a slope in order to get your snowman as big as possible. You have also been known to shed a tear once he melts away. *Sob*

This is your reaction when it snows (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

4. Snow days = best days

There are waves of excitement that still feel the exact same way when you’re an adult as they did when you were a child.

Stuff like watching Home Alone, birthday cake… and snow days.

A snow day feels just as amazing now, when you can’t get into the office, as it did when school was closed.

Especially when you get to the station only to be greeted with signs telling you that all trains are cancelled.

You take this opportunity to power walk home as quickly as possible, alerting everyone you meet on your way that it’s now an official snow day, whilst being busy with thoughts of how to make the most of it.

Of course throwing a few snowballs around is mandatory.

5.  The memories

It doesn’t matter if your school days weren’t your best days, because the memories of snowy times during school definitely makes up for this.

The only thing to trump the mayhem of times when a dog managed to get into the playground was sitting in Maths and seeing thick heavy flakes falling and engulfing everything.

Most of the time your teachers would give up trying to capture your attention and let you out early which was always welcomed.

6. Perfect for long walks

There is something special about being able to stomp over fresh untouched snow whilst wrapped up head to toe in at least six layers of clothing.

Is there anything better than popping on some wellies and going for a long walk in the crisp cold air whilst feeling the soft snow underneath your feet?

Probably not.

Children play as snow covers part of Central Park following a snow storm in New York, February 4, 2014. Up to nine (23 centimeters) more inches of snow was expected to fall in the New York area beginning late in the evening, with a third snowstorm in a week predicted to hit the city over the weekend. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Better than sweating in the park during a muggy July (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
This is way better than sweating in the park during a muggy July (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

7. Everything stops

Of course some people don’t like the snow because it causes disruption, but this can actually be a good thing.

It’s nice to have a bit of disruption which causes things to come to a bit of a stop, proving that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t manage to answer all your emails before 6pm.

8. Snow watching is intense 

The only thing that could ever trump a snow filled walk, is sitting inside near the radiator with a hot drink and watching the snow fall and seeing the world turn into a winter wonderland.

Preferably whilst wearing thick woolly socks.

During this ritual you embark upon an emotional roller-coaster as you are glued to the window desperately wishing for the snow to become thicker, and heavier. Any sign of easing off leads to severe disappointment, which can only be ended by another flurry.

9. It’s very exciting 

Waiting for the snow to arrive is a bit like waiting for a baby.

You know that it will come at some point, and despite having a rough time frame you still exhaust yourself with excitement waiting for it to arrive.

Once it finally arrives there is something magical about waking up and being able to tell from the silence outside, and the light reflecting off the snow into your bedroom that your wait is now over.

10. How to deal with haters

Being a lover of snow means you’ve developed a very thick skin to not only deal with the temperature drop, but also all of the people who don’t like the snow.

You’ve figured that if you can convert one snow hater to a snow fan then you’ve pretty much served your purpose on Earth.

11. SLEDGE TIME

You’ve probably got a customised beauty hidden in your garage, or garden shed that you always bring out as soon as the snow lands.

You also know the best parks within a 10 mile radius to go get revel in all the fun that sledging offers. And you head out with a sense of urgency, in order  to get the best of the snow before pesky teenagers ruin it all.

12. It’s never enough

Chances are that most years you will end up slightly disappointed, as the UK tends to only get a small sprinkling.

But this just means that when we receive a heavy snow storm, you take full advantage of this rare event by spending as much time as possible outside.

You will even risk mild frostbite and soggy gloves in order to squeeze in as much time as possible in the snow. And it’s well worth it.

13 things all snow lovers know to be true

13. And it always goes too soon

The fact that snow melts away is one of the biggest tragedies in your life, and each time the sun comes out you are filled with dread.

Especially when it goes from being fresh white pure snow and disintegrates into a brown muddy slushy mess.

The only way to get through this is by remembering all of the good times you’ve had with it, and pinning your hopes on it returning next year. Courtesy of: The Metro UK.

High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma can be Life-Threatening in many Communities Worldwide

High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma a deadly consequence of residing near industrialized neighborhoods.  Pollution resulting from our Built Environment have resulted in  extensive health disparities worldwide:
About 25% of the USA’a housing —some 24 million homes— contains significant lead-based paint hazards, i.e. deteriorating lead paint or lead contaminated dust. (HUD, 2009).

Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output.
Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output. Via Bing

The majority of resources and statistics concerning community correlations with respect to health disparities in the U.S. point to a direct correlation between industrialized, lower income communities and rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma associated with living in a those particular communities. Over 4 million children in the U.S. had an asthma attack last year. (National Safety Council, 2015).
Better neighborhoods, generally associated with a higher income, had newer and higher housing standards, and were more financially able to comply with government regulations of lead content and smoke inhalation guidelines. Residents of privileged neighborhoods felt safer than families living in lower income neighborhoods. Poorer, disadvantaged neighborhoods where tenants are dependent on a landlord’s approval to address safety issues, may face a lengthy process if they wish to upgrade and make their living situation safer, or may not be able to afford a particular safety upgrade. This adds to feelings of perceived loss of personal control over ones own living situation resulting in an increased fear factor as well as elevated stress levels, which can have detrimental health effects.
When you’re a little more worried every day, you’re always a little more vigilant, looking around at things, checking people, places and things out a little more carefully. If you think about doing that day after day, year after year, it can be exhausting after a while. Constant worrying about stress and about how and when one is going to pay all the bills that are piling up adds an incredible amount of stress to life. Chronic stress wears on the body system resulting in lowered immunity and increased risk of disease and illness. (Lee, 2015).

Practitioner reports of disabled and impaired motor skills in children are more prevalent in older neighborhoods where lower income, minorities reside. Children in disadvantaged neighborhoods to be less likely to venture outside to exercise and inhale fresh breath fearing the consequences of doing so in a high crime neighborhood.

mex3
Mexico Beach House via JZ Photography

Other physical features that can have a negative effect on health outcomes:
1. Ground Soil Pollution: Lead manufacturing that has resulted in damages to the ground and environment having had profound affects on safe housing for families worldwide. Children from poorer families are the hardest hit by this type of pollution because parents don’t always have the additional resources to relocate their families to safer communities. Children have growing organs that are easily affected by toxic chemicals, and most kids participate in playtime that may include touching the ground on a regular basis exposing them to dangerous toxins.

2. Air Pollution: Asthma and other bronchial related problems resulting from Lead Poisons being emitted into the air as industrial factories release their by products in the form of poisonous gasses as a part of their manufacturing process. Children can be affected for decades after a plants closure. Lead findings as high as 70 times the USDA recommended Lead levels have had devastating effects on public health reports and statistics in towns where communities have been built close to lead and mercury producing facilities. (National Safety Council, 2009). Another similar source of pollution that would have residual effects for years to come was Regular gasoline that included a lead additive which was not known to be harmful till it was finally discontinued in the early 1980’s due to a government regulated Lead ban.

How affordable quality, and safe housing conditions promote health:

By educating practitioners, schools and parents, regarding the government resources available for improving all buildings and homes in an effort to get them up to code with acceptable levels of toxic lead and fume inhalation guidelines. All communities should be declared safe according to government standards, regardless of wealth or relative neighborhood status. We can minimize current health care problems and prevent future health issues by educating all individuals of their rights to safe housing, thus allowing all children to reach their full potential. Equal rights translate to equality of life expectancies throughout the U.S. for all residents. Our founding fathers created the U.S. Constitutional principles upon this premise. (Lee, 2012). Written by: JZ
References:

National Safety Council. (2009) Lead Poisoning. Retrieved from
http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Lead-Poisoning- Fact- Sheet.pdf.

City of Roseburg. (2015). Public works projects. Retrieved from
http://www.cityofroseburg.org/departments/public-works/projects/.

Lee, E. (Producer & Director). (2008). Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is bad for
your health [Video excerpt]. In L. Adelman (Executive producer), Unnatural causes:
Episode 5—Place matters. Arlington, VA: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved from
http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=217.

 

Baby Koalas have Loads of Spunk..!!


For more information or for request of video use please contact;

Kevin Fallon
Marketing and Creative Services Manager | Symbio Wildlife Park, Sydney
kevin@symbiozoo.com.au
+61 2 4294 1244

photoshoot and, as this viral video shows, the 10-month-old joey was a total pro in front of the camera.

Look at those angles! The dynamism! The poise! She’s a total natural.

http://ift.tt/1MCJYp4
Imogen, who lives at Symbio Wildlife Park in New South Wales, Australia, is no stranger to viral success.

Last month, she stole many hearts after a video emerged of her giving a cameraman a big hug.

Damn Tree Huggers..!! Courtesy of Bing

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1MCJZt5

All about Bats

Carlsbad Bat Caverns, Montana via Bing

Bat caves:
Bats stay up all night catching bugs,  during daylight hours, bats lead a completely different life. A bat will pass the time hanging upside down from a secluded spot, such as the roof of a cave, the underside of a bridge or the inside of a hollowed-out tree.

Bats hanging upside down via Bing

There are a couple of different reasons why bats roost this way. First of all, it puts them in an ideal position for takeoff. Unlike birds, bats can’t launch themselves into the air from the ground. Their wings don’t produce enough lift to take off from a dead stop, and their hind legs are so small and underdeveloped that they can’t run to build up the necessary takeoff speed. Instead, they use their front claws to climb to a high spot, and then fall into flight. By sleeping upside down in a high location, they are all set to launch if they need to escape the roost.

How Bats Work
The Brown Bat is one of the most common bat species in North and South America. It roost in large colonies, often in attics, barns and other man-made structures. via Georgia Museum of Natural History

Hanging upside down is also a great way to hide from danger. During the hours when most predators are active (particularly birds of prey), bats congregate where few animals would think to look and most can’t reach. Effectively, this allows them to disappear from the world until night comes again. There’s also little competition for these roosting spots, as other flying animals don’t have the ability to hang upside down.

Bats have a special physiological adaptation that enables them to hang around this way. For you to clench your fist around an object, you contract several muscles in your arm, which are connected to your fingers by tendons; as one muscle contracts, it pulls a tendon, which pulls one of your fingers closed. A bat’s talons close in the same way, except that their tendons are connected only to the upper body, not to a muscle.

To hang upside down, a bat flies into position, opens its claws and finds a surface to grip. To get the talons to grab hold of the surface, the bat simply lets its body relax. The weight of the upper body pulls down on the tendons connected to the talons, causing them to clench. Since it is gravity that keeps the talons closed, instead of a contracted muscle, the bat doesn’t have to exert any energy to hang upside down. In fact, a bat will continue to hang upside down if it dies in that position. To release the surface it is gripping, the bat flexes other muscles that pull its talons open.

Most bat species will roost in the same location every night, joining a large colony of bats that cluster together for warmth and security. Bats have been known to demonstrate remarkable acts of altruism to support the colony. In some cases, when a bat is ill and cannot hunt for its own food, other bats from the colony will bring food back to it. Scientists don’t fully understand the dynamics of bat colonies, but they are clearly complex, tight-knit social communities.

Like all mammals, bats are warm-blooded, meaning they maintain their body temperature internally. But unlike most mammals, bats allow their body temperature to sink to the ambient temperature when they are not active. As their temperature drops, they enter a torpor state, in which their metabolism slows down. By reducing their biological activity and not maintaining a warm body temperature, bats conserve energy. This is important, as flying all night is extremely hard work.

During the winter, when temperatures are cold for months at a time, some bats will enter a deeper torpor state called hibernation. This allows them to live through the months in which food is very scarce. Other bat species follow a yearly migration pattern, traveling to cooler climates in the warm months and warmer climates in the cool months. This is why some regions experience “bat seasons” every year.

When bats do come to town, a lot of people are made uneasy in the evening and at night. They worry about bats biting, sucking blood and even getting caught up in people’s hair. But as it turns out, all of these occurrences are extremely rare. As we’ll see in the next section, bats are usually harmless to people, and many species are actually beneficial. Article courtesy of: howstuffworks.com

Tsunami Aftermath: The Urato Islands Rebuild

THE URATO ISLANDS, near the coast of Japan, rebuilds after the Tsunami disaster:1443642236

Yoshimasa Koizumi looks at his fishing equipment on Katsurashima Island. He has never used it, having moved to the island one day before last year's deadly tsunami.
The Urato Islands. (pop: 300). Courtesy of: CNN

Actions were organized by sustainability researchers in the Satoyama Initiative to discuss rebuilding and revitalization of the Urato Islands after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 11th of March 2011.  These sessions were key turning points for the rebuilding process of the Urato Islands.  Two dialogues were held, the first in 2012 and the second in 2014.

Strong collaboration between local communities and external stakeholders was the key for an effective community dialogue session. commitment as was organised follow up from several key Universities, and civil society organisations.

The Urato Islands are four islands that are inhabited by several hundred people located near the small city of Shiogama, in Miyagi prefecture, on the north-eastern coast of Japan.   The population of these islands lived from small-scale agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture (oysters and seaweed) that were intertwined and supported the rich and unique ecosystems of the islands.dsc_2248

The 2011 tsunami swept over much of the islands, destroying fishing boats, houses and oyster beds, disrupting people, their tools and the produce land and seascape that people had spent centuries creating.  The people in Urato are making heroic efforts to rebuild their livelihoods, but the tsunami revealed underlying problems that they share with much of rural Japan:depopulation, ageing populations and a lack of people to take over business.  The combination of the Tsunami with these slow changes has made many people worried about whether they can can rebuild their communities in a sustainable way.

Clearing and rebuilding efforts continue on Katsurashima Island off the coast of Miyagi prefecture.
The Urato Islands (pop. 300) Courtesy of CNN

The community dialogue sessions with local and external stakeholders in the Urato Island helped to bring new energy to the islanders, over come the damages they got, and embrace new ways of rebuilding their community that used both their own resources and their connections with the outside world.  These dialogues focussed on how to use ecosystem services to enhance post-disaster rebuilding and restoration of the Islands, and how to enable communities to enhance their cultural and management practices to sustain both people and ecosystems.   The dialogue helped align the efforts long-time residents and newer arrivals as well as locally focussed restoration efforts and externally oriented efforts to create new types of markets and support among the consumers of Urato’s fish and shellfish.  The dialogue help unite these local actors, such as fishermen, schools and local organisations, and connect with external stakeholders such as customers, ministry of the environment, NGOs, and universities, to create a shared vision.

This approach of organising community dialogue sessions together with local and external stakeholders can be applicable to any other part of rural areas in Japan struggling with rebuilding and revitalisation of the communities not only for the communities affected by natural disaster, but also for communities who would like to revitalise the area respecting socio-ecological system.  A weakness of this type of approach is the limited number of people that can be involved in a dialogue process.  Similar approaches to community dialogues could be applied in other areas, and the processes initiated by such dialogues may be able to reorient people and societies world-view in new directions.   · in Social-Ecological Seeds, Food system,Integrated social-environmental, community. · 地図

Time mag recommends Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide.

Coral Reef Bleaching
Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, according to the National Park Service.
Pic courtesy of Time

Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, according to the National Park Service. Additionally, swimmers can cover their upper body with long sleeve shirts or other apparel to reduce sunscreen use.

Researchers urge consumers to consider carefully what sunscreen they buy before swimming in the ocean. Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs, according to the National Park Service.

Sunscreen is part of a long list of threats to coral reefs that includes pollution, overfishing and climate change. Beyond their impressive appearance, coral reefs play an important role for local communities and the world at large. For one, they contribute to local economies through tourism and sustain ecosystems where people can fish. One estimate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the economic contribution of coral reefs around the world at $30 billion each year. Reefs also protect the global environment by serving as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

Sunscreens with titanium oxide or zinc oxide have not been found to harm reefs

Source: How Sunscreen Is Helping Destroy Coral Reefs

Related articles: Healthy Lifestyle Blog

Happy Sloth Day via Tico Times

Buttercup @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica
Jo Jo @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica
Becky Cliffe @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica

Featured image

Happy International Sloth Day!!!! A wonderful day to celebrate my favorite animal!!!! So proud of all the hard work Becky Naomi Cliffe @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica has done to research how to reintroduce orphaned, hand raised sloths.

See More: http://beckycliffe.com/sloth-science-2015/

Related: My battle with Leishmaniasis: a flesh-eating parasite By: Becky Radcliffe

In my second year at the University of Manchester I studied parasitology, and the terrifying images of dramatic lesions and extreme elephantiasis are burnt vividly into my memory. Of course, I never considered that one day I would become one of those horror stories. In July I was diagnosed with a tropical flesh-eating parasite called Leishmaniasis, and for the past 10 weeks I have been battling to regain my health. We never fully appreciate how lucky we are to be healthy, and unfortunately I learnt this lesson the hard way.

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania. There are actually 21 different species of leishmania, and they are found throughout Asia, Africa, South/Central America and Southern Europe. The parasite can be found in many different mammals, but the only way for it to be transmitted to a human is through the bite of an infected sandfly. When an infected sandfly bites a human, the parasite is transmitted into the body and replicates within the human macrophage cells. I was diagnosed with a type of infection called cutaneous leishmaniasis, which basically means that the disease appears as a lesion on the skin at the site of the original sandfly bite. This wound then continues to grow, and can spread to other areas of the body. Often, it will infect the mucosal lining of the mouth, nose and ears causing serious disfigurement. In minor cases, the infection heals itself within a year, however in most cases (including mine) treatment is needed.

The Leishmania parasite life cycle

Leishmaniasis and sloths 

Unfortunately, sloths are often thought of as being dirty, lazy animals that transmit diseases and parasites. One of the many diseases that people blame sloths for is leishmaniasis. Many local people are terrified of sloths for this reason, and sadly they pass this fear down through generations. I have lost count of the number of people that have asked me if a sloth can give them leishmaniasis. The simple answer is no. This misconception stems from a few scientific studies that have found sloths to test positive for the leishmania parasite. They are, in scientific terms, a ‘reservoir’ for leishmania, but so are many mammals – including dogs! There is no way a sloth can transmit leishmaniasis to a human – this only happens through the bite of an infected sandfly. It is just one of the many negative myths that the sloths are burdened with!

My journey

I remember the sandfly that bit me. I was walking my new puppy on the beach at dusk and was annoyed by the itchy bump that later appeared on my arm. I forgot about it and only really noticed something unusual when the bite was still there two weeks later. Nobody seemed particularly concerned by the little scab on my arm, and I probably left it far longer than I should before seeking a diagnosis. We watched the little hole in my arm slowly grow for 4 weeks before deciding to have it tested. Within 24 hours, the doctor had called and told me that I had tested positive for leishmaniasis and should begin treatment immediately. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

As it turned out, there are no nice treatment options. The Costa Rican method involves up to 60 injections of glucantime – a toxic chemical that kills the parasite but also comes with a high risk of liver and heart damage. That didn’t sound like much fun, so I decided to seek treatment in the UK since I had been due to return during August anyway. When I finally arrived at my doctors office and presented him with a flesh-eating parasite, he looked at me like I had two heads. I was advised to go to the emergency room at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to find more specialised help. I don’t think that many people turn up at the hospital claiming to have leishmaniasis, since doctors of all shapes and sizes turned up to see the girl with the flesh-eating parasite. It’s safe to say that many people looked at me like I had two heads that day.

I was finally introduced to the wonderful Dr Tim O’Dempsey. He took a biopsy of my arm (much to my horror) and told me the bad news: the UK treatment options aren’t much better than the toxic Costa Rican injections. Furthermore, I had to wait 5 days for the biopsy results before I could do anything at all – we had to just sit and watch the hole continue to grow in my arm. It was an overwhelmingly creepy feeling knowing that something was munching through the flesh on my arm and I couldn’t do anything to stop it! Depending on the species of leishmania I was infected with, I now had two treatment choices:

1) I could be admitted to hospital for three weeks of intravenous medication (chemotherapy), which basically involves the same toxic chemicals as the Costa Rican injections (think heart problems and liver failure). Famously, TV presenter Ben Fogle endured this treatment after contracting leishmaniasis in Peru, and he ended up bed-bound with pneumonia – no thank you!

2) OR I could trial a new oral medication from Germany called Miltefosine. This horrifically expensive drug comes with a bunch of awful side effects, including sickness so severe that many people simply can not finish the treatment. This option wasn’t guaranteed to work either, and had never before been used to treat leishmaniasis from Costa Rica. Furthermore, this medication is only effective against one subspecies of the parasite – the most dangerous subspecies.

As it turned out, fate made the decision for me. I was diagnosed as having the dangerous subspecies (one that is prone to infecting the mouth and nose causing disfigurement) and so I was prescribed 4 weeks worth of Miltefosine pills. I began treatment immediately and initially, things looked promising. The hole in my arm stopped growing, and the pills weren’t making me too nauseous. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise it at the time but this medication takes a huge toll on the immune system. My arm was healing but I was becoming weaker every day. Within three weeks, strange painless lumps had started to appear all over my arm and my lymph nodes were inflamed. By this point I had returned to Costa Rica and was looking forward to getting back to normal – but normal was a long way off.

The lumps grew, and one in particular became very sore. It turns out that these were abscesses growing under my skin as a result of a staphylococcus infection. Within a few days I was feverish, my heart rate was up and my blood pressure dropped – all very bad signs of a systemic infection. I was rushed to a local doctor who prescribed antibiotic injections and bed rest. The rest was a roller-coaster. The injections (that were unfortunately in my bum cheek) left me with a second infection, which quickly developed into a large abscess leaving me unable to walk or sit down. I was forced to waddle everywhere. After one of the most uncomfortable weeks of my life, the doctor surgically drained 10 ml of pus from the abscess, and prescribed stronger antibiotics. I then developed further infections in my eye and mouth, all requiring treatment. And then to top everything off, a final infection in my left arm that also had to be surgically drained and my arm stitched up.

My arm after surgery

So today I am writing this, finally feeling like my roller-coaster ride is coming to an end. The leishmaniasis on my arm is healing, and the infections are finally going away. I still have stitches in my left arm and I have a few days of antibiotics left – but I have gone almost a week now without any new symptoms developing, and I am finally beginning to regain my energy (and most importantly, I don’t need to waddle anymore)! It has been a horrific journey, but I will never again be taking my good health for granted.

Now, I am finally ready to put my snake boots on and get back out in the jungle! It’s been a while since I have been able to follow up on the  Sloth Backpack Project, so it’s time for me to get productive. http://www.slothsanctuary.com/blog/

More Information: World Health Organization Disease Management info: Lleishmaniasis

 POST-KALA-AZAR DERMAL LEISHMANIASIS: A MANUAL FOR CASE MANAGEME