Lizard species – Phrynosoma http://phrynosoma.org/ Tue, 27 Sep 2022 01:28:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://phrynosoma.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/profile-150x150.png Lizard species – Phrynosoma http://phrynosoma.org/ 32 32 Rare Florida Keys lizard nominated for endangered species protection https://phrynosoma.org/rare-florida-keys-lizard-nominated-for-endangered-species-protection/ Mon, 26 Sep 2022 14:37:00 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/rare-florida-keys-lizard-nominated-for-endangered-species-protection/ MIAMI – Following a 2020 legal victory from the Center for Biological Diversity, the US Fish and Wildlife Service today offers protecting the Florida Keys mole skink, threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agency also proposed to designate 7,068 acres of protected critical habitat. “The protection of this rare little lizard with a bright […]]]>

MIAMI – Following a 2020 legal victory from the Center for Biological Diversity, the US Fish and Wildlife Service today offers protecting the Florida Keys mole skink, threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agency also proposed to designate 7,068 acres of protected critical habitat.

“The protection of this rare little lizard with a bright pink tail comes at almost the last possible moment,” said Elise Bennett, Florida director and attorney at the Center. “I am so relieved that the Fish and Wildlife Service has finally recognized how quickly sea level rise and development could wipe out the skink and so many other species in the Keys. This is a crucial first step. Now is the time to get to work securing the future of this incredible lizard.

The Service found that the skink is threatened by “rapid and intense climate change”, including sea level rise, more frequent high tides and increasing storms, which are destroying dry coastal habitat and sand pit in the Florida Keys. By 2060, the Service predicts that 72% to 88% of the skink’s remaining habitat could be lost due to sea level rise alone. Development and associated human activities further threaten the survival of this lizard. rare.

In 2017, the Fish and Wildlife Service inexplicably determined that the Florida Keys mole skink did not warrant Endangered Species Act protections. Following a lawsuit against the Center, a federal district judge overturned that decision in 2020. The judge found that the agency failed to justify its decision in light of available scientific data showing that the elevation sea ​​level rise caused by climate change would flood much of the species’ habitat across its reach.

“My recent visits to the Keys have felt like part of a long and heartbreaking goodbye to the skink,” Bennett said. “But this decision gives me hope. This opens the door to a host of protections that will give this rare and magnificent lizard a fighting chance.

The Fish and Wildlife Service wrongfully refusing to protect the skink is not an isolated incident. Over the past 30 years, dozens of Service decisions have been overturned because the agency has let politics guide decisions that, by law, are supposed to be made only on the best available science.

Species background

Adorned with a bright pink tail, the Florida Keys mole skink lives exclusively along the coasts of the Florida Keys. It burrows in dry sand and hunts for insects under leaves, debris and washed-up vegetation on beaches.

Accelerating sea level rise and increasingly frequent storms threaten to flood the skink’s coastal habitat, ultimately leaving it with no place to live. Because the animals only survive in a few populations over a small geographic area, a single major storm could wipe out the entire subspecies.

In addition, urban sprawl confines the animal into smaller and smaller areas, while exposing it to threats from pollution, traffic and wildlife.

The center petitioned to protect the Florida Keys mole skink under the Endangered Species Act in 2010.

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Discovery of a new species of extinct reptile that lived among the dinosaurs https://phrynosoma.org/discovery-of-a-new-species-of-extinct-reptile-that-lived-among-the-dinosaurs/ Sun, 25 Sep 2022 20:57:16 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/discovery-of-a-new-species-of-extinct-reptile-that-lived-among-the-dinosaurs/ An extinct species of reptile believed to have lived among dinosaurs has been discovered by researchers at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The new species is Opisthiamimus gregori and was closely related to the living Sphenodon punctatus, also known as tuatara reptiles. Land inhabited by Opisthiamimus 150 million years ago in Jurassic North […]]]>

An extinct species of reptile believed to have lived among dinosaurs has been discovered by researchers at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The new species is Opisthiamimus gregori and was closely related to the living Sphenodon punctatus, also known as tuatara reptiles. Land inhabited by Opisthiamimus 150 million years ago in Jurassic North America.

The remains of the reptile were found in the Morrison Formation, a sequence of sedimentary rocks hosting a variety of fossil remains. The Morrison Formation has guided researchers to understand what prehistoric ecosystems looked like.

Researchers discovered the fossil with the intention of reaching an Allosaurus nesting site, but came across the Opisthiamimus fossil instead. It is considered one of the most complete fossil formations of small reptiles ever found in the formation.

While the reptile was estimated to be about six inches from nose to tail, a well-preserved and complete fossil has greater implications for life history and its coexistence with other organisms than larger but larger fossils. more incomplete.

Scientists who excavated the site included National Museum of Natural History Dinosauria curator Matthew Carrano and research associate David DeMar Jr.

“What’s important about the Tuatara is that it represents this huge evolutionary story that we get to capture in what is likely its final act,” Carrano said. “Even though it looks like a relatively simple lizard, it embodies a whole evolutionary epic dating back over 200 million years.”

Scientists had originally thought that most of the lizard-like reptile remains belonged to a genus called Opisthias, meaning that Opisthias were considered a dominant, broad-spectrum species. However, the discovery of Opisthiamimus means that other species of Tuatara existed at the same time between them.

Opisthiamimus’ similarity to lizards has led researchers to believe that they became extinct due to competition with lizards. Climate and habitat changes may also be factors.

Fossils like Opisthiamimus, while of little relevance, are key to understanding major environmental changes and evolution as one dominant species is replaced by the next.

“These animals often took precedence over the dinosaurs which means that there is still much to discover, study and understand about them”, Carrano said.

Although the Morrison Formation has been the subject of research and excavation for years, much remains to be discovered to truly understand Earth’s prehistoric organisms.

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Nearly 70 species of lizards have invaded Florida, the Everglades https://phrynosoma.org/nearly-70-species-of-lizards-have-invaded-florida-the-everglades/ Tue, 20 Sep 2022 09:01:46 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/nearly-70-species-of-lizards-have-invaded-florida-the-everglades/ Florida is home to some pretty fantastic animals. From piscivorous spiders to alligatorcrocodiles, panthers, black bear and all sizes and kinds of the Sharksthe Sunshine State has a lot to offer when it comes to physically capable hunters and the intimidation they can cause. The burmese python wreaked havoc on animals in the historic Everglades, […]]]>

Florida is home to some pretty fantastic animals.

From piscivorous spiders to alligatorcrocodiles, panthers, black bear and all sizes and kinds of the Sharksthe Sunshine State has a lot to offer when it comes to physically capable hunters and the intimidation they can cause.

The burmese python wreaked havoc on animals in the historic Everglades, eating many native animals and competing with others for breeding and feeding space.

The lizards are there too. From the mentally threatening to the exotic and even jaded, most of these animals don’t belong here; but they have become a permanent part of the Florida landscape.

In case you missed it:How to protect yourself and your pets from Florida black bears

Florida has 1.3 million alligators. What to know about alligator hunting season

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SC Invasive Species Control Is A Multi-Agency Matter That Comes Down To Money | News SC Climate and Environment https://phrynosoma.org/sc-invasive-species-control-is-a-multi-agency-matter-that-comes-down-to-money-news-sc-climate-and-environment/ Fri, 16 Sep 2022 19:00:00 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/sc-invasive-species-control-is-a-multi-agency-matter-that-comes-down-to-money-news-sc-climate-and-environment/ The countless invasive plant and animal species in South Carolina have left government agencies and biologists with a multi-million dollar question: Who is supposed to foot the bill? Kudzu, wild boar, Asian longhorned beetles, and armadillos are among the major invaders to sprout or roam the state. From a land management and ecological perspective, these […]]]>

The countless invasive plant and animal species in South Carolina have left government agencies and biologists with a multi-million dollar question: Who is supposed to foot the bill?

Kudzu, wild boar, Asian longhorned beetles, and armadillos are among the major invaders to sprout or roam the state.

From a land management and ecological perspective, these invaders are everyone’s problem, according to Dave Coyle, professor of forest health and invasive species at Clemson University.

This is because barriers can be broken by anything that crawls, crawls, flies or swims; they can easily cross country, state, and county borders while searching for acceptable habitats to put down roots.

Federal, state and local agencies are all limited in the time, staff and money they can devote. They sometimes join forces to control or eradicate species that do not belong to a certain area.

But budgets remain a key.

“It’s often about the money,” Coyle said. “How much damage is going to happen if you do nothing versus how much it’s going to cost to do something.”

Asian longhorned beetle eradication efforts in South Carolina are an example of a coordinated response between federal and state agencies. The groups have been determined to eradicate the bugs since they were detected in 2020 in the Stono Ferry neighborhood of Hollywood.

“And you can see the results,” Coyle said, pointing to 139,000 trees surveyed in total.

But there likely won’t be a coordinated federal response for a species like the invasive kudzu vine, which has been established in South Carolina for some time. That’s because “there just aren’t enough resources for everyone,” Coyle said.

Asian longhorned beetle

Clemson and the United States Department of Agriculture have been working on the ground to control the ALB infestation in the Lowcountry for two years. Biologists don’t know how these large black and white insects got to Palmetto State. But there is speculation that they came from China through the movement of firewood or solid wood packaging through the ports of Charleston and Savannah. It is possible that they also traveled by rail.

These insects love wood and have been known to burrow inside trees, such as maples and elms. Once large enough, the beetles tunnel out of the tree. Their exit holes can cause trees to die, snap and collapse.






Dr. Dave Coyle, professor of forest health and invasive species at Clemson University, holds a male (right) and female Asian longhorned beetle. Brad Nettles/staff




More than 6,400 infested trees have been detected in the Lowcountry and 3,822 have been removed since 2020. Agencies have also taken the initiative to cut down 2,688 trees considered to be at risk of infestation, according to a community update from the September 2 from Clemson.

Federal authorities have also decreed a quarantine in about 72 square miles of Charleston and Dorchester counties. This prohibits people from moving certain wooden objects without special permission.

Coyle said there was little opposition to these regulatory measures.

“Maybe it’s just that people really appreciate the environment and they can see there’s a little sacrifice to save something bigger in the back,” he said. .

Wild boar

Pigs have been here as long as Europeans have lived in North America. But the problem started when free-roaming domestic pigs weren’t recaptured, eventually developing feral populations, said Cory Heaton, a professor at Clemson Cooperative Extension and a state wildlife specialist.

This created a “hodgepodge” of wild boars in the wild, he said. They are now located in every county in the state.

The USDA said wild pigs can alter water quality, alter plant composition, and decrease tree density in forests, but there’s still a lot biologists don’t know about them. This includes the extent of damage animals can cause to native wildlife and plant communities.

On top of that, Heaton said there was no clear answer as to who is responsible for controlling feral hogs, which are known to hold neighborhoods hostage, rooting yards and tearing up paths.







Wild Hogs invading suburban Charleston (copy) (copy)

A wild boar walks through brush on Commander Island in April 2003. File/Staff




“Currently it’s basically the landowner themselves to take care of that,” Heaton said.

The state invested $750,000 in this year’s budget for feral hog eradication efforts. Heaton said the USDA is using a pilot program in Hampton, Jasper and Newberry counties to determine if feral hog populations can be effectively suppressed or reduced.

“My guess is if all goes well and lawmakers stay on board, it would be funded at the state level versus a few county levels,” Heaton said.


Feral hogs and Asian longhorned beetles top SC's list of most invasive species

tegu lizard

The state enacted a ban on Argentine black and white tegus in 2021 after about 11 sightings were confirmed since the previous year.

The species is popular in the pet trade and has basically fallen into the South Carolina ecosystem, according to state herpetologist Andrew Grosse. They can weigh over 10 pounds and grow up to 4 feet long. Collectors flock to them because of their size, intelligence, and docile nature.

Worryingly, ground-dwelling lizards are ready to eat just about anything. Carcass tests have confirmed that they recover native plants and animals here, including toads, insects and muscadines.







Tegu Lizard (copy)

Tegu lizards are popular as pets, but the state issued a ban in 2021. SCDNR/Supplied


The good news is that biologists don’t believe animals roam freely in Palmetto State. A current law aims to ensure that this does not change.

It is now illegal to own, buy, sell, or trade an unregistered tegu in the state. Violators could be fined up to $2,500 and one year in jail.

“I think that (the lizard) will always be a concern as long as we have a pet business,” Heaton said. “Now we can put preventive measures in place for the legal pet trade, but that doesn’t seem to stop the illegal pet trade.”

Armadillo

These mammals migrated here from the southwest and are known for their pig-like snouts and the scale-like material on their heads, bodies, and tails.

The main issue people have with them is their ability to damage turf when searching for bugs and other insects in the ground, MNR said. They are also known to carry certain zoonotic diseases that can spread to humans, such as leprosy.

“If it became a problem, I think we could see a shift in funding and having professionals who were trying to eradicate it,” Heaton said. “But currently, I don’t see the armadillo getting that much attention.”

Armadillos have inhabited the Coastal Plains longer than other areas of the state. Their range now extends to the Savannah River region.







SECONDARY Phosphate Armadillo.JPG (copy)

The SC Department of Natural Resources considers armadillos a nuisance and a health hazard. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff




“As we become more tropical in our climate, it’s better suited for species like that,” Heaton said. “And we see these populations reacting.”

There are no regulations in place to protect armadillos since they are not game. The species can be harvested, trapped and basically managed.

The DNR said there is no closed season for armadillos on private land statewide with a valid hunting license. Night hunting is permitted from the last day of February to July 1 with prior notification to the agency.

Kudzu

There simply aren’t enough resources to eradicate species like the kudzu vine.

The twining plant was considered a garden novelty when it was introduced to the United States in the 19th century from Asia. The government has even promoted it as a way to stabilize soil and erosion.

But the vine quickly spun out of control once people stopped tending to it. His extremely rapid growth habits didn’t help.

Kudzu can now be seen along roads like Interstate 26 and wrapping around trees and train tracks. It is known to create a blanket on the earth and smother anything below, according to Coyle.

“They say it grows a foot a day, and that’s no surprise,” he said.

Whenever kudzu is present, there is little plant diversity around. There is help out there, though.

For example, kudzu bugs feed on the plant. And cutting the vines, mowing the area or using herbicides at the roots of the plant can help with management.


Large Asian Joro spiders begin to populate SC and other southeastern states

Can SC manage another invasive species?

There is no simple answer to this question. Coyle said it would depend on how fast the species is moving and if there is a chance of eradicating it. The size of the population at detection is also important to consider. A small population in someone’s yard would be more manageable than a species that has already spread over 5 acres when found.

“All of those things really factor into your chances of beating this thing,” Coyle said.


Infrastructure bill could mean more funding for tree planting and canopy cover in SC

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This Extinct New Species Of Lizard Was Alive During The Dinosaurs https://phrynosoma.org/this-extinct-new-species-of-lizard-was-alive-during-the-dinosaurs/ Thu, 15 Sep 2022 16:08:13 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/this-extinct-new-species-of-lizard-was-alive-during-the-dinosaurs/ millions of years ago, in the middle of the Mesozoic, the development and diversification of reptiles began to increase. It burst into an amazing variety of reptilian shapes, sizes, structures and traits. But, while many reptiles have retained their morphological diversity over the years, many others have declined or disappeared, including the rhynchocephali and the […]]]>

millions of years ago, in the middle of the Mesozoic, the development and diversification of reptiles began to increase. It burst into an amazing variety of reptilian shapes, sizes, structures and traits. But, while many reptiles have retained their morphological diversity over the years, many others have declined or disappeared, including the rhynchocephali and the most famous dinosaurs.

A paper published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology claims that researchers have recently discovered and described the fossils of Opisthiamimus gregori, a new small species of extinct rhynchocephalus. It crossed the North American terrain alongside the dinosaurs about 150 million years ago.

According to the team, the discovery could solve a lingering problem in the world of reptile research. Future studies of fossil species may one day reveal why once diverse groups of reptiles have declined so dramatically over time.

Rhynchocephali

Rhynchocephalians are a group of reptiles closely related to lizards, according to the research team. At their peak, around 200 to 145 million years ago, these lizard-like reptiles roamed the globe. They varied in shape and size and performed a wide variety of functions, from aquatic predator to terrestrial prey. But for some strange reason that remains a mystery to reptile researchers, the rhynchocephali quickly began to decline, moving ever closer to complete extinction.

“These animals may have gone extinct in part because of competition from lizards, but possibly also because of global climate change and shifting habitats,” says research team member Matthew Carrano and curator of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. a Press release.

In fact, only one species of rhynchocephalus, Spotted Tufted Tufted, still survives today. Similar in appearance to a stocky, stocky iguana, this species – commonly known as a tuatara – provides one of the only ways scientists can study the winnowing of rhynchocephali.

The discovery and description of O. gregori opens up another valuable source of information that the researchers believe may one day show why the rhynchocephali declined into a single surviving species.

“It’s fascinating to watch the dominance of one group give way to another group during evolution,” says Carrano in Press release. “We still need more evidence to explain exactly what happened, but fossils like this are how we’re going to put them together.”

Reptile revelations

Found at a site in Wyoming, the small fossil specimen exhibits almost all the O. gregori skeleton, except for sections of its tail and legs. According to the research team, this makes the specimen particularly valuable, as most fossils of a similar size are found broken or in fragments through the difficult process of fossilization or the wear of rocks over time.

Choosing to take full advantage of the completeness of the fossil, the team scanned the specimen from an assortment of angles to create an almost fully complete digital rendering. This rendering, in turn, revealed that O. gregori reached about 6 inches in length and probably lived on a constant stream of insects and other small invertebrates. The rendering also revealed that the rhynchocephalic species looked surprisingly similar to the surviving tuatara, despite being about five times smaller.

“Such a complete specimen has enormous potential for making comparisons with fossils collected in the future and for identifying or reclassifying specimens already sitting somewhere in a museum drawer,” concludes David DeMar Jr., another member of the team and researcher at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, in a press release.

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Wildlife conservation tends to save charismatic species. That might be about to change | KPCC – NPR News for Southern California https://phrynosoma.org/wildlife-conservation-tends-to-save-charismatic-species-that-might-be-about-to-change-kpcc-npr-news-for-southern-california/ Mon, 12 Sep 2022 21:30:26 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/wildlife-conservation-tends-to-save-charismatic-species-that-might-be-about-to-change-kpcc-npr-news-for-southern-california/ Updated September 12, 2022 7:28 PM ET BINGHAMTON, New York — A soaring bald eagle is spellbinding. A growling grizzly bear is impressive. A master of swimming hell? You may not be able to imagine this one. On a recent hot summer day, biologist Michelle Herman carefully samples this type of rare giant salamander to […]]]>

Updated September 12, 2022 7:28 PM ET

BINGHAMTON, New York — A soaring bald eagle is spellbinding. A growling grizzly bear is impressive. A master of swimming hell? You may not be able to imagine this one.

On a recent hot summer day, biologist Michelle Herman carefully samples this type of rare giant salamander to search for invasive fungi near a tributary of the Susquehanna River. She is one of a small group of biologists, state wildlife technicians, and volunteers supporting the hellbenders in this area, where their numbers have dwindled sharply.

“They don’t have a lot of defenders, so I’m happy to be a hell defender,” says Herman, who works for The Wetland Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization.

Some high-profile species, such as the bald eagle, are conservation success stories. But thousands of less charismatic species are competing for scarce resources in the United States, with up to a million threatened with extinction worldwide, according to the United Nations.

Amphibians, such as the masters of hell, are in decline for a number of reasons ranging from habitat destruction to climate change. Hellbenders live under giant boulders in clean, fast-flowing streams, where they like to eat crayfish. Their presence is a sign of good water quality, Herman says.

Existing federal conservation funding only covers about 5% of what is needed to help the more than 12,000 “species most needed for conservation,” including the ruler of hell, according to the America’s Fish and Wildlife Alliance.

The masters of hell live under giant boulders in the creek bed. Petokas and an undergrad use scuba gear to try to find them.

Champions of the species here have so far cobbled together resources from the Bronx Zoo and elsewhere to breed them in captivity, tag them with microchips, and release them into the wild. But they’ve also tried a number of unorthodox tactics to raise the animal’s profile and attract conservation funds.

Peter Petokas, a research associate at Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute, has created a crowdfunding page for work. His work inspired a group of high school students who lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to declare him the official state amphibian.

“They borrowed my Hellbender suitwhich is really cool,” says Petokas. After two years of lobbying elected officials, the students succeeded. But none of that led to more funding, he says.

The masters of hell have several nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including "lasagna lizard," "otter snot," and "Allegheny Alligator."

The masters of hell have several nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including “lasagna lizard”, “snot otter”, and “Allegheny alligator”.

Federal funding tends to go to game species

Since the 1930s, the United States has taxed hunting and licensing, as well as firearms, ammunition, and other equipment, to raise funds for conservation. In the 1950s, this model was expanded to include fishing licenses and equipment with the Dingell–Johnson Act.

Mike Leahy, director of wildlife policy, hunting and fishing at the National Wildlife Federation, says money often goes to species that hunters and anglers care about, such as deer and elk. .

“There’s been this gap in getting funding for species that aren’t hunted or fished,” he says.

But many species identified as in need of conservation have a less direct relationship with humans. Invertebrates such as molluscs and insects, as well as fish and bird species are all threatened in large numbers, according to the US Department of the Interior.

Many conservationists talk about the loss of these species like flying an airplane while slowly removing every bolt, or part of Jenga. Each disappearance weakens entire ecosystems. But others prefer to think of conservation in positive terms, as an investment.

“I think the real value of preserving a truly rare and unique species is having it there for the future, for everyone to enjoy,” says Petokas.

A master of hell waits for his checkup in a container of river water.  The animals are entirely aquatic and breathe through frilly folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

A master of hell waits for his checkup in a container of river water. The animals are entirely aquatic and breathe through frilly folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

Bill to provide more funding has bipartisan support

Wildlife advocates hope that this imbalance may soon change. A bill called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this summer, would dramatically increase federal government spending to protect American wildlife by create a $1.3 billion annual fund for conservation.

Led by Senators Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), the Senate bill has more than 40 co-sponsors, including 16 Republicans.

“By conserving wildlife habitat, we will also preserve outdoor recreational activities like hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing that support millions of additional jobs,” Blunt said. earlier this year.

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician brings two hellbenders back to the rocks of the creek where they live.

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician brings two hellbenders back to the rocks of the creek where they live.

The money would go to states and tribal governments to decide how to spend. The law would also require 15% of the amount to support federally listed endangered species. But it is unclear whether the bill, which has yet to find a source of funding to offset the cost of increased conservation spending, will go to a vote this year.

“If it passes, [it] really going to change the paradigm. It will be an absolute game changer,” says Sarina Jepsen, director of the endangered species program at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization specializing in invertebrate conservation.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Wildlife conservation tends to save charismatic species. That may be about to change. https://phrynosoma.org/wildlife-conservation-tends-to-save-charismatic-species-that-may-be-about-to-change/ Mon, 12 Sep 2022 20:37:00 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/wildlife-conservation-tends-to-save-charismatic-species-that-may-be-about-to-change/ BINGHAMTON, New York — Near a tributary of the Susquehanna River, biologist Michelle Herman carefully samples a species of rare giant salamander called the Eastern Hellmaster for invasive fungi. “The first cracked me up when I rubbed my chin. It was very fiery,” she says. Herman is part of a small group attempting to repopulate […]]]>

BINGHAMTON, New York — Near a tributary of the Susquehanna River, biologist Michelle Herman carefully samples a species of rare giant salamander called the Eastern Hellmaster for invasive fungi.

“The first cracked me up when I rubbed my chin. It was very fiery,” she says. Herman is part of a small group attempting to repopulate the Hellbenders in an area where their numbers have dwindled sharply.

“They don’t have a lot of defenders, so I’m happy to be a hell defender,” says Herman, who works for The Wetland Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization.

The bald eagles have come back from the edge of the abyss. The number of grizzly bears is rebounding. But conservation is expensive, and thousands of less charismatic species are competing for scarce resources in the United States, with as many as a million threatened with extinction worldwide, according to the United Nations.

According to America’s Fish and Wildlife Alliance.

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

The masters of hell live under giant boulders in the creek bed. Petokas and an undergrad use scuba gear to try to find them.

In the case of the Master of Hell, champions in this part of their lineup tinkered with resources from the Bronx Zoo and elsewhere to raise them in captivity, tag them with microchips, and release them into the wild. But they’ve also tried a number of unorthodox tactics to raise the animal’s profile and attract conservation funds.

Peter Petokas, research associate at the Clean Water Institute at Lycoming College, has tried crowdfunding. His work helped inspire a group of high school students who lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to declare him the official state amphibian.

“They borrowed my Hellbender suitwhich is really cool,” says Petokas. After two years of lobbying elected officials, the students succeeded. But none of that led to more funding, he says.

The masters of hell have several nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including "lasagna lizard," "otter snot," and "Allegheny Alligator."

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

The masters of hell have several nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including “lasagna lizard”, “snot otter”, and “Allegheny alligator”.

Federal funding tends to go to game species

Since the 1930s, the United States has taxed hunting and licensing, as well as firearms, ammunition, and other equipment, to raise funds for conservation. In the 1950s, this model was expanded to include fishing licenses and equipment with the Dingell–Johnson Act.

Mike Leahy, director of wildlife policy, hunting and fishing at the National Wildlife Federation, explains that as a result, money often goes to species that hunters and anglers care about, such as deer and elk.

“There’s been this gap in getting funding for species that aren’t hunted or fished,” he says.

But many species identified as in need of conservation have a less direct relationship with humans. Invertebrates such as molluscs and insects, as well as fish and bird species are all threatened in large numbers, according to the US Department of the Interior.

Many conservationists talk about the loss of these species like flying an airplane while slowly removing every bolt, or part of Jenga. Each disappearance weakens entire ecosystems. But others prefer to think of conservation in positive terms, as an investment.

“I think the real value of preserving a truly rare and unique species is having it there for the future, for everyone to enjoy,” says Petokas.

A master of hell waits for his checkup in a container of river water.  The animals are entirely aquatic and breathe through frilly folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

A master of hell waits for his checkup in a container of river water. The animals are entirely aquatic and breathe through frilly folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

Wildlife advocates hope that this imbalance may soon change. A bill called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this summer, would dramatically increase federal government spending to protect American wildlife by creating a $1.3 billion annual fund for the conservation.

Led by Senators Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) and Roy Blount (R-Missouri), the Senate bill has more than 40 co-sponsors, including 16 Republicans.

“By conserving wildlife habitat, we will also preserve outdoor recreational activities like hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing that support millions of additional jobs,” Blount said. earlier this year.

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician brings two hellbenders back to the rocks of the creek where they live.

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician brings two hellbenders back to the rocks of the creek where they live.

The money would go to states and tribal governments to decide how to spend. The law would also require 15% of the amount to support federally listed endangered species. But it is unclear whether the bill, which has yet to find a source of funding to offset the cost of increased conservation spending, will go to a vote this year.

“If it passes, [it] really going to change the paradigm. It will be an absolute game changer,” says Sarina Jepsen, director of the endangered species program at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization specializing in invertebrate conservation.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Wildlife conservation tends to save charismatic species. That might be about to change https://phrynosoma.org/wildlife-conservation-tends-to-save-charismatic-species-that-might-be-about-to-change/ Mon, 12 Sep 2022 20:37:00 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/wildlife-conservation-tends-to-save-charismatic-species-that-might-be-about-to-change/ Updated September 12, 2022 7:28 PM ET BINGHAMTON, New York — A soaring bald eagle is spellbinding. A growling grizzly bear is impressive. A master of swimming hell? You may not be able to imagine this one. On a recent hot summer day, biologist Michelle Herman carefully samples this type of rare giant salamander to […]]]>

Updated September 12, 2022 7:28 PM ET

BINGHAMTON, New York — A soaring bald eagle is spellbinding. A growling grizzly bear is impressive. A master of swimming hell? You may not be able to imagine this one.

On a recent hot summer day, biologist Michelle Herman carefully samples this type of rare giant salamander to search for invasive fungi near a tributary of the Susquehanna River. She is one of a small group of biologists, state wildlife technicians, and volunteers supporting the hellbenders in this area, where their numbers have dwindled sharply.

“They don’t have a lot of defenders, so I’m happy to be a hell defender,” says Herman, who works for The Wetland Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization.

Some high-profile species, such as the bald eagle, are conservation success stories. But thousands of less charismatic species are competing for scarce resources in the United States, with up to a million threatened with extinction worldwide, according to the United Nations.

Amphibians, such as the masters of hell, are in decline for a number of reasons ranging from habitat destruction to climate change. Hellbenders live under giant boulders in clean, fast-flowing streams, where they like to eat crayfish. Their presence is a sign of good water quality, Herman says.

Existing federal conservation funding only covers about 5% of what is needed to help the more than 12,000 “species most needed for conservation,” including the ruler of hell, according to the America’s Fish and Wildlife Alliance.

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

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Laura Benshoff/NPR

The masters of hell live under giant boulders in the creek bed. Petokas and an undergrad use scuba gear to try to find them.

Champions of the species here have so far cobbled together resources from the Bronx Zoo and elsewhere to breed them in captivity, tag them with microchips, and release them into the wild. But they’ve also tried a number of unorthodox tactics to raise the animal’s profile and attract conservation funds.

Peter Petokas, a research associate at Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute, has created a crowdfunding page for work. His work inspired a group of high school students who lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature to declare him the official state amphibian.

“They borrowed my Hellbender suitwhich is really cool,” says Petokas. After two years of lobbying elected officials, the students succeeded. But none of that led to more funding, he says.

The masters of hell have several nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including "lasagna lizard," "otter snot," and "Allegheny Alligator."

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

The masters of hell have several nicknames related to their unusual appearance, including “lasagna lizard”, “snot otter”, and “Allegheny alligator”.

Federal funding tends to go to game species

Since the 1930s, the United States has taxed hunting and licensing, as well as firearms, ammunition, and other equipment, to raise funds for conservation. In the 1950s, this model was expanded to include fishing licenses and equipment with the Dingell–Johnson Act.

Mike Leahy, director of wildlife policy, hunting and fishing at the National Wildlife Federation, says money often goes to species that hunters and anglers care about, such as deer and elk. .

“There’s been this gap in getting funding for species that aren’t hunted or fished,” he says.

But many species identified as in need of conservation have a less direct relationship with humans. Invertebrates such as molluscs and insects, as well as fish and bird species are all threatened in large numbers, according to the US Department of the Interior.

Many conservationists talk about the loss of these species like flying an airplane while slowly removing every bolt, or part of Jenga. Each disappearance weakens entire ecosystems. But others prefer to think of conservation in positive terms, as an investment.

“I think the real value of preserving a truly rare and unique species is having it there for the future, for everyone to enjoy,” says Petokas.

A master of hell waits for his checkup in a container of river water.  The animals are entirely aquatic and breathe through frilly folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

A master of hell waits for his checkup in a container of river water. The animals are entirely aquatic and breathe through frilly folds that run along the sides of their bodies.

Bill to provide more funding has bipartisan support

Wildlife advocates hope that this imbalance may soon change. A bill called the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this summer, would dramatically increase federal government spending to protect American wildlife by create a $1.3 billion annual fund for conservation.

Led by Senators Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), the Senate bill has more than 40 co-sponsors, including 16 Republicans.

“By conserving wildlife habitat, we will also preserve outdoor recreational activities like hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing that support millions of additional jobs,” Blunt said. earlier this year.

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician brings two hellbenders back to the rocks of the creek where they live.

/ Laura Benshoff/NPR

/

Laura Benshoff/NPR

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician brings two hellbenders back to the rocks of the creek where they live.

The money would go to states and tribal governments to decide how to spend. The law would also require 15% of the amount to support federally listed endangered species. But it is unclear whether the bill, which has yet to find a source of funding to offset the cost of increased conservation spending, will go to a vote this year.

“If it passes, [it] really going to change the paradigm. It will be an absolute game changer,” says Sarina Jepsen, director of the endangered species program at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization specializing in invertebrate conservation.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

]]>
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Highlights the State’s 350 Most Sensitive Species – The Journal https://phrynosoma.org/colorado-parks-and-wildlife-highlights-the-states-350-most-sensitive-species-the-journal/ Mon, 05 Sep 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/colorado-parks-and-wildlife-highlights-the-states-350-most-sensitive-species-the-journal/ The dashboard highlights the top threats in the state, the agency’s progress in protecting them An American polecat watches from a prairie dog burrow after emerging. Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until 1981, when a dog discovered one in Wyoming. Black-footed ferrets, which are primarily carnivorous and feed on prairie dogs, are the only ferret […]]]>

The dashboard highlights the top threats in the state, the agency’s progress in protecting them

An American polecat watches from a prairie dog burrow after emerging. Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until 1981, when a dog discovered one in Wyoming. Black-footed ferrets, which are primarily carnivorous and feed on prairie dogs, are the only ferret subspecies native to North America. Ferrets are released during the fall months to simulate when kits typically leave their mothers. (Olivia Sun / The Colorado Sun)

Olivia Sun The Colorado Sun

How are scientists working to protect the toothless, federally endangered Colorado pikeminnow? Which species is most threatened by state energy production and mining? What is a Piping Plover?

The answers can be found on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s new Species Conservation Dashboard, which lists more than 350 sensitive species that inhabit Colorado and the agency’s efforts to protect them.

The public can explore species at risk and the threats they face, and follow the state’s conservation work outlined in its Wildlife Action Plan.

The recently launched site allows for greater transparency about CPW’s efforts to conserve sensitive species – from the greater prairie chicken to the long-nosed leopard lizard – and offers greater awareness to conservation partners, land management agencies, to local governments and the public, David Klute, supervisor of the agency’s species conservation unit, said.

It also serves as a reminder that enjoying the outdoors is not without impact.

Unregulated off-piste skiing and snowshoeing threatens snowshoe hare and lynx, the scoreboard says. Climbing near cliffs and crevices endangers birds such as the American peregrine falcon and brown-headed finch. Off-roading can affect the wilted rattlesnake. And alpine camping can have a serious impact on bighorn sheep herds.

“We enjoy the outdoors in Colorado and that’s where these species are,” Klute said. “So understanding when the general public might have impacts on those and taking steps to minimize those impacts can be really important.”

To address the threat that campers, hikers, mountain bikers and other trail users have on a range of species, the agency has implemented seasonal closures, added fencing to create boundaries in certain areas and established official wildlife viewing areas, according to the dashboard.

Private landowners can also have a big impact by helping to conserve species at risk, such as black-footed ferrets, which live almost exclusively on private land and were once thought to be extinct. Now, biologists are making progress in restoring prairie dog-eating rodents to the Eastern Plains.

The website also identifies species at risk that the state hopes to better understand, including the eastern black rail. The birds, which were once abundant in the marshes along the coasts, are now listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act due to human development, rising sea levels and coastal storms, Klute said. Colorado has the largest known inland population of elusive birds in North America.

Biologists believe there are large numbers of black rails living in dense marshes along the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado, but because they are so elusive, CPW is still working to estimate its population. .

The agency’s conservation actions are ranked according to its progress. Green indicates the agency is on track to complete a conservation action, yellow or orange means it is “partially on track” to complete, and red indicates the project hasn’t started yet.

Efforts to conserve some “more charismatic” species, as Klute called them, including wolves and black-footed ferrets, have received a lot of attention. Some more divisive than others.

But there are other lesser-known species, like the Gunnison sage-grouse, that face a similar conservation need. The federal government lists the birds, known for their elaborate courtship rituals and whose largest population lives in Gunnison Basin, as endangered.

“It’s a great example of where Colorado is really leading the global conservation of this species,” Klute said. “If they don’t succeed here in Colorado, they won’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

The dashboard tracks projects and highlights conservation needs outlined in the Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan, which each state must have to receive state-wide conservation funding. state and federal grants. The Colorado plan ranks the threats the species face from low to high.

Taking early action can play a role in protecting sensitive habitats and potentially head-off recovery efforts for some species down the road, Klute said.

There have been recent efforts to get the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the pinyon jay as an endangered or threatened species. The birds, which live primarily in western Colorado and throughout the western United States, have seen a steep decline in population, in part due to the loss of its pine-juniper woodland habitat.

CPW works to understand how animals that live in the state’s alpine environments — like pika, southern white-tailed ptarmigan, and brown-headed finch — are affected by climate change. The recent monsoon humidity and, more importantly, the afternoon cloud cover help ptarmigan and others who may become “heat stressed” in the high country.

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife researcher releases a ptarmigan during field work studying birds. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

“So years when we don’t get that monsoon humidity can be very stressful for a species like that, and if that’s happening more and more frequently, with climate change, then that could be a problem.” , Klute said.

“We see our climate changing and we see changes in weather patterns and snowpack,” he said. “Understanding whether these might be more at risk due to climate change – that may or may not be the case – we are still trying to understand that.”

CPW’s progress on its conservation actions previously appeared in a PDF and can now be viewed on the interactive dashboard, which is updated regularly. The Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan is scheduled for review in 2025.

(PS For those still wondering, a piping plover is a small bird that makes a distinctive pipe-pipe-pipe call as it flies and often nests along the sandy shores of Colorado reservoirs.)

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, visit coloradosun.com.

]]>
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Highlights the State’s 350 Most Sensitive Species – The Durango Herald https://phrynosoma.org/colorado-parks-and-wildlife-highlights-the-states-350-most-sensitive-species-the-durango-herald/ Mon, 05 Sep 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://phrynosoma.org/colorado-parks-and-wildlife-highlights-the-states-350-most-sensitive-species-the-durango-herald/ The dashboard highlights the top threats in the state, the agency’s progress in protecting them An American polecat watches from a prairie dog burrow after emerging. Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until 1981, when a dog discovered one in Wyoming. Black-footed ferrets, which are primarily carnivorous and feed on prairie dogs, are the only ferret […]]]>

The dashboard highlights the top threats in the state, the agency’s progress in protecting them

An American polecat watches from a prairie dog burrow after emerging. Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until 1981, when a dog discovered one in Wyoming. Black-footed ferrets, which are primarily carnivorous and feed on prairie dogs, are the only ferret subspecies native to North America. Ferrets are released during the fall months to simulate when kits typically leave their mothers. (Olivia Sun / The Colorado Sun)

Olivia Sun The Colorado Sun

How are scientists working to protect the toothless, federally endangered Colorado pikeminnow? Which species is most threatened by state energy production and mining? What is a Piping Plover?

The answers can be found on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s new Species Conservation Dashboard, which lists more than 350 sensitive species that inhabit Colorado and the agency’s efforts to protect them.

The public can explore species at risk and the threats they face, and follow the state’s conservation work outlined in its Wildlife Action Plan.

The recently launched site allows for greater transparency about CPW’s efforts to conserve sensitive species – from the greater prairie chicken to the long-nosed leopard lizard – and offers greater awareness to conservation partners, land management agencies, to local governments and the public, David Klute, supervisor of the agency’s species conservation unit, said.

It also serves as a reminder that enjoying the outdoors is not without impact.

Unregulated off-piste skiing and snowshoeing threatens snowshoe hare and lynx, the scoreboard says. Climbing near cliffs and crevices endangers birds such as the American peregrine falcon and brown-headed finch. Off-roading can affect the wilted rattlesnake. And alpine camping can have a serious impact on bighorn sheep herds.

“We enjoy the outdoors in Colorado and that’s where these species are,” Klute said. “So understanding when the general public might have impacts on those and taking steps to minimize those impacts can be really important.”

To address the threat that campers, hikers, mountain bikers and other trail users have on a range of species, the agency has implemented seasonal closures, added fencing to create boundaries in certain areas and established official wildlife viewing areas, according to the dashboard.

Private landowners can also have a big impact by helping to conserve species at risk, such as black-footed ferrets, which live almost exclusively on private land and were once thought to be extinct. Now, biologists are making progress in restoring prairie dog-eating rodents to the Eastern Plains.

The website also identifies species at risk that the state hopes to better understand, including the eastern black rail. The birds, which were once abundant in the marshes along the coasts, are now listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act due to human development, rising sea levels and coastal storms, Klute said. Colorado has the largest known inland population of elusive birds in North America.

Biologists believe there are large numbers of black rails living in dense marshes along the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado, but because they are so elusive, CPW is still working to estimate its population. .

The agency’s conservation actions are ranked according to its progress. Green indicates the agency is on track to complete a conservation action, yellow or orange means it is “partially on track” to complete, and red indicates the project hasn’t started yet.

Efforts to conserve some “more charismatic” species, as Klute called them, including wolves and black-footed ferrets, have received a lot of attention. Some more divisive than others.

But there are other lesser-known species, like the Gunnison sage-grouse, that face a similar conservation need. The federal government lists the birds, known for their elaborate courtship rituals and whose largest population lives in Gunnison Basin, as endangered.

“It’s a great example of where Colorado is really leading the global conservation of this species,” Klute said. “If they don’t succeed here in Colorado, they won’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

The dashboard tracks projects and highlights conservation needs outlined in the Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan, which each state must have to receive state-wide conservation funding. state and federal grants. The Colorado plan ranks the threats the species face from low to high.

Taking early action can play a role in protecting sensitive habitats and potentially head-off recovery efforts for some species down the road, Klute said.

There have been recent efforts to get the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the pinyon jay as an endangered or threatened species. The birds, which live primarily in western Colorado and throughout the western United States, have seen a steep decline in population, in part due to the loss of its pine-juniper woodland habitat.

CPW works to understand how animals that live in the state’s alpine environments — like pika, southern white-tailed ptarmigan, and brown-headed finch — are affected by climate change. The recent monsoon humidity and, more importantly, the afternoon cloud cover help ptarmigan and others who may become “heat stressed” in the high country.

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife researcher releases a ptarmigan during field work studying birds. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

“So years when we don’t get that monsoon humidity can be very stressful for a species like that, and if that’s happening more and more frequently, with climate change, then that could be a problem.” , Klute said.

“We see our climate changing and we see changes in weather patterns and snowpack,” he said. “Understanding whether these might be more at risk due to climate change – that may or may not be the case – we are still trying to understand that.”

CPW’s progress on its conservation actions previously appeared in a PDF and can now be viewed on the interactive dashboard, which is updated regularly. The Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan is scheduled for review in 2025.

(PS For those still wondering, a piping plover is a small bird that makes a distinctive pipe-pipe-pipe call as it flies and often nests along the sandy shores of Colorado reservoirs.)

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, visit coloradosun.com.

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