Discoveries

Our world is vast and much is still to be discovered and described by science.

A recent article published in Science Daily reports on the discovery of 71 new species by researchers at the California Academy of Sciences in 2019. The article provides a nice overview of the species discovered and includes the following quote remaining us that there is much work to do to identify what we have on this wonderful planet. A nice short read if you can find the time.

“Despite decades of tirelessly scouring some of the most familiar and remote places on Earth,” says Shannon Bennett, PhD, and Academy Chief of Science, “biodiversity scientists estimate that more than 90% of nature’s species remain unknown. A rich diversity of plants and animals is what allows life on our planet to thrive: the interconnectedness of all living systems provides collective resilience in the face of our climate crisis. Each newly discovered species serves as an important reminder of the critical role we play in better understanding and preserving these precious ecosystems.”

References:

1.California Academy of Sciences. (2019, December 5). Scientists at the California Academy of Sciences describe 71 new species in 2019. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2019 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191205155818.htm

And just for fun a smattering of those species we already know.

Hungry Hawk

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Looking like it just finished a meal this Red tailed Hawk was right back at it. Watching the fields intently for a mouse to stir and trying to make the most of the short days this time of year.

Song birds are shrinking

Bergmann’s rule posits that populations and species of larger sizes are found in colder regions while in warmer regions species are smaller.

A study published yesterday in the Journal Ecology Letters reports that over the pervious four decades there has been, on average, a 2.4 percent decrease in the size of the length of the tarsus bone, a standard marker for bird size,  in a sample population of over 70,000 birds from 52 species. The changes in tarsus length were correlated with the increase temperature. The lead authors of the study suggested two explanations for the decrease in body size.

“The first is developmental plasticity, in which individuals that mature in warmer temperatures tend to develop into smaller adults,” Weeks explained. “The second is natural selection, in which smaller birds tend to do better — in survival, reproduction, or both — in warmer temperatures, leading to a shift in the average size of individuals in a population.”

In addition, the study found consistent increases in the wing length of 1.3 percent in 40 of the species. The reason for in increase in wing length is unclear  but the authors hypothesized that increasing wing length may represent a compensatory adaptation to maintain migration as reductions in body size have increased the metabolic cost of flight. Like many of the consequences of climate change, the changes measured in bird size, are not perceptible to the naked eye.

There is a good summary of the study here by the Audubon society.

Click any image for slide show.