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.

 

Beauty

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She’s a beauty don’t you think?

There is just something special, call it perfection if yo will,  about how pronghorn fit in so well with the dry fall grasses in their habitat. A beauty that is laid bare and obvious. A beauty in nature’s design. A beauty we could perhaps call truth.

 

Seeking Solutions: A global deal for nature

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As humanity marches on seemingly ignorant, yet keenly aware, the earths climate continues to warm faster than predicted and the sixth-extinction event picks up momentum like a snowball rolling down hill one group of scientists recently published a paper titled “A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and targets” in the journal Science Advances proposing a solution to put a halt to our global crises.  In this paper the authors make the case that:

 “the most logical path to avoid the approaching crisis is maintaining and restoring at least 50% of the Earth’s land area as intact natural ecosystems, in combination with energy transition measures.”

The authors clearly state that measures to protect ecosystems, biodiversity and any aversion or mitigation of anthropogenic climate change is a time bound matter and action must come sooner than later.

The paper lists five major goals of the project:

(1) represent all native ecosystem types and successional stages across their natural range of variation—or “representation”

(2) maintain viable populations of all native species in natural patterns of abundance and distribution—or “saving species”

(3) maintain ecological function and ecosystem services

(4) maximize carbon sequestration by natural ecosystems

(5) address environmental change to maintain evolutionary processes and adapt to the impacts of climate change 

In addition the paper gives clear scientific evidence for their proposal and priorities that include: protecting biodiversity, mitigating climate change and reducing future threats. This is a well presented paper and one clearly worth reading.

A short article summarizing the project can be found here and is a good jumping off point prior to reading the whole study. It’s a beautiful world and diverse world and something too important to loose.

Click image to view slideshow.

References:
1) A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and targets.