Category Archives: red list


Associated Press – (via The Peninsula)

BHOPAL • At least 49 endangered Indian crocodiles have washed up dead on river shores, sparking concerns about an unknown illness, officials said yesterday.

The crocodiles, called gharials, have been found dead in the Chambal river sanctuary in central India over the past month.

Gharials have a long, narrow snout and are native to the Indian subcontinent. Only about 2,000 of the critically endangered reptiles are believed to exist in the wild.

Forest officials have ruled out poaching, but are yet to find out the cause of death.

“It seems they were suffering from some unknown disease,” said G Sudhakhar, district forest officer at the Chambal Sanctuary.

The fish-eating reptiles could also have died of food contamination, senior forest official S P Sharma said in Bhopal, capital of central Madhya Pradesh state, where some of the crocodiles were found.


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Single-largest Biodiversity Survey Says Primary Rainforest Is Irreplaceable


ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2007) — As world leaders prepare to discuss conservation-friendly carbon credits in Bali and a regional initiative threatens a new wave of deforestation in the South American tropics, new research from the University of East Anglia and Brazil’s Goeldi Museum highlights once again the irreplaceable importance of primary rain forest.

Working in the north-eastern Brazilian Amazon the international team of scientists undertook the single-largest assessment of the biodiversity conservation value of primary, secondary and plantation forests ever conducted in the humid tropics.

Over an area larger than Wales, the UEA and museum researchers surveyed five primary rain forest sites, five areas of natural secondary forest and five areas planted with fast-growing exotic trees (Eucalyptus), to evaluate patterns of biodiversity.

Following an intensive effort of more than 20,000 scientist hours in the field and laboratory, they collected data on the distribution of 15 different groups of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) and woody plants, including well-studied groups such as monkeys, butterflies and amphibians and also more obscure species such as fruit flies, orchid bees and grasshoppers.

“We know that different species often exhibit different responses to deforestation and so we sought to understand the consequences of land-use change for as many species as possible,” said Dr Jos Barlow, a former post-doctoral researcher at UEA.

At least a quarter of all species were never found outside native primary forest habitat – and the team acknowledges that this is an underestimate. “Our study should be seen as a best-case scenario, as all our forests were relatively close to large areas of primary forests, providing ample sources for recolonisation,” said Dr Barlow.

“Many plantations and regenerating forests along the deforestation frontiers in South America and south-east Asia are much further from primary forests, and wildlife may be unable to recolonise in these areas.

“Furthermore, the percentage of species restricted to primary forest habitat was much higher (40-60%) for groups such as birds and trees, where we were able to sample the canopy species as well as those that live in the forest under-storey.”

These results clearly demonstrate the unique value of undisturbed tropical forests for wildlife conservation. However, they also show that secondary forests and plantations offer some wildlife benefits and can host many species that would be unable to survive in intensive agricultural landscapes such as cattle ranching or soybean plantations.

“Although the protection of large areas of primary forest is vital for native biodiversity conservation, reforestation projects can play an important supplementary role in efforts to boost population sizes of forest species and manage vast working landscapes that have already been heavily modified by human-use” explained Dr Carlos Peres, who leads the UEA team.

But, when carbon-credits from Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDDS) are tabled for the first time at the Bali meeting next month, decision makers should beware of seeing fast-growing exotics such as eucalyptus as a carbon sink solution to the world’s emissions problems. If agreed upon by world leaders REDDs offer an extraordinary opportunity to generate funds to support the long-term protection of large areas of intact forest habitat

Pristine forests are home to over half of all terrestrial species in the world and their loss would impoverish the planet. Far better to save primary forest from deforestation in the first place,” added Dr Peres. “That way we maximize both the biodiversity and carbon value of whole landscapes.”

The study was partly funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative and their findings are reported in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Adapted from materials provided by University of East Anglia.

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Seven-year battle to implement previously achieved protections continues in Court

Sacramento – On November 13th, the California Court of Appeal will hear the case of California Forestry Association et al. v. Fish & Game Commission et al. to decide the future of California’s embattled Coho salmon. The original petition for listing the Coho under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) was successfully submitted by California Trout on behalf of the Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Coalition in July 2000. A consortium of timber interests has repeatedly challenged the listing, forcing it to ever-higher levels of the court system in attempts to avoid implementing state recommended protective measures for Coho salmon designed to recover the species.

“It’s time to put and end to this legal battle and to start conserving Coho salmon and their habitats,” said Brian Stranko of California Trout. “No endangered species should have to wait seven years to receive effective protection. The California Forestry Association is pursuing a course that imperils the natural heritage of our state.”

California’s Coho salmon received full protection under a finalized CESA listing in March 2005, but the ongoing legal challenges are attempts to undo years of recovery planning and block efforts to improve conditions required for species survival. The Coho advocates’ position has been upheld at every level of decision-making including the current ruling by the state superior court in June 2006. The Coho are also listed under the federal Endangered Species Act but the federal government has not completed recovery plans, failing to provide the practical recovery actions needed to aid population recovery.

Coho habitat has been severely degraded over the past century, largely due to poor land use practices that have resulted in rising water temperatures, increased river siltation, low water flows and a lack of habitat complexity in historic Coho streams. As a consequence, the Coho salmon population has been reduced by over 90% in California, with many stream populations wiped out entirely. If the state endangered listing were to be overturned or its provisions weakened, the Coho could lose its best chance of survival.

California Trout has intervened in this case as part of their ongoing work to protect the wild native fish species of California, an effort which over the last four decades has resulted in significant conservation improvements throughout the state.

A decision in the current appeal is expected in early 2008.

About California Trout: Founded in 1971, California Trout was the first statewide conservation group to focus on securing protections for California’s unparalleled wild and native trout diversity. Working with local communities, business, partners and government agencies, California Trout employs conservation science, education, and advocacy to craft effective solutions for California’s water resources and fisheries. Among its many current initiatives, California Trout is now leading the effort to save the official state fish, which is the California golden trout.

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20 species of birds, sea mammals face extinction threat

Peninsula Online – Ssatish Kanady

doha • A total of 20 species of birds, fish and sea mammals are facing the extinction threat in Qatar, says the Sustainable Development report released by the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP). “Qatar has a recorded 262 bird species and 1.9 per cent of them are facing extinction threat. Of the total 139 species of fish and sea mammals, 2.2 per cent are also facing the threat,” the report says. The environment indication section of the document also says that Qatar’s coastal water has a high rate of ammonia and nitrate concentration. The high concentration of these elements can cause excessive growth of plant planktons leading to a tilt in the balance of Qatar’s marine eco system.

Regarding the endangered species, the report says that the birds form 5 species while the fish and mammals are amounting to dozens. The document stressed the need for preserving and multiplying the numbers of the species. The document is optimistic that Qatar’s renewed efforts to protect the living ecosystem and the decision to expand the area of land, marine natural and coastal reserve will help combat the menace. The Islamic Shariah’s promotion on raising awareness of the importance of conserving living creatures and the enactment of environmental law regulating hunting will come to the rescue of endangered species.

Strict measures have also been introduced to prohibit trading in living species threatened with extinction listed in the appendices of the Convention of International Trading in Endangered Species (Cites). On the concentration of natural nutrient elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous in coastal waters, the data indicator shows a high concentration of ammonia , in general, in Qatari coastal waters, with concentration ranging between 63.33 and 185.1 in the area facing Mesaieed. “Causes of this high rate are flows rich in ammonia by some industrial enterprises”, the document said.

Nitrate concentration is also high in coastal waters facing Doha, reaching 144 microgrammes/litre in 2004. This high concentration is due to the biodegradation of some nitrogenous substances and their oxidation by bacteria into nitrates. “A high increase of the concentration of these elements can cause excessive growth of plant planktons and the ecological equilibrium in the area will be negatively affected. Some poisonous plant substances cause the death of large quantities of fish and huge numbers of marine animals will perish. Concentration of ammonia and nitrates in Qatari coastal waters is high when compared with the values recorded in some Arabian Gulf areas.” the environment indicator report said.

The environmental indicator also shows a decline in the quantity of underground water. Field measurements indicated a high salinity rate in the underground water. According to the report, underground water consumption rates are expected to fall in the next few years. “Qatar aims at reducing annual withdrawal of underground water, discovering feeding sources to upgrade its quality as well as search for substitute water resources, both conventional and non-conventional”, the document said.


Filed under amphibian, animals, asia, biodiversity, climate change, conservation, endangered, environment, extinction, marine, red list, wildlife, zoology

Extinctions Linked to Hotter Temperatures


Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whenever the world’s tropical seas warm several degrees, Earth has experienced mass extinctions over millions of years, according to a first-of-its-kind statistical study of fossil records.

And scientists fear it may be about to happen again — but in a matter of several decades, not tens of millions of years.

Four of the five major extinctions over 520 million years of Earth history have been linked to warmer tropical seas, something that indicates a warmer world overall, according to the new study published Wednesday.

“We found that over the fossil record as a whole, the higher the temperatures have been, the higher the extinctions have been,” said University of York ecologist Peter Mayhew, the co-author of the peer-reviewed research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British journal.

Earth is on track to hit that same level of extinction-connected warming in about 100 years, unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed, according to top scientists.

A second study, to be presented at a scientific convention Sunday, links high carbon dioxide levels, the chief man-made gas responsible for global warming, to past extinctions.

In the British study, Mayhew and his colleagues looked at temperatures in 10 million-year chunks because fossil records aren’t that precise in time measurements. They then compared those to the number of species, the number of species families, and overall biodiversity. They found more biodiversity with lower temperatures and more species dying with higher temperatures.

The researchers examined tropical sea temperatures — the only ones that can be determined from fossil records and go back hundreds of millions of years. They indicate a natural 60 million-year climate cycle that moves from a warmer “greenhouse” to a cooler “icehouse.” The Earth is warming from its current colder period.

Every time the tropical sea temperatures were about 7 degrees warmer than they are now and stayed that way for millions of enough years, there was a die-off. How fast extinctions happen varies in length.

The study linked mass extinctions with higher temperatures, but did not try to establish a cause-and-effect. For example, the most recent mass extinction, the one 65 million years ago that included the die-off of dinosaurs, probably was caused by an asteroid collision as scientists theorize and Mayhew agrees.

But extinctions were likely happening anyway as temperatures were increasing, Mayhew said. Massive volcanic activity, which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, have also been blamed for the dinosaur extinction.

The author of the second study, which focuses on carbon dioxide, said he does see a cause-and-effect between warmer seas and extinctions.

Peter Ward, a University of Washington biology and paleontology professor, said natural increases in carbon dioxide warmed the air and ocean. The warmer water had less oxygen and spawned more microbes, which in turn spewed toxic hydrogen sulfide into the air and water, killing species.

Ward examined 13 major and minor extinctions in the past and found a common link: rising carbon dioxide levels in the air and falling oxygen levels. Ward’s study will be presented Sunday at the Geological Society of America’s annual convention in Denver.

Mayhew also found increasing carbon dioxide levels in the air coinciding with die-offs, but concluded that temperatures better predicted biodiversity.

Those higher temperatures that coincided with mass extinctions are about the same level forecast for a century from now if the world continues its growing emissions of greenhouse gases, according to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In April, the same climate panel of thousands of scientists warned that “20 to 30 percent of animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction” if temperatures increase by about 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Since we’re already seeing threshold changes in ecosystems with the relatively small amount of climate change already taking place, one could expect there’s going to be severe transformations,” said biologist Thomas Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington.

University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, who studies how existing species are changing with global warming but wasn’t part of either team, said she was “blown away” by the Mayhew study and called it “very convincing.”

“This will give scant comfort to anyone who says that the world has often been warmer than recently so we’re just going back to a better world,” Pennsylvania State University geological sciences professor Richard Alley said.

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Filed under animals, biodiversity, climate change, conservation, endangered, environment, extinction, global warming, mass extinction, pollution, rainforest, red list, wildlife, zoology


 Trading Information

BOSTON, Oct 19, 2007,— The inclusion of coral on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species 2007 is the first result of an ambitious marine life observation project concerned with global conservation.

The decision to add corals to the Red List was based on studies initiated a little more than a year ago by the Global Marine Species Assessment, a joint effort of the World Conservation Union and Conservation International.

Ten species of coral in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands — two in critical danger of extinction and one that is considered vulnerable — have been included on the Red List, the most detailed guide to the global state of conservation — or decline — of plants and animals worldwide.

This is the first in a series of assessments and additions to the list focused on marine species around the world, said Kent Carpenter, the coordinator of the Global Marine Species Assessment, which is based in the biological sciences department of Old Dominion University in Virginia.

The Global Marine Species Assessment compiles information about all known species of vertebrates and a selection of invertebrates and plants. Then it adds this information to the World Conservation Union’s Species Information Service database.

The experts responsible for the project hope to have detailed data on the status of 20,000 marine species from around the world by 2010, thus enabling them to determine the relative risk of extinction of each one according to the Red List’s criteria and categories.

So far, there are just 1,530 marine species among the 41,415 flora and fauna species included on the Red List this year in the various categories, ranging from “extinct” to “not evaluated.” According to Global Marine Species Assessment scientists, sea life has not been adequately studied.

“The marine world has been relatively little studied and explored in comparison with land species,” said Stuart Banks, an oceanographer with the Charles Darwin Foundation, in an interview.

“The lack of assessment of marine species is due to the limited access to information, as well as logistical factors. Groups as important as seaweed and coral, which form productive environments, which sustain entire communities, have been very difficult to identify,” Banks said.

For Stefan Hain, the head of the Coral Reef Unit at the United Nations Environment Program, this has a simple explanation.

There is a phenomenon of “out of sight, out of mind” — “What you cannot see is very difficult to protect. It is much easier to follow the population of species on land because we can observe them directly,” he said in an interview for this report.

The Charles Darwin foundation provided data to the Global Marine Species Assessment and the World Conservation Union for the conservation of species in the Galpagos, and it has been fundamental in the evaluation of species added to the Red List.

The data for the first report on Galpagos corals were obtained by Carpenter and other researchers following a series of workshops and field studies carried out in the last year at the Charles Darwin Science Station, which is based in that Ecuadorian archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

The Red List indicates that the floreana coral and Wellington’s solitary coral are critical endangered or at extremely high risk of extinction, and the Polycyathus isabela coral is vulnerable to extinction.

Coral reefs are formed by plates of calcium carbonate produced over thousands of years by tiny animals known as polyps. Coral algae and a vast array of flora and fauna live inside of them. The reefs are true communities that serve as host and habitat to one of every four marine species.

The report indicates that Ecuador’s corals have been particularly sensitive to temperature changes, primarily those related to the cyclical climate phenomenon known as El Nino, a warm current of surface water flowing from west to east across the Pacific. The 1982-1983 El Nino was particularly devastating.

According to Carpenter, global climate change is leading to the extinction of these species and a decline in their distribution in the world’s oceans.

The near disappearance of the floreana coral illustrates this threat. According to the report, 80 percent of it has been destroyed since the early 1980s, when its population was dispersed in six different areas of the Galpagos.

Furthermore, in the reefs of the tropical eastern Pacific there has been widespread bleaching of corals. The corals lose their color due to rising temperatures in the ocean and due to its declining salinity, Carpenter said.

Bleaching also occurs when the polyps are abandoned by the algae that feed them.

The health of coastal ecosystems is also affected by pollution and by fishing, which affect both the coral and the algae, because they have impacts on the entire food chain.

The Red List, which was presented Sept. 12, also assessed 74 algae of the Galpagos, 10 of them in critical danger and six possibly extinct.

According to Banks, the loss of species in the archipelago must be stopped through fisheries resource management and initiatives to ensure long-term sustainability.

“The most viable strategy is the implementation of measures to prevent factors like tourism and fishing from worsening the situation and compromising the natural recovery of these species,” he said.

But experts say the biggest challenge is to mitigate the effects of climate change on these especially vulnerable ecosystems.

“The question is how these ecosystems can adapt to the changes,” Banks said. In this aspect, the Galpagos are in a unique situation, like a socio-biological laboratory, with their multi-use reserve where “new measures could be learned for counteracting species loss.”

For Hain of the United Nations Environment Program, the main thing is “to make sure that the reefs are healthy and strong in order to cope with climate change.”


Filed under climate change, conservation, coral, environment, red list, south america, wildlife, zoology

Resort Threatens Last 100 Grenada Doves

 Plenty mag

It sucks to be a country’s national symbol. Around the world, the plants, birds and animals that many nations call their national symbols are, ironically, at risk. The US managed to save the bald eagle, but other species, such as New Zealand’s kiwi, could soon face extinction. Now comes news that Grenada’s national symbol, the critically endangered Grenada Dove, could be wiped out so Four Seasons can build a big resort.

With less than 100 Grenada Doves left, every bird counts. The dove has only one major nesting ground, in a 155-acre national park which was created to protect the species. Unfortunately, last April, Grenada’s government approved an amendment which allows them to sell off their national parks to any private interest.

That amendment makes it possible for developers to destroy as much as half of the dove’s previously protected national park so they can build a luxury resort for the Four Seasons chain. The American Bird Conservancy submitted a critique of the development plans, along with a plan to help protect the dove, but the developers have completely ignored them and are moving ahead, un-phased and unchallenged.

So yes, we may soon be saying good-bye forever to Grenada’s national symbol. But hey, at least Grenada will get a new golf course out of it.

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