Overfishing of Atlantic Cod Likely Did Not Cause Genetic Changes

Overfishing likely did not cause the Atlantic cod, an iconic species, to evolve genetically and mature earlier, according to a study led by Rutgers University and the University of Oslo – the first of its kind – with major implications for ocean conservation.

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Bald eagle count quadruples, thanks in part to eBird data boost

For the past 50 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been assembling counts of bald eagle nests to track the triumphant recovery of America’s national symbol. But in its new bald eagle population report – tabulated with the help of results using eBird data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – the USFWS found many more eagles than previously thought to exist in the Lower 48 states.

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“Ghost Forests” Expanding Along Northeast U.S. Coast

Why are “ghost forests” filled with dead trees expanding along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coast? Higher groundwater levels linked to sea-level rise and increased flooding from storm surges and very high tides are likely the most important factors, according to a Rutgers study on the impacts of climate change that suggests how to enhance land-use planning.

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NASA Images Reveal Important Forests and Wetlands are Disappearing in Belize

Using NASA satellite images and machine learning, researchers with The University of Texas at Austin have mapped changes in the landscape of northwestern Belize over a span of four decades, finding significant losses of forest and wetlands, but also successful regrowth of forest in established conservation zones that protect surviving structures of the ancient Maya.

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Rutgers Wildlife Experts Can Discuss Coyotes in New Jersey

New Brunswick, N.J. (March 2, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick wildlife experts Kathleen Kerwin and Chris Crosby are available for interviews

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Drifter or Homebody? Study First to Show Where Whitespotted Eagle Rays Roam

It’s made for long-distance travel, yet movement patterns of the whitespotted eagle ray remain a mystery. Between 2016 and 2018, scientists fitted 54 rays with acoustic transmitters and tracked them along both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts of Florida, which differ in environmental characteristics. Results of the study reveal striking differences in travel patterns on the Atlantic coast compared to the Gulf coast. Findings have significant conservation and adaptive management implications for this protected species.

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Crunch! Underwater Acoustics Expose ‘Shell-crushing’ Sounds in a Large Marine Predator

“Shell-crushing,” an explosive sound, occurs when marine animals crack open hard shells like clams to eat the edible tissue. There hasn’t been any data to support this feeding noise, until now. A study is the first to quantify these sounds using underwater acoustics in a marine animal in a controlled setting. Scientists know what type of shell a ray is eating based on the sound it makes and show it’s audible above ambient noise in lagoons out to 100 meters.

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Rutgers Legal Expert Available to Discuss Environmental, Climate Change Priorities

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 21, 2021) – Rutgers University Professor Cymie R. Payne, an expert on United States and international environmental

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Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Record Year for Bald Eagles in N.J.

New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 13, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick ecologist Michael C. Allen is available for interviews on the record

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Big Differences in How Coral Reef Fish Larvae are Dispersed

How the larvae of colorful clownfish that live among coral reefs in the Philippines are dispersed varies widely, depending on the year and seasons – a Rutgers-led finding that could help scientists improve conservation of species. Right after most coral reef fish hatch, they join a swirling sea of plankton as tiny, transparent larvae. Then currents, winds and waves disperse them, frequently to different reefs.

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‘Hail to the Queen’ – Saving the Caribbean Queen Conch

Second only to the spiny lobster, the queen conch is a prized delicacy long harvested for food and is revered for its beautiful shell. Conch populations have dwindled so low, creating a dire and urgent situation in ecological and economic terms. To preserve this most significant molluscan fishery in the Caribbean, the world’s leading expert on queen conch aquaculture has published an 80-page, step-by-step user manual that provides complete illustrations and photos of how to culture and restore the queen conch.

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Planning Ahead Protects Fish and Fisheries

Conservation of fish and other marine life migrating from warming ocean waters will be more effective and also protect commercial fisheries if plans are made now to cope with climate change, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Science Advances.

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Less Light, More Trees Assist Migrating Birds

Scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Colorado State University used observations from the Lab’s eBird citizen-science program to estimate the seasonal species richness of nocturnally migrating passerines within 333 well surveyed urban areas in the contiguous U.S. “Richness” is defined as the number of different species in an area.

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Stunning Discovery Reveals Bonefish Dive 450 Feet ‘Deep’ into the Abyss to Spawn

Using active acoustic telemetry and sonar data, a study provides the first detailed documentation of a shallow water fish diving 450 feet deep to spawn. Prior research has shown that bonefish dive about 164 feet to spawn, but this new and unprecedented study reveals that they reached depths of 450 feet, and moved below 325 feet for two hours before spawning in a rush upward to 220 feet deep.

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Community conservation reserves protect fish diversity in tropical rivers

A collaboration between researchers from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that small, community-based reserves in Thailand’s Salween River Basin are serving as critical refuges for fish diversity in a region whose subsistence fisheries have suffered from decades of overharvesting.

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The secret social lives of giant poisonous rats

A new study confirmed that the rabbit-sized rodent sequesters poison from the bark of Acokanthera schimperi, known as the poison arrow tree, into specialized fur for defense. The researchers also discovered an unexpected social life—the rats appear to be monogamous and may even form small family units with their offspring.

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After Election: Making the Endangered Species Act More Effective

Following the presidential election, a leading group of scientists are making the case that a “rule reversal” will not be sufficient to allow the Endangered Species Act to do its job of protecting species. Instead, they’re calling for deeper improvements to the rules the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service use to apply the law–aiming to make the Act more effective and to gain bipartisan and industry support in an era of accelerating climate change.
The team’s analysis and policy recommendations were published in the journal Science.

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Scientists are First in the World to Spawn Bonefish in Captivity

Fossil records of bonefish go back 138 million years, but large gaps about their biology remain. In just four years, scientists have successfully spawned bonefish in captivity and have figured out their life cycle to help inform management and conservation of this revered fishery. In the Florida keys alone, the annual economic impacts exceed $465 million. Florida’s recreational and commercial fishing industries and associated businesses account for billions of dollars that drive the economic engine for the state each year and contribute to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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New Study Shows How Climate Impacts Food Webs, Poses Socioeconomic Threat in Eastern Africa

For the first time, a research team has obtained high resolution sedimentary core samples from Lake Tanganyika. The samples show that high frequency variability in climate can lead to major disruptions in how the lake’s food web functions. The changes could put millions of people at risk who rely on the lake for food security. The team says the findings are a critical building block toward research-informed policymaking in the Lake Tanganyika region.

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Most Nations Failing to Protect Nature in COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Plans

The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to reset the global economy and reverse decades of ecosystem and species losses, but most countries are failing to invest in nature-related economic reforms or investments, according to a Rutgers-led paper.

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China’s ecological restoration projects deplete terrestrial water stores

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 10, 2020 – Through concerted, policy-driven efforts, China has converted large swaths of desert into grassland over the past few decades, but this success has come at a cost. In a study published recently in Nature Sustainability, scientists at the University of California, Irvine report that the Asian nation’s environmental reclamation programs have substantially diminished terrestrially stored water.

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Land Development in New Jersey Continues to Slow

Land development in New Jersey has slowed dramatically since the 2008 Great Recession, but it’s unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to fight societal and housing inequality will affect future trends, according to a Rutgers co-authored report. Between 2012 and 2015, 10,392 acres in the Garden State became urban land. That’s 3,464 acres a year – far lower than the 16,852 acres per year in the late 1990s and continuing the trend of decreasing urban development that began in the 2008 Great Recession.

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Hots Dogs, Chicken Wings and City Living Helped Wetland Wood Storks Thrive

Using the Wood Stork, researchers compared city storks with natural wetland storks to gauge their success in urban environments based on their diet and food opportunities. Results provide evidence of how a wetland species persists and even thrives in an urban environment by switching to human foods like chicken wings and hots dogs when natural marshes are in bad shape. These findings indicate that urban areas can buffer a species from the unpredictability of natural food sources.

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Consideration of both the potential and constraints of reforestation is needed to achieve climate mitigation goals: NUS-led study

A recent study led by NUS researchers showed that practical considerations, beyond where trees could be planted, may limit the climate change mitigation potential of reforestation. Hence, there is a need to understand how these constraints operate to inform climate policies.

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Dolphin Calf Entangled in Fishing Line Only Lived Two Years Following Rescue

Researchers examined the outcome of an entangled bottlenose dolphin calf with monofilament fishing line wrapped tightly around its upper jaw. It was successfully disentangled and immediately released it back into its natural habitat. Surviving only two years, results showed long-term severe damage due to this entanglement including emaciation. There are about 1,000 bottlenose dolphins that live in the Indian River Lagoon, which also is a very popular location for recreational fishing.

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Indigenous People Vital for Understanding Environmental Change

Grassroots knowledge from indigenous people can help to map and monitor ecological changes and improve scientific studies, according to Rutgers-led research. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows the importance of indigenous and local knowledge for monitoring ecosystem changes and managing ecosystems. The team collected more than 300 indicators developed by indigenous people to monitor ecosystem change, and most revealed negative trends, such as increased invasive species or changes in the health of wild animals. Such local knowledge influences decisions about where and how to hunt, benefits ecosystem management and is important for scientific monitoring at a global scale.

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Biotelemetry Provides Unique Glimpse into Whitespotted Eagle Rays’ Behavior

Using uniquely coded transmitters and acoustic telemetry, a study is the first to characterize the ecology and fine-scale habitat use of whitespotted rays in Florida while also identifying areas of potential interactions between this species and multiple environmental threats. Biotelemetry provided unique insights into this species’ occupancy, which is not apparent at the landscape-scale. Prolonged observations showed affinities for habitats of considerable recreational and commercial importance, like inlets, channels, and clam aquaculture lease sites close to shore.

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‘SlothBot in the Garden’ Demonstrates Hyper-Efficient Conservation Robot

For the next several months, visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden will be able to observe the testing of a new high-tech tool in the battle to save some of the world’s most endangered species. SlothBot, a slow-moving and energy-efficient robot that can linger in the trees to monitor animals, plants, and the environment below, will be tested near the Garden’s popular Canopy Walk.

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World’s Most Complete Health Analysis of Nesting Sea Turtles Conducted in Florida

The most comprehensive health assessment for a green turtle rookery in the world to date is providing critical insights into various aspects of physiology, biology, and herpesvirus epidemiology of this nesting population. Findings are hopeful for this population of green sea turtles in southeastern Florida, offer important data on the profile of health for future comparative investigations, and suggest that viruses are endemically stable in this nesting population.

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Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Creating Wildlife Habitat in Your Yard

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 15, 2020) – Kathleen Kerwin, a wildlife expert at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, is available for interviews

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