Health Status of Vulnerable Gopher Tortoises Revealed in Southeastern Florida

In previously unstudied gopher tortoise aggregations, researchers found that overall, 42.9 percent had circulating antibodies to an infectious bacterium that causes upper respiratory tract disease. Physical examination showed that 19.8 percent had clinical signs consistent with upper respiratory tract disease and 13.2 percent had some form of physical abnormality. None of the tortoises tested positive for Ranavirus or Herpesvirus, which represents important baseline data, since these viruses are thought to be emerging pathogens of other tortoise and turtle species.

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Headwaters to Baywaters: A Future of Urban Resilience Launches

The goal of the Headwaters to Baywaters initiative is to ensure healthy lands, healthy waters, and healthy communities for the greater Houston region. The Headwaters to Baywaters initiative was launched by five partner organizations: Bayou Land Conservancy (BLC), Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP), Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), Houston Audubon Society (HAS), and Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC).

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Genome sequencing delivers hope and warning for the survival of the Sumatran rhinoceros

A study led by researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm shows that the last remaining populations of the Sumatran rhinoceros display surprisingly low levels of inbreeding. The researchers sequenced the genomes from 21 modern and historical rhinoceros’ specimens, which enabled them to investigate the genetic health in rhinos living today as well as a population that recently became extinct. These findings are published today in the journal Nature Communications.

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BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES NEW CONSULTING DIVISION: BRI ENVIRONMENTAL

Biodiversity Research Institute announces the formation of its new environmental consulting services division—BRI Environmental offering a full suite of services for evaluating and permitting renewable energy development projects, infrastructure projects, marine installations, as well as residential and commercial development.

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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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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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Big cats and small dogs: solving the mystery of canine distemper in wild tigers

Canine distemper virus (CDV) causes a serious disease in domestic dogs, and also infects other carnivores, including threatened species like the Amur (Siberian) tiger, which numbers fewer than 550 individuals in the Russian Far East and neighbouring China. A new Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine study has revealed that vaccination of endangered Amur tigers is the only practical strategy to protect them from a dangerous disease in their natural habitat in the Russian Far East.

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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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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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New Device Can Measure Toxic Lead Within Minutes

Rutgers researchers have created a miniature device for measuring trace levels of toxic lead in sediments at the bottom of harbors, rivers and other waterways within minutes – far faster than currently available laboratory-based tests, which take days. The affordable lab-on-a-chip device could also allow municipalities, water companies, universities, K-12 schools, daycares and homeowners to easily and swiftly test their water supplies. The research is published in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

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Understanding how birds respond to extreme weather can inform conservation efforts

How do different bird species respond to extreme weather events that occur for different amounts of time, ranging from weekly events like heat waves to seasonal events like drought? And how do traits unique to different species — for example, how far they migrate or how commonly they occur — predict their vulnerability to extreme weather?

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Zebra stripes and their role in dazzling flies

The mystery of why zebras have their characteristic stripes has perplexed researchers for over a century.

Over the last decade, Professor Tim Caro at the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences has examined and discredited many popular theories such as their use as camouflage from predators, a cooling mechanism through the formation of convection currents and a role in social interactions.

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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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Where Did the Asian Longhorned Ticks in the U.S. Come From?

The invasive population of Asian longhorned ticks in the United States likely began with three or more self-cloning females from northeastern Asia, according to a Rutgers-led study. Asian longhorned ticks outside the U.S. can carry debilitating diseases. In the United States and elsewhere they can threaten livestock and pets. The new study, published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health, sheds new light on the origin of these exotic ticks and how they are spreading across the United States.

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Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Soil Compaction, Healthy Yards

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 23, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Steven Yergeau is available to discuss the causes of

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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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Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Invasive Plants in N.J. and Alternatives

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 10, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Michele Bakacs is available for interviews on invasive exotic plants

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Good Night? Satellite Data Uncovers Dolphins on the Move at Nighttime

More than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins live in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon year-round. Although extensively studied, what they do at nighttime is still a mystery. Using satellite telemetry, scientists provide the first documentation that these dolphins have a larger range that encompasses more habitats than previously thought. They regularly leave the brackish waters of the estuarine system and, not only travel into the ocean, but swim substantial distances – up to 20 kilometers – up freshwater rivers, creeks, and canals.

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Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss Gardening During COVID-19 Crisis

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 7, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Michelle Infante-Casella and other Rutgers faculty and staff are

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How new data can make ecological forecasts as good as weather forecasts

Soon, University of Wisconsin–Madison ecologist Ben Zuckerberg thinks we’ll be able to pull off the same forecasting feat for bird migrations and wildlife populations as for climate forecasts. That’s because just as those recurring changes in climate have predictable consequences for humans, they also have predictable effects on plants and animals.

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