Link Blog – August 21, 2015

  • To Decode Elephant Conversation, You Must Feel The Jungle Rumble : NPR 082015
    Elephants are extraordinary animals. Their formidible size, loud stamping and trumpeting make them hard to miss. But Katy Payne discovered that an elephant’s audible calls are just a fraction of its vocabulary; an elaborate infrasound conversation goes on among the animals as well. The animals’ deep rumblings can be heard through a thick forest that might muffle higher frequency calls. Enjoy this story and its sounds on NPR Morning Edition, coproduced by the Cornell Lab:
  • The Tales Behind eBird’s Most Extraordinary Finds | Audubon 081815
    Birders have a borderline obsessive tendency to keep records. From big days to life lists, many birders find joy in quantifying their bird-watching experiences. The citizen science project eBird, a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon that allows birders to track their states in real-time, harnesses this urge—with riveting results. | So here are some numbers for all of the stat-happy birders out there: Since the project was launched in 2002, eBirders have submitted records for a staggering 98 percent of all bird species that exist today. That’s 10,055 out of 10,301 possible species. In July 2014, eBird posted an article highlighting the species that were missing from their records and called for eBirders to fill in the gaps. Within 45 days of posting the article, eBird received accounts chronicling sightings of 92 of the 246 previously missing species. | These numbers are a testament to eBirders’ dedication to contributing to science and conservation. But numbers can’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell of the long journeys to remote locations and grueling hikes that went into collecting data in remote locations, or the ecstatic moments when a rare bird first comes into view. | While eBird’s data is freely available, to hear the tales behind the numbers we had to ask eBirders themselves. Here’s what some of them had to say about their rare sightings.
  • eBird Status Update—Mobile and Global | eBird 081915
    Thanks to the efforts of eBirders worldwide, 10,197 species are represented in eBird (98% of the world’s birds), submitted by 262,109 users from 2,774,557 locations across every country in the world, totaling 262.6 million bird observations. Almost 10 million observations were submitted in May 2015 alone. | All of this is possible because of the work of the more than 250,000 people who use eBird, and a team of dedicated volunteers who care as deeply about birds, science, and conservation as we do at eBird–there are currently 980 volunteer eBird reviewers who manage data quality worldwide, complemented by a team of nearly 400 volunteer hotspot managers. A massive thanks to all eBirders and to every reviewer for all that you do for eBird.
  • Federal study confirms progress in restoring the Niagara River Area of Concern | 082015
    BUFFALO – According to a recent study by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), fish tumors associated with exposure to toxic chemicals are no longer occurring at an elevated rate in the Niagara River. Based on the study’s results, DEC is proposing to submit a beneficial use impairment removal proposal to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The public is invited to submit input on the draft proposal for the Niagara River Area of Concern. | “The results of this study confirm that water quality in the Niagara River Area of Concern is improving,” said DEC Great Lakes Coordinator Don Zelazny. “Based on the positive results of this study, DEC proposes to no longer consider fish tumors as a use impairment within the Area of Concern.” | Currently, there are seven beneficial use impairments that exist in the Niagara River Area of Concern as a result of chemical, physical or biological disturbances to the ecosystem. Fish tumors or other deformities are one of the impairments, based on the results of two studies conducted in the 1980s that showed higher than normal tumor rates in the river’s fish. |USFWS undertook the study in 2011 to evaluate whether fish tumors or other deformities continued to be an impairment on the U.S. side of the Niagara River Area of Concern. The study, which focused on liver tumors in brown bullhead catfish, found no significant difference between tumor rates in the Niagara River and an uncontaminated reference site, Long Point Inner Bay (Ontario) on Lake Erie. Experts commonly associate brown bullhead liver tumors with exposure to contaminants. Brown bullhead are also considered ideal indicators of local environmental conditions because they are a bottom-dwelling fish and have a limited home range. | Based on the results of the USFWS study, DEC is preparing to submit a formal beneficial use impairment removal proposal to EPA. A draft of the proposal with supporting technical information may be viewed at DEC’s website.
  • Whitefish Point Unit – Seney – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    The Whitefish Point Unit of Seney National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1998 with the transfer of 33 acres from the United State Coast Guard. An additional 20 acres, which included 1,000 feet of shoreline was acquired in 2012. The purchase of the additional acres was made possible by a number of private donations. | The Whitefish Point Unit is nearly 80 miles away from Seney NWR and is a stop-over for birds migrating to and from Canada.
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