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Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction Event Under Way, Scientists Warn

Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as study reveals billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades

           

Earth already in midst of sixth mass extinction, scientists say

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - PNAS - Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines

theguardian.com - by Damian Carrington - July 10, 2017

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research.

Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost . . . 

 . . . “All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life” . . . 

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Uptick in Creutzfeld-Jakob Cases Raises Questions

Is chronic wasting disease in deer making the jump to humans?

medpagetoday.com - by MedPage Today Staff - July 10, 2017

Cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the fatal prion disease that's closely related to "mad cow" disease, have risen in Wisconsin and nationally in recent years, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In Wisconsin, there were six cases in 2002, but in two of the last four years, 13 cases have been reported -- which could be attributed to better surveillance, local officials said. Yet the increase tracks with data on chronic wasting disease among deer in the state, raising concerns about whether the illness is jumping from animals to humans.

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CLICK HERE - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Can chronic wasting disease jump from deer to humans? Concerns keep rising

 

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Brazil Yellow Fever Outbreak Spawns Alert: Stop Killing the Monkeys

Yellow fever is threatening species at risk of extinction, like the golden lion tamarin, which lives in the forests of Rio de Janeiro State. Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

Image: Yellow fever is threatening species at risk of extinction, like the golden lion tamarin, which lives in the forests of Rio de Janeiro State. Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

nytimes.com - May 2nd 2017 - Simon Romero

As fears spread in Brazil over the resurgence of yellow fever, health officials are issuing a warning: Stop killing the monkeys.

Some assailants clubbed monkeys to death in panicked reactions to Brazil’s most alarming outbreak in decades of a virus that haunted the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Authorities found other monkeys dead with fractured skulls after having been being attacked with stones. 

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Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu

A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

Image: A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

npr.org - April 11th 2017 - Rob Schmitz

At a research lab on top of a forested hill overlooking Hong Kong, scientists are growing viruses. They first drill tiny holes into an egg before inoculating it with avian influenza to observe how the virus behaves.

This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. 

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Why Killer Viruses Are On The Rise

       

Once called the "Dutchmen" because of their large noses and large bellies, proboscis monkeys live only in Borneo. Ecosystems that have a lot of diverse animals, like this monkey, also tend to have a lot of diverse viruses.  Charles Ryan

npr.org - by Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh - February 14, 2017

The next troubling outbreak could come from a rain forest . . . And a big reason why: all the crazy animals that live here.

. . . Wild animals are now refugees. They have no home. So they come live in our backyards. They pee on our crops. Share our parks and playgrounds. Giving their viruses a chance to jump into us and make us sick.

"So it's really the human impact on the environment that's causing these viruses to jump into people," Olival says.

And cause an outbreak? I ask. Or a pandemic, says Olival.

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Superbug Gene Found on Pig Farm

           

FLICKR, RIKKISREFUGE

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae recovered from the environment of a swine farrow-to-finish operation in the United States

Evidence of resistance to a “last-resort” drug for antibiotic-resistant bacteria is discovered among farm animals for the first time.

the-scientist.com - by Ben Andrew Henry - December 7, 2016

Modern agriculture relies on antibiotics to shield livestock from disease, but widespread over-use of antibiotics has raised concerns over creating highly resistant “superbugs.” Researchers announced this week (December 5) that bacteria carrying a rare, dangerous gene for antibiotic resistance have been found in agricultural animals for the first time.

In a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, researchers took swabs and fecal samples from a pig farm and discovered bacteria resistant to carbapenems, an important class of antibiotics.

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Climate Changing 'Too Fast' for Species

           

Tropical species are thought to be particularly vulnerable.  Thinkstock

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Rates of change in climatic niches in plant and animal populations are much slower than projected climate change

bbc.com - by Helen Briggs - November 23, 2016

Many species will not be able to adapt fast enough to survive climate change, say scientists.

A study of more than 50 plants and animals suggests their ability to adapt to changes in rainfall and temperature will be vastly outpaced by future climate change.

Amphibians, reptiles and plants are particularly vulnerable, according to US researchers.

And tropical species are at higher risk than those in temperate zones.

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World on Track to Lose Two-Thirds of Wild Animals by 2020, Major Report Warns

Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact

       

A victim of poachers in Kenya: elephants are among the species most impacted by humans, the WWF report found. Photograph: imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

CLICK HERE - Living Planet Report 2016

theguardian.com - by Damian Carrington - October 26, 2016

The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends.

The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame.

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How Likely Are You To Deal With A Zika Outbreak? Check This Map

huffingtonpost.com - August 15th 2016 - Anna Almendrala

Now that Zika virus is spreading locally in Florida, U.S. residents, and especially pregnant women, are growing alarmed at the risk that they may face in their own communities. 

A new map estimating the risk of local Zika spread around the globe shows a relatively small likelihood that most of North America and Northern Asia will be affected. By contrast, all the variables are in place for local spread in most of Africa, South and Southeast Asia. 

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Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web

A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

Image:  A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

nytimes.com - July 18th 2016 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus.

Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics.

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