More stunning shots from Giliell. Be sure to click for full size!
© Giliell, all rights reserved.
From Kengi. There are bonus bees, too! Click for full size. Oh, the Monarch reminds me, we saw a tiny milkweed plant on the side of the road on the way to the camp. Such a surprise, so far from water. It had exploded, and I saved some of the seeds. I need to get those planted. And that Monarch, how breathtakingly beautiful!
© Kengi, all rights reserved.
By following honeyguides, a species of bird, people in Africa are able to locate bees’ nests to harvest honey. Research now reveals that humans use special calls to solicit the help of honeyguides and that honeyguides actively recruit appropriate human partners. This relationship is a rare example of cooperation between humans and free-living animals.
Honeyguides give a special call to attract people’s attention, then fly from tree to tree to indicate the direction of a bees’ nest. We humans are useful collaborators to honeyguides because of our ability to subdue stinging bees with smoke and chop open their nest, providing wax for the honeyguide and honey for ourselves.
Experiments carried out in the Mozambican bush now show that this unique human-animal relationship has an extra dimension: not only do honeyguides use calls to solicit human partners, but humans use specialised calls to recruit birds’ assistance. Research in the Niassa National Reserve reveals that by using specialised calls to communicate and cooperate with each other, people and wild birds can significantly increase their chances of locating vital sources of calorie-laden food.
In a paper (Reciprocal signaling in honeyguide-human mutualism) published in Science today (22 July 2016), evolutionary biologist Dr Claire Spottiswoode (University of Cambridge and University of Cape Town) and co-authors (conservationists Keith Begg and Dr Colleen Begg of the Niassa Carnivore Project) reveal that honeyguides are able to respond adaptively to specialised signals given by people seeking their collaboration, resulting in two-way communication between humans and wild birds.
This reciprocal relationship plays out in the wild and occurs without any conventional kind of ‘training’ or coercion. “What’s remarkable about the honeyguide-human relationship is that it involves free-living wild animals whose interactions with humans have probably evolved through natural selection, probably over the course of hundreds of thousands of years,” says Spottiswoode, a specialist in bird behavioural ecology in Africa.
The full story is at PhysOrg.
Chris Clarke at KCET has an excellent article up about the far reaching effects of Trump’s wall.
California’s border with Baja California is a complex region with unique environmental issues. Our Borderlands series takes a deeper look at this region unified by shared landscapes and friendship, and divided by international politics.
A female arroyo toad shelters under a streamside cottonwood in early March, twenty years from now. It’s unseasonably warm, and there’s something ancient stirring inside her. She listens. A male is singing. She finds his song beautiful. Everything in her wants to follow that sound, to find the male and mate with him. She would release her eggs for him to fertilize. Those eggs would grow in long submerged strings, until a new generation of arroyo tadpoles hatched from them a week later. Her drive to find that male is irresistable. But she cannot reach him.
A month and a half later, three hundred miles east, a small group of javelinas cools its collective heels in the shade of an ironwood tree. The engaging, pig-like beasts are hungry. A couple of them root in the soil of the wash, looking for tubers. Not far away, a mesquite hangs heavy with last year’s crop of pods. The javelinas can smell those pods, even after a season of drying on the branch. The one tree could feed the entire pack for two days, and the javelinas would disperse a few of the seeds elsewhere to make new mesquites. But that’s not going to happen. There’s something in the way.
In July, wild eyes scan and a pair of slitted nostrils sift the desert breeze. The jaguar finds no good news in the air. He curls back his upper lip and tries again, head held high. He’s not looking for food. Here in the Patagonia Mountains of southern Arizona, game is plentiful enough to keep his ribs well hidden. It’s plentiful enough, in fact, to support a few more jaguars, to provide a launch pad for North America’s largest wild cat to reinhabit the southern Rocky Mountains. But that would require the cooperation of one or more female jaguars. And thanks to a project propelled by destructive politics and fear, there won’t be any lady jaguars in the Patagonia Mountains anytime soon.
In previous articles in this series we’ve looked at a some of the likely unintended environmental consequences of the gigantic border wall proposed by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, from the climate impacts of such a massive construction project to the wall’s inevitable disruption of stream courses resulting in massive floods.
But some of the longest-lasting environmental consequences of the proposed border wall would result from the wall doing precisely what it’s supposed to do: stop migration across the border. The wall will impede a lot more than just human beings from migrating. It will stop animals as well, and their genes, and even the plant species they disperse.
This excellent, eloquent article can be read in full here. This is a discussion too few people are having, and it is a vital one. If humans are good at anything, they are absolutely great for being self-centered and consumed by the short term. Trump’s wall is a good example of that, but so is the complete lack of concern for just how far out such an abomination would ripple. Read up, learn, pass it on.