The Friday Five: Conservation and nature stories from around the world that caught our eye this week
Each week, countless inspiring and informative stories are published about conservation successes or new discoveries in nature and wildlife around the world. Here are some of the conservation and nature stories from around the globe that caught our attention the week of October 10, 2016:
Video: Mexico is giving these adorable salamanders a fighting chance from extinction
The axolotl, a national heritage of Mexico, was once plentiful in the basin of Tenochtitlan. But over centuries of development, this frilly gilled, water-dwelling salamander species has lost out in its native habitat. Despite being protected by the Mexican government, axolotls have declined from 6,000 animals to just 35 per square kilometre in a protected natural area, due to pollutants that flow into the waters and competition from invasive species.
China learns from the United States’ national park system, aiming to expand its own
Behind the haze of smog and pollution regularly portrayed in the media, did you know China committed to set aside 18 per cent of its land for protection? China officials have reached out to the United States for help in improving its patchwork of a parkland system and addressing the cultural differences in how tourists use and see protected areas. Much work is still to be done but with a rise of its citizens going abroad and setting foot on conservation areas, there is a demand for similar experiences back home.
Searching for the microbe mix to save sand dunes
A researcher from the University of Houston is looking at how to successfully rebuild sand dunes and their ecosystems in Galveston and along the Texas coast. The key seems to hinge on putting the right microbes in the dunes. Research has found that the density of a particular type of fungus that coexists with many plants is drastically lower in recovered dunes. The fungus and plants are often in a symbiotic relationship, exchanging nutrients with the carbon produced by the plants. Further research is needed to determine the right mix of microbes for sustaining a healthy and diverse sand dune ecosystem.
Wilderness medicine: Bringing knowledge of the backcountry to the front
When electricity goes out and technology fails, how can medical professionals perform their life-saving duties in such resource-scarce situations? Or, without even going to the level of natural disasters or emergencies, what happens when nature encroaches on the city, as people bring home infections from the backcountry like lyme disease? As climate change morphs our planet and way of life, some physicians call wilderness medicine an important mindset and skill for practitioners in cities.
Conservation success story: Helping Columbian white-tailed deer get back on their feet
The Columbian white-tailed deer was recently down-listed to threatened for the first time in 40 years in the United States. The species was included on the federal endangered list since the mid-1960s, when only 450 individuals were counted in Washington and Oregon. Conservation efforts over the past few decades have been a collaborative effort between the states, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, partners and volunteers. This status change will make the management and relocation of recovered animals easier.