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AWCF and Wildlife in the News

Warbler genes predict vulnerabilities to climate change

By sequencing the genome of yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia), researchers with the Bird Genoscape Project at UCLA found some subpopulations’ genes make them more vulnerable to climate change than others.

Broadly distributed across North America in the breeding season, yellow warblers spend time in a wide variety of climates, from California’s arid Central Valley, to Canada’s rainy Atlantic provinces.

For more information: http://wildlife.org/warbler-genes-predict-vulnerabilities-to-climate-change

Can a ‘twitch’ be a pitch for wildlife?

When a black-backed oriole, typically found in the forests of central Mexico, appeared in suburban Pennsylvania last January, thousands of birders flocked to get a glimpse of one of the species’ first appearances in the United States.

The bird’s arrival was interesting, but the birders’ arrival was important, too. A single unusual bird sighting, a group of researchers realized, could contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the economy and help put a dollar value on wildlife.

“If you can put a dollar amount to a bird and value that ecosystem biodiversity, that’s something policymakers can understand,” said Corey Callaghan, lead author on the paper published in the journal, Human Dimensions of Wildlife. “Policymakers don’t necessarily understand why they should care about bird x in location z, but if they know that’s a potential revenue source, then it’s something.”

For more information: http://wildlife.org/can-a-twitch-be-a-pitch-for-wildlife/

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Reintroduced Legislation that would dramatically alter the capacity of state fish and wildlife agencies to conserve and monitor at-risk species has been reintroduced to the US House of Representatives.

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647) was reintroduced to the chamber this week by Representative Dingell (D-MI) and Representative Fortenberry (R-NE) The bill would amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to make additional funds available for the management and conservation of fish and wildlife species determined by states to be at risk or in need of additional monitoring efforts.

These additional funds would come from a combination of offshore energy and onshore mineral extraction royalties to create a dedicated fund of 1.3 billion dollars annually. Priority projects would be determined by states by consulting their State Wildlife Action Plan, a document updated by each state every 10 years which identifies at-risk species, known as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), as well as the goals and objectives for monitoring and recovery.

More information: http://wildlife.org/recovering-americas-wildlife-act-legislation-reintroduced/

UV light might fight white-nose syndrome

The fungus that causes deadly white-nose syndrome in bats can’t repair damage from ultraviolet light, prompting researchers to consider using it as a tool to fight the fungus.

“Generally, the best way to look at it is potentially another tool that could be used in the future to help bats with white nose syndrome,” said Jonathan Palmer, a research botanist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.

The team first looked at what makes the fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, a pathogen, since not all fungi are. When they compared the genomics of the fungus to six other nonpathogenic fungi, they found many differences, but one in particular turned out to be a possible Achilles’ heel. The fungus was missing an enzyme involved in repairing DNA damage — specifically, damage caused by UV light.

For more information: http://wildlife.org/uv-light-might-fight-white-nose-syndrome/

Toxic bait field trials on feral swine to begin in January

USDA’s Wildlife Services is set to conduct sodium nitrite toxic bait field trials on free-roaming feral swine in Texas and Alabama this month after its National Wildlife Research Center received an experimental use permit from the Environmental Protection Agency in November.

NWRC researchers Drs. Kurt VerCauteren and Nathan Snow are working closely with WS operations in the two states to identify landowners willing to participate in the study. Three to nine feral swine sounders in each state will be targeted.

The permit is the result of years of collaborative research by WS and multiple private, state, federal and international partners. These field trials will help determine the effectiveness of the sodium nitrite toxic bait for removing feral swine sounders in natural settings, as well as any potential impacts to non-target wildlife.

For more information: http://wildlife.org/toxic-bait-field-trials-on-feral-swine-to-begin-in-january/

Political instability main factor in waterbird conservation

Waterbird species across the globe seem to be declining mostly from political instability and weak governance, according to new research.

In a study published in Nature, a research team compiled data on wetland habitats covering about 1.3 billion hectares around the world from the Wetlands International database and the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count.

“The biggest reason for us to focus on waterbirds was the special coverage of this data,” said lead author Tatsuya Amano, a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. “We had the advantage of so many sites in these datasets, including many areas like Africa and western and central Asia where normally there’s very little information about biodiversity change.”

These waterbirds cover a wide range of species, from ducks and geese to flamingoes and pelicans.

For more information: http://wildlife.org/political-instability-main-factor-in-waterbird-conservation/

First Time Invasive Pest Found in Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that invasive pest emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found and confirmed for the first time in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties. DEC captured the insects in monitoring traps at the two locations.

For more information: http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/111380.html

Wildlife Society Publishes Fact Sheet on the Problem of Feral Cats