Articles of Interest


We’ve lost 3 billion birds since 1970 in North America

Scientists found profound losses among both rare and common birds

Nearly 3 billion fewer birds exist in North America today than in 1970.

While scientists have known for decades that certain kinds of birds have struggled as humans (and bird-gobbling cats) encroach on their habitats, a new comprehensive tally shows the staggering extent of the loss. Nearly 1 in 3 birds — or 29 percent — has vanished in the last half century, researchers report September 19 in Science.


Antimicrobial resistance genes present in the faecal microbiota of free‐living Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis porteri)

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), encoded by plasmid‐mediated AMR genes (ARGs), is an increasing global public health threat. Wildlife play a fundamental role as sentinels, reservoirs and potential vectors of ARGs. For the first time in Galapagos, we have identified and quantified the presence of ARGs in free‐living giant tortoises (Chelonoidis porteri). We performed ARG analyses by quantitative PCR of faeces collected from the cloaca of 30 tortoises widely distributed across Santa Cruz Island. Validated samples (n = 28) were analysed by a panel of up to 21 different ARGs and all 28 tortoise samples were positive to one or more genes encoding resistance. Thirteen of 21 tested ARGs were present in at least one sample, and 10 tortoises (35.7%) had a multi‐resistant pattern. We recommend additional research so we may more fully understand resistance patterns across taxa and geographical locations throughout the Galapagos archipelago, and the implications of ARGs for the health of wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. In this study, we found 100% of sampled giant tortoises had ARGs present in their faeces, suggesting a large‐scale distribution of these genes within the archipelago.

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We Just Learned Baby Birds Communicate With Each Other From Inside Unhatched Eggs

Unhatched bird embryos can not only hear the warning calls of adult birds - they can communicate that information to their unhatched brothers and sisters sharing the same nest, remaining safely tucked away in their shells until it is safe to hatch.

It is a finding that reveals how birds can adapt to their environment even before birth, since, unlike placental mammals, their physiology can no longer be influenced by changes in their mother's body after the egg is laid.

In particular, a team of researchers exposed unhatched yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) eggs to cues that indicated high predation risk. Not only did the unhatched embryos communicate these cues to unexposed nestmates, they emerged from their eggs exhibiting much more cautious behaviour than the control group.

"These results strongly suggest that gull embryos are able to acquire relevant environmental information from their siblings," the researchers wrote in their paper.

Unhatched bird embryos can not only hear the warning calls of adult birds - they can communicate that information to their unhatched brothers and sisters sharing the same nest, remaining safely tucked away in their shells until it is safe to hatch.

It is a finding that reveals how birds can adapt to their environment even before birth, since, unlike placental mammals, their physiology can no longer be influenced by changes in their mother's body after the egg is laid.


Oldest Known Parasites Found in Ancient Puma Feces

Researchers isolate roundworm DNA from animal excrement that is about 17,000 years old.

Scientists have isolated the DNA of the roundworm Toxascaris leonina from puma feces dating back 16,570 to 17,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, in a study published in Parasitology on August 27. The authors report this is the oldest “molecular parasite record worldwide” and this evidence suggests that the parasite was present in South America before humans arrived. The study also sets the record for the oldest recovered ancient DNA from fossilized feces, or coprolites.

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Eating Even One Piece of Plastic Has Health Consequences for Baby Seabirds

A study of fleshy-footed shearwater babies found plastic increased their cholesterol, impacted their kidneys and disrupted normal growth.

The original studies can be found here:

Clinical Pathology of Plastic Ingestion in Marine Birds and Relationships with Blood Chemistry

Piece-by-piece analysis of additives and manufacturing byproducts in plastics ingested by seabirds: Implication for risk of exposure to seabirds


Albatross—the Film

In the heart of the great Pacific, a story is taking place that may change the way you see everything.

ALBATROSS is offered as a free public artwork. Watch the 3-minute trailer now:

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Young common murres washing ashore in Cannon Beach could point to a healthier colony

Seeing juvenile birds wash ashore is normal starting in late summer, when the fledgling common murre jumps from nests to learn how to forage for fish. Through the process, some birds will always struggle, and those arriving on shore are often coming into the wildlife center malnourished and hypothermic, rehabilitation specialist Pauline Baker said.


The One Health Approach to Toxoplasmosis: Epidemiology, Control, and Prevention Strategies

One Health is a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort that seeks optimal health for people, animals, plants, and the environment. Toxoplasmosis, caused by Toxoplasma gondii, is an intracellular protozoan infection distributed worldwide, with a heteroxenous life cycle that practically affects all homeotherms and in which felines act as definitive reservoirs. Herein, we review the natural history of T. gondii, its transmission and impacts in humans, domestic animals, wildlife both terrestrial and aquatic, and ecosystems. The epidemiology, prevention, and control strategies are reviewed, with the objective of facilitating awareness of this disease and promoting transdisciplinary collaborations, integrative research, and capacity building among universities, government agencies, NGOs, policy makers, practicing physicians, veterinarians, and the general public.


Migration know-how is passed from one generation to the next. What happens when that culture is lost?

Animal migration is usually considered to be a mostly instinctive behavior. They feel some innate pull, set off across the landscape, and that’s it. What individual animals know and the lessons they pass to future generations isn’t much considered — yet these may play a vital role in migrations of sheep, moose, and other large mammals, and be of crucial importance to their future.


Immobilization of American Beaver (Castor canadensis) with Nalbuphine, Medetomidine, and Azaperone

Thirty-two American beavers (Castor canadensis) were immobilized with a mixture of nalbuphine, medetomidine, and azaperone (NalMedA) for tail transmitter placement and health assessments prior to translocation. Inductions and reversals were very smooth, but regardless of the dose administered, which ranged from 0.02 to 0.06 mL/kg, many beavers reacted to mild stimuli such as being lifted out of the cage, drawing blood from the tail, expressing anal glands for sex determination, and turning on isoflurane to deepen anesthesia before placement of tail transmitters. On a scale from 1 to 5, a sedation score of 4 was achieved in 8/32 beavers and a sedation score of 5 in 1/32 of beavers given a mean (SD) dosage of 0.04 (0.01) mL/kg NalMedA, which equated to a mean of 1.09 (0.21) mg/kg nalbuphine, 0.43 (0.09) mg/kg medetomidine, and 0.36 (0.07) mg/kg azaperone. All other animals achieved lower sedation scores. Supplementary isoflurane was needed to deepen anesthesia before tail transmitter placement. Although Nal-MedA appeared to be safe for use in American beavers, the level of sedation achieved was quite variable. Supplementary oxygen is recommended to reduce hypoxemia.


Every piece of plastic in the ocean can potentially kill a turtle, finds new study

Sea turtles, especially the young ones are highly vulnerable to plastic pollution in ocean, finds a new study. There is a one-in-five chance of death for a turtle that consumed just one item of plastic, and it was found to rise to about 50 percent when the animal has eaten 14 pieces. If a turtle eats 14 pieces of plastic in the ocean, they have a 50 percent chance of dying because of it.


An Orca in Grief: Tahlequah’s Call to Arms

To restore Southern Resident killer whales and salmon, we need to look at our dams — and ourselves.


Conservation and the 4 Rs, which are rescue, rehabilitation, release, and research

Vertebrate animals can be injured or threatened with injury through human activities, thus warranting their "rescue." Details of wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, release, and associated research (our 4 Rs) are often recorded in large databases, resulting in a wealth of available information. This information has huge research potential and can contribute to understanding of animal biology, anthropogenic impacts on wildlife, and species conservation. However, such databases have been little used, few studies have evaluated factors influencing success of rehabilitation and/or release, recommended actions to conserve threatened species have rarely arisen, and direct benefits for species conservation are yet to be demonstrated. We therefore recommend that additional research be based on data from rescue, rehabilitation, and release of animals that is broader in scope than previous research and would have community support.