Water test to end the great newt scam

Claiming that they’ve seen protected greater crested newts on a proposed site is something that is often used by anti-housing campaigners. It adds costs to any planning application and can also delay the development process for many months as ecologists have to make repeated visits to a site to try to find evidence. Now a simple water test can be used to determine the presence – or not – of newts. Following substantial testing by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Natural England has said it will accept the results of a water test as an acceptable way of determining if the protected species is present on a site.…

Can building waste reduce water pollution?

Freshwater ecosystems such as lakes and rivers can often be affected by pollution from run-off. One of the biggest problems is phosphorous which is often used as a fertiliser. When it gets into rivers and lakes it can cause algal blooms which can kill other wildlife. But old concrete could help solve this problem. A team of researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have had excellent success with a trial using crushed concrete to remove up to 90% of phosphorous pollution from water. By intercepting run-off into drainage ponds and channels that are lined with a crushed concrete bed many freshwater bodies in agricultural land could be protected. “We have…

Chinese fish delicacy behind threat to endangered Californian fish

A Chinese soup which is a delicacy at celebrations and special occasions and is also thought to help with fertility problems and circulation is behind a crisis that is threatening a species of fish found in California and has been listed as endangered since 1979. The fish are the totoaba macdonaldi and they look similar to a fish in China which has been fished to extinction. Now the American fish could be next in line to be fished to extinction. To make matters worst it is just the swim bladders of the fish that are used so along the mouth of the Colorado River on the north end of the…

Researchers call for parasite to be monitored to protect UK freshwater fish

Researchers from Bournemouth University are calling on the Environment Agency to include the parasite Rosette Agent on the Novel and Category 2 lists. This will mean that when fish are moved around between fisheries and rivers the is a legal requirement for the parasite to be checked for. The Rosette Agent, Sphaerothecum destruens, is a single celled parasite that can infect a number of British freshwater fishes and can have a 90% mortality rate. Research by Dr Demetra Andreou and her colleagues at Bournemouth University’s Centre for Conservation Ecology & Environmental Change has shown that salmon are at particular risk to the parasite. With over 4 million anglers spending £3.5…

World’s biggest aquarium opens in Singapore

World’s biggest aquarium opens in Singapore

The world’s largest freshwater aquarium has opened to the public at the nature themed River Safari park in Singapore. The aquarium seeks to highlight the wealth of species that live in the Amazon River of South America. Exhibits include manatees that have been moved to the aquarium from their previous home at Singapore Zoo. The new aquarium is 4 times larger than their previous home. The new aquarium is found the River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest. The River Safari park is a nature attraction that seeks to educate people about the great rivers of the world. At a cost of over USD 160 million the attraction opened to the public…

Drugged up fish become greedy and bold

Modern medication is a god-send for many people who are suffering illness and disease. Prescription drug use is also booming across the world but not all drugs administered stays in the body. A large proportion goes through the body to end up in waste-water and some will pass through water treatment to end up in the natural environment. A new study shows that anxiety-reducing drugs that end up in rivers and lakes can make fish more bold and they also become ravenous, eating at much quicker rates that normal. The study by Umeå University researchers in Sweden has been published in the prestigious journal Science. It’s the first time that fish behaviour has been…

A beginner birdwatching scope for World Wetland Day

Today is World Wetland Day when we can celebrate the biodiversity of one of the most threatened habitats on the planet. In the last 100 years it is claimed that as much as half of the planets wetlands have been lost with a good portion of that in Europe. Wetland habitats cover a great range of types from marshes and bogs through to swamps and  meadows. Then there are the more obvious wetlands habitats such as streams, rivers and estuaries. The wetlands are a wonderful place to start to explore wildlife and are perfect locations to start a hobby in bird-watching. World Wetland Day is a perfect excuse to move…

Did the wet year lead to the surge in winter vomiting bug?

2012 may have been the second wettest on record in the UK but did it do more than just make people feel frustrated and down in the dumps. A European research project is looking into waterborne diseases and the changing climate. As the weather gets wetter we could see people suffering more from bugs such as the winter vomiting bug. Firstly the winter vomiting bug is not a bug but a virus. It’s easily transmitted and can be quite dangerous for vulnerable people. But could it be that the heavy downpours that the UK have suffered from last year contribute to the high levels of suffers? “Increases in precipitation in…

Capturing electricity from wetlands

Wetlands and marshlands could soon be offering more than just flood prevention and water purification as part of their ecosystem services. A researcher in the Netherlands has been able to tap the electricity generated from plant soil interactions and the technology is soon to go global. Wageningen University researcher Marjolein Helder undertook the research as part of her Phd and she has now founded a spin-off company called Plant-e together with co-founder David Strik. The technique has already worked on a small experimental scale and now the technology is about to be introduced at a number of large-scale marshland areas around the world. Using the plant-microbial fuel cell technique it is possible to capture electricity that is generated…

UNESCO names 4 new wildlife sites as World Heritage Sites

Today, Sunday 1st July 2012, the meeting of the World Heritage Committee has named 8 new World Heritage sites, 4 of them for their outstanding value for nature and wildlife. Two sites were named in Asia and another two in Africa. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided that the following nature sites were worthy of the highest level of international protection. 1. Western Ghats (India). The mountain chain contains a unique range of biodiversity and the mountains themselves are of significant importance. They are older than the Himalayas mountain range and have developed their own  unique biophysical and ecological processes. The high forest of the mountains plays an important role in the monsoon season…

Are leeches a new tool for conservationists?

It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie but it looks like the common leech could become a major new tool for wildlife researchers and conservationists. A new study by Copenhagen Zoo and the University of Copenhagen used blood that leeches sucked up to determine the biodiversity of a Vietnam forest. The results of the study seems to show just how useful this method could be as the researchers found DNA traces in some blood samples that confirms the existence of the  Annamite striped rabbit. This species was only discovered in 1996 and has not been seen in the area since despite 2,000 hours of camera trap filming trying to capture it.…

Tadpoles change shape in presence of herbicides

A team of ecologists from the University of Pittsburg have just published a paper in Ecological Applications that demonstrate that tadpoles will change shape when the herbicide Roundup is present in the water. It’s not some Frankenstein monster though but the chemical induces the same changes that predators induce – much longer tails. When predators of tadpoles are found in the same body of water the tadpoles become stressed and the chemicals the stress produces makes them grow larger tails so they can swim faster. The study with three species of amphibians seem to suggest that some species of tadpoles respond with the same levels and type of stress when Roundup is polluting the water in…

England’s Green Dozen

England is set to get 12 new wildlife sites following an announcement today by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The new nature reserves is set to cover hundreds of thousands of hectares of both rural and urban areas and cost up to £7.5 million. The new wildlife projects announced today by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will see new habitats created and others restored to their former quality. The 12 projects were picked from a total of 76 projects put to the department for funding. [pullquote]Each of these projects has something different to offer – from the urban areas of Birmingham and the Black Country to the rivers…

Restored wetlands are a shadow of their former self.

Wetlands have been involved in a losing battle ever since humans first started agriculture. Draining land for agriculture and development has gone on for hundreds of years but in recent times conservationists have been trying to turn things around with wetland restoration schemes. But it’s not just restoration of degraded wetlands that is now becoming common place. In development the latest way of saving wildlife is habitat mitigation whereby if a wetland is destroyed to make way for development then the developers will replace it with a new wetland elsewhere. [pullquote]”Even after 100 years, the restored wetland is still different from what was there before, and it may never recover.“[/pullquote] Restored or new wetlands may…

Dammed rivers lose up to 25% of fish biodiversity

A newly published study has demonstrated that rivers upstream of dams and weirs could have as much as a quarter of it’s biodiversity lost. The biggest losers tend to be the fish that live in fast water currents and those are also the fish species which tend to be endangered. Fish diversity drops 25% and invertebrate diversity falls 50%. Just as worryingly the study showed that invertebrate biodiversity- the base of the food chain – saw as much as 50% of species reduction. The study which was published in the journal of Applied Ecology indicates that the impact of dams and weirs on rivers is much stronger than previously thought. The researchers from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen studied 5…

British Waterways 2011 wildlife survey launched

This years wildlife survey of canals, rivers and reservoirs has been launched by British Waterways. Just as last years survey asked the public to keep a special eye out for kingfishers, this years target species are bats. It’s not just bats though, British Waterways wants details of all your wildlife sightings between now and September.

International court orders removal of troops from protected wetlands

There’s been a bit of conflict brewing in South America with a border conflict between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It centres around the protected wetlands of Isla Calero and Nicaragua’s current dredging of the San Juan River. The International Courts of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has ordered Nicaragua to remove it’s troops but refused to order the stopping of the dredging as requested by Costa Rica.

Will your Valentines Day kill wildlife in Kenya?

Will your Valentines Day kill wildlife in Kenya?

Kenya is a fast growing flower supplier. One in three roses sold in the UK will come from Kenya. Over the last few days Virgin Atlantic has flown in 15 tonnes of roses from Kenya for Valentines Day on Monday. That is a 44% increase in numbers supplied last year. Unfortunately some of Kenya’s 5,000 plus flower farms are having a devastating impact on Lake Naivasha. Lake Naivasha – a dying wildlife oasis. Lying in the Great Rift Valley to the north of Nairobi, Lake Naivasha stretches across 139km2 and is one of the most important freshwater sources in the region. The lake has become a hub for the rapidly…