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Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species | Scientific Reports

This is amazing news. Natrix natrix -previously thought to be the only grass snake in the UK – has been found to be genetically distinct from what was previously thought to be a variation rather than separate species, the newly named Natrix venaticus. Studies sampled mtDNA from existing skins and specimens and found clear genetic differences between the two, confirming Natrix venaticus as a separate and distinct species. No living snakes were harmed for the study either, which is always good news.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-07847-9

Some marine creatures may be more resilient to harsher ocean conditions than expected – Linkis.com

So I’m writing an essay about drivers of coral reef bleaching, and reading about acidification and its effects on marine mammals that secrete calcium carbonate, and this new research pops up. Interesting immediate adaptation to cope with lower pH levels in marine environments; although I’m not sure how long-term (and effective) an adaptation it might be. Similarly, some coral species and their symbionts are more tolerant of some drivers of bleaching than others. Again, in the short-term that helps those species, but it’s not clear how far beyond their normal thresholds for CO2, irradiance, thermal stress and acidification they can survive. And then there’s coral diseases… We are pushing the limits, changing environments and testing tolerance thresholds for so much of the world’s wildlife, and not in a good way. 

http://linkis.com/m.phys.org/news/u31W9

Humboldt – the greatest Ecologist we’ve never heard of?

Born in 1769, Humboldt observed deforestation and its effects in the Amazon rainforests 200 years ago and wrote about them; he was possibly the first person to express concern for the negative effects of anthropogenic activity on the natural environment. He wrote of nature as a “living whole” and a web or tapestry – all life as connected – a new concept at that time. 

Humboldt wrote about soil erosion as a result of deforestation, and of climate change. He describes concern for human destruction of the entire planet – even suggesting we would take that destruction to other, distant planets – and of human greed and violence. 

Humboldt evidently influenced Charles Darwin himself. Was he the first ecologist? A fascinating listen.

http://bbc.in/2gkKcrq

Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change: NOAA and AMS Issue Annual Report | PLOS Ecology Community

“Without exception, all the heat-related events studied in this year’s report were found to have been made more intense or likely due to human-induced climate change, and this was discernible even for those events strongly influenced by the 2015 El Niño.” — from Explaining Extreme Events From A Climate Perspective 2015″

http://blogs.plos.org/ecology/2016/12/23/extreme-weather-events-and-climate-change/

Beavers back for good – partners welcome return of the Eurasian beaver – Scottish Wildlife Trust

Wonderful news.

The two lead partners in the Scottish Beaver Trial – the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) – have warmly welcomed today’s (21 November 2016) announcement from the Scottish Government that the Eurasian beaver is to be formally recognised as a native species, 400 years after being hunted to extinction in the UK.”

http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/article/beavers-back-for-good/