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Quail Camouflage their Eggs by Learning Personal Pattern Characteristics

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Quail Camouflage Their Eggs

Quails have become experts in camouflage, because their eggs are loved by many predators. As it turn out, the Japanese quail can disguise their eggs the best.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Japanese quail are a ground-dwelling and nesting bird. They build strong, sturdy nests on the ground and usually camouflaged under vegetation. This type of quail matures at six weeks of age and are in full egg production by 50 days of age.

According to researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology, a mother quail is familiar with the patterning of her own eggs, so she can chooses where to lay her eggs to hide them best.

“We currently do not know the mechanisms by which the (mother) bird learns its own egg patterns,” lead author P. George Lovell of Abertay University and the University of St. Andrews, told Discovery News.

Researchers discovered the maximization of camouflage appears specific to each individual bird. They believe that a quail makes an optimal egg-laying decision based on the characteristics of their own eggs.

“It’s as if they knew the characteristics of their own eggs and chose the best substrate with which to lay them,” said George Lovell, lead study author and an expert on animal camouflage at Abertay University and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

To test this theory, they offered female quail in the lab a choice between four different backgrounds on which to lay their eggs. The experiment showed that quail mothers would lay their eggs on background colors that matched the spots on their eggs.

A female, for example, that tends to lay eggs with few spots, selected surfaces that most closely matched the overall color of the egg, utilizing a background-matching tactic. A female, that laid eggs largely covered in dark spots will usually chose a dark background to take advantage of disruptive coloration. And because females tend to lay similarly patterned eggs over time, the findings suggest that the birds are choosing a laying location rather than controlling the appearance of their eggs based on their environs.

That strategy is known as disruptive coloration, in which contrasting patterns on surfaces make the outline of an object, such as an egg, more difficult to see.

“Interestingly, all birds seem more concerned in minimizing the mismatch between nest and the darker speckles on their eggs than the mismatch between nest and the underlying, predominant egg color, but particularly so for birds with more dark speckling,” said Innes Cuthill of the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences.

“It’s possible that they learn the patterning through seeing eggs that they’ve laid,” Lovell said. “In the wild, there is some evidence that birds are often less successful with their first clutch of eggs. It may be that at that point in time, they’re not able to select the best place to lay their eggs.”

“Animals make choices based upon their knowledge of the environment and their own phenotype to maximize their ability to reproduce and survive,” Lovell said in a prepared statement. This example of the quails’ egg-laying behaviors “should encourage camouflage to be seen not simply as a function of the appearance of an organism, but as a function of both appearance and behavioral traits,” he and his colleagues noted in their paper.

Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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Animals

Warming Oceans Threaten Global Fisheries, Study Reveals

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Our fisheries are facing the consequences of global warming through warming oceans

People have depended on fish and other seafood for sustenance since the prehistoric people learned how to fish. Early civilizations are built in river banks and coastal regions because fishing is much sustainable the hunting. However, as society progress, the more than fishes and other marine animals become at risk. Thanks to climate change.

This reality was revealed by the extensive analysis of recent trends in marine biodiversity. The increasing temperatures in seas have reduced the productivity of some fisheries by 15% to 35% over the last eight decades, although there are fish species that are thriving in warm waters.

According to the study, the net effect is that the world’s oceans cannot produce as much sustainable seafood as before. It also warns that the situation is likely to worsen as the problem is quickly accelerating in the oceans.

However, the study also suggests that well-managed fisheries are thriving and have become more resilient to the rising water temperature, says Rainer Froese, a marine ecologist with the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, who was not involved in the work. “We have to stop overfishing to let the gene pool survive, so that [the fish] can adapt to climate change,” he says. “We have to give them a break.”

As cold-blooded animals, fish mirror the temperature of the water they swim in. When the water gets too warm, the enzymes they use for digestion and other functions are less efficient, impairing growth and reproduction. Also, warm water contains less oxygen, a further stressor.

Despite these well-known problems, only a few scientists have looked into the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans in terms of fishery production.
Chris Free, a fisheries scientist, dove into the topic for his dissertation at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He created a computer model of the way fish populations respond to temperature, relying on a large database of scientific assessments of stocks that represent roughly a third of the fish caught around the world. Free, now a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara, looked for patterns of how these stocks had responded to changes in sea surface temperature.

“Managing a stock of fish, in simple terms, is like withdrawing cash from a bank account that earns interest. Each year, a certain amount can be caught by fishing boats without depleting the stock—that portion is known as the maximum sustainable yield. A more productive fishery—where the water temperature is optimal and food plentiful, for example—is like a bank account with a higher interest rate, which means more fish can be sustainably caught.” said Erik Stokstad in an article published in ScienceMag.

The study of Free and his colleagues revealed that: “Out of 235 stocks, Free and his colleagues found a few winners. Nine stocks had become on average 4% more productive. These stocks are in places where rising temperatures have made too-cold water more suitable for fish, such as far north and south of the equator. Off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, for example, the maximum sustainable yield has increased by 14% since 1930. And fishing there could get even better. According to the new research, the productivity of Greenland halibut will increase 51% with each degree Celsius of warming. That’s like getting a big, fat boost to the interest rate on your saving account.”

“This local good news is outweighed by 19 stocks elsewhere that are on average 8% less productive than before. Many of these are around northern Europe and Japan, and they will likely continue to decline as their environment continues to heat up. Boats chasing Atlantic cod in the Irish Sea face a particularly grim future: The maximum sustainable yield of this stock will shrink by 54% for each additional degree of warming, the team reports today in Science.”

According to Free, the overall decline will most likely to steepen. Since 1930, average sea surface temperatures have risen by about 0.5°C. By the end of this century, more than three times that amount of warming will likely happen, and marine heat waves will become more frequent. Although temperatures will become more favorable to fish in higher latitude waters, “those benefits can’t last forever,” Free says. “There probably is a tipping point.”

Fishes, however, are not the only animals that are being threatened by climate change. Scientists have also said that because of a killer fungi, frogs are starting to become extinct. The rapid increase in rainforest temperature even more empowered the killer fungi. Insects are also in fast decline due to climate change. This serves as a scary reminder of the future we reap if we continue our path to unsustainable tomorrow.

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Animals

11-Meter-Long Dead Whale Found In Brazilian Jungle

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11-Meter-Long Dead Whale Found In Brazilian Jungle

On February 22, an 11-meter-long and 6-meters wide humpback whale was found dead in the middle of the undergrowth of the forest of Pará, a Brazilian municipality located on the island of Marajó, at the mouth of the Amazon River.

Yes, a whale was found in the jungle, away from its natural habitat.

The discovery of the dead whale caused the Municipal Secretariat of Health, Sanitation, and Environment to launch an investigation to determine why the marine animal was found in an ecosystem away from its own and in the winter season.

The colossal animal reportedly had no visible wounds and biologists Bicho D’agua, a marine protection NGO, said that an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death.

Humpback whales are fed seasonally; it is possible that not finding food will migrate to the beach and swallowing large amounts of water will suffocate with plastics , being later his body pushed by the waves of the sea into the jungle.

“We only found the whale because of the presence of scavenging birds of prey,” said Dirlene Silva from the Department of Health, Sanitation, and Environment.

‘The vultures were spotted circling above the carcass which was found hidden in the bush some distance from the sea.’ 

A team of ten biologists struggled to reach the body of the whale at the first attempt and were only able to reach it at the second try.

Biologists from the Bicho D’agua Institute have been called in to collect forensic samples to determine the cause of death. 

The gigantic animal was believed to be already dead when it was carried by the waves to the jungle.

‘Along with this astonishing feat, we are baffled as to what a humpback whale is doing on the north coast of Brazil during February because this is a very unusual occurrence.’ the team announced.

According to the expert, humpback whales are typically seen in Bahia on the northeast coast between August to November. 

‘We are collecting as much information as we can get and identifying marks and wounds on its body to see if it was caught in a net or hit by a boat.’

For now, there are no plans to remove the hulk due to the size, weight, and location. Instead, researchers intend to bury much of carcass, and the skeleton will be sent to the Goeldi Natural History Museum in Belem for future studies. /apr

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Animals

Notice Of Extinction: Frogs May Be Next

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Notice Of Extinction: Frogs May Be Next

The team that discovered the case of the ‘amphibian plague’ that has devastated amphibian populations, especially that of frogs and toads, are worried that the worst is yet to come.

They have discovered that a killer fungus known as Bd has triggered a mass amphibian extinction that has spread across every continent and been described as among the worst infectious diseases ever recorded.

Rainforests around the world are left in deafening silence as the plague has successfully eliminated entire populations of local frogs in mere months, a scientist describes.

Since 1970, at least 200 frog species are thought to have been driven to extinction, with particularly heavy losses in B-infested Rainforests of Latin America.

East Asia is thought to have been the source of the disease as it was identified by researchers who traced and determined the condition.

Local conservation advocates have since worked tirelessly to quarantine the fragmented populations that remain.

AMPHIBIAN TRADE MAY CREATE HYBRIB BD

However, the international trade of amphibians has continuously posed a threat to the biodiversity of frogs and has worried the scientist for what the future may bring.

According to scientists, as the trade of amphibious continue, different strains of the fungi are transferred from one local area to another – mixing them together may create a hybrid that can be more powerful and difficult to control.

“If we keep hauling amphibians back and forth, you don’t know what the outcome is going to be, you might get something that’s more pathogenic [capable of causing disease],” said Dr. Joyce Longcore, the scientist who first identified the unusual aquatic fungus known as Bd.

“Unless you stop international travel and international trade, things like this are going to continue, and you can make your rules stronger for trade but if you have any volume at all something is going to get through.” /apr

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