National Geographic: Fake animal news abounds on social media as coronavirus upends life. “People are compelled to share posts that make them emotional. When we’re feeling stressed, joyous animal footage can be an irresistible salve. The spread of social phenomena is so powerful, 2016 research shows, that it can follow same models that trace the contagion of epidemics.”
KSL: New website allows people to look at Utah’s wildlife migration patterns. “Since the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Migration Initiative launched in 2017, nearly 3,000 animals have been tracked over more than 15 million locations. Some of the information gathered from the research is now available for the public to see online.” Regular readers of ResearchBuzz might be saying, “Didn’t you just do a thing about wildlife migration in Utah?” I did in October, but that was just waterfowl.
Washington Post: USDA reposts animal welfare records it purged from its website in 2017. “Tuesday’s move made available unredacted reports for nearly 10,000 zoos, circuses, breeders, research labs and Tennessee walking horse shows that were publicly available on Jan. 30, 2017 — days before they were purged — as well as those generated since, the department said. The reports, based on unannounced inspections, can be used by the agency to build cases against facilities that violate animal welfare regulations, and animal protection groups had long used them to call attention to operations they said treated animals inhumanely.”
Wired: Can a Database of Animal Viruses Help Predict the Next Pandemic?. “Search ‘coronavirus’ on GenBank, a public repository for genomes, and today you’ll find more than 35,000 sequences. Alpaca coronaviruses. Hedgehog coronaviruses. Beluga whale coronaviruses. And, of course, lots and lots of bat coronaviruses. But very few people have carried out the downstream laboratory work—figuring out how these coronaviruses behave, how they get into the bodies of their hosts, and how likely it is that they could make the hop to humans.”
New York Post: Spotify is now making playlists for your pets. “Spotify can now generate playlists for your pets, with a new tool that claims to customize mixtapes to a critters’ species and personality traits.” I tried this but it did not work for me; got all the way to the end of the process of generating the playlist and then threw an error. I tend to listen to Spotify kind of erratically, though.
Science Blog: AI-Based Motion-Capture System For Animals Has Applications From Drug Development To Ecology. “A new system that uses artificial intelligence to track animal movements is poised to aid a wide range of studies, from exploring new drugs that affect behavior to ecological research. The approach, shown in the video above, can be used with laboratory animals such as fruit flies and mice as well as larger animals.”
Science: New website aims to gather all those camera trap mugs of wildlife. “Wildlife Insights will allow users to upload camera trap images and then have software powered by artificial intelligence analyze them. Users will be able to ask the system to search for their animal of interest, and all of the images will be publicly available. That could be a huge help to researchers, Kinnaird says, saving time and putting a global data set within easy reach.” I spent a few minutes playing with this, and for the most part it’s pretty good, but I really doubt there’s a camera in North Carolina capturing pictures of white-nosed coati. Call me cynical.