ScienceDaily: New database to support conservation

ScienceDaily: New database to support conservation. “The database presents a valuable tool for planning conservation actions at any spatial scale and preventing species extinctions globally. This represents a large volume of literature that captures a wide variety of threats such as the collection of medicinal plants, hunting, pollution, and alien invasive species, that are particularly difficult to account for in global datasets.”

Ars Technica: Study finds 90 percent of medieval chivalric and heroic manuscripts have been lost

Ars Technica: Study finds 90 percent of medieval chivalric and heroic manuscripts have been lost. “Teasing out how much of a cultural domain may have been lost is a considerable challenge. The field of ecology might be able to help. According to a new paper published in the journal Science, an international team of researchers has adapted an ecological ‘unseen species’ model to estimate how many medieval European stories in the chivalric romance or heroic tradition survived and how much has been lost.”

De-extinction puzzle: how decoding numbat DNA could help resurrect the Tasmanian tiger (The Guardian)

The Guardian: De-extinction puzzle: how decoding numbat DNA could help resurrect the Tasmanian tiger. “Researchers at DNA Zoo Australia have mapped the genome of the numbat for the first time. The milestone is notable in its own right, motivated by a desire to improve conservation efforts for the endangered termite-eating marsupial, which is now found only in small pockets of Western Australia. But in announcing the development last week, scientists also had a more extraordinary suggestion: that the numbat’s DNA could be used as a blueprint to bring its extinct cousin, the thylacine, back from the dead.”

Scienmag: Global database of plants reveals human activity biggest driver of homogenization of plant communities

Scienmag: Global database of plants reveals human activity biggest driver of homogenization of plant communities. “In a study published December 6 in Nature Communications researchers have compiled a dataset of over 200,000 plant species worldwide to demonstrate the extent to which species extinctions and non-native invasive plants reorganize plant communities in the Anthropocene, the current geological age dominated by human activity.”

The Conversation: Old, goopy museum specimens can tell fascinating stories of wildlife history. Finally, we can read them

The Conversation: Old, goopy museum specimens can tell fascinating stories of wildlife history. Finally, we can read them. “In response to the extinction crisis, the call is out to scour Australia’s collections for data to fill knowledge gaps. For many species, however, recovering historical genetic data has been severely impeded, not by a lack of specimens but by the methods used to preserve them. This is where my new research comes in. Our paper shows how natural history collections around the world can squeeze every last drop of historical genetic data out of their specimens, from dried iridescent wings of butterflies to platypus bills floating in alcohol.”

HuffPost: Film Archive Releases Colorized Footage Of Last Known Tasmanian Tiger

HuffPost: Film Archive Releases Colorized Footage Of Last Known Tasmanian Tiger. “An Australian film archive released colorized footage of the last known Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, this week ― 85 years after the species went extinct. The short video was filmed at a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania in 1933 and shows the thylacine, named Benjamin, padding around a small enclosure. Benjamin died in captivity three years later and the Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct.”

Scientific American: Supercomputer Scours Fossil Record for Earth’s Hidden Extinctions

Scientific American: Supercomputer Scours Fossil Record for Earth’s Hidden Extinctions. “Using the world’s fourth most powerful supercomputer, Tianhe II, a team of scientists based mostly in China mined a database of more than 11,000 fossil species that lived from around 540 million to 250 million years ago. The result is a history of life during this period, the early Palaeozoic era, that can pinpoint the rise and fall of species during diversifications and mass extinctions to within about 26,000 years.”

The Harvard Gazette: Fish teeth mark periods of evolution

The Harvard Gazette: Fish teeth mark periods of evolution. “Elizabeth Sibert is rewriting the story of how the asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs affected fish, and she’s doing it one tooth at a time. Based on close examination of thousands of fossilized fish teeth, Sibert, a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows, found that while the impact did cause some fish species to die off, it also set the stage for two periods of rapid evolution among marine life….Going forward, Sibert said she hopes to continue to build a database of fossil teeth and is working with collections at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) to connect the ancient teeth with modern fish.”

Mongabay: Efforts to save island wildlife from extinction get a boost from new database

Mongabay: Efforts to save island wildlife from extinction get a boost from new database. “In order to aid in the planning of the types of conservation efforts that can help prevent further island-based extinctions, a team of researchers led by Dena Spatz, a conservation biologist at Santa Cruz, California-based NGO Island Conservation, identified which islands around the world harbor both threatened terrestrial vertebrates and invasive species like rodents or cats (Spatz began the project while a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz). The researchers have compiled their findings in an interactive distribution map called the Threatened Island Biodiversity Database.”

Database of Quaternary Fossils from Sahul Now Available

Now available: a database of fossils from Sahul. Specifically: Quaternary, non-human, vertebrates. “This, the FosSahul database, includes 9,302 fossil records from 363 deposits, for a total of 478 species within 215 genera, of which 27 are from extinct and extant megafaunal species (2,559 records). We also provide a rating of reliability of individual absolute age based on the dating protocols and association between the dated materials and the fossil remains. Our proposed rating system identified 2,422 records with high-quality ages (i.e., a reduction of 74%). There are many applications of the database, including disentangling the confounding influences of hypothetical extinction drivers, better spatial distribution estimates of species relative to palaeo-climates, and potentially identifying new areas for fossil discovery.”