CNET: Bears thrive at Yosemite National Park without pesky humans around. “With Yosemite National Park in California closed to the public due to coronavirus concerns, the wildlife seems to be flourishing. In fact, animals like bears, bobcats and coyotes that usually shy away from crowds are venturing into areas where people normally camp or park their cars.”
Phys .org: Most laws ignore human-wildlife conflict—this makes us vulnerable to pandemics. “The current available evidence indicates COVID-19 was first transmitted in a wildlife market in Wuhan. The disease likely originated in pangolins, bats, or a combination of both and was then transmitted to humans. While various commentators have blamed pangolins, bats, or even our lack of ‘mastery’ of wildlife, the real cause of this pandemic goes deeper—into the laws, cultures and institutions of most countries.”
Al Jazeera: Illegal wildlife trade goes online as China shuts down markets. “China’s top e-commerce and express delivery operators are under pressure from the government and wildlife activists to become de facto enforcers of the country’s temporary ban on the trade in wildlife.”
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.”
The Next Web: AI analyzes biology studies to find out we’re getting better at wildlife conservation . “A new AI system has revealed that we’re finally getting better at wildlife conservation. Researchers came to this conclusion after using machine learning to analyze more than 4,000 studies on species reintroduction across four decades.”
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.
Atlas Obscura: See 500 Years of Artful Nature Illustrations. “Now, the collaborative Biodiversity Heritage Library—a digital archive compiled by a consortium of natural-history libraries—has released over 150,000 artworks of the natural world, allowing public access to one of the largest illustrated compendiums of life on Earth. Years before wildlife photographers began to catalogue the world’s egrets, cephalopods, and rafflesia corpse flowers, artists like Elizabeth Gould were portraying species with illustrations, often reprinted as lithographs for the public.”
EurekAlert: I spy with my digital eye … a tiger’s breathing, a lion’s pulse. “A pilot study undertaken by researchers from the University of South Australia at Adelaide Zoo, has developed a new way to undertake basic health checks of exotic wildlife using a digital camera, saving them the stress of an anaesthetic. Filming animals using a high-resolution digital camera installed on a tripod could offer another way for veterinarians to take an animal’s pulse or check its breathing rate.”
Times of India: Forest department to use artificial intelligence in lion census. “The state wildlife board has directed the forest department to use methods based on artificial intelligence during the lion census to avoid and eradicate duplication of entries, and enhance identification of individual 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.
ABC News (Australia): Acoustic observatory will record ‘galaxy of sounds’ to help scientists monitor Australian wildlife. “Hundreds of solar-powered audio recorders are being installed across remote parts of Australia to create a unique ‘soundscape’ as the environment changes. The National Acoustic Observatory project, funded by the Australian Research Council, was a collaboration of academics from five universities.”
EurekAlert: Putting a conservation finger on the internet’s pulse. “Scientists from the University of Helsinki have figured out how to mine people’s online reactions to endangered animals and plants, so that they can reduce the chance of pushing species toward extinction.”
Mongabay: Holding social media companies accountable for facilitating illegal wildlife trade (commentary). “Facebook, and other social media firms, mainly rely on algorithms and artificial intelligence to moderate harmful content. But investigations by the Alliance to Counter Crime Online (ACCO) show time and again how these algorithms actually connect traffickers faster than moderators can remove them. They suggest friends and recommend groups, putting illicit actors in touch with one another, continually expanding networks of users engaging in similar illegal activities.”
Newswise: Museums Put Ancient DNA to Work for Wildlife. “Scientists who are trying to save species at the brink of extinction are finding help in an unexpected place. Heather Farrington, curator of zoology for the Cincinnati Museum Center, is using DNA from specimens collected more than 100 years ago to help understand the evolution and stresses faced by today’s animals.”
Phys .org: Online prototype could improve ocean migratory species governance. “An online mapping and knowledge platform prototype could soon offer free and easily accessible information on the migratory patterns of endangered species in the ocean. The Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO) system has been launched by The University of Queensland’s Dr. Daniel Dunn.”