Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends

March 26, 2019 by  
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A recent study analyzed billions of Wikipedia searches and found that the public’s interest in plants and animal species is often linked to the seasonality and migration patterns of wildlife. The findings contribute to a body of research that uses internet search data to understand and gauge the public’s interest in environmental topics. Researchers believe this information can ultimately help guide more effective wildlife conservation campaigns. The study: Wikipedia searches and species The study, led by John Mittermeier, an ornithology student at the University of Oxford, was published on March 5 in the  PLOS Biology journal. It analyzed 2.3 billion Wikipedia page views of 32,000 different species. The authors examined pages across 245 different languages over a span of three years. The study’s most pertinent finding shows that over a fourth of all page views were linked to the seasonality of the searched-for species . The authors concluded that this means that people are paying attention to the plants and animals around them, despite the widening disconnect between people and nature. According to Mittermeier, each page could count as a human-wildlife interaction, “if you count a click as an interaction”. Although “clicks” are debatable as an interaction, it is true that people are increasingly disconnected with nature in many parts of the urbanized world. The study’s authors are hopeful that this knowledge of seasonal interest can turn into support for wildlife conservation . Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees, ?and bats Searches and Seasonality The study found that searches for particular species peaked during certain seasons or times of migration . For example, searches for Baltimore Orioles were higher in the Spring when the birds migrate to breeding grounds. Searches for flowering plants were also higher during times when flowers were in bloom, whereas searches for evergreen plants like pine trees had no correlation to season. “The results of this study…encouragingly suggest that humans remain attuned to the seasonal dynamics of the natural world,” Mittermeier explained. The authors also noted cultural trends in the searches. For example, searches for Great White Sharks rose during the Discovery Chanel’s Shark Week. Mittermeier and the co-authors believe the study will help explain important questions, such as “how is the world changing, for which species is it changing the most and where are the people who care the most and can do the most to help?” Similar internet-search studies There are a number of other studies that have examined the ties between internet searches and environmental topics. In fact, this body of research is part of an emerging field called “conservation culturomics,” which uses digital trend data to understand public support for and interest in the environment. One similar study examined Google searches on environmental topics since 2004, particularly testing linkages between ‘conservation’ and ‘ climate change ‘ and the competition between those two searches within the public’s “limited bandwidth” for environmental topics. Although the authors originally believed climate change would overpower conservation and biodiversity searches,  findings reveal that both topics are closely linked and that searches for the two were about equal. Remarkably, the data also revealed a drastic increase in interest in conservation and climate change among populations in India, Nepal, and Eastern and Southern African countries. Another study suggests that spikes in wildlife conservation searches occur around the publication of news articles on similar topics, however, such peaks are not associated with the publication of research studies. This discovery shows the critical importance of the media for conservation and climate change awareness and suggests that conservation organizations should look to strengthen partnerships with journalists and media channels as complementary to their investments in scientific research. Still, different  study on internet searches for endangered wildlife species revealed that the general public is far too focused on endangered mammals, while equally important and threatened fish and reptiles receive little attention and therefore very few searches. Again, this study concluded that more media attention must be given to lesser-known and often less-charismatic species in order to peak public support for their protection. All of the studies’ authors are quick to point out that though the use of internet searches is a great and inexpensive way to read the pulse of the general public and understand their curiosities; interest does not equate to support, and conservation organizations must use the new information to turn curiosities into financial and political action. Via Monga Bay Image via Dave_E

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Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends

512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth

December 14, 2017 by  
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A recently identified 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the world’s oldest living vertebrate. Although scientists discovered the 18-foot fish in the North Atlantic months ago, its age was only recently revealed in a study published in the journal Science .  Greenland sharks have the longest lifespan of any vertebrate animal, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the species would boast the oldest living individual vertebrate as well. Nonetheless, the fact that this creature may have been born as early as 1505 is remarkable. “It definitely tells us that this creature is extraordinary and it should be considered among the absolute oldest animals in the world,” said marine biologist Julius Nelson, whose research team studied the shark’s longevity. To determine the shark’s age, scientists used a mathematical model that analyzes the lens and cornea of a shark’s eye and links size of the shark to its age. Greenland sharks grow at a rate of about 1 centimeter per year, which allowed scientists to estimate a particular shark’s age. The ability to measure the age of this mysterious shark is relatively new. “Fish biologists have tried to determine the age and longevity of Greenland sharks for decades, but without success,” said Steven Campana, a shark expert from the University of Iceland. “Given that this shark is the apex predator (king of the food chain) in Arctic waters, it is almost unbelievable that we didn’t know whether the shark lives for 20 years, or for 1,000 years.” Related: Airbnb is offering a night in an underwater bedroom surrounded by 35 sharks The Greenland shark thrives in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Despite its considerable size, comparable to that of a great white shark, the Greenland shark is a scavenger and has never been observed hunting. Its diet primarily consists of fish, though remains of reindeer, polar bear , moose, and seals have been found in the species’ stomachs. To cope with life in deep water, the living tissues of a Greenland shark contains high levels of trimethylamine N-oxide, which makes the meat toxic. However, when the flesh is fermented, it can be consumed, as it is in Iceland as a dish known as Kæstur hákarl. Via International Business Times Images via Wikimedia and Julius Nelson

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512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth

Early warning signs that foretell imminent societal collapse – new study

September 1, 2016 by  
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A research paper published earlier this summer has scientists around the world in a frenzy, as it claims that archaeological information can be used to determine when a civilization is approaching collapse . Researchers from the University of Maryland and University College London joined forces to examine 2,378 archaeological sites from nine regions of Neolithic Europe, a period that began approximately 9,000 years ago when the introduction of agricultural technologies spurred rapid population growth. The team collated evidence, backed up by known events in history, that signals when an ecosystem shifted into societal instability. In effect, the researchers believe that, in hindsight, they can spot the markers that signal the turning point for nearly every civilization during that time period. Through their investigation of thousands of archaeological sites , the research team believes that they have identified consistent early warnings signs (EWSs) that mark the point when an ecosystem begins to experience a decline in resilience, which they refer to as a “regime shift.” From a scientific standpoint, it’s unlikely that any study has accomplished this in the past. “This study is the first to find early warning signals of demographic regime shift among human populations,” the authors wrote in the paper’s abstract. “The results suggest that archaeological information can potentially be used to monitor social and ecological vulnerability in human societies at large spatial and temporal scales.” Related: Archaeologists reveal fresh details about 4,500-year-old “New Stonehenge” The team used computer modeling to help validate their methods, and reduce or eliminate the possibility that the EWS patterns in question were introduced by other means, such as sampling biases, atmospheric effects, radiocarbon calibration error, and taphonomic processes . The researchers focused on two main signals to evaluate the progressive decline of past ecosystems: critical slowing down (CSD) and flickering. “CSD describes a general increase in the time it takes a system to recover from external shocks such as population loss due to disease, warfare, or crop failure,” the team wrote. “Flickering describes increasing directional bias in a system’s response rate to such perturbations, such as a society stuck in a socio-ecological trap where strong reinforcing behavior and a lack of innovation prevents adaptation. Here, flickering would suggest increasing recovery time from population decline events relative to growth events before major collapse.” By developing a better understanding of the trajectory that led to the decline of past civilizations, researchers hope to gain tools to help scientists evaluate our present circumstances. After all, as the saying goes, those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The study was published this June in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Via DailyMail Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Meet the enormous black sea slug that’s bigger than a chihuahua

September 1, 2016 by  
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The ocean is full of strange and mysterious creatures, including a huge sea slug. Adventurer and YouTube show host Coyote Peterson checks out some of these crazy marine creatures on his Brave Wilderness show Beyond the Tide, and this week with “tide pool expert” Aron Sanchez , he found a creature you probably didn’t even know existed: a super huge sea slug . The Black Sea Hare is about two feet long. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15I8eIqh9iI Peterson and Sanchez visited Los Angeles tide pools to find the Black Sea Hare, and searched for a while before they found one. The particular specimen they discovered weighed an estimated ten pounds, but the Black Sea Hare can ultimately weigh as much as 30 pounds. The slimy slug stretched along the length of Peterson’s forearm, leaving oodles of sticky mucus behind. Related: Octopuses are taking over the oceans, and no one knows why While few of us have probably held one of these giant slugs, they can be spotted ” in abundance ” along America’s Pacific Coast. As Peterson held the Black Sea Hare, Sanchez found a Brown Sea Hare to hold up for comparison. The Brown Sea Hare is big in its own right – it can grow up to over a foot long and weigh five pounds – but it’s dwarfed by the gargantuan Black Sea Hare. While the Black Sea Hare may look like something out of science fiction, Sanchez assured the audience it wasn’t dangerous to Peterson. The black slug doesn’t bite, isn’t toxic, and eats a vegetarian diet, feasting mainly on kelp and algae. On the Brave Wilderness YouTube channel, Peterson also hosts three other nature adventure shows, Breaking Trail, Coyote’s Backyard, and Dragon Tails. The channel releases new videos every Tuesday. On his website, Peterson says he believes it’s best to share animals with his viewers ” right from their natural environment ” and aims to allow viewers to experience these animals through his videos. + Coyote Peterson + Brave Wilderness Images via screenshot

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Meet the enormous black sea slug that’s bigger than a chihuahua

Climate change could be driving U.S. tornadoes southeast

August 22, 2016 by  
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The world’s weather has become more unpredictable as global temperatures rise – and new research shows that U.S. tornadoes have been shifting southeast over the last few decades. The trend shows natural disasters moving away from Tornado Alley and towards Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. A recent study in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology detailed twisters over a period of 60 years. Two groups were studied: tornadoes taking place during the cooler temperatures of 1954-1983 and the warmer decades of 1983-2013. The researchers found that tornados are increasingly shifting out of Tornado Alley, which encompasses northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to what is called Dixie Alley. Related: Physicist wants to build 1,000-foot walls to prevent tornadoes from destroying the midwest The new region includes Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee – which experienced that most significant increase in tornado days between the two time periods. Is it a coincidence that this shift is taking place during a huge, climate change-fueled, global temperature spike? Scientists aren’t sure, but they suspect there is a link. Rising sea temperatures lead to faster surface evaporation, which, when paired with rapidly rising air, creates more likelihood of thunderstorms . These more frequent summertime storms can naturally lead to more tornadoes. The closer you get to the warm coastal waters, the more damp, rising air you will encounter, which could account for the southeastern migration of twisters over time. More research is needed to say this with certainty, but it certainly adds up. Via IFLScience Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 )

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Climate change could be driving U.S. tornadoes southeast

Zika outbreak declared in Miami Beach

August 22, 2016 by  
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An outbreak of the Zika virus has been identified in a section of Miami Beach, Florida after five people were determined to have been infected by mosquitoes. Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) stated on Friday that the new patients were infected by native mosquitoes within a 1.5 square-mile area in the popular tourist district. Florida is the first state in which native mosquitoes have transmitted the virus to humans. The outbreak in Miami Beach brings the total number of known Zika cases in Florida to 35, although Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas Frieden stated that there are “undoubtedly more infections that we’re not aware of” and that the virus may be spreading throughout Miami-Dade County. The CDC has advised pregnant women and their sexual partners to avoid the identified area. Those who have traveled there since July 14th should be tested for the virus, which has been known to cause microcephaly and developmental disorders in infants. More than 500 women have been infected in the United States, though most have received the virus through sexual contact, not mosquito bites. To fight back against the newly discovered, Zika carrying mosquitoes, the CDC is employing workers to spray pesticides from backpacks. Pesticides would ideally be delivered by air, but in urban Miami stacked with high rises, this is not a viable option. Related: FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika Zika’s harmful effects may not be limited to pregnant women and infants. A major new study has suggested that Zika attacks immature cells, which are essential for learning and memory function, in the brains of adult mice. The gradual deterioration of these cells could cause the brain to shrink and lead to severe impairment of cognitive function, similar in effect to Alzheimer’s. Researchers caution that further study is needed before Zika’s full impact is understood. Comprehensive research, treatment and prevention measures require reliable federal funding. To the shock of no one, the United States Congress has failed to pass legislation that would deliver the necessary resources to confront this public health crisis. Via The Independent Images via Jimmy Baikovicius and John Tann

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Zika outbreak declared in Miami Beach

11,000-year-old deep sea animal fascinates scientists

August 4, 2016 by  
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It’s no secret that some animals on Earth live longer than many humans do. A parrot in captivity can live over 80 years, the giant tortoise can reach 100 years old or more, and the oldest known bowhead whale lived for at least 211 years. But one tiny ancient creature beats them all, surviving an estimated 11,000 years  in its frigid habitat under the sea. Scientists estimate an individual deep sea sponge belonging to the species Monorhaphis chuni  has lived at least 11,000 years, according to a study in the journal Aging Research Reviews. That variety of glass sea sponge is also, perhaps incidentally, the largest biosilica species on Earth with needle-like spicules measuring up to 10 feet (three meters) in length. Related: MIT researchers say Earth’s first animal was most likely a humble sea sponge Between its insane age and record-breaking length, the sponge is at the center of attention in many scientific circles, as researchers yearn to understand how its biological functions work. First and foremost, researchers hope to gain an understanding of how it is even possible for a living creature to survive for such a long time, given that no other animal on Earth has a lifespan that comes even close to that of the sponge. Via National Geographic Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 ) and Werner E. G. Müller, University Medical Center Mainz

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China makes it illegal to eat endangered species

July 13, 2016 by  
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A new law in China makes it illegal to eat members of an endangered species , a major step forward in protections for wild animals. However, animal rights activists claim the legislation doesn’t go far enough, because it fails to address other threats. Captive breeding, public performances, and consumption in non-food products (i.e. traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM) are still allowed under the new law, and conservationists argue that these uses are what motivates the largest portion of endangered species poaching. China’s new law specifically bans the sale of food products made from endangered species recognized by the state government. Writing for The Shanghaiist , Robin Winship said that “simply restricting the sale of endangered animals as food, while nice and all, does not nearly suffice” when it comes to protecting those animals. In this way, China’s wildlife policies are not unlike its environmental protection efforts, which are criticized widely for being too soft to resolve very real problems. Related: Increased demand for lion bones threatens the species more than ever Because the law doesn’t address breeding and medicinal uses of endangered animal parts , many animals will continue to be bred and killed for use in TCM . For instance, stomach bile from bears is used in elixirs, despite a total absence of scientific evidence of any human benefit. In order to collect the bile, bears are bred in captivity, forced to live in cramped cages, and the animals often die from botched surgical attempts to extract their bile. Meanwhile, rhinoceros horns are also highly sought after, to be ground to a powder and used to treat a variety of ailments, again without any evidence that the treatment works. Many other animals are carved up for so-called medicinal purposes, with plenty of other endangered species bred as exotic pets or to be killed for some other senseless reason, like fashion. There are a lot of unanswered questions about how the new law will be enforced, considering the difficulties (or perhaps impossibilities) of identifying whether an animal is being sold as a food ingredient or for medical purposes, or whether an animal was wild-caught or captive bred. Without implementing clear procedures for permits or licensing for legal uses, China’s government may have just passed a law it can’t possibly enforce. Via Good Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 )

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China makes it illegal to eat endangered species

INFOGRAPHIC: Greenpeace Ranks Internet Companies on Energy Use

October 16, 2014 by  
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By 2017, it’s expected that 3.6 billion people will be updating Facebook profiles, streaming YouTube videos, looking up quick facts on Wikipedia, and putting things in virtual shopping carts. And something has got to keep the whole system running: namely, electricity. The electricity demand of the United States alone is expected to grow 60% by 2020 as we become more and more reliant on the worldwide web. Therefore, it’s fundamentally important that tech companies are leading the way to finding greener energy sources. Greenpeace recently released a new report, “ Clicking Clean: How Companies Are Creating the Green Internet .” Check out the infographic after the break to see how today’s biggest internet companies — from Twitter and Google to Amazon — stack up in terms of energy use The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: Greenpeace Ranks Internet Companies on Energy Use Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Clicking Clean , Clicking Clean Greenpeace , green companies , green tech companies , green technology , Greenpeace , Greenpeace Company rankings , internet company sustainability , reader submission , sustainability ranking

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INFOGRAPHIC: Greenpeace Ranks Internet Companies on Energy Use

Bio-artist Joe Davis to Build a Genetically Modified ‘Tree of Knowledge’ With Wikipedia Pages

May 16, 2014 by  
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Bio-artist Joe Davis plans to place 50,000 of the most popular Wikipedia pages into the DNA of apple trees to create a genetically modified Tree of Knowledge. Called Malus ecclesia , the project is part of Davis’ art residency at the genetics lab run by George Church at Harvard Medical School. Read the rest of Bio-artist Joe Davis to Build a Genetically Modified ‘Tree of Knowledge’ With Wikipedia Pages Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: apples , Art , bio-artist , DNA , Forbidden fruit , genetic modification , genetically modified food , genetics , harvard medical school , Joe Davis , Malus ecclesia , Tree of Knowledge , wikipedia

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