A species of butterfly found in Sub-Saharan Africa is able to migrate thousands of miles to Europe, crossing the Saharan Desert, in years when weather conditions are favorable, scientists have found. The striking Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly has been shown for the first time to be capable of making the 12,000-14,000 km round trip — the longest insect migration known so far — in greater numbers, when wetter conditions in the desert help the plants on which it lays eggs. The international research team's findings increase understanding of how insects, including pollinators, pests and the diseases they carry could spread between continents in future as climate change alters seasonal conditions. Professor Tom Oliver, an ecologist at the University of Reading and co-author of the study, said: "We know that the number of Painted Lady butterflies in Europe varies wildly, sometimes with 100 times more from one year to the next. However, the conditions that caused this were unknown, and the suggestion the butterflies could cross the Sahara desert and oceans to reach Europe was not proven. "This research shows this unlikely journey is possible, and that certain climate conditions leading up to migration season have a big influence on the numbers that make it. It demonstrates how the wildlife we see in the UK can transcend national boundaries, and protecting such species requires strong international cooperation". As well as answering long-asked questions about butterfly migrations, the findings could help predictions of the movements of other insects that affect people, such as the locusts currently plaguing East Africa, or by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Comment: Worst locust swarm in two decades moves on to devastate crops in South & Central Asia Professor Oliver said: "We enjoy seeing the beautiful Painted Lady butterflies in our gardens in Europe, but climate change will also lead to shifts in invasive species that are crop pests or those that spread diseases. Food shortages in East Africa are a reminder that the impacts of climate change can be much more dramatic than a few degrees of warming might first seem." https://www.sott.net/article/454501-Butterflies-cross-the-Sahara-in-longest-known-insect-migration
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Researchers are starting to investigate the species that drive alpine algal blooms to better understand their causes and effects. Winter through spring, the French Alps are wrapped in austere white snow. But as spring turns to summer, the stoic slopes start to blush. Parts of the snow take on bright colors: deep red, rusty orange, lemonade pink. Locals call this "sang de glacier," or "glacier blood." Visitors sometimes go with "watermelon snow." In reality, these blushes come from an embarrassment of algae. In recent years, alpine habitats all over the world have experienced an uptick in snow algae blooms — dramatic, strangely hued aggregations of these normally invisible creatures. While snow algae blooms are poorly understood, that they are happening is probably not a good sign. Researchers have begun surveying the algae of the Alps to better grasp what species live there, how they survive and what might be pushing them over the bleeding edge. Some of their initial findings were published this week in Frontiers in Plant Science. Tiny yet powerful, the plantlike organisms we call algae are "the basis of all ecosystems," said Adeline Stewart, an author of the study who worked on it as a doctoral student at Grenoble Alpes University in France. Thanks to their photosynthetic prowess, algae produce a large amount of the world's oxygen, and form the foundation of most food webs. But they sometimes overdo it, multiplying until they throw things out of balance. This can cause toxic red tides, scummy freshwater blooms — or unsettling glacier blood. https://www.sott.net/article/454519-Glacier-blood-Watermelon-Snow-Whatever-its-called-snow-shouldnt-be-so-red
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An attempt to save the Tasmanian devil by shipping an "insurance population" to a tiny Australian island has come at a "catastrophic" cost to the birdlife there, including the complete elimination of little penguins, according to BirdLife Tasmania. Maria Island, a 116-square-kilometre island east of Tasmania, was home to 3,000 breeding pairs of little penguins around a decade ago. Their populations have dwindled since Tasmanian devils were introduced in 2012, but according to BirdLife Tasmania, the most recent survey conducted by the parks department showed penguins had completely disappeared from the island. Maria Island was intended to safeguard Tasmanian devil numbers by creating a geographically isolated population free from the contagious and deadly devil facial tumour disease. An initial population of 28 devils released on the island over 2012 and 2013 had grown to an estimated 100 animals by 2016. Dr Eric Woehler, the convenor of BirdLife Tasmania, said the loss of birdlife was a sad but unsurprising outcome. "Every time humans have deliberately or accidentally introduced mammals to oceanic islands, there's always been the same outcome ... a catastrophic impact on one or more bird species," he said. "Losing 3,000 pairs of penguins from an island that is a national park that should be a refuge for this species basically is a major blow." A 2011 report conducted by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment predicted the introduction of the carnivorous marsupials would have "a negative impact on little penguin and shearwater colonies on Maria Island through devil predation". "Penguins in Australia are facing major threats as a result of human activities, pets and feral animals," said Woehler. "The offshore islands in Bass Strait, like Maria Island, and offshore islands in Victoria and South Australia are really important for the penguins because we generally don't see the same spectrum of threats on those islands." https://www.sott.net/article/454531-Conservation-project-of-Tasmanian-devils-wipes-out-islands-penguin-population
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More from 777 times

Researchers are starting to investigate the species that drive alpine algal blooms to better understand their causes and effects. Winter through spring, the French Alps are wrapped in austere white snow. But as spring turns to summer, the stoic slopes start to blush. Parts of the snow take on bright colors: deep red, rusty orange, lemonade pink. Locals call this "sang de glacier," or "glacier blood." Visitors sometimes go with "watermelon snow." In reality, these blushes come from an embarrassment of algae. In recent years, alpine habitats all over the world have experienced an uptick in snow algae blooms — dramatic, strangely hued aggregations of these normally invisible creatures. While snow algae blooms are poorly understood, that they are happening is probably not a good sign. Researchers have begun surveying the algae of the Alps to better grasp what species live there, how they survive and what might be pushing them over the bleeding edge. Some of their initial findings were published this week in Frontiers in Plant Science. Tiny yet powerful, the plantlike organisms we call algae are "the basis of all ecosystems," said Adeline Stewart, an author of the study who worked on it as a doctoral student at Grenoble Alpes University in France. Thanks to their photosynthetic prowess, algae produce a large amount of the world's oxygen, and form the foundation of most food webs. But they sometimes overdo it, multiplying until they throw things out of balance. This can cause toxic red tides, scummy freshwater blooms — or unsettling glacier blood. https://www.sott.net/article/454519-Glacier-blood-Watermelon-Snow-Whatever-its-called-snow-shouldnt-be-so-red
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An attempt to save the Tasmanian devil by shipping an "insurance population" to a tiny Australian island has come at a "catastrophic" cost to the birdlife there, including the complete elimination of little penguins, according to BirdLife Tasmania. Maria Island, a 116-square-kilometre island east of Tasmania, was home to 3,000 breeding pairs of little penguins around a decade ago. Their populations have dwindled since Tasmanian devils were introduced in 2012, but according to BirdLife Tasmania, the most recent survey conducted by the parks department showed penguins had completely disappeared from the island. Maria Island was intended to safeguard Tasmanian devil numbers by creating a geographically isolated population free from the contagious and deadly devil facial tumour disease. An initial population of 28 devils released on the island over 2012 and 2013 had grown to an estimated 100 animals by 2016. Dr Eric Woehler, the convenor of BirdLife Tasmania, said the loss of birdlife was a sad but unsurprising outcome. "Every time humans have deliberately or accidentally introduced mammals to oceanic islands, there's always been the same outcome ... a catastrophic impact on one or more bird species," he said. "Losing 3,000 pairs of penguins from an island that is a national park that should be a refuge for this species basically is a major blow." A 2011 report conducted by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment predicted the introduction of the carnivorous marsupials would have "a negative impact on little penguin and shearwater colonies on Maria Island through devil predation". "Penguins in Australia are facing major threats as a result of human activities, pets and feral animals," said Woehler. "The offshore islands in Bass Strait, like Maria Island, and offshore islands in Victoria and South Australia are really important for the penguins because we generally don't see the same spectrum of threats on those islands." https://www.sott.net/article/454531-Conservation-project-of-Tasmanian-devils-wipes-out-islands-penguin-population
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