Monthly Archives: March 2016

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Dominance: An illusion when it comes to dog-human relationships

domThe always astute John Bradshaw wrote a lovely summary this week as to why trying to assess your relationship with you dog through the lens of a hierarchy is misguided and a possible welfare issue. Read it here!

Could a parrot serve as a witness?

echofascinating story of a parrot who knew too much...while humans have a long history of placing animals on trial, this is a new case questioning whether a talking parrot who had been previously owned by a mob boss could provide court evidence against him. ...continue reading

Appetite for Destruction

Squirrels turn off the lights

Squirrel related power outages were reported in: Greenfield, WI, Danbury, CT, Muncie, IN, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tulsa, OK, Glenpool, OK, Lee County, TX, Columbia, SC, and Pinewood, Ontario.

But it’s not just squirrels

Other wildlife may be to blame, including possums, racoons and even the occasional bird that gets into a power substation.

Why do they do it?

Attraction to warmth and lack of traffic (which presents less of an obstacle) are factors that lead squirrels to the wires.

Fire starters

A squirrel started a fire in a garage in Traverse City, MI, losing its life in the process; and burned down a home in South Nashville.

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I get by with a little help from...mongooses?

Warthogs in Uganda may find themselves being bitten by ticks. A solution? Lie down and let the mongooses climb on them to snack on said ticks. This type of relationship, where both species benefit, is called a mutualism. Read more here.

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Group living necessitates cleanliness

Some insect species are highly social, while others, even if closely related, are not. Scientists recently compared groups of social and asocial ants, bees, wasps, and termites. The more social species had weaker immune systems, but also tend to demonstrate high levels of hygiene and mutual grooming, which may be essential to their survival.

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Ugly and overlooked

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A new study shows that conservation efforts in Australia are typically focused on the "good" (aka cute) species, while those most in need, such as native rodents and bats, are overlooked.

 

This trend is not specific to Australia, as the Ugly Animal Preservation Society has tried to shed light on this problem for years (their motto: "We can't all be pandas")!

 

 

Bird Brilliance

Birds may use alligators as security guards -- previous studies show that birds that nest near alligator habitat produce more offspring. But a new study also showed that alligators near nesting birds were heartier, suggesting that the nesting birds may "pay" for this security service with a few babies that fall out of the nest...into the alligator's mouth. Read a summary here.

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crowWhy are New Caledonian crows good at some tasks and not others? Is it the nature of the test? Researchers in New Zealand looked at the reasons that primates performed better on "self-control tasks" in a recent study that compared cognition across many species (hey I was one of the many authors of that study!) - could hands and experience with humans have an effect?

Meanwhile, a new paper explores the fact that corvids and parrots show cognitive abilities on par with primates, despite having a VERY different brain structure (which lacks the neocortex that is often considered responsible for "higher functions"). Summary here.

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