Friday Faves July 24, 2015

Salamander Brigade! #CitSci to the Rescue!

If a salamander is going to make babies, they have to head to a vernal pool. In some places, that means a deadly trek across a freeway, resulting in many (50-100%) squished amphibians.  Conservationists in New Hampshire started a Citizen Science program to track both live and dead salamanders and give them a little help crossing the road. The Salamander Brigade has over 600 volunteers and helped 25K salamanders get to the pool, and hopefully, find a mate. They've also started photographing and ID-ing salamanders by their individual markings, and found that many of the same salamanders make the cross-freeway trek year after year! So COOL!

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What are the best ways to manage feral cat populations?

To know, we need more data! So scientists in Toronto and Guelph are putting tracking devices on feral cats to learn more about the activity and patterns of movement. They hope to address the human end of things as well, looking into how people care for and feel about both pet and feral cats.

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If your parent sucks, find a new one

Scientists have been studying how baby zebra finches respond to variation in parenting quality (measured as foraging skills) - and it turns out if they have a bad role model, the baby birds seek out a new adult to serve as a better one.

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That trunk was made for sniffing...landmines?

Immediately following the Angolian civil war,  a number of local-dwelling elephants were killed by landmines. Since then, it seems that the elephants have learned to sniff out and avoid mines. Army researchers are training elephants to detect TNT (ethically dicey) but are also using elephant's skills and physiology as a starting ground to build bio-inspired technology that could detect bombs (less dicey).

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