Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




FLORA AND FAUNA
Whooping cranes learn migration from elders: study
by Staff Writers
Washington, District Of Columbia (AFP) Aug 29, 2013


Russian region to shoot hungry bears after attacks
Moscow (AFP) Aug 29, 2013 - Russia's Far Eastern region of Yakutia is to resort to shooting dead hungry and aggressive wild bears who have become a major danger for humans after floods destroyed their favourite food of berries, an official said Thursday.

"There have been six cases of bear attacks on homes in the past month" in one particularly affected town of Srednekolymsk, on the Kolyma river, said head of the region's hunting department Nikolai Smetanin.

"They break in, empty the refrigerators," he told AFP.

"One bear climbed into a boat of a family that was picking berries. Other bears scavenge at cemeteries."

The bears in the region usually spend the summer months gorging on blueberries, cranberries and lingoberries, but these supplies have shrunk this year because of river flooding in the region, he said.

"All the berries in the river valleys have been destroyed, bears have nothing to eat," he said.

"It's a dispiriting cataclysm."

Residents have pleaded with officials to do something, so authorities decided to allow shooting the aggressive bears, he said.

"People will have to call hunters" in case of a threatening situation, he said.

Bear attacks on humans are highly unusual, but residents in bear-populated regions of the Russian Far East keep a wary eye on the berry crop every year, knowing that a lack of the fruit makes the bears hungry and more likely to attack humans.

Yakutia, a vast sparsely populated northeastern region covered with forests and tundra, is a major source of pelts for the fur industry, but locals do not normally hunt bears, he said.

"We respect the bear, we treat it like it's another hunter. There won't be extermination of all bears."

Russia's Far East has been hit with major floods this month after record rains swelled local rivers, and have affected over 50,000 people with Yakutia one of the areas worst hit.

Whooping cranes learn how to migrate by following elders in their midst, suggesting that social influence has a larger bearing than genetics on the birds' behavior, scientists said Thursday.

The large, white birds are endangered in the wild of North America, with just one native population of about 250 in Canada that spends winters along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

But a growing captive-bred group in the northeastern state of Maryland has provided researchers with an unparalleled set of genetic and travel data to study, answering the critical question of whether the birds are programmed by nature to make their way south or if their behavior is learned.

"The knowledge is transmitted from older to younger birds," said study co-author Thomas Mueller, a biologist at the University of Maryland.

"Migration becomes more and more efficient as these birds age and that takes place over many years."

Without an experienced crane to follow, young birds strayed much farther from their intended path, said the findings in the US journal Science.

The longer the birds practiced, the better they became at sticking to a straight route.

The research was based on eight years of data from a population of 73 birds that were bred in captivity.

Humans play a key role in getting the migration started.

The chicks are born in the spring and soon begin learning to follow a light aircraft that is at first driven along the ground by a human wearing a white-suit disguise in order to prevent the birds from growing accustomed to humans in their midst.

Later, the aircraft is flown as the birds gain strength.

Eventually, in the fall, the young birds will follow this aircraft all they way south.

The cranes make their own way back to Wisconsin after the winter, and fly back southward in their own pairs or groups without the aircraft after the first year.

Scientists studied the birds' behavior beginning the first year after the human-led flight.

Their movements were tracked by satellite transmitters, radio telemetry and people observing them from the ground.

Researchers found that groups that included a seven-year-old adult were much better able to stick to a straight path for the 1,300 mile (2,000 kilometer) journey.

"We had groups that were only just juveniles, for example. They did significantly worse than if there was an older bird in the group," Mueller told AFP.

One-year-old birds that did not follow older birds veered an average of 60 miles (97 kilometers) from a straight flight path.

But when the one-year-old cranes traveled with older birds, the average deviation was less than 40 miles (64 kilometers).

Researchers said the experience of elders might have helped them recognize landmarks and keep the group on track.

"We've long known that learning is important in this species. But we were surprised by the degree to which the learning continued for many years," said co-author Sarah Converse of the US Geological Survey.

"Eight-year-old birds are better than six-year-olds, and they are better than four-year-olds, and so on," she said.

"Also, we were impressed by the importance of cultural transmission of knowledge."

Gender, group size and genetic closeness to other birds in the group had no impact on helping the birds stick to the straightest flight path.

The whooping crane, or Grus americana, is the largest bird in North America. It stands about five feet tall and can live for 30 years or more.

The birds were hunted heavily in the 1800s and beyond, and have lost much of their wetlands habitat. Barely more than a dozen were left by 1941. The population is now slowly rebounding.

.


Related Links
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





FLORA AND FAUNA
Thai village under siege from marauding monkeys
Khlong Charoen Wai, Thailand (AFP) Aug 29, 2013
In one Thai village homes are raided, property is pinched and locals are attacked by dastardly gangs operating beyond the law - but the perpetrators are monkeys, not men. "They creep into my house when they see me sleeping, they go into the kitchen and take cooking oil, sugar and even the medicines that I hide in a cabinet," said Chaluay Khamkajit, after years battling with pesky primates w ... read more


FLORA AND FAUNA
U.N. condemns Australia's treatment of refugees

Raytheon provides public safety a bridge from land mobile radios to smartphones and tablets

Mutualink Unveils Google Glass for Public Safety

Russia convicts officials of 2012 floods negligence

FLORA AND FAUNA
Creating a Secure, Private Internet and Cloud at the Tactical Edge

Sticking power of plant polyphenols used in new coatings

First Report of Real-Time Manipulation and Control of Nuclear Spin Noise

Lab-made complexes are "sun sponges"

FLORA AND FAUNA
Pacific summit aims to renew global climate efforts

New skin-eating fungus is killing Dutch salamanders

China invests cash, expertise in Argentine dams, railroad

US, Sweden unveil $25 mln clean water technology grant

FLORA AND FAUNA
Warming Antarctic seas likely to impact on krill habitats

Change of Venue for NASA's IceBridge Antarctic Operations

UM Researcher Finds Loss of Sea Ice Causes Ecological Changes

UM Scientists Use New Approach to Reveal Function of Greenland's Ice Sheet

FLORA AND FAUNA
New Zealand wants answers on milk 'botulism botch-up'

Cattle ranching goes green in the Brazilian Amazon

Study: Ogallala Aquifer being drained by U.S. farmers

Syngenta, Bayer challenge EU bee-saving pesticide ban

FLORA AND FAUNA
6.5 quake hits southern Guatemala: USGS

At least 23 dead in floods in Mali capital: government

Taiwan puts troops on standby amid storm warning

Amur flooding breaks records in China: state media

FLORA AND FAUNA
Kenyan soldiers kill al-Shabaab guerillas

Kenya looks east, signs $5-bn China deals

South Sudan arrests general for rights violations

Mali court confirms Keita's landslide election win

FLORA AND FAUNA
Researchers reveal hunter-gatherers' taste for spice

Building better brain implants: The challenge of longevity

Researchers say human foot not unique, more like those of great apes

Archaeologists find evidence of separate Neanderthal cultures in Europe




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement