What the Science is Telling Us

Hyenas in the Arctic
You may know hyenas as hunters and scavengers in the hot savanna, but a new research team has found hyena fossils in Canada, and it turns out they were Arctic runners. The team confirmed that the two fossilized teeth found in the Yukon were of the “running hyena” Chasmaporthetes. Previously the ancient hyena remains had been found in Mongolia and southern U.S., but there was no evidence anywhere in between. Now scientists can better piece together how hyenas got to North America and beyond millions of years ago. Read more about the First Fossils of Hyenas from North of the Arctic Circle in Open Quaternary.
Tech Outperforms Humans in Bird ID
Recording technology has evolved to small, inexpensive devices that are capable of holding large amount of data. But are they good enough to compete with a human’s mobility and discernment in bird surveys? Dr. Kevin Darras of University of Göttingen and his team think the tech might not only be faster, but it also could be more useful. The international research group found that the devices offered the same data as humans, while also providing stronger population density numbers and more accurate animal activity over larger amounts of time. As an international standard, the tech-driven data can be checked, stored, and evaluated more quickly compared to human observation methods. Read more about Dr. Darras’s investigation in Ecological Applications.
Lynx Breakthroughs from Scat and Hair
How much can a German research team learn from scat and hair? No, it’s not a bad joke. A research team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research successfully set a baseline for some lynx genetics by collecting hair and scat samples of the Caucasian Lynx, Lynx lynx dinniki. This study can be compared with future findings to fill an information gap in genetics and ecology to see if there is any genetic flow at all between the lynx subspecies. While the Eurasian Lynx has been the subject of several studies in Europe, the Asian subspecies of Turkey, the Caucasus region and Iran has received much less attention. The new data from the mountainous region of north-west Anatolia revealed that the population’s females stay near the territories in which they were born whereas males disperse after separation from their mothers. They also found that genetic diversity is unexpectedly high in the population. The strong genetics seem to be the result of both natural and human-constructed barriers, which could be detrimental to the population if their effect is underestimated during management plans. Read more about the implications of the study in Plos One.

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