Invasive species may be key to understanding death of hundreds of loons
Spring is in the air, with daylight savings taking effect on Sunday, and loons will begin their migration back to the north woods in less than a month.
Loons, of course, are a cultural and natural icon, not only in Minnesota but across the Great Lakes states. But last fall, nearly 900 loons died while migrating south across Lake Michigan, probably more. And it's likely at least some were from Minnesota.
Scientists are not sure what killed the loons, but they suspect that invasive species may be to blame.
In October, Lynette Grimes was hiking toward Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, outside Traverse City, Mich. The 52-year-old from the nearby town of Benzonia has walked the beaches there for years. But she wasn't prepared for what she saw.
"The beach was just pockmarked with birds everywhere you looked," Grimes said. "This one little peninsula had over 100 dead birds."
... The scientists offered an idea about what might have happened: Invasive zebra and quagga mussels filter the water so it's incredibly clear, allowing an algae called cladophora to grow in huge amounts. Big storms churn up the algae, which settles to the lake bottom and rots. That creates an environment without any oxygen, an ideal home for bacteria that produces a deadly toxin called Type E botulism. That botulism is ingested by invertebrates, tiny worms and freshwater shrimp. And then it works its way up the food chain. They are eaten by fish, including the invasive round goby, which are then eaten by diving birds like loons.
Minnesota Public Radio - minnesota.publicradio.org
11 Mar 2013
Location: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, USA
Bat Disease: More Accurate, Sensitive DNA Test Allows Early Identification of Fungus Causing White Nose Syndrome
Even after researchers studying White Nose Syndrome (WNS) established that a fungus called Geomyces destructans is at the heart of the devastating disease, detecting it depended largely on finding dead or dying bats.
This month, the journal Mycologia will publish research by a team of U.S. Forest Service scientists and partners identifying additional species of Geomyces and describing development of a highly sensitive DNA-based technique for early identification of Geomyces destructans on bats as well as in soils and on cave walls.
"The significance of the Forest Service's recent research will have an immediate and direct benefit to WNS response at a national scale," according to Katie Gillies, imperiled species coordinator at Bat Conservation International. "This will allow managers to sample soil and substrates to test for the presence of Geomyces destructans, freeing up limited surveillance funds and time.
Additionally, this opens the door to examine the use of gene silencing as a control mechanism for this devastating fungus. Research like this, that directly benefits resource managers and guides us to controlling this fungus, is critically needed."
Science Daily - www.sciencedaily.com
13 Mar 2013
Muller LK et al. Bat white-nose syndrome: A real-time TaqMan polymerase chain reaction test targeting the intergenic spacer region of Geomyces destructans. Mycologia, 2013
Lorch JM et al. A culture-based survey of fungi in soil from bat hibernacula in the eastern United States and its implications for detection of Geomyces destructans, the causal agent of bat white-nose syndrome. Mycologia, 2013 (in press)
Novel Virus Entry Portal Found
Researchers identify the target protein of a recently discovered human coronavirus, shedding light on infection and possible interspecies spread.
Dutch researchers have identified the host cell protein that allows a recently discovered coronavirus to enter its target cells, according to a study published today (March 13) in Nature. The structure of the protein, called DPP4, appears to be conserved between bats and humans, suggesting that the new findings will help shed light on zoonotic transmission of the virus, as well as provide a target for potential vaccines.
The Scientist - www.the-scientist.com
13 Mar 2013
V.S. Raj et al., “Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 is a functional receptor for the emerging human coronvirus-EMC,” Nature, 495:251-56, 2013.
Concern for the welfare of birds after Flamborough oil spillage
WILDLIFE experts are concerned about an oil slick threatening one of Yorkshire's most important seabird colonies.
Staff at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Living Seas Centre in Flamborough are on alert as thousands of birds return to the Yorkshire coast in preparation for breeding on the cliffs around the headland.
The spillage was first reported on Friday but north-easterly winds and heavy seas have seen the oil move nearer to the coast. So far, the largest reports of oiled birds have been from Scarborough, where up to 50 birds are known to have been affected, but casualties have also been washed up at Flamborough, including guillemots, razorbills and shags.
Hull Daily Mail - www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk
13 Mar 2013
Location:Flamborough Head, England - Map It
OTHER WILDLIFE HEALTH RELATED NEWS
- Sri Lanka – A Renewed Partnership in Wildlife Health [CCWHC Blog - healthywildlife.ca]
- Deadly bat fungus now in 22 states and parts of Canada [White-nose syndrome]
- Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mike Cranfield [Interview with The Uncommon Veterinarian]
- Fluorescent light revealed as gauge of coral health: Mysterious glow of light found to correlate with coral stress prior to bleaching
- No Species Is Safe From Burgeoning Wildlife Trade
- Testing shows no cases of chronic wasting disease in ND deer [North Dakota, USA]
- Poison is emerging as the latest and most dangerous threat to the survival of the last remaining wild tigers in Thailand [Courtesy of a fellow Digest reader. He has his own blog too, Wildlife Vet, Author, Storyteller]
- ‘Ninja Parasites’ Elude Immune Response through Molecular Mimicry
- Concerns raised after 3 skunks and a horse test positive for rabies in southeast Missouri [Missouri, USA]
- Maryland Man Died from Rabies, First Case since 1976 [USA]
- Texas Senate approves bill to help combat West Nile virus [USA]
- Infectious diseases kill 864 in China in Feb.
- China, UN Boost Ties on Animal Disease Control