This video from Natalie Beresford (First Year). This is actually quite a serious question – these goats have a mutation in a muscle protein that makes them fall down. What human diseases might be related to this? What natural behaviours in other animals look like this?
One of the factors that may account for the global decline of amphibian populations is a fungal infection. New Zealand scientists suggest that a readily-available antibiotic, chloramphenicol, may resolve the problem. No peer-reviewed article yet, but this from the BBC.
The Tasmanian Devil suffers from a horrible viral cancer which is killing off the population. Conservationists are trying to take measures to save them.
Faculty of Life Sciences trivia quiz: which member of staff has a scar from a Tasmanian Devil bite?
Highlight this line to get the answer: Andrew Loudon
The government’s chief scientist has suggested that a cull of all badgers in the South East of England would be a good idea. Many conservationists think this is daft, and that the rate of bovine TB would plummet if farmers stopped moving infected animals around. The farmers’ union (NFU) think it’s the badgers’ fault. You decide.
BBC news report; Sir David King’s report; Badger trust site; NFU statement.
Disease? Pollution? Parasites? News article from this week’s Science magazine (you or your institution will need a subscription to get past the abstract).
Various hypotheses have been put forward to explain the catastrophic collapse in the number of frogs to be found in the tropics, from hormonal effects due to pollution, to a lethal fungus linked to global warming. Another factor has now been added: a decline in leaf litter. This study looks at 35-year decline in amphibians and reptiles in a rainforest in Costa Rica.
BBC summary, Guardian summary, PNAS article (open access), Nature article about fungus/global warning (abstract only).
All over the USA, bee hives are empty. For an unknown reason, bees are leaving the hives. This could have disastrous effects on crops – commercial bees are a major pollinator. A similar situation is being reported in the UK.
Article from The Independent here.
This from Annya Smyth, currently on placement:
“I stumbled across this article all about a mysterious killer fungus which is rapidly wiping out frog populations around the globe. I am working with frogs (albeit dead frogs, :-( ) and I saw this. I had no idea the devastation this fungus was causing and just thought that as it is a hot topic at the moment it would be good to broadcast!!”
Last year ago, the Z-letter carried an item about the nasty virus which is threatening the Tasmanian Devil. A conference has taken place in Tasmania to pool ideas about how to fight the disease.
BBC report here, Nature article on the virus from 2006 here, Nature news piece from 2006 here (Uni/Athens needed for both these), a good book about the Devil here (only £8.60, but available in the Rylands Library).
One of our closest relatives may be brought to the brink of extinction by a combination our ourselves and the lethal ebola virus, an article in Science shows. The last outbreak killed 5000 animals.
Science article (you or your Institution will need a subscription to get past the Abstract. BBC article.