Freshwater species on a fast decline

Freshwater species have declined 88 percent since 1970 — twice the decline of animals on the land or ocean, according to recent research, yet large gaps remain in monitoring and conservation efforts. The two main threats, they found, are overexploitation and the loss of free-flowing rivers. “The results are alarming and confirm the fears of scientists involved in studying and protecting freshwater biodiversity,” said Sonja Jähnig, of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries.

Thousands of birds killed during hailstorm

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More than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds were killed after “baseball-sized” chunks of hail fell on a Montana wildlife management area last weekend, state officials said Friday. Ducks and shorebirds with broken wings, smashed skulls and other signs of internal bleeding were found on the shores around Big Lake Wildlife Management Area in Molt, Montana.

Biologists who surveyed the area estimated that between 11,000 and 13,000 birds were found dead or badly injured after the hailstorm. Most of the injured birds are not expected to survive. About 20 to 30 percent of the entire bird population at the lake died in the storm.

Panama – A Broken Link in an Intercontinental Wildlife Route

The expansion of human populations has left animals such as white-lipped peccaries, jaguars, giant anteaters, white-tailed deer and tapirs isolated throughout Panama, a study recently published in Conservation Biology found. The nation represents the narrowest portion of a system of protected areas and connecting corridors that extend through the length of Central America and part of Mexico, known as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC).

The results of the study strongly suggest that the bridge [through Panama] is broken. Until a few decades ago, many of these large mammal species still occurred continuously throughout the isthmus.

Now the animals live in forest “islands,” surrounded by cattle ranches, fields of crops, roads and other human developments that jeopardize their ability to move from one place—and, correspondingly, from one group—to another. The habitat fragmentation prevents animal movement and gene flow between populations, which can be detrimental to their long-term survival.

Panama has always played a crucial role in the movement and gene flow of numerous neotropical forest species. When the Isthmus of Panama, connecting North and South America, emerged about 2.8 million years ago, the event led to the Great American Biotic Interchange, allowing species to migrate between the two continents.

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Wildfires – Canary Islands

A fire raged out of control on the Spanish holiday island of Gran Canaria Monday, forcing evacuations as flames rose so high even water-dropping planes could not operate in what was dubbed an “environmental tragedy”. The blaze, the third in 10 days in the mountainous centre of the island, has forced the evacuation of several villages with a combined population of 9,000.

Altogether, 1,000 firefighters and other crew and 14 water-dropping helicopters and planes were working on controlling the blaze, which is estimated to have destroyed 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres).

Wildfires – Texs, USA

Firefighters in Texas are battling three wildfires covering more than 17,000 acres across the state.

A fire in Hardeman County near Quanah has burned an estimated 8,830 acres and is 40 percent contained, said the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Another fire in Sutton County has burned over 2,400 acres. The Bird Ranch Fire in Cottle County is estimated to have spread to 7,000 acres and is 25 percent contained.

Wildfires – Alaska

The Alaska Railroad has cancelled passenger service between Anchorage and Denali National Park because of a fire burning along tracks north of Willow. The fire began Saturday when high wind blew a tree onto a powerline at Mile 91 Parks Highway. Continued strong winds Sunday night pushed the fire across the highway and across railroad tracks. Crews are removing numerous burned trees that fell on tracks. The fire by Sunday night had grown to nearly 3 square miles (7.7 sq. kilometers).


Hepatitis A – Flordia, USA

Florida state health officials reported an additional 72 hepatitis A cases last week, bringing the outbreak total since January 2018 to 2,814 cases. In addition, 31 deaths have been reported through July 31.

Bird Flu – China

The China National Health Commission reported a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) today. The patient is in a critical condition in a Beijing hospital.