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White-Nose Syndrome: FWS Releases Bat Mortality Estimates

By: Timothy Hoelzle

Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Brown bat with White Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome is a fungal pathogen that can lead to bat mortality and, if no intervention is taken, could lead to disastrous impacts to bat populations in the Northeast US. The effects of white-nose syndrome were first observed in upstate New York in 2006 and the disease has since spread to 16 states and four Canadian provinces. It causes erratic behavior in bats, including flying outside during the day and grouping near hibernating cave entrances. Mortality rates are generally high (>70%) with 100% mortality observed at some sites.

Jonathan Mays, Wildlife Biologist, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Little brown bat with white nose syndrome

Last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service released their findings that 5.7 to 6.7 million individual bats have died from white-nose syndrome. Bats provide a natural means of pest control, benefitting farmers and the general public. Earlier this month, the FWS met with more than 140 partners at the Northeast Bat Working Group meeting to discuss the challenges for the conservation and management of bat populations and present a framework for the coordination and management of white-nose syndrome. These mortality estimates illustrate the severity of the problem this disease poses for bats and natural resource managers, highlighting the importance for continued monitoring and intervention.

US FWS press release

 

Oil Spill Prompts Increased Attention On Mysterious Deep Sea Habitats

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By: Lauren Alleman

The Deepwater Horizon incident occurred in the deep sea off the coast of Louisiana, in water greater than 1,000 meters deep.  In addition to affecting coastal ecosystems, the spill impacted deepwater benthic habitats in the Gulf of Mexico as well.

The deep sea is defined as the zone in the ocean greater than 200 meters deep.   Unbelievably, despite complete darkness, crushing pressures, and freezing temperatures, the deep sea is teeming with life.  And most of it looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss story.

Take the barrel eye fish, with a head that looks like a bowl of translucent jelly.

Photograph courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Or the newly discovered Hasselhoff crab, named in honor of our favorite Baywatch star, for its hairy chest.

And how about the several meter-long whip corals that grow on underwater mountains?

CREDIT: Aquapix and Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007

The deep sea comprises over 60% of the Earth’s surface; however, it is the least understood environment on the planet.  In light of the recent impacts to this habitat in the Gulf of Mexico, the adage “out of sight, out of mind” no longer applies.

National Mall Design Competition Finalists Announced!

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Great Ecology is pleased to announce that it is on the Rogers Marvel Architects and Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architects team to develop design concepts for the National Mall Design competition in Washington D.C.

Finalists were selected on design portfolios, team qualifications and interviews.  Our team will focus on the redesign of Constitution Gardens.  Dr. Mark Laska, President of Great Ecology said, “This is an incredible opportunity to participate in the development of creative and sustainable ways to bring the ecological layer forward in the redesign of one of our Nation’s most important public spaces.  We are extremely delighted to be on such an amazing team lead by Roger Marvel Architects and PWP Landscape Architects.”

A winning design will be announced on May 3, 2012.

The full results of the competition can be found on the design competition’s website, along with a press release.