WASHINGTON — The death sentence Joe Manchin declared for President Biden’s massive domestic policy bill is also threatening a key priority of New York lawmakers — plugging a nearly $3 billion gap in the 9/11 health program. New York’s powerful Democratic congressional delegation, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Senate and Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney in the House, had hoped to ensure the funding hole was plugged by including the money in Biden’s roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better legislation. But Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, flatl...
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My first near-wolf experience was in a forestry cutblock. I heard the wolf’s howl rise like a ghostly siren. I couldn’t see the wolf because it was obscured by dense regrowing aspen saplings in a previously harvested stand.
In Canada’s boreal forest, wolves have to adjust to the widespread landscape changes left by petroleum extraction and forestry. Being smart, wolves have turned these new human-made landscapes to their advantage. Mature forest is replaced by young forests, which provide attractive environments for invading white-tailed deer, bolstering wolf populations.
Wolves respond to changing environments in the north by adapting to available prey. Boreal wolves hunt large ungulates: moose, deer and caribou. But the western Canadian boreal forest is changing rapidly, looking nothing like it has in the past and like nowhere else on Earth. Wolves use roads, trails and petroleum-exploration “seismic” lines to hunt more efficiently.
The combination of wolves and environmental changes brought about by resource extraction cause woodland caribou declines.
Governments have made the tough call to kill wolves to save caribou, a contentious decision that has spurred much public outcry and debate. While wolf culls do have some positive effects for caribou, culls remain mired in some mystery: very little research exists on their side-effects for surviving wolves, or the animals they live with.
After three years, the government launched a multi-year wolf population reduction program in our study area, using collared wolves as “Judas wolves” to locate packs for aerial gunning. We quickly responded by redeploying our camera-trap array for another three years, giving us some of the only before-and-after data on the entire mammal community for any wolf control program in North America.
A captured image of wolves in Christina Lake, Alta.(University of Victoria/InnoTech Alberta), Author provided
Our first research was on wolf behavior: what do surviving wolves do after a strange aerial predator starts killing neighbours? One aspect of a species’ behavior is time: species use the day in different ways to deal with different challenges. The time-stamped photos from remote cameras allowed us to examine species’ use of their days.
Wolves, being highly adaptable, changed their behaviours to cope with aerial gunning, and turned to darkness. Before the cull, wolves were normally active during daylight hours, with small peaks between sunrise and sundown, with a slight dip around noon. After wolf control, surviving wolves shift into nighttime hours, with activity peaking just before midnight and again just before sunrise.
Activity from sunrise to sunset was much lower, and almost nonexistent at midday. The cover of night allows them to avoid aerial gunning. In fact, many mammals — like coyotes, tigers and wild boars — are becoming nocturnal to avoid human disturbance.
But animals often use their day to avoid predators and competitors. We expected that other animals might also change their habits to avoid newly nocturnal wolves. But this was not the case: lynx, coyotes, black bears, moose, deer and caribou all went about their normal business hours.
Changing the hunting behavior of wolves may help protect caribou herds.(Shutterstock)
After shifting their time of day, wolves’ daily activity patterns no longer overlapped heavily with their big prey: deer, moose and caribou. Instead, their activity overlapped markedly with smaller snowshoe hares. In effect, wolves become “temporally decoupled” from their big prey.
We still don’t know if this behavioral change will have ramifications for wolves’ diet and prey populations. If wolves are not active at the same time as large ungulates, predation rates decrease. This will likely contribute to recovering caribou population growth.
Conversely, if predation on white-tailed deer decreases, it may allow this invasive species to expand. And if wolves switch to hunting snowshoe hares, there could be adverse effects on coyotes, lynx, fishers and other carnivores that rely on hares for food.
As a society, we made the difficult decision to kill wolves to save caribou. The onus is now on us to learn all we can from this decision, to better understand how boreal animals use their landscapes — and better plan for resource development, so we never have to make this decision again.
'There was violence’: Morning Joe shocked by delight Alito took in ‘radical’ ruling taking away abortion rights
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was astonished by the "violence" implied by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned abortion rights.
The majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito took a confrontational tone in striking down Roe v. Wade, and the "Morning Joe" host said he and his fellow lawyer friends noticed the delight he seemed to take in the "radical" move.
"That is one thing that friends of mine, pro-life friends of mine, conservative lawyers of mine, and others underlie, it wasn't just the holding taking away a fundamental right over the past 50 years," Scarborough said. "They found the tone to be confrontational, and anyone who has followed the Supreme Court, anyone who has read constitutional law knows that most justices, especially in landmark decisions, bend over backwards to explain how this is not a radical move, this is -- we are moving forward, and we're moving in the direction that this country has been moving in, and we understand there are problems, and they'll round off some of the harsher edges. They will give something to their opponents, their legal or ideological opponents."
"There was none of that there," Scarborough added. "I've got to say, more than any Supreme Court decision I've ever read, it was -- even the language, there was a violence to the reasoning. We win, you lose. We're taking away these rights, and there's nothing you can do about it. Please, if somebody disagrees with me, please let me know where a court has overruled a right that's been in place for 50 years and done so in such an aggressive manner with absolutely no grace and absolutely no outreach to their legal or ideological opponents."
Watch the video below or at this link.
06 27 2022 06 54 33 www.youtube.com
If you look different to your close relatives, you may have felt separate from your family. As a child, during particularly stormy fall outs you might have even hoped it was a sign that you were adopted.
As our new research shows, appearances can be deceptive when it comes to family. New DNA technology is shaking up the family trees of many plants and animals.
The primates, to which humans belong, were once thought to be close relatives of bats because of some similarities in our skeletons and brains. However, DNA data now places us in a group that includes rodents (rats and mice) and rabbits. Astonishingly, bats turn out to be more closely related to cows, horses and even rhinoceroses than they are to us.
Scientists in Darwin’s time and through most of the 20th century could only work out the branches of the evolutionary tree of life by looking at the structure and appearance of animals and plants. Life forms were grouped according to similarities thought to have evolved together.
About three decades ago, scientists started using DNA data to build “molecular trees”. Many of the first trees based on DNA data were at odds with the classical ones. Sloths and anteaters, armadillos, pangolins (scaly anteaters) and aardvarks were once thought to belong together in a group called edentates (“no teeth”), since they share aspects of their anatomy. Molecular trees showed that these traits evolved independently in different branches of the mammal tree. It turns out that aardvarks are more closely related to elephants while pangolins are more closely related to cats and dogs.
Molecular phylogenies show that mammals as different in appearance as aardvarks, manatees, elephant shrews and elephants are really close cousins.
There is another important line of evidence that was familiar to Darwin and his contemporaries. Darwin noted that animals and plants that appeared to share the closest common ancestry were often found close together geographically. The location of species is another strong indicator they are related: species that live near each other are more likely to share a family tree.
For the first time, our recent paper cross-referenced location, DNA data and appearance for a range of animals and plants. We looked at evolutionary trees based on appearance or on molecules for 48 groups of animals and plants, including bats, dogs, monkeys, lizards and pine trees. Evolutionary trees based on DNA data were two-thirds more likely to match with the location of the species compared with traditional evolution maps. In other words, previous trees showed several species were related based on appearance. Our research showed they were far less likely to live near each other compared to species linked by DNA data.
It may appear that evolution endlessly invents new solutions, almost without limits. But it has fewer tricks up its sleeve than you might think. Animals can look amazingly alike because they have evolved to do a similar job or live in a similar way. Birds, bats and the extinct pterosaurs have, or had, bony wings for flying, but their ancestors all had front legs for walking on the ground instead.
The color wheels and key indicate where members of each order are found geographically. The molecular tree has these colors grouped together better than the morphological tree, indicating closer agreement of the molecules to biogeography. Figure is from Oyston et al. (2022)
Similar wing shapes and muscles evolved in different groups because the physics of generating thrust and lift in air are always the same. It is much the same with eyes, which may have evolved 40 times in animals, and with only a few basic “designs”.
Our eyes are similar to squid’s eyes, with a crystalline lens, iris, retina and visual pigments. Squid are more closely related to snails, slugs and clams than us. But many of their mollusc relatives have only the simplest of eyes.
Squid and fish are actually separated by more than half a billion years of evolution.
Moles evolved as blind, burrowing creatures at least four times, on different continents, on different branches of the mammal tree. The Australian marsupial pouched moles (more closely related to kangaroos), African golden moles (more closely related to aardvarks), African mole rats (rodents) and the Eurasian and North American talpid moles (beloved of gardeners, and more closely related to hedgehogs than these other “moles”) all evolved down a similar path.
Until the advent of cheap and efficient gene sequencing technology in the 21st century, appearance was usually all evolutionary biologists had to go on.
While Darwin (1859) showed that all life on Earth is related in a single evolutionary tree, he did little to map out its branches. The anatomist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was one of the first people to draw evolutionary trees that tried to show how major groups of life forms are related.
The german zoologist Ernst Haeckel’s illustrations (here, groups of mosses)
Haeckel’s drawings made brilliant observations of living things that influenced art and design in the 19th and 20th centuries. His family trees were based almost entirely on how those organisms looked and developed as embryos. Many of his ideas about evolutionary relationships were held until recently. As it becomes easier and cheaper to obtain and analyze large volumes of molecular data, there will be many more surprises in store.